Sunday, September 23, 2018

REVIEW: Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku (anime TV series)

Wotakoi is a romantic comedy series.

The eternal problem, when I'm writing reviews for anime or manga: should I refer to the characters by their given names, their family names, or the name I best know them by? In this case, I'm going with the name I best know them by, which is going to result in almost all of the characters being referred to by their given names.


Narumi is a fujoshi otaku: she likes otome games and reading and creating BL manga. She's been this way for years, but now that she's in her twenties it's become a real problem. She hides her interests in an effort to blend in, but slip-ups happen. Her previous boyfriend dumped her when he found out she was a fujoshi, and she eventually left the company they both worked at in order to make a new start. Things will be better at her new workplace, she's sure.

Unfortunately, on her very first day she runs into Hirotaka, a fellow otaku (game otaku) and her best friend back in elementary and middle school. He almost immediately reveals her otaku nature, not realizing she's trying to hide it. All is not lost, however. Koyanagi and Kabakura, the two employees who heard what Hirotaka said, are otaku themselves (and also a couple!). And as for the whole dating thing, Hirotaka proposes solving Narumi's problem by dating her himself.

Oh, I loved this show. The only thing I didn't like was that it didn't really have an ending. If you own the manga (which I do, although I've only flipped through it so far), the anime covers all of the first omnibus volume and most of the second. Crossing my fingers that a second season gets released once the manga is further along.

The series follows three relationships, two that are for-sure romantic and one that's a friendship that I imagine will eventually turn into a romance. The focus was Narumi and Hirotaka. I have to admit, I worried about those two a bit. It seemed like Narumi mostly agreed to Hirotaka's proposal because it seemed easy and she liked him as a person. Which wasn't necessarily a bad thing, except it gradually became clear that Hirotaka had had a crush on Narumi for years. I didn't want this relationship to be more serious on his side than it was on hers, and I worried that she'd inadvertently break his heart.

Thankfully, the series did at least start to address this issue. If I remember right, Narumi herself got to thinking about it after witnessing a fight between Koyanagi and Kabakura about that very issue. Also, later in the series Hirotaka started to worry about whether they were behaving enough like a couple should. I really liked that relationships weren't presented as a "one size fits all" kind of thing. What worked for Narumi and Hirotaka wouldn't necessarily work for Koyanagi and Kabakura. At the same time, many of the characters learned something from watching the way others' relationships played out.

One thing I thought was interesting was that the series indirectly touched on the fact that a person's fantasies may have nothing to do with what they look for in a romantic partner. For example, Kabakura tends to like cute female manga characters, and Hirotaka likes female characters with big boobs. At one point in the series, it's briefly brought up that, technically, Narumi is more Kabakura's type and Koyanagi is more Hirotaka's. However, it's clear that neither one even vaguely has any interest along those lines.

I look forward to reading the manga, and can't wait until the US manga releases have made it past the point where the anime stopped. At the moment, my favorite pairing is one that only got an episode and a half, tops, in the anime: Naoya, a non-otaku who happens to be Hirotaka's brother, and Kou, a shy game otaku. At the point the series ends, they're friends (in fact, Naoya has no idea Kou is a girl). It's unclear whether they'll become a couple, but considering the series setup, it seems like a good bet. Whatever happens, I'm rooting for them. Kou reminded me a bit of me, only with zero ability to talk to others (I'm not that bad, thank goodness, even though I second-guess myself almost as much as her). And Naoya was a like a Golden Retriever in human form - eager to befriend Kou, who reminded him of his brother, and totally sweet.

Narumi and Hirotaka were my second favorite pairing, which was good considering they were they series' focus. I liked how well they got along, even though, as I said, I occasionally worried about their relationship. I was on the fence about Kabakura and Koyanagi. On the one hand, they'd been together for five years or so and seemed to have a decent rhythm going. On the other hand, all it took was getting Koyanagi drunk for the cracks to start to show - all her relationship insecurities and worries, and her hurt at the way Kabakura would often talk to her, calling her names instead of complimenting her. I was glad that Kabakura seemed to learn something from that incident and took a few cues from Hirotaka's behavior with Narumi in an effort to improve things. Even so, they were the most exhausting pairing in the series.

All in all, this is an excellent series that I hope gets a second season.

Additional Comments:

Either the whole "fujoshi mentally pairing up any real guys they see who happen to be physically close to each other" thing is real, or it's common anime/manga shorthand for fujoshi, because this is now the third or fourth work I've encountered where this has happened. Koyanagi and Narumi aren't as bad as Kiss Him, Not Me!'s Kae, but they did tend to drive Kabakura crazy with their tendency to discuss a pairing involving him and Hirotaka (Hirotaka was completely unfazed).

No comments:

Post a Comment