Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku Review – An Adorkable Anime

 

Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku is a refreshing twist on the romantic comedy genre featuring a charmingly diverse cast and relatable interactions that make for some of the most “realistic” relationships in anime.

The show follows different otaku in various casual and romantic situations. The plot might initially feel somewhat mundane compared to more story driven romantic comedies like Toradora, however this actually lends itself to one of Wotakoi’s greatest strengths. By grounding itself in reality more than most romcoms, it is able to ironically stand out similar to how Tsuki ga Kirei is noteworthy for wholesome middle school innocence. Characters go about their daily lives working in a traditional office, juggling work with their personal lives, and doing their best to foster relationships.

Choose Your Character

Narumi, a closet fujoshi, and Hirotaka, a hardcore gamer, are the title couple. Entering a relationship so early in the show let Wotakoi focus on more engaging character and relationship developments as opposed to leaving viewers hanging with a slow drip romance culminating in a cliché kiss near the finale. Meanwhile, Kabakura, a more casual bishojo otaku, and Koyanagi, an intense cosplayer, are already in a relationship for some time at the start of the anime. Their initially volatile relationship juxtaposes Narumi and Hirotaka’s laid back approach to dating, making for more varied moments.

A third pair of characters rounds off the small cast later in the show. Naoya is Nifuji’s younger brother that gives otaku activities his all despite being a “normie,” and Kou is a very quiet introvert that expresses herself through games. Unbeknownst to Naoya due to her short hair, Kou is a girl.  Their almost inevitable romance provides a more traditional approach to anime relationships in terms of oblivious behavior regarding feelings and slow developments.

While there are no characters outside of the three couples, barring a few exceptions where forgettable one off characters say a few lines, Wotakoi has enough material to work with that more characters aren’t necessary. Most of the enjoyment stems from the eccentric cast coming together to play games, drink, or just even talk at Starbucks.

Love is Hard for Everyone

Solid character development is apparent for the entire cast throughout the anime. Kabakura for instance sheds his tough exterior to reveal more of his tender side. His hot and cold personality, clashing with Koyanagi, and being a great wingman for Hirotaka will likely make him a fan favorite character. Narumi on the other hand becomes more comfortable expressing her otaku interests thanks to her new friends. Wotakoi’s purity makes you want to root for the characters, outside of a few distasteful, but typical anime jokes.

The colorful cast enjoying manga shops, video games, drinking, and more give viewers the sense that there’s nothing wrong with being an otaku and people shouldn’t feel ashamed to be one. While otaku are far more prevalent in Japanese than American culture, this underlying theme is subtle. Viewers don’t need to have any geeky interests to enjoy the anime, although many jokes might fall flat.

Episodes for the most part are divided into two segments with the best episodes being one long segment. The longer segments allow some of the show’s diverse settings like the amusement park to shine, giving the writers additional opportunities for clever jokes and gags. A few segments drag on and rely on less effective jokes. However, the better segments overshadow them.

Whether the characters are walking in the rain or reminiscing about the past, nothing feels forced, adding to the natural developments between characters and their relatability. These aren’t people that one day suddenly decided to fall in love and everything is perfect. Wotakoi exemplifies the often-slow awkward nature of relationships that many people find themselves in before becoming more comfortable around each other.

The Sounds and Visuals of Love

The show’s cute, catchy vibrant opening is hard to skip. Narumi, Hirotaka, Kabakura, and Koyanagi show off some dance moves, along with different clips of the characters in their otaku habits, and the cast simply going about their daily lives. The animation is crisp and detailed before declining somewhere later in the anime. That being said, the drop in quality isn’t a detriment to the series since Wotakoi isn’t an anime you watch for visual splendor, but for the cast.

The ending sounds nice, although it isn’t as catchy or visually remarkable as the opening. Viewers will likely skip it after listening once in order to get to the next episode faster.

Lingering Feelings

Wotakoi is a treat for fans of romantic comedy. It is a great entry point for people reluctant to watch romcoms because of the minimal number of over the top cliché romantic moments. For example, characters do not dramatically rush to catch their love interest before they take a plane, move, or make some sort of questionable love triangle decision that divides viewers into determined support groups.

There is hope for a second season since the anime ended so naturally. I can only assume it followed the manga and didn’t force an original ending. For fans eager for more Wotakoi, they can jump into the manga. Otherwise, replay that opening and learn some new dance moves. Just make sure you have a partner to do them properly.

Score

Good Bad
Character Development A Few Dud Segments
Mostly Grounded in Reality Animation Declines Later On
Natural Development in Relationships
Catchy Opening

- 8/10 -