In a world where otaku are secretive about their geeky fantasies and hobbies — is it possible to find love and be in a normal relationship? Labelled as one of 2018’s best rom-com series, we take a look at A-1 Pictures’ WOTAKOI: LOVE IS HARD FOR OTAKU and see whether it is worth the hype!
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Life as an otaku is pretty much THE way of life for anime fans in the 21st Century. When we encounter the term ‘otaku’, we think of people who watch anime 24/7, speak in Japanese gibberish, cosplay as their favourite characters, and just being geeky with their friends.
Being an otaku might be more acceptable than what it was many years ago but the hobby unfortunately still comes with a negative reputation. As a result, many otaku would try to hide their hobby in the hopes of being ‘normal’ in non-otaku eyes.
26-year old Narumi Momose is exactly in this predicament. Hoping to play off the image of a young, perfect lady on her first day of her new office job, Narumi will do anything to hide her embarrassing secret: she is a fujoshi-otaku. However, Narumi’s hopes crash when she encounters her childhood friend, Hirotaka Nifuji. Not only does he know her secret but he happens to be an otaku as well — and a hardcore gamer!
As they both reconnect again, Narumi mourns about the lack of romance in her life — it turns out that her previous boyfriends have left her after finding out about her hobby. Knowing how love is difficult for people like them, Hirotaka asks Narumi out by offering to pass her game levels as benefit. Now that Narumi has a boyfriend who is actually an otaku himself, it would seem that both of them are perfect for each other. However, will it work out?
Lately, we’ve noticed a trend of anime tailoring towards viewers that label themselves as ‘otaku’. However, what makes Love is Hard for Otaku special is the show’s inclusiveness with its variety of characters.
So we’ve met Hirotaka the gaming nerd. And then we have Narumi’s senpai at the office, Hanako Koyanagi, who happens to be a famous cosplayer. Obsessed with games and boys-love manga, Koyanagi soon becomes Narumi’s bff at the office. We also have Koyanagi’s boyfriend / Hirotaka’s coworker, Taro Kabakura, who loves his bishoujo material.
Without a doubt, these otaku characters replicate otaku fans in real life. It’s not just the characters’ unique interests that makes it naturally appealing to the audience — it is also the way how they get excited over new gaming and manga releases. In addition to this, we are also amused by their interaction with each other that makes the whole experience wholesomely entertaining as well.
Throughout the story, we see Narumi, Hanako, Taro, and Hirotaka cosplaying; hanging out at anime conventions; going to anime stores; watching anime; and playing games. Every now and then, both Taro and Hirotaka gets conned into cross-dressing as girls, and replicating boys-love scenes for their girlfriends.
While it may seem that the ‘otaku’ aspect is the main highlight of the show, the ‘romance’ is meant to be the main spotlight. For a hyped up rom-com series, did Love is Hard for Otaku’s romance win our hearts?
Yes and no. Besides having the same interests, they’re just like any other couple in real life. In fact, the amount of times that these characters argue or being awkwardly silent with each other makes us rather nervous.
After all, these characters’ actual personalities could not be more different from each other. Hanako might look calm and superior on the outside but she has a domineering, feisty attitude that you don’t want to mess with. Paired up with the cool and strong-looking Taro who has a bit of temper himself — these two are always finding ways to kill each other but they’re lovebirds at heart.
And then we have the cute, childish, and scatter-brained Narumi who is paired up with the quiet, monotone Hirotaka. Despite their childhood history, there is no chemistry between Narumi and Hirotaka. Although they agreed to ‘date’, it was mainly for convenience as they’re both otaku fans.
The saddest thing about their relationship is that the relationship appears one-sided for a majority of the time. Not only does the story regularly point out Hirotaka’s feelings for Narumi since childhood, but we also see Hirotaka putting in a lot effort into the relationship…in which we see a lack of reciprocation from Narumi’s end.
LOVE IS HARD FOR OTAKU doesn’t have a particular purpose or storytelling but the anime consists of great characters that accurately resemble real-life otaku — a win for real-life otaku fans.
Featuring relatable otaku banter and moments, Love is Hard for Otaku is a highly amusing anime that you can sit back and enjoy at your own pace. For its generic rom-com storytelling, to be regarded as one of 2018’s best rom-coms might be a bit generous and overstated. These two couples aren’t exactly special, nor do their relationships make the overall series special. Nevertheless, Love is Hard for Otaku is a fun series that will make a great addition to any anime fans’ watch-list.