The world of anime is well-known for many conventions, tropes and clichés. Many rom-com series and slice of life stories are told through the eyes of high school students in particular, or sometimes college students. A lot of the biggest titles take place in high school, but Wotakoi: Love Is Hard For Otaku is set in the workplace instead -- and that's its greatest strength.
This romantic comedy may remind viewers of Western sitcoms -- such as How I Met Your Mother -- that star young adults graduating from the high school paradigm in favor of the ups and downs of a working 20-something with a secret hobby on the side. Wotakoi: Love Is Hard For Otaku is a real standout for that reason alone, but it's a worthwhile read and watch for many other reasons, too.
The Plot & Cast Of Wotakoi
Wotakoi's four main characters are all good friends and co-workers, and some of them have known each other since their childhoods or high school days. The main couple consists of the introverted Hirotaka Nifuji and the outgoing Narumi Momose, who haven't seen each other since their middle school days. Their friends Taro Kabakura and Hanako Koyanagi are quickly becoming an item too. On the surface, these four friends are simply polite and hard-working co-workers at the office -- but they are all huge pop-culture geeks underneath, a secret they intend to keep.
Fans might be reminded of the Maid-Sama! franchise, whose heroine is desperate to hide her maid cafe job. Wotakoi has a little less drama and a lot more pop culture jokes and references, from the massive world of cosplay to the "kabe-don" wall slam move and MMORPG chat slang and emoticons. The light-hearted tension of hiding their geeky side easily balances with the touching and creative love scenes, most of which involve token but well-meaning gestures ranging from earring gifts to amusement park dates and even sharing an umbrella.
The cast all slowly grow up as people and add a little more substance (and drama) to their relationships, all while keeping this secret from their oblivious "normie" co-workers. Hirotaka's younger brother Naoya is also slowly forming an adorable romance with the shy gamer girl known as Ko Sakuragi. Hirotaka has a rather hands-off attitude toward his brother's love life, while his girlfriend Narumi is Naoya's top cheerleader and supporter.
Where To Read and Watch Wotakoi
Written and drawn by Fujita, Wotakoi: Love Is Hard For Otaku is currently ongoing and is available as a manga series, a short animated series and even a live-action movie. Manga readers in the West can find two-in-one paperback omnibus volumes of Wotakoi, with four volumes currently released -- complete with bonus pages and comics. The fifth omnibus is slated to release on September 21st, 2021. These two-in-one omnibuses can be found at retailers such as Barnes & Noble's online catalog, both as print volumes and as digital NOOK editions at a slightly discounted price. The Wotakoi manga is also available in print at Rightstufanime.com, while Amazon has the print and Kindle editions.
Wotakoi: Love Is Hard For Otaku has an 11-episode anime with two OVAs, which can be streamed on Amazon Prime Video in Japanese with English subtitles. There is also a live-action Wotakoi movie, but it was only released in Japanese movie theaters. Unfortunately, Wotakoi is not available on DVD or Blu-Ray in the West, meaning this rom-com is best experienced either in manga form or viewing on Amazon. There are relatively limited options for reading or watching Wotakoi, but rom-com anime fans looking for something fresh will find it worthwhile all the same.