After getting dumped by her hot normie boyfriend, yaoi otaku Narumi Momose runs away and changes jobs to hide her shame. What were the chances that her childhood friend and hardcore game otaku, Hirotaka Nifuji, would be working there as well? The two spend their days working together at the office and their nights at the bar, drinking beer, eating meat and grinding for rare materials. Narumi is desperate for a boyfriend, but never considered the idea of dating a fellow otaku. Will Hirotaka’s offer change her mind?
Okay, so you know how I said that a bunch of other premieres were super charming? Well, as hard as they try they still can’t beat the opening episode of Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku. Here we have an actual, honest to goodness romance anime about adults, and they’re also trying to hide their incredibly nerdy interests and act like they’re super normal people while they’re at work. This is the most relatable premise that I have ever seen with my own two eyes. Narumi is more me than I am.
So, what’s the first step to making a great romantic comedy? Flawed, funny and relatable characters! Wotakoi has these in spades. Narumi is a yaoi fangirl who loves playing dating sims, attending cons and used to make doujinshi, and she tries to hide her otaku side as best she can and wants to date a cute, normal guy. Hirotaka is a video game addict who doesn’t really try to hide his obsession, but that’s more so because he doesn’t like interacting with people or trying to make friends with people who he doesn’t have anything in common with. They’re the two romantic leads, and they have a great camaraderie that makes every scene they share a joy to watch. We are also introduced to Hanako Koyanagi, a colleague of Narumi’s who she correctly suspects is also into the otaku scene. She’s a cosplayer who seems to prefer crossplaying (crossdressing cosplay), and was actually a huge fan of Narumi’s doujin and used to buy her books at conventions.
Over the course of the episode the chemistry between Narumi and Hirotaka grows organically. They spend a lot of time together, they’re such regulars at the bar that the staff even think they’re boyfriend and girlfriend, much to Narumi’s amusement. I watched the second episode of Real Girl earlier today (I actually watched that, the second episode of Tada Never Falls In Love, then this, bringing my romance quota up to 300% for the day), and one of my main problems with it was the fact that the two romantic leads don’t even seem to really like each other or be capable of having a pleasant conversation; here, they genuinely enjoy and seek out each other’s company even before they start dating, and they have a really natural relationship which can be surprisingly rare in romance anime. That, combined with the fact that both characters are in their mid twenties and have relationship experience, gives Wotakoi’s main romance a much more authentic feel.
It also helps that the character animation in this first episode is pretty great. Obviously this isn’t the sort of genre that calls for excessively detailed sakuga, but there are bits of character animation, like their gestures and shifts in body language as they talk to one another, that give us more insight into their character traits and feelings. That, along with the lovely artwork and fantastic rendering of facial expressions, adds a lot of life to this production. I hope this level of quality continues into the later episodes. The only slight nitpick I have is that I wish they’d drawn the game they were playing rather than just laying Monster Hunter PSP video footage over the top, but it’s a very minor issue and it doesn’t bother me that much.
Another very slight issue I had with the first episode was the return of the most tired and overused boob jokes in the world. “She has such big boobs!” “I’m so flat chested…” et cetera. For an anime that’s shown such promise for its comedy, to bring out the oldest joke in the book and do literally nothing new with it is a bit of a disappointment. If you’ve gotta do the boob jokes, at least put a fun spin on it!
Honestly, there’s not much else I can say because every point I try to make only devolves into how charming and relatable this show is. It’s a crying shame that at this moment it’s only available to legally watch on Amazon Prime in Japan, Canada, the UK and Ireland, because everybody deserves to see this great show! So I’ll leave you with this: As soon as you can get access to this show, watch it. Also, I want Hirotaka to be my boyfriend so that he’ll help me grind for materials and never make me cry. What a great dude.
- A fantastic cast of immediately likeable characters
- The scene where Hirotaka asks Narumi out is honestly one of the most adorable little speeches I’ve ever witnessed, I’m ready to marry him
- Great comedic timing
- Tired boob joke
- It’s still not available worldwide, which is actually a crime. I’m calling the police.