I have been waiting for Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku the whole week because the ending of the last episode was so great and left me wanting for more. The second episode might have started off a bit weaker, but it was still very enjoyable and – most of all – relatable. The episode felt a bit short, but that’s what time does when you have fun: it flies.
Let’s dive into the review! Might I also add to never skip the opening? It just is so great, I even managed to dance a bit along with the characters this week without having practiced before. How did it go with you guys, anybody danced along?
Japanese title: 恋人？始めました (Koibito? Hajimemashita)
Episode 2 – Are We Now Dating?
Hirotaka starts his day like always and we follow him through every step of it. At work, we hear that Narumi makes herself rare like a legendary Pokemon, running away whenever she sees Hirotaka. While the men have a heart-to-heart talk about Hirotaka and his problems with his girlfriend, Hanako and Narumi also talk about why Narumi behaves strange and what Hirotaka must think of it. Things escalate quickly when Hirotaka came over with Kabakura to ask Narumi why she acted so strange and they overheard her saying that she thinks Kabakura is hot (#relatable). Hirotaka doesn’t say much but definitely looks angry. Hanako and Kabakura start to argue on behalf of their friends and Narumi escapes (#relatable). Hirotaka notices and runs after her and catches her at the elevator, where they finally manage to talk honestly to each other and Narumi finds out that Kabakura and Hanako also are a couple.
The working day ends without further issues and all of them plan on going out to drink after work, only Narumi wants to pass by a ‘bookstore’ before going to the bar. Little did they know that bringing four Otaku to a ‘bookstore’ is never a good idea…
If you have watched any of the Japanese entertainment shows of the last 3-4 years (or has it been longer? It feels like a trend going on forever), you probably know what a Kabe-don is. It’s that precious moment when a guy makes a girl stuck between his body and a wall, without a place to run to simply by slamming his hand into the wall (#IWishThisWasRelatable). Kabe literally means wall and don is the sound it makes when you slam your hand on it. Don. Can you hear it? I have to say, Hirotaka’s popularity for me went through the roof in that scene. As if I didn’t already love him in the last episode… This moment was so amazing, how he just talked about his feelings with her and how simple it was (#relatable). No drama, no hard feelings, simply explaining what happened and being honest to himself. That was refreshing, cute, and strangely, even a bit sexy.
Suddenly, everything is a game
It was so cute when everything started to become some kind of RPG. Narumi choosing what to do, the narration and explanations. I already loved it in Mahoujin Guru Guru. I enjoyed the nice hit on all the old RPGs.
Look at all the anime references I can’t name! There was the cute moment where Narumi is compared to a legendary Pokemon, there is a moment where Hirotaka and Kabakura copy an iconic scene from Neon Genesis Evangelion and I don’t even want to know how many references I don’t get, because I am less of an anime otaku than I would like to be! (sadface)
Also, was that some kind of fighting game reference, when Kabakura and Hanako started fighting? Maybe Tekken or Street Fighter? Someone let me know in the comments! Also, tell me all the references you got and I didn’t!
Animate a sponsor??
It might be that Animate is an official sponsor of this series because they did NOT make a name up for the store! If you have been to Japan, you know that going to Animate is one of the ultimate goals as a fan, because of aaaa~ll the merchandise they have. Anything you could ask for, they have. Seeing that they did not make up a new name for the store surprised me a tiny bit. If we look back on the first episode a bit, we see that Hirotaka is not smoking Malboro but some made-up brand name. In the morning, when he got up he ate a jelly pack of calorie mate- sorry, I mean selorie mate, and they even called the coffee Silver Blend instead of Gold Blend! So, yay Animate?!
Hanako is our voice
You know how she tries to tell Narumi that Hirotaka is hot and how she is always honestly saying what she thinks? Most of the time, I sit there nodding and think that she was made to be the voice of the viewer and maybe speak some sense into Narumi. That’s how I’m going to see her from now on anyway, because I love Hanako.
Let me get back to that scene with Animate. They call it ‘bookstore’ for a good reason. For one, it’s easier to keep it secret that you are an otaku, if you call it a ‘bookstore’ instead of ‘Animate’. They have so many manga spread on many floors and sorted by genre. You can easily browse the shelves for hours (that is…if you know Japanese) and still not have seen all of it. Mind you, you won’t be able to read the manga, because they are all in a foil so nobody can look inside (which for some of the Boys Love manga is for the best), so you can buy them after reading the synopsis or read one of the preview booklets lying around for some series. But like Kabakura said, it is not really a bookstore. It’s an anime store. It has merchandise, CDs, DVDs, cosplay, some even have a cafe area, some arcade games in the store and gacha gacha machines. It is a tiny paradise and everybody has to go there. If you knew all that about Animate already, I am sorry. But there are always the young ones who don’t know and need to be taught.
So many people might not understand what it is about the secret otaku. But in Japan, it seriously might be an issue at your workplace, if you are an open, honest, and extreme anime fan. Many producers of merchandise use that to make secret merchandise like neckties where you can hardly see that they belong to a certain anime series (like this one from Hellsing in our Merchandise Monday post). So while we think it might be over the top to hide being an anime fan, there are many ‘closet fans’ in Japan. Some who get famous with their fanart or other things might even keep their identity hidden forever and just work with their alias. So yes, it is normal in Japan to hide your fandom (no matter what it is) and they don’t try to rub it in everybody’s face if they like a certain character or series. Just beware if you a going to an event. That’s when people WILL start rubbing their fandom in your face. Clothes, ita-bags, other merchandise like fans, key holders… You will know who the person in front of you likes when you go to an anime event.
See you next week
That’s it for this week and even though there was a lot less stuff that was #relatable to me as a foreign anime fan, I still was fangirling the whole episode because Hirotaka is ‘love’ and all the characters are cute and squishy and I want to meet them and make them my friends. I can’t wait for Episode 3. See you next week!