Bottom-tier Character Tomozaki
Episode 1-2

by Kim Morrissy,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Bottom-tier Character Tomozaki ?

How would you rate episode 2 of
Bottom-tier Character Tomozaki ?

Having read the Bottom-tier Character Tomozaki light novels, I have a pretty good idea of where the story of this anime is headed, but I'll try not to let my knowledge of the future influence my appraisals of these episodes too much. These first two episodes are very much in character-establishing territory, so it's hard to get a feel for what this story is ultimately trying to accomplish, but the basic premise is interesting: How far will you get if you try to apply a gamer's logic to real-life social interactions?

Our protagonist Tomozaki begins this story with the belief that his skill at games does not translate to success in his school's social hierarchy. His base stats, he thinks, are too low: he's not conventionally attractive, and he lacks charisma and social skills. His belief that life is just a terrible game that isn't worth trying gets challenged when he discovers that Hinami, a girl whom he previously believed was just another one of the popular kids, has the gaming skills to rival him. What's more, she reveals that she has found success in life by approaching it like another game – through figuring out the tricks and strategies.

All of this is couched in a load of insufferable gamer talk, and I can totally understand why people would be put off by the dialogue. But when you look past the surface analogies and think about what Hinami is trying to say, it honestly seems quite thoughtful and considered. The skills you hone through succeeding at a game can be applied to the real world, because games are an extension – not an escape – from the real world. I think it's also worth noting that the game Tomozaki is really good at is basically an anime version of Super Smash Bros., a party game that you play with friends.

The way Hinami goes about things is very calculated, which makes sense since she's literally "gamifying" life. She instructs Tomozaki to wear a mask so that he can practice smiling underneath it, and gives him flashcards to memorize conversation topics. She also encourages Tomozaki to break down the individual components of conversations, prompting him to realize that social interactions actually can be analyzed and understood like anything else. Regardless of whether the things Tomozaki realizes are obvious to you or not, it's genuinely kind of neat how this anime gets you to scrutinize things that you may take for granted.

The second episode introduces more of the broader cast, such as the energetic Mimimi and the obstinate Hanabi. Tomozaki is encouraged to whet his teeth by talking to these girls, with Hinami watching in the background to defuse any awkwardness that arises. The gaming talk takes a backseat here, and we get our first little glimpses at who these people are. Even from just the second episode alone, it's easy to see why Mimimi is a fan favorite. Not only did the animators seem to give her movements the most attention, she's got chill unlike anybody else in this story has so far.

All in all, the anime is off to a decent start, but without a compelling interpersonal conflict, it feels more like a self-help book than an actual story so far. Tomozaki is more of a test subject than his own person at this point, so I hope to see the story "level up," so to speak.

Rating:

Bottom-tier Character Tomozaki is currently streaming on Funimation Entertainment.


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