Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku
Episode 6

by Steve Jones,

How would you rate episode 6 of
Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku ?

Ho ho ho! It's a very otaku Christmas in Wotakoi, so grab some nog and hang some lights as we jingle down in that merry way. And if you can't find any nog because it's the middle of May and maybe around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, just remember that even spring anime deserve to have Christmas episodes.

Before we get to Christmas, however, our quartet of lovable nerds has to survive the rainy season. This incident demonstrates that neither Hirotaka nor Narumi possess the wherewithal to act like adults. Narumi, having forgotten her umbrella, tees up the ball for Hirotaka to hit, only to have him immediately strike out because he also forgot his umbrella. It's a classic subversion of a classic romantic cliche, and it's even more proof that they deserve to be together. Mercifully, Kabakura takes pity on his friends and lets them use his umbrella, which allows him to look quite dashing despite the fact that he dashes off to buy Evangelion merchandise. Both couples have some cute moments in the rain, with Narumi impressed by Hirotaka's casual gentlemanly flair, while Hanako dotes on a soaked Kabakura. It's not an especially funny bit, but it's a sweet snapshot of their respective romantic dynamics.

The next part balances romance and comedy in the way that I've come to expect from Wotakoi. It begins with a common source of relationship friction, with one partner feeling down but trying not to show it and the other partner noticing right away anyway. In this case, it's Narumi who's upset and Hirotaka who notices that she hadn't been tweeting all afternoon. (I have definitely been there.) Hirotaka, hilariously terrible impression of his girlfriend's voice aside, cares about Narumi and wants to cheer her up. Kabakura and Hanako do their best to help (spoiler: it's not much), but as with most relationship woes, the best solution is communicating openly with your partner. Even though Narumi's intention not to saddle Hirotaka with her problems is noble, it still makes him feel like there's a gulf between them, causing more harm than help in the end. Being together means you get to share both the good stuff and the bad stuff, so neither person has to bear the burden entirely by themselves. It's a frank depiction of a real problem, and of course it's all an extended setup for the punchline: Narumi's sad because her fave has died.

Caring about fictional characters is certainly not a phenomenon exclusive to otaku, and sure it's pretty silly to get noticeably upset about, but the feelings are still real. I remember finishing End of Evangelion for the first time and then having to go to class and function like a normal human being despite the ensuing emotional turmoil. It's rough! Off camera, Hirotaka understandably gets a little mad at Narumi, not because she didn't have a valid reason for feeling down, but because her lack of communication made him think it was so much worse. Later, when they're out for drinks, they can laugh about it, because they're both embarrassing nerds and that's what being an embarrassing nerd is all about.

Naturally, the first mention of Christmas in Wotakoi arrives with a reference to a gacha event. We learn a little about everyone's past, like how Narumi believed in Santa until she got to middle school. (I made it to fourth grade myself.) Hirotaka figured it out in kindergarten but played along with the act for Naoya's sake, because he's a good big brother. Kabakura and Hanako had a basically nonexistent Christmas last year, thanks to Kabakura burying himself in work. Everyone's understandably jaded about Christmas, since the holiday means something different once you're an adult in the workforce. The only person who seems to hang onto their purity of Christmas spirit is the ever-bubbly Naoya, who's also not coincidentally the youngest of the cast members. He also has it the toughest, having to hand out coffee in the cold while wearing an uninsulated Santa outfit. Nonetheless, his optimistic outbursts of Christmas cheer are the perfect contrast to Hirotaka's dry assessment of his brother as an easily forgotten side character. Naoya is also single, as it turns out, so that's probably a plot thread to watch for in the future.

This was a slight but acceptable episode of Wotakoi. The character art looked especially rough this week, but it's the middle of the season so that's nothing unusual. None of the jokes were slam dunks, but I appreciated the shout out to the strangely mesmerizing nature of the Super Mario 64 title screen. And despite tribulations earlier in the episode, it was nice to see both couples spend a romantic Christmas together. For Hanako and Kabakura, the season means sharing a fancy meal and exchanging rare Yuruyuri Nendoroids as gifts. For Narumi and Hirotaka, it's all about ordering pizza and grinding rare drops together. Those both sound like pretty ideal ways to celebrate, not gonna lie.

Rating: B-

Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku is currently streaming on Amazon.

Steve is a longtime anime fan who can be found making bad posts about anime on his Twitter.

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