Japanese romance series are never quite as much romance as I want them to be, because they rather try to focus on the unique story rather than the relationship between the characters. So when I heard about Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku I was already careful about the series, not sure if I should be too excited about a romance story of working adults who happen to be otaku. After reviewing the whole season with all its ups and downs, let me now take a look back at the whole picture and see what the overall performance of this story was! Like always in my series reviews, I try to stay spoiler-free but there will be parts that could be considered a spoiler, so please don’t proceed if you react allergic to spoilers.
We meet Narumi on her first day at her new job. Her only single goal is to keep her darkest secret save… That she is an otaku. She loves to read boys love stories and she fangirls and draws her own stories. If only that could be kept a secret… But no luck for her, because she runs into her childhood friend Hirotaka, equally an otaku, who asks her in the middle of the hall if he will see her at the next Comiket and mentions that he even could help her with her booth. While the other two people who also stood in the hall pretend that they didn’t hear, this marks the beginning of a beautiful friendship, as Hanako and Kabakura – the colleagues who heard her talk with Hirotaka – both are also otaku and all four of them have their own kind of otaku-style. Hanako is the cosplayer, Hirotaka is a gamer and Kabakura is more of a closet-otaku and keeps it to himself. On top of that Kabakura and Hanako are also a couple, though nobody knows at the office. And soon enough, Hirotaka also asks Narumi out. His arguments are too good for Narumi to pass on and so she starts dating an otaku for the first time in her life…
She is pink and fluffy and loud and fun. Her work isn’t particularly good, but she is a good person most of the time and she feels like a real person to me, just like all the others do. I can relate to her (I can relate to all six of them, to be honest) and like her. Her thoughts and behavior seem very real. Procrastinating, putting conventions before work, being her best self at conventions, crying over characters, fighting with fellow fans but also loving it, recommending something wholeheartedly and at the same time trying not to get sucked into the (cosplay) world of fellow fangirl Hanako… Yes, she is made very well.
If you haven’t read my episodic reviews, you might have missed it, but I love, love, love Hirotaka! He is perfect and cute and cool and all one needs in a guy. His confession – or let’s rather call it proposal – was the most romantic, cutest thing ever. He offered to do all the important things and even throughout the series, he proves that with all his shortcomings as a gaming otaku he is still the most concerned boyfriend he can be. Of course he is also really agitating, when he forgets to eat because of his games and is an emotional iceberg, but you know what? I think he is dateable. And that’s the single most important thing for me in a romance story like this. He was a great hero and I thank the producers for letting me meet him.
Having a girl-crush on her is totally understandable and acceptable. Hanako is impressive and strong, she doesn’t particularly hide her otaku-ness but also doesn’t parade it around. She was an important character as a senpai and guide through some scenes. I also enjoyed seeing her vulnerable and how her relationship with Kabakura is. Not many side-couples do get that much depth, so I wholeheartedly enjoyed it!
Yes, he is hot, too! He is a good boyfriend, too! Also, he is a very relatable otaku! Kabakura has it all. When he gets protective of Hanako or insecure about their relationship, realizes his mistakes and tries to fix it without showing his own pride and hurt… Oh, Kabakura is a great character. He also was a big part of the comedy for me, Narumi couldn’t have pulled half of the stuff off on her own. Essential character, once again.
Naoya and Kou
Since Kou didn’t get the screen time she deserves and even Naoya didn’t get as much as he should be, since he is the cutie that he is, they have to share this spot. I want to see more of them and am sad that there wasn’t enough time to get to know them better. See their relationship develop. See how Naoya realizes that Kou is not a guy. Have Hirotaka meet the rest of the gang properly. Turn Naoya into an otaku. However, what we did see of them was great. Kou is so super, super socially awkward, the shyest of viewers probably aren’t THAT shy. Naoya at this point only seems like a well-trained dog and exactly the thing Kou needs, because he can understand what she thinks without saying it directly thanks to year long training by his older brother, the silent gamer Hirotaka.
Pros and Cons
everything is so RELATABLE
for Japanese standards, it’s a very cute love story
real Japanese otaku
young adults instead of school kids
slice-of-life means, there is an open ending. Never will be satisfied with any ending with these characters, since I want to keep following them.
more episodes to follow on DVD instead of TV – made me feel left hanging and sad. I was waiting for so much more to happen.
NOT realistic relationship-parts. Where viewers are made to believe these otaku are in a regular relationship, only to reveal after months of dating that nothing more but that one on-screen kiss has happened between them. I don’t need to see it, but please don’t try to tell fairy tales and tell us that these people in their twenties did not sleep with each other yet and still get embarrassed by simple hand-holding and kissing. Ridiculous!
Comments and Conclusion
In general, this was such a fun ride and I was genuinely sad that the story ended here. I also really enjoyed the reviews for the episodes, so I am sad that the rest will not air on TV (at least not initially, it seems. Not 100% sure, please don’t quote me on that!).
My sadness only shows how much I liked the series and the only real con with Japan being over pure with their characters is something I personally got used to, so I am fine with it yet still feel the need to properly vent about it. It does not lessen the fun, so I still love Wotakoi to bits! If you are not too sure if you want to watch it, then I can only suggest you stop considering and just go and watch it! It is a good story, fantastic characters and most likely you won’t regret it, if you are an anime fan yourself.