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Bottom-tier Character Tomozaki
Episode 4

by Kim Morrissy,

How would you rate episode 4 of
Bottom-tier Character Tomozaki ?
Community score: 4.4

Whew! What an episode! Tomozaki walks that fine line between "based" and "cringe," and I am here for it. This is exactly the kind of content I was hoping for when I booted up this anime.

From the low-key way the previous episode ended, I wasn't expecting this episode to escalate as much as it did. There's a sense that the episode rushed through the buildup somewhat, because when Nakamura challenges Tomozaki to an Attack Family rematch, it feels a bit abrupt. But the climax itself is an impeccably-directed culmination of all the themes expressed in the story so far. Tomozaki recognizes the effort Nakamura put into improving his game, and so even after he beats Nakamura soundly he feels inspired to defend him from their classmate Erika, who just doesn't understand what all this video game nonsense is about.

What makes Tomozaki's outburst in this episode so brilliant from a storytelling perspective is that there are so many different ways you could perceive it, depending on what position you occupy as an observer. When Erika says that it's kimoi to care so much about a video game, in context she's basically saying that it's "cringe," and it's pretty easy to see why she would think this. Even beyond the general dismissiveness around video games as a hobby, Tomozaki's actions went completely against the "atmosphere" in the room at that moment. It's hard to get along casually with the other kids at school if you care that much about anything. Usually, it's better to laugh things off without addressing the elephants in the room. Tomozaki felt that oppressive "atmosphere" and decided "To hell with it!" And in doing so, he undeniably made everybody in the room uncomfortable.

If there's one thing to say about Tomozaki as a person, he's 100% earnest. By burying himself in Attack Family in the first place, he decided at the time that he wasn't going to let what other people thought of him interfere with what he wanted to do. The truth is that he does care about other people, and much of this show so far has been about him changing himself in order to meet those people halfway, but there are still certain things that he doesn't want to change. He refuses to go easy on Nakamura in their rematch, for instance, even if it would have been the better thing to do socially. He also comes clean with Kikuchi and admits that he's never read Andi's works, and that conversation ends with him just wanting to be her friend rather than asking her out on a date.

Under most circumstances, Tomozaki should have become a weirdo guy whom his classmates would awkwardly skirt around, but his earnestness throughout this series helped him forge a genuine connection with someone. Izumi, who lamented to him earlier in the episode that she didn't think that she would ever have the guts to go against the crowd, meekly stands up for Tomozaki after his speech. By doing this, she influenced the "atmosphere" of the room, so that the lasting impression of Tomozaki probably ended up being something along the lines of "He's a little weird, but he has a point." Judging by his conversation with Hinami at the end, things ended up alright for now.

This anime took a while to get going, but it's definitely on-point when it comes to exploring various social anxieties. Although the production itself is modest overall, the attention to character animation in the dramatic conversations helps sell the emotional reality that they're experiencing. I found it easy to empathize with Tomozaki even if what he said was "cringe" in most contexts. And once again, that was some fantastic voice acting from Gen Sato. The man is absolutely Poggers. What a gamer. What a chad.


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

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