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Listen, I know romance has basically become a weekly ritual on the blog at this point, but I promise we will start covering some other stuff soon, just stick with me. After all, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, so why not celebrate by covering some more? Today I’ll be talking about a series that, while I initially lacked much interest in during its 2018 run, decided to watch because of a certain individual on the bird site (they know who they are lol). So, let us talk about Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku.
After getting ousted as a massive otaku and subsequently breaking up with her boyfriend, Narumi Momose is effectively forced to transfer jobs. However, upon getting to her new company, she reunites with her childhood friend Hirotaka Nifuji and the two start hanging out like time stopped moving. Hirotaka eventually asks Momose out, and so the two of them, along with their other closet otaku friends Hanako Koyanagi and Taro Kabakura, must navigate their hobbies in secret.
Adulting is Hard, huh?
A large part of Wotakoi’s comedy comes from the intersection between the boring drudgery of the Japanese salary person and their life outside of work. In that way, the show is pretty similar to Aggretsuko. However, rather than being a satirical piece about the normalization of some pretty atrocious behavior and abuses of power, Wotakoi opts to take a much more straightforward, mostly non-serious romantic comedy route in its story.
In its own case, the series focuses on the main characters’ otaku tendencies, with each of them having their own unique interests within the otaku space. Narumi likes writing Doujinshi, as well as reading manga and watching anime. Her partner in crime Hirotaka is a solo gamer, spending most of his time on what appears to be a Monster Hunter-like game. Hanako is a cosplayer who focuses on male characters, and Taro is pretty much just your average manga reader who likes Yuri.
What I like most about the premise of Wotakoi is really just the admittance that, well, being an otaku is weird. Though it may be true that gaming and anime are pretty mainstream at this point, it does not stop those in professional environments from laying judgment. Coworkers, bosses: they are just that. Being ridiculed for weird hobbies is still pretty common.
I have said before that anime relying on relatability to drive narratives is a problem, and indeed, it still is. However, given how likable the series is overall, it can slide.
Nothing Lasts Forver, or Does It?
While the existence of the childhood best friend trope kind of confused me in the past, I can understand it a lot more now. It is comforting, at least, the idea of falling in love with someone who knows a lot about you, maybe even more than yourself. In that regard, Narumi and Hirotaka’s dynamic is both entertaining and heartwarming.
The two of them do not always know what to do or say. Sometimes they will avoid each other out of embarrassment, or they simply will not ask each other for help. It feels like a stretch to call this a feature of every relationship, but for two people who are reuniting after probably a decade, their relationship makes sense.
Hirotaka’s character, in particular, is fairly interesting in this regard. It is obvious they show decided to introduce him as aloof and unintentional. However, as Wotakoi goes on, it becomes increasingly clear that their separation never really changed how Hirotaka felt for his childhood friend. The person who was there for him always is the one he wants to be with, and that is pretty nice 🙂
A-1 Just Pictures
Considering the best thing A-1 Pictures has made outside of Wotakoi in the last half-decade is probably Kaguya-Sama, it feels weird that they have bothered to focus on anything else. After all, their track record for popular shows is Fairytail, Sword Ass Online, and Seven Deadly Frames (not my joke but I screamed when I heard it). So…yeah, maybe they should keep it a bit more lowkey.
As far as actually animation goes, this is also admittedly nothing special. The animation can largely be described as just fine, although there are plenty of scenes where the character movements feel a lot more expressive than in your typical rom-com series. My favorite parts are probably the gaming ones where the crew gets together to play an MMO, as the movements and character designs for those scenes I can only describe as incredibly cute.
Musically there were not a ton of stand-out pieces. Again, it all kind of felt just fine. The exception to this critique is the opening and, to a lesser extent, the ending, both of which had me bopping my head along.
Wotakoi was a definite surprise for me. It was not a series I was expecting to get much out of but ended up being incredibly entertaining, even if I would put some other series in its lane a bit ahead. For those that have the time and are looking for a solid romantic comedy with an otaku spin, this is the series for you.
How do you all feel about Wotakoi? Let me know in the comments.
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