This Week in Anime
Wotakoi is the Relatable Otaku Love Story We Need

by Nicholas Dupree and Steve Jones,

Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku delivers warm fuzzy romance and anime reference humor in equal measure. This week, Nick and Steve dig into what aspects of this romcom they see in the otaku relationships around them.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.


@Lossthief

@Liuwdere

@ANNJakeH

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You can read our weekly coverage of Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku here!

Nick D
Steve, you know I don't like to throw shade, but it just can't be overlooked. I don't know what loser they got to write the Daily Streaming Reviews for Wotakoi, but I think it's time for us to sit down and set the record straight for them.

Steve
haha y-yeah...let's show 'em!

boy i'm glad there's a Narumi face for every mood

For sure, Narumi's Face Game is pretty unbeatable, which is saying something in this season.

Right? We can get back to dunking on that horrible yet impossibly handsome reviewer later, but for now let's embrace the wonderful world of otaku romance and embarrassment that is Wotakoi!

I was excited for Wotakoi from the moment it was announced. I'm a romcom junkie above all else, but even I have a limit to how many times I can watch high schoolers spend 12 episodes working up the courage to hold hands, so I was pretty hype for a show starring actual adults who pay taxes and shit.

Yeah, I love me a good teen romance as much as the next anime fan who has little choice but to watch them regularly if you want your love story fix. But I'm glad we've started to get more shows that target the sizable adult otaku audience. Last year we got the super charming MMO Junkie, and Wotakoi seemed poised to scratch a similar itch. Now halfway through the season, I think it's been super great!

At least it's accurate to the otaku dating experience.

It's refreshing for sure, especially as a comedy about adult nerds trying to date while still being very much into their hobbies, which doesn't get much focus in media outside of like, webcomics.

Yes, we've mostly been at a Loss outside of those.

It's also nice to have a romance where the characters already know each other and approach dating the way actual humans do. I can enjoy a good dramatic confession, but there's something to be said for a couple that's just together because they already enjoyed each other's company.

This shit is way more cute than any meet cute, basically.


Our nerd quartet is beyond cute! And they all have great rapport with each other. Even before Narumi and Hirotaka started officially dating, their banter was full of fun jabs and japes at each other that felt just like how I got along with my own friends. It's a little more anime-like than what most people would consider lifelike, which is to be expected from a show called Wotakoi, but the strong character work goes a long way toward making Wotakoi consistently entertaining.

And adorable as heck.


Also that silly little dance they do in the OP is A+

That dance is adorable, yes. And Wotakoi's focus on anime/game references could easily have been boring or repetitive, but something about its execution just makes it super #relatable more than anything. I know a lot of nerds in relationships with other nerds, and Narumi's rapport with Hirotaka is spot on to how many of them act.

this is what true love looks like

It's also nice that the series is aware of how their different interests intersect differently with the world around them. Narumi's a fujoshi who even creates her own BL doujinshi for Comiket, and she tends to be much more guarded about that hobby around people than Hirotaka, Who Plays Monster Hunter On His Lunch Break. This makes sense, since even as Nerd Culture has become more commonplace, female-centered interests still tend to get massively ostracized compared to stuff that's considered "for men" (and therefore, "for everyone").

Yes! And that also ties into the show's focus on Narumi's friendship with Hanako. Of course, since it's a comedy, there are many gags based on the fact that they're into BL, but the show never judges or admonishes them for it. Doujinshi is just treated as another facet of otaku life, just like Hirotaka's games or Kabakura's Kancolle figures.

This mutual support between two fujoshi characters is sadly rare to see in anime, but I hope we see more of it in the future.

It's also nice that Narumi's comparative excitement about her hobby is never turned into a joke. The show (and Hirotaka) finds it endearing how much she throws herself into what she loves.

Wotakoi basically pokes a little fun at everyone's hobbies, but never to the extent of making the characters feel wrong for liking what they like, which I think is the crucial key to its success. Because otaku can get a little too serious about their interests, and it's always good to be able to laugh at yourself, but there's a significant gulf between that and being mean-spirited or judgmental. Wotakoi's humor always feels reflexive to me, like it's by nerds and for nerds. We should be able to celebrate and laugh at anime in equal measure.

