Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: Wotakoi – Love is Difficult for Otaku

Original Run: April 13, 2018 - June 22, 2018
Number of Episodes: 11
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Based on the Series Created By: Fujita

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Wotakoi: Love is Difficult for Otaku. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Narumi Momose (voiced by Arisa Date) is an otaku. Although she loves anime and manga, every time Narumi has revealed her fandoms, that admission has destroyed every relationship she has ever been in. That is why she is determined to keep her true self a secret at her new job.

Fate, as it seems, has other plans.

Narumi quickly discovers there are fellow otaku among her co-workers, including the longtime couple Hanako Koyanagi and Taro Kabakura (voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro and Tomokazu Sugita). However, the biggest surprise comes when Narumi learns that one of her new colleagues is her childhood friend, the chronic gamer Hirotaka Nifuji (voiced by Kent Ito).

Since Hirotaka is an otaku just like her, Narumi instantly opens up about how her nerdom has put a strain on her love life. She asks Hirotaka why she can’t find a guy who can accept her interests. Upon hearing that, Hirotaka offers a suggestion.

Why don’t the two of them try dating?

Narumi accepts Hirotaka’s proposal, and the two friends become a couple. They soon learn, though, that love is difficult for otaku.

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Series Positives

Wotakoi: Love is Difficult for Otaku (Wotakoi) was great. This show was extremely pleasant and a ton of fun. From the first few minutes to the very end, this series had my full, undivided attention.

To start, this was an adult anime.

I know where some of your minds went after reading that, and you are getting the wrong idea. When I say Wotakoi was an adult anime, I mean that it was an anime that focused on adult characters. This show didn’t have any of the awkward baggage that would come with a story set in high-school. Moreover, since this was also a romance story, the lack of adolescent awkwardness was even more appreciated.

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And as a love story, Wotakoi – at the time of this review going live – is easily one of the best romance anime to come out of 2018. As a romance junkie myself, this series hit everything I am looking for. This show got sweet, heartwarming, and it had not just one, but TWO couples worth following.

Going along with that, Wotakoi was incredibly funny as well. This series had a lot of charm that made it hilarious, and on more than one occasion, it had me laughing pretty hard. There was a solid mix of visual, dialogue, and situational gags that made this show a riot.

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In addition to that, since this was a series with four main otaku characters, there were a ton of references to other anime and nerd culture. I highly suggest keeping a close eye on what is going on in the background of this show. You never know what sort of Easter Eggs you might find.

With that said, do you need to be familiar with a bunch of anime to get the full experience out of this show? No, you don’t. In fact, that is one of the biggest strengths of Wotakoi. Although this series did employ a lot of otaku terminology, that was only ever secondary. First and foremost, Wotakoi ensured that it had a strong story and a cast of characters to grow invested in.

Good thing, too, because it was that latter point (the characters) that made this show what it was.

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The Characters

It’s important to note that although all of these characters were functioning adults with jobs and responsibilities, they were still otaku in every sense of the word. Each of them had their own fandoms, and they all had, at a minimum, a working appreciation of everyone else’s.

To get an idea of what kind of otaku everyone was:

  • Narumi was big on anime, as well as an amateur manga author.
  • Hirotaka was a gamer, and one of his systems was never out of arm’s reach.
  • Hanako was a famous cosplayer who specialized in portraying male characters.
  • Taro was the least intense of the four but was nevertheless a huge fan of bishojo manga.
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For some, specifically Narumi, they tried to keep quiet about their interests. Meanwhile, others, such as Hirotaka, couldn’t have cared less if people knew they were an otaku. However, when any combinations of these four characters were together, none of them had any reservations about expressing what it was they liked.

It was these interactions that made Wotakoi as great as it was.

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Early on, this show firmly established what the characters’ relationships towards each other were. With that out of the way, this series spent the rest of its time truly getting to know who our key four were; both on a personal level and, for the couples, on a much more intimate one.

Narumi and Hirotaka reached a point in the first episode that other series take their entire story to get to. Our two main characters started dating right away. These two completely bypassed the whole will-they-or-won’t-they build up. Because of this, Wotakoi was able to explore what comes after the happy ending.

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As part of that, Narumi and Hirotaka never came off as an established couple. It took a while for it to click with these two that they were actually dating. Some of the best moments of this show were when this pair found themselves in situations that brought them closer.

