Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki Fails to Level Up – But Gains a Surprising New Ally

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki Episode 5, "The Characters Who Become Your Friends After You Clear a Hard Event Usually Have High Stats," now streaming on Funimation.

In Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki, Fumiya Tomozaki has been grinding hard, gaining experience points and slowly leveling up in the game of life. He's made a couple of friends, improved his appearance and is learning how to reach out and talk to other people. But you can't level up in life without failing at times, and Tomozaki hits his first roadblock on a group outing with Hinami and two other popular classmates.

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It's not a complete KO, however, as Tomozaki makes a surprising new friend along the way: Takahiro Mizusawa, a soft-spoken but confident classmate who's also one of Shuji Nakamura's closest friends. Like Hinami, Mizusawa is exceptionally observant of everyone around him -- including Tomozaki. He's noticed Tomozaki making new efforts to improve himself and appreciated his passionate defense of Nakamura in Episode 4.

Mizusawa suggests grabbing a bite to eat with a couple of girls, leaving Tomozaki to invite two other classmates. Naturally, he enlists Hinami, and for his second guest, decides he's most comfortable asking Yuzu Izumi to join them. Under the guise that they both get birthday presents for Nakamura (whom Izumi has a crush on), Tomozaki stumbles his way to an invite and Izumi agrees to come along.

For this group outing, Hinami gives Tomozaki an especially difficult assignment: make two successful suggestions to the entire group. By taking the initiative and helping drive the flow of a conversation, Tomozaki will feel less like an outsider and fit in with his classmates. But opening up to others, especially people who already know each other very well, is easier said than done. Through a full day of shopping, a cafe visit and getting pizza, Tomozaki only makes one verbal suggestion and it's specifically to Izumi. However, he did help Izumi find her birthday gift for Nakamura.

Tomozaki says very little when the group is all together, but his struggle isn't entirely due to his usual reticence. He grows distracted upon seeing that Hinami and Mizusawa seem to be close friends. They're on a first-name basis, have a natural chemistry, and Izumi tells Tomozaki about a widespread rumor that Hinami and Mizusawa are dating. It comes as a shock to Tomozaki, who's been spending much of his time learning from and having fun with Hinami since their infamous first offline meeting. Likewise, Mizusawa has noticed Tomozaki is often with Hinami and is curious about their relationship. Tomozaki isn't quite sure how to feel about these new developments but appreciates Mizusawa's acceptance of him and his awkward but honest personality.

Mizusawa's kind and easygoing nature belies a high level of natural confidence, and he makes most of the suggestions throughout the day. As Hinami later notes to Tomozaki, they weren't actually great choices -- the fancy store he took them to wasn't suited to Nakamura's tastes and the pizza parlor he suggested wasn't especially tasty -- but Mizusawa's cheerful assurance persuaded the others to go along. In other words, a suggestion doesn't necessarily have to be good -- rather, its success depends on how well it's presented to the group.

Tomozaki's unseen gift for Nakamura is from an electronics store, most likely related to AtaFami or gaming in general. Nakamura will surely be confused by the gesture, but it may well help Tomozaki find common ground with the notoriously short-tempered class leader. He may not have cleared Hinami's direct task this time, but Tomozaki does gain a new friend and learns plenty from observing three high-level "normies." Sometimes it pays to be the fly on the wall rather than the social butterfly.

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