What’s it about? Masato is a typical teenager – he loves video games and hates his mom. He’s thrilled when he hears that he’s been recruited to join a closed beta for a full-dive MMORPG, but becomes less so when he finds that his mother, Mamako, will be joining him on his adventures. Plus, while he’s an average adventurer, she’s an absurdly powerful dual-wielder! Will he be able to survive the beta without dying from enemy attacks… or embarrassment?
Okay, just to be clear right off the bat – Do You Love Your Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks is the best-titled anime of the season. I’ve been excited to watch the first episode for months based on that alone. But now that it’s out, I have to ask myself the question – would I want my mom to join me on an isekai-style adventure?
The answer is probably no – but to be fair, my mom has been described by pretty much everyone who meets her as, “A Lot.” I wouldn’t go on The Amazing Race with her, either. (To go against the typical trope, I think adventuring with my mother-in-law, who is a very sweet and laid-back woman, would be quite nice.) A lot of moms out there, on the other hand, are perfectly normal and reasonable people who love their children and want nothing more than for them to be happy.
Do You Love Your Mom works a strange alchemy, putting together story elements into something I honestly never would have expected to be my taste and combining them into something that I really enjoyed. It’s a VRMMO-style isekai, a genre I don’t particularly care for – and a light satire of it, to boot, with lots of winking and nudging at the camera. Masato and Mamako, as of the first episode, are broad archetypes; Masato is the bratty teenager who doesn’t appreciate everything his mom does for him, and Mamako is devoted to the point of being slightly overbearing and totally clueless about the RPG mechanics that most players would take as a given.
But honestly, it’s those broad archetypes that make it work. As is the case in a lot of these kinds of series, they’re meant for the audience to be able to project themselves onto; but in this case, it’s about projecting onto their relationship. Who hasn’t been embarrassed by their parents’ mere existence? It’s a totally normal developmental phase, after all, and even people who go on to be close to their parents often go through it. Masato’s pissy and resentful that his mother is beating him at what he’s supposed to be good at and, while it’s not aspirational, it’s real.
Most importantly, when he pushes things too far and upsets Mamako, she lets him know how hurtful he’s acting. And really, whomst among us hasn’t accidentally gone too far in a fight with their parents and felt terrible afterwards? She doesn’t exist just to embarrass him or hold him back, nor is she his emotional punching bag who’ll take anything he can dish out with a smile. She’s his mom, and she loves him, just like how most mothers love their children. There’s a sincerity that really pulls everything together.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s a light absurdity to the mom-themed game world that, paired with snappy writing that’s a true rarity for the genre, makes things a lot of fun. Since it’s in beta, a lot of the NPCs’ models aren’t finished yet, so they have simple, cartoony faces. Masato gets stuck with a generic “Typical Hero” class because it was the only one not taken. Self-aware parody is hard to do well, but Do You Love Your Mom handles it well.
The archetypes work in the short term, but I’m still questioning whether it’ll work in the long run. As lovely a woman is Mamako is, her personality basically begins and ends at “mom.” I’m all for celebrating mothers, but society is still working on recognizing that mothers are still whole people with their own internality and interests. It hints that she was an NES player – what else does she do, outside of care for Masato?
She also looks absurdly good – while, with a son of Masato’s age, she would probably be in her late 30’s at the youngest, she looks more like she’s in her 20’s. There’s some light fan service too – she keeps her game guidebook in her cleavage – but at the very least, there’s no incestuous subtext, so good job clearing that bar I guess.
So, dear readers, I ask you: do you love your mom and her two-hit multi-target attacks? If so, do give this show a try.