I was originally not going to write about Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku, because I literally thought it was an anime from last year, rather than THIS PAST SPRING. Sheesh, 2018 amirite? I’m realizing just now that I must have been getting details mixed up with the actually-from-last-year Recovery of an MMO Junkie, and in a way, maybe that speaks to something good.
Day 11 of the 12 Days of Anime 2018
Consider this: There are enough relatively grounded anime shows out there now about post-college adulting for it to actually be possible for me to confuse some of them with each other. As far as I, a 28-year-old dude who’s four years removed from grad school, am concerned, that is a very good problem to have!
It’s a problem I’d love to continue having as the years go on, quite honestly! I don’t think there’s any new ground here being broken by saying that the subjects of most anime tend to be kids and teenagers. It’s still true even when the subject matter is more subdued, and arguably even amplified with the likes of slice-of-life.
And hey, I was a teen about fourteen years ago and all, and I’m still largely good with that state of affairs today, but part of me also would very much like the occasional show that hews a bit closer to my age group rather than yet another go-around in high school. On that count, this year and last have actually been not too bad, not just with MMO Junkie, but even—after looking past all the Sanrio animal designs—Aggretsuko, of all things?! I only just started it watching it earlier this week; it should have been way sooner. What a pleasantly strange year.
Of course, there’s still the charming Wotakoi after all of that. And let it be entered into official record that the main guy, Hirotaka, is simply the best.
One of the opportunities of focusing on older characters is that they get to potentially have more “life” tying into who they are as people, as well as a greater range of where they could’ve ended up after graduating from school, and that means the chance to explore kinds of characters that normally don’t get as much attention. Hirotaka is a good example of this, because there are definitely not that many guys in anime all that like him.
His archetype—hardcore gamer, socially reserved, likes the main girl but it also raises some insecurity in him—is perhaps not so unique as a whole. However, convention would tend to dictate that to be the basis for a high school character arc. That’s a big part of what makes Hirotaka interesting; on some some level, he’s a vision of what that character might turn out to be like if they did not undergo such an arc in high school, who in particular did not end up making the big strides towards the girl.
Wotakoi’s answer? A pretty hopeful one; Hirotaka, even after the troubles of school life (what little we eventually get to see of his state of mind at the time could make you want to give him a reassuring hug), turns out quite alright! He’s still not necessarily outgoing, but he’s doing pretty nicely for himself, complete with a dependable job and solid footing as a member of society, and he gets to do it all while still having a place in his life for gaming. And standoff-ish and awkward though he may be, he’s also fundamentally a sweet guy.
Beyond that, however—and more importantly—he is also still a work in progress, even into his mid-twenties. The moment he left school wasn’t the moment that he stopped changing, or that everything in his life just got set in stone. There’s still room for things to get better.
It is within that reality where, by an incredible stroke of coincidence—and, I guess, the show’s biggest flight of fantasy—the newest employee at the place he works turns out to be Narumi, his friend from school who he liked! And at the end of the first episode, after the two of them catch up for a bit, he actually has the composure to ask her out. Then (after an amusing understanding between them) they start dating!
Which turns out to be the beginning of a little adventure with them two that continues during the other ten episodes of the series. Similar to MMO Junkie, that may very well be emblematic of the central appeal of this series: The idea that things in life are still going to happen, even right now, and that the best may still yet to come. And though I like Narumi as well, it is by far the most satisfying to see such a prospect apply to Hirotaka, who’s finally getting the chance to catch up on some things that he never really got to do back then.
Update December 24, 2018 3:31 pm EST—Forgot to mention this immediately after making the change, but the headline was updated from “Adult Anime” to “Adulting Anime” for the sake of clarity (and to avoid implying suggestiveness like a fool).