Winter 2020 Anime: Official Info, Airdates & Trailers
Keep warm this winter season with the latest anime info at MANGA.TOKYO!
After the Rain ended quite some time ago (Winter 2018) and by the time I am writing this review, we are very well into the next season, where I am reviewing Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku. Even after a few weeks, my fondness for the series has not lessened and I am ready to take a look back and maybe re-think some of my previous judgments. I will try to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, but please note that there might be some things I will address that could be considered a spoiler. Proceed with caution.
The high school girl Akira is in love. Not unusual for her age, just that the person her heart beats faster for is the 45-year-old boss of the restaurant she works at part-time. He has a bald spot on his head, he likes to smoke, and is super conscious of being a ‘stinky old man’. He likes literature and writing and never manages to get promoted, even though he has been working for that restaurant chain for some time. Even his subordinates make fun of him at times, because he has to keep apologizing to customers. All that doesn’t matter to Akira, because she thinks he is a good person. Also, focusing her feelings and thoughts on him stops her from thinking too much about running. She was the ace of the track and field team of her school until she suffered an injury and decided to not go through the hard process of rehab. We see how her relationship with the manager will develop.
There are a bunch of characters in here, but the focus is mainly on Akira and Tencho. The rest of the characters are clearly in the background. Some of them don’t get much attention after spending their usefulness for a certain storyline, while others have a bit of a story and an impact on the main characters and come along a bigger part of the way. Even they do not get much development. They are so clearly in the background that it was sometimes sad to not know how things were going for them after we heard about their worries or saw some bad character traits. For example, how Yoshizawa falls in and out of love was not a big theme, even though he seemed so much in love in the beginning. We don’t get to fully understand why Kase does not do more than he already does. Yuto sometimes pops in to be a bit relevant but also mostly stays in the background. Only Chihiro and Haruka seem to be constantly there, but not with their own story but only to support the main characters. As a viewer, I really wanted to know them better and see a bit more of their thoughts. That being said, there should be more we can say about the main characters since they are the focus of things.
The first thing I noticed was how utterly pretty she is. I know she’s art and painted and all, but she is so so super pretty and the animation only makes her prettier. I love how they use her legs and eyes to express her feelings because she is not someone to talk a lot. They could have simply made her think all the stuff, but instead, they took a more creative approach and just showed everything she felt with a focus on her feet, which danced when she was happy or focused on her scar when she was insecure or scared. It would have destroyed her image a bit if we could hear her think. She would suddenly talk so much but not hearing her and still seeing her brooding over the things that Tencho, the manager of the restaurant she works at and her love interest, said. I appreciate her like no other character in the series because she is so calm and serious. In any case, they did everything right with Akira. She is definitely in love with Tencho, but she is also considering his feelings and she doesn’t approach him in a romantic way too much. There is the in-love feeling when they interact coming from her and then there is also her taking him seriously and seeing that he indeed does have weaknesses she also has to accept. Akira is a well-worked out character and I wonder if the rest of the characters in the background have a similar well-made plan behind them we don’t get to see because the anime doesn’t allow it.
He was so insecure and worried about his age all the time. So cute. What I like about Tencho is that he is a real guy. He knows it is illegal to flirt with Akira but he can’t help but be flattered. There is also the role he takes on as her mentor, which I think is very realistic. He could have used her feelings much more bluntly, but he is way too nice, and except for some weak moments, their relationship was always pure. They got so much out of meeting and spending time together, thanks to Tencho taking on the lead and putting up limits. I also love that he sometimes wavers and thinks about the affection he gets and how nice it is. Tencho is a really good guy, even with all his weaknesses and bad points. His development was maybe more meaningful to older people who watched the series and as I remember, the voice actor of this character mentioned in one interview that he hopes that the image of older guys like the voice actor himself will change thanks to this character. So instead of considering the old guys disgusting, smelly people, he hopes young people will see them as knowledgeable individuals that can guide you through problems… At least that’s how I interpret and love Tencho. A smart, older guy who takes care of everybody.
The characters were so good that they sometimes made the story feel lacking. My expectations were that the story would include more romance. Instead, it became a guide to people who have problems with their dreams and motivation in life. Akira and Tencho both aspire to become someone big in a difficult field. Akira wants to run, Tencho wants to write novels. Both of them have stopped doing what they love for a reason and we follow them back to a path where they start trying. It’s a beautiful story and following it was magical, just that it was…unexpected, to say the least. The synopsis was so focused on the fact that he is old and she is young and she loves him that I expected at least one inappropriate scene, more focus on feelings and maybe a short forbidden romance because that’s how it sounded. I am happy it did not turn into that, but at the same time, this anime was a bit too inspirational for my taste in the sense that it didn’t offer much excitement. It was always one of those Japanese bamboo fountains, where water trickles in steadily until it gets too heavy, empties itself and with a soft ‘clank’ we are back to zero. It’s comforting and sometimes has parts that make me curious, but then it goes back into its steady flow. The steady flow was good, the highlights popping in and out of the story. I was never bored. Just that it was not my cup of tea as much as I wanted it to be.
There are definitely more pros than cons because the anime was amazing to watch if you want to see some real life issues and how they are handled in Japan. I am fine with being click-baited into the story, as long as it is good in the end and I think the other characters were still handled well enough to not be annoyed. You know how sometimes the other characters feel as if they weren’t thought through at all or don’t have any background story or character at all? Well, that’s not how it was here. The contrast to the main characters, who were worked out so well, just let the other characters pale in comparison. I will exclude Chihiro and Haruka a bit from that, but the rest of them clearly were just a shadow of what they could have been.
The series also made me want to read more Japanese literature with Tencho referencing so many titles. Some of them were so beautiful and I felt bad not knowing the story. I did some research for my episodic reviews, if you want to read up on those, but to be honest, I felt there was more to find if only I could read the works they mentioned. Tencho with his beautiful inspiring quotes definitely is someone who should make the effort again and write a book.
This series was aimed at guys. It’s tagged as a romance story for guys and the manga was published in a manga magazine that focuses on male readers and as such, I thought it might have included more indecent scenes between Akira and Tencho. Sorry for stereotyping, but Japan does have lots of those. Thankfully, the story was so much more and it lets me recommend this story to everyone who enjoys a bit of romance but nothing too heavy. I also want to recommend it to those who need to get inspired and if you like to see characters struggle with their dreams. If you want to see how relationships work in Japan, this is also a good watch, because there is so much of Japan in this. The whole feeling all around, the calmness while all the characters probably feel like they are in the middle of a storm is spot on and makes it enjoyable to watch without feeling too stressed for the characters.
I hope most of you agree with my final review of this series and I hope you enjoyed the series as much as I did. It will not get a perfect rating in my book for some of the calm parts, but I will remember the series very fondly for the beautiful art and the lovely characters. The story coming full circle also will stay with me, as I find myself thinking back to some of the scenes from time to time. It is worth a try if you didn’t watch it yet, and if you want to, you can check out the reviews I did for each episode. It includes a part called ‘cultural lessons’, where I try to explain some of the cultural background necessary to understand some scenes. For example, what is a family restaurant, the place where Akira works, why did Yoshizawa have to get his hair cut for work or some of the literature background that Tencho refers to.
Keep warm this winter season with the latest anime info at MANGA.TOKYO!
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