Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku – Anime Preview
Synopsis: When Narumi, an office lady who hides the fact that she is a yaoi fangirl, changes jobs, she is reunited with Hirotaka, her childhood friend who is attractive and skilled but is a hardcore gaming otaku. They decide to start dating for now, but being otaku, both of them are awkward so a serious romantic relationship is rather difficult for them… (Official Amazon Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Wotakoi feels like otaku pandering. All the otaku characters are gorgeous, which does subvert the stereotype of all otakus being overweight or ugly, but also makes it feel extremely narrow and fake. It throws in visuals references such as posters of Megumi Kato, a character from the otaku fav show, Saekano and plenty of Monster Hunter shout outs, including actual game footage to boost the otaku pandering further. The thing that’s most frustrating though is that this feels less like an otaku love story and more like someone mimicking what combining otaku cliches and ‘attractive’ character designs would be. The most ‘otaku’ thing the characters actually do in the first episode is play Monster Hunter together after work or during lunch breaks and that’s it. They’re even able to ‘hide’ their passions perfectly, with the only reveals coming from contrived set ups that ‘accidently’ out them to the ‘normies’ of the series. They spend more time talking about their otaku habbits than actively engaging in them.
Tom: Momose Narumi, our closet Otaku lead, can be pretty frustrating. While her desire to keep her Otaku interests hidden isn’t something I identify with, it is something I can understand. But her fervent disinterest in dating a fellow Otaku is something the show plays into too hard, repeating her unwillingness to do such a thing multiple times in episode one, only for the series to then do the hard shift the other way as her Otaku buddy, Nifuji, offers to date her, promising to always support her. More concerning than that though is the series’ lack of punchy humor, over-reliance on Monster Hunter as the go-to Otaku activity and just a generally bland atmosphere that keeps the series feeling too subdued.
Linny: The scenes where Momose engages in otaku loathing is kind of abhorrent to me as for one, it seems very hateful towards the community and also feels like self denial on a pretentious level. It’s reminiscent of someone engaging in the same activities they preach against but then going oh its okay for me to do them because so and so. This is likely all being done to give her a development arc but it made for content that immediately put me off and could risk doing the same to other viewers. Moving on to our male protagonist, Nifuji could EASILY pass as your generic, cliche stoic, tall, dark hero and the only ‘otaku’ thing about him so far is his tendency to play Monster Hunter whenever he has free time. I cannot tell if this show is trying to normalize or make fun of otakus, as on one hand, making them normal, functional members of society sends a positive message but on the other hand, its lead female keeps criticizing other otakus, in particular men, making for a complicated and unpleasant tone.
Tom: Wotakoi isn’t the worst romance anime out there. This first episode is bland, but if you’re looking for ‘comedy’ romance with a tinge of Otaku pandering, it seems poised to do that job. I’d prefer it if the comedy was funnier, the jokes more on point, and the references to games, anime, manga of a wider variety. But the series seems best exemplified by its lackluster background art: Workable, yet bland and unengaging.
Linny: Everything about Wotakoi felt very humdrum to me. None of its content really packs in a punch with a lot of the ‘extreme’ moments coming from our heroine’s own exaggerated reactions to situations of her own doing. So who is Wotakoi best suited for? Probably someone who wants a restrained romance with sprinklings of popular otaku properties and activities thrown in.
Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku is available for streaming via Amazon Video.