Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku First Impressions

Synopsis

Narumi has learned the hard way that it’s best to keep her otaku tendencies to herself. Despite the fact that she has loved all things anime, manga, and games for almost all of her twenty-six years, she’s only once had a friend who shared her interests, and when her otaku-ness came out at her workplace, she was both dumped by her boyfriend and utterly humiliated. Not one to wallow, Narumi quickly finds a new job and determines never to reveal what she loves again. Unfortunately for her, her childhood otaku friend Hirotaka is also working there – and he has no compunctions about broadcasting what they love. Of course, he may also love Narumi, who doesn’t want to date another otaku. Is there any hope for this anime-infused office romance?

Review

As anime comedies go, Wotakoi is up there with Recovery of an MMO Junkie in terms of how much relatable humor it can pack into one episode. Otaku protagonists are pretty common in anime these days, but it’s still unusual to see an otaku lead who’s also a working adult. This makes Narumi stand out right away, as her daily problems are all too familiar. Almost missing work because of a late alarm, and spending her first day at work trying to hide the fact that she’s an otaku and not screw up her job are very relatable problems that double as comedy goldmines. Narumi’s reactions are just over-the-top enough to be funny, but not so silly that they oversell the joke. She’s not just a typical shy protagonist, either. She acts shy and meek at work, but the moments where she’s drinking and gaming show someone who gets worked up in a way that anyone who does online gaming can relate to. The anime’s not afraid to let her complain about her ex, get excited about meeting a handsome crossplayer, and generally be a person rather than a waifu. Narumi has just the right edge of realism to make her instantly relatable and charming. She’s funny enough to carry a scene by herself, but really shines when she’s with her childhood friend, Hirotaka. Even though Hirotaka is reserved to the point of not seeming to care what’s going on around him, he and Narumi have instant chemistry. Their casual ribbing and teasing as they drink play games together is the exact type a lot of us are familiar with from long term friendships. Their banter is both natural and funny in a way you rarely see in anime. Even Hirotaka’s distant attitude has enough bite to it that he seems more like someone who just isn’t good at expressing himself rather than a bland character. The one real criticism I have for this episode is that Narumi’s voice is a bit too high pitched for a character who’s supposed to be a working adult; she sounds more like a teenager (at least when she isn’t yelling at games). That’s a relatively minor issue, though, and Wotakoi is off to a strong enough start that it’s easy to overlook. Aside from that, Wotakoi has a great balance of comedy and charm that has me excited to see more. If you liked Recovery of an MMO Junkie, you owe it to yourself to check out Wotakoi.

Recommendation: Watch

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