(tho I'm with Hanako on this one)


Personally I'm just glad at least one character in this show is on the right side of Macross history.

(Sheryl Fans, please address all complaints to the dumpster, where the rest of Macross Frontier belongs.)

I have yet to fall into the Macross hole, so I don't know what any of that means and please direct all your hate mail towards Nick, thank you. But for all of the anime references that I know and love in Wotakoi, I like that a lot of the humor isn't necessarily otaku-based, but comes from awkward people trying to navigate the early stages of a relationship together.

Like Narumi's first instinct when she agrees to go out with Hirotaka is to avoid him at all costs, and I felt that so hard.

I especially love when any of the characters try to be lovey-dovey in a typically anime way and just totally fail. Like when Narumi "accidentally" forgets her umbrella...

And Hirotaka cannot take the hint.

God I love these totally functional adults. On the other side of the coin, we have the seasoned otaku-dating veterans, Hanako and Kabakura. They're a ton of fun because they spend every waking moment totally in love and totally antagonizing each other.


Hanako is, by the by, The Best.

HARD AGREE


I don't know if Kabakura fully appreciates how hot of a guy his girlfriend makes, but at least he accepts it.


That's the part of their relationship I really like. Where Narumi and Hirotaka are still sorta figuring out dating in their own laid-back way, Kabakura and Hanako have been together for years, so they're a lot more comfortable together. This is partly why they argue so much; when you're that close to somebody with an equally strong personality, you're likely to clash, and their dynamic is mostly entertaining because of it. That said, I do feel like it goes overboard sometimes. If that "ugly hag" bit before didn't tip you off, they can get mean enough sometimes that it does sometimes verge into uncomfortable territory.

True. The saving grace for me is that they both go off on each other with pretty much equal vitriol, so it usually balances out. That said, I wasn't a fan of how easily Kabakura was able to diffuse the situation when Hanako got too drunk, since he never let himself get as emotionally vulnerable, so I didn't feel like he earned it.

On the other hand, he got his comeuppance in the next episode.


Yeah, that whole sequence with their public fight rubbed me the wrong way, and it's probably the least I've liked an episode of Wotakoi so far. Like you said, we get a real look into Hanako's insecurities without getting the equivalent from Kabakura.


And for some reason they decided to interrupt this moment with a random boob joke. Like c'mon, y'all.

Narumi's bosom awareness aside, I do appreciate that Wotakoi deals with basic relationship woes that everyone goes through. The subtitle is "love is hard for otaku," which is true because love is hard for everyone. The end of that episode has Narumi confess that she fears her relationship with Hirotaka is purely based on convenience. There's nothing otaku-exclusive about that problem. It's just something you tend to feel when your relationship has maybe gotten too comfortable and you're insecure.


Yeah. My only other nitpick with the show is that its production feels phenomenally bare-bones considering its noitaminA background. It's kind of the inverse problem of this season's other romcom, Tada Never Falls In Love. Where that show has fantastic direction and animation with middling material, Wotakoi has good material with exceedingly workmanlike presentation.

It's not great, but there are also at least one hundred different anime airing this season, so at this point I'm accepting the jank bits and praying every day that the animators are eating and sleeping enough.

At least they never fail to make Hirotaka the most moe.



Yeah, it is mostly a nitpick on my end. For the most part, Wotakoi is a fun and unique romcom with a charming cast that I think a lot of adult nerds will find endearing.

If nothing else, it nails the feeling of creeping into adulthood against your will.


very same


Overall, Wotakoi is another solid entry in the Cute Otaku Adults Doing Cute Things genre, which I pray becomes a staple in future seasons.

Well, thank you for helping me set the record straight on Wotakoi, Steve. Maybe sometime soon, we can sit down and show that numbskull writing the Tokyo Ghoul:re reviews what's what.

HA HA YEAH HEY WOW LOOK AT THE TIME GOTTA GO FAST


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