It’s not an exaggeration to say that a lot (and I do mean a LOT) of anime focuses on school age characters (mainly middle school and high school). I won’t pretend to know exactly why that is, but that’s the way it seems to work out most of the time. Maybe it’s because youth always seems like the most adventurous and free time in hindsight, or maybe that’s just their target audience. Regardless of the reason, it seems pervasive. Which is why shows like Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku (It’s Difficult to Love an Otaku; Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii; ヲタクに恋は難しい) stick out in my mind as fresh and exciting. Spoilers ahead.
This is the story of four not-so-young-but-also-not-old adults and their relationships, platonic and romantic, in and out of the work place. They also happen to be huge nerds. Not your run of the mill “I like to play games occasionally” nerds, but your hardcore “I live and breathe games, manga and cosplay” nerds. In other words, Otaku (a Japanese term for people with obsessive interests, particularly in anime and manga). These people mean serious business in the way only Otaku can (though they don’t all share the exact same interests).
I would say the entire cast for this anime is great, but I have to give major props to the voice actor for Narumi Momose, voiced by Arisa Date (朱里紗). Every single joke, expression and scream are delivered with some of the highest energy I’ve ever seen, and all of it is absolutely hilarious. There are times where I don’t know how she didn’t shred her vocal chords recording lines for this show. She brings life to an otherwise fairly cookie-cutter character and gives her a huge and endearing personality.
The relationship dynamics feel authentic and are enjoyable to watch. You have the new nerdy couple who have known each other since childhood and are trying to figure out what a romantic relationship between them looks like, and in contrast you have the couple that’s been together for ten years with all of the old fights and nuances that can only come from extreme and comfortable familiarity. Throw them all into a stiff workplace and it’s hard to see how this wouldn’t be relatable for people in similar stages of life.
Wotakoi turns the entire anime romance genre on it’s head with a brand new innovation called “People who act like adults without stirring up a bunch of unnecessary drama.” It really is a breath of fresh air to see people in a relationship that doesn’t somehow explode in their faces every episode. Sure, there are problems as with any relationship, but they deal with those problems as adults, facing the hard issues head on and resolving them in a mature fashion.
Wotakoi also manages to throw in a lot of fun callbacks to childhood for people who grew up watching classics like Sailor Moon and the Dragon Ball series. They also throw in some modern day references like Pokemon Go.
Anime has a lot of romantic comedies available, and many of them are really good, even great. However, none of them feel quite as relatable to me as this one with one of the dullest premises I can possibly imagine: The day to day life of Otaku who work together. But for Wotakoi, it works. They manage to make everyday life into something both hilarious to watch and easy to relate to. If you’re still looking for an anime that is about adults (who act like adults when it comes to relationships), be sure to check this one out.