There was never a bad moment with Narumi and Hirotaka because they remained very good friends. Speaking for myself, this was the reason why I was rooting for these two. They were comfortable around each other, and that made the more romantic moments feel a lot more natural when they came about.

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Conversely, Hanako and Taro’s relationship was a lot more established. Compared to our leads, Hanako and Taro had been together for a long time. Their level of comfort towards one another was on a noticeably different level.

On the surface, it appeared as though Hanako and Taro were having a lot of problems. Whenever they were together, they always seemed to disagree, and they had no qualms about trading insults. Sometimes this did get a bit out of hand, but when that happened, the true state of their relationship came out.

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Should this story continue – and I really hope it does – I doubt Narumi and Hirotaka will ever become the kind of couple Hanako and Taro were. That is something I liked about Wotakoi. Both sets of couples did care for each other; they just had different ways of showing it.

As individuals, the four main characters of this show, Narumi, Hirotaka, Hanako, and Taro were great. What made them and this series amazing was how their personalities played off each other.

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Series Negatives

Were there problems with Wotakoi? Yes, there were – technically. I’ll leave that statement there for now.

Despite how fun, funny, adorable, and enjoyable this series was, it still felt incomplete. No matter how you look at it, there was so much more that could have been done here. Given the setup of this show, you’ll find yourself constantly asking, “And then what happened?”

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For example, Narumi and Hirotaka were just starting out as a couple. Throughout this series, they were trying to break away from the label of simply being childhood friends. Nothing was ever going to change that fact, but they were attempting to be something more.

Granted, it was their previous relationship and comfort towards each other that made it easy to cheer for Narumi and Hirotaka. While watching this show, not only do you want to see how far they will go, you also want to see how they might react if something came up.

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Part of the reason why I loved this series was due to the lack of heavy drama. There was never any need to get worked up over something. Nevertheless, though, there was literally no challenge.

Narumi and Hirotaka never had the slightest disagreement that was not related to their otaku-ism. Am I saying there needed to be a giant blowout? Not at all, except even the smallest difference of opinions couldn’t have been too much to ask for.

What’s worse, Wotakoi kept teasing that something was on the verge of happening. Whenever this occurred, the reactions Narumi and Hirotaka gave helped build them as characters because they were reacting to something extreme they thought was about to happen. But this was a double-edged sword. Those possible extreme outcomes were always interesting ideas.

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All that notwithstanding, Narumi and Hirotaka were a couple that preferred to take things slow. Therefore, wouldn’t it make more sense that nothing huge would happen at this stage of their relationship? Or at the very least, wouldn’t it make sense that nothing big would happen at this stage of this story. That is why I’m okay with not pushing this issue with our main couple.

For Hanako and Taro, on the other hand: What the hell?

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Wotakoi was always about to give us more details about these two, and we were always left hanging. Amongst all the hostility and shouting Hanako and Taro did in public, there were a ton of hints that indicated a much more loving and affectionate couple in private. And when this series basically admitted that but never showed it, how can anyone help wanting more?

That takes me back to the question I asked at the beginning of this section: Were there problems with Wotakoi? Again, technically, there were. If other shows blue-balled as hard as this one did, yeah, it would be frustrating.

Fortunately, Wotakoi was not like other shows.

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Yes, there were a lot of details this series chose not to give us. I never even mentioned how Wotakoi started to develop a third relationship during the last two episodes. Still, if I were to harp on everything this show didn’t do, I would risk forgetting everything this show actually did do.

The point I’m trying to make is, Wotakoi gave a lot more than it kept.

This series is self-contained enough to remain a one season anime. However, if there were to ever be a season two, not only would that be fantastic, there would be plenty of material for Wotakoi to play with.

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Final Thoughts

If I had to say there was one thing this series got right, it would be that it managed to make itself its own thing. This show wasn’t the usual romance anime. Such uniqueness didn’t just allow this story to stand out, it also made it a ton of fun.

Not only is this series great for your typical romance junkie, but it is also perfect for anyone, anime fan or not, looking for something light and hilarious. Helping to achieve that was a well-rounded cast of characters that you will want to follow to the end, and sometimes beyond.

This was easily one of the best shows to come out of the 2018 Spring season, and Wotakoi: Love is Difficult for Otaku is absolutely worth a look.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Wotakoi: Love is Difficult for Otaku? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

Post Editor: Onions

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