Holy crap, he smiled!
It occurs to me that this really isn’t so much a workplace comedy as it is a romantic comedy that just happens to involve people who work in the same office. Pity. I’m still unsure if I missed them talk about what it is they do, exactly, but whatever. That doesn’t really hurt my enjoyment of this overall. In fact, I’m rather liking it. Episode 3 was an amusing little diversion, having them go to a convention. Buuut, unlike another anime that heavily features otaku culture and whatnot, they didn’t spend half the episode in line. So we got right to the convention shenanigans. Though it didn’t last particularly long. Since the series is rather grounded (and self-aware when it does exaggerate things, usually only exaggerating character reactions) it was very charmingly earnest. Instead of just taking the “conventions are weird” angle… but let’s be honest. They are.
Aaand after that we’re introduced to the situation of a group sleepover at Hirotaka’s place. Him, Narumi, and the other two from the office. It starts out with just the main two, of course, which gets reasonably awkward, as one might expect. But as per usual, Narumi’s responses to situations she’s uncomfortable with are especially entertaining. The weird third-person internal monologue that I’m positive is a reference (though at the moment I’m drawing a blank as to what it’s referencing) is likewise one of my favorite things about her. It just punctuates the comedic moments more or less perfectly. When the other two arrive, we’re shown even more of their weirdly vitriolic relationship (more on that later). And yes, the Mario Kart bit with the Starman music was my favorite part