Monday, August 19, 2019

Missed It Monday - Wotakoi: Love is Hard For Otaku (Anime Review)

Missed It Monday is the ongoing series where I review anime and manga I missed when they first came out to see if there are great series out there that I need to add to my life.

Love is hard for otaku
Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku - 6.5/10

Wotakoi: Love Is Hard For Otaku does an admirable job filling a much needed gap in my manga/anime habits: series focused on actual, honest to goodness, adults! Let's be honest. I'm 39. I can't only (notice I said "only") read about high-school girls in love with each other. Right? So I'm always on the lookout for great josei manga or adult-focused anime series.

Wotakoi isn't great, but it also isn't very problematic either. It does it's job and was pleasant enough to have been worth watching once, and since all the characters are adults, and those adults are kind to each other, it made it a good enough fit.

Momose is a young woman starting her first day at a new company. She's also a relentless fujoshi otaku and has either ruined every relationship she's been in because of it, or had to hide it in order to appear "normal." On her first day, she bumps into a middle-school friend, Nifuji, who is already working at the company and is also a gaming otaku. Comforted by his presence, they rekindle their friendship.

Early on, it becomes clear that Nifuji has feelings for her. He struggles with socializing and hasn't really put dating at the forefront, but that may also be because he's always liked her, and having her return means he can be at peace. The show only hints a few times at their middle school years together, but it is very clear during that time that he was smitten. Her return seems very comforting to him and like a missing piece has been found.

Momose hasn't ever thought of him like that, but warms to the idea quickly, and they begin dating, making an exceedingly cute pairing in their own weird idiosyncratic way. They also are quick friends with two others from the company who are also dating (and also otaku): Koyanagi and Kabakura. The two couples end up spending much of the series together in various otaku environments and activities, but also doing occasional couple things.

This isn't a complicated show. Basically, we watch these two couples work through various minor things in their relationships all while engaging in otaku activities and lightly poking fun at each other. The humor of the show often comes from thinking the scene is about one thing only to find out they're actually talking about an otaku activity, preference, or pet peeve.

Perhaps the best part of the show is watching Nifuji slowly open up to other people and grow a richer social life. Momose can read his subtle expressions and knows how deep and complex his feelings are even though he looks stoic to everyone else. It's a nice way of demonstrating how close they are in their relationship.

But the show really isn't about anything, which is fine. Yet the humor is only pleasant, not necessarily laugh-out-loud funny. In fact, pleasant (the third time I've used it in this review) is about the only word to describe this show. It doesn't hit any extremes, it doesn't have much to say, it isn't complicated or insightful, it's just sort of "there." That's okay, not a criticism, but it's why the score isn't higher. This is a kind, mindless show with nice people being generally nice to each other, and at least they are all adults.

It definitely left me wanting more shows about adults. But it didn't make me want to pick up the manga series and get more of these characters directly. Every episode was more or less the same, and 11 of them was enough. The animation was very very minimal. And what animation there was, was pretty rough. This looks like a budget production. That doesn't detract from it, but it doesn't help it out either. Greater animation wouldn't have changed the underlying characters, their actions and relationships, nor the humor, so spending a ton on it probably wouldn't have been justified.

There are a couple small criticisms though. Momose's character is presented as being pretty average at her job and maybe a bit ditzy. It's the "average" girl type. Thankfully, they give her personality and quirks, but I didn't love that aspect of the show. Also, what's up with their jobs? They seem to sit in a large bank of cubicles typing "reports" all day. I don't think any real business works that way, so my only guess is the creator just needing a random workplace as a backdrop. But unlike other shows that use the job as part of the plot or story-elements from time to time, this series never makes use of it (at least in the anime) and that limits things to a degree. Instead, they're either drinking at a bar or drinking at home all while talking manga and anime, but not even doing that in any great detail.

So there you have it, a perfectly nice (see, a new word to describe it!) show about adults. Nothing earth shattering or mind blowing, but I lightly enjoyed it. A 6.5/10 is the best a show like this can hope for from me. But there was a lot of untapped potential for the genre to really do something meaningful with everyday adults doing every day things. Hopefully we'll get one of those shows in the future.


Please legitimately purchase or borrow manga and anime. Never read scanlations or watch fansubs. Those rob the creators of the income they need to survive and reduce the chance of manga and anime being legitimately released in English.

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