Bottom-tier Character Tomozaki
by Kim Morrissy,
How would you rate episode 3 of
Bottom-tier Character Tomozaki ?
We're starting to see the seeds of conflict being sown between Tomozaki and Hinami. In just this episode alone, he meekly objects to her advice on three separate occasions, arguing that her way of doing things isn't "sincere." In the end, he still does what she says, but there's a sense that despite his own gamer proclivities, Tomozaki and Hinami don't see fully eye to eye.
With just these few scenes, Tomozaki has become a more interesting character to me. In the first episode, he was a template misanthrope, but here he comes off as endearingly awkward more than anything. Gen Sato's voice acting is superb; the way Tomozaki mumbles and fails to project his voice sounds painfully like how a real person who lacks in confidence would speak. Not only is it funny when he fumbles his way through his conversation with a shop assistant or the girl he sits next to in class, it helps build up Tomozaki as a more earnest sort of character than you'd expect at face value. He is seriously attempting to take on Hinami's advice without half-assing it or making up excuses for his failures.
Being as socially awkward as he is, Tomozaki obviously isn't in the position to argue with Hinami about the best way to go about social interactions. But when he says it's not sincere to view the girls around him as tools for his social enrichment, he absolutely has a point. By centering Tomozaki's climb up the social ladder on finding a girlfriend, Hinami's attitude borders that of pickup artists (who also incidentally refer to their sleazy tactics as "The Game"). Even if she doesn't advocate that he say or do anything that would actually come across as creepy to another girl, it just isn't right to view a girlfriend as a trophy or status achievement.
Tomozaki's uneasiness with "conquering" a heroine in real life surfaces in his interactions with his shy bookworm classmate Kikuchi. Hinami has identified her as the girl who would be easiest for Tomozaki to get into a relationship with, and she's probably right in thinking that Kikuchi harbors interest in him. The girl even initiates conversation with Tomozaki in the library, and they bond over what she thinks is a mutual love of books. But their connection is actually based on a misunderstanding, and Tomozaki doesn't have the heart to correct her otherwise, because Hinami is pushing for him to buddy up with her. She's clearly a nice girl, and Tomozaki seems to be attracted to her judging by his blushes, but that's probably what makes him feel even worse about taking advantage of her.
Tomozaki's burgeoning relationship with Kikuchi gets put on hold, however, when Izumi, the girl he sits next to in class, asks him to teach her how to play Attack Family. Throughout Tomozaki's awkward attempts at conversing with her in this episode, Izumi has been sending gentle yet firm "I'm not interested in you" signals, the way most girls would cautiously react when a guy whom they don't particularly like or dislike has suddenly started talking to them at every opportunity. So her request at the end is pretty intriguing, especially since she seemed to be upset about something when she asked him. Will Tomozaki's pro gamer skills help break the ice?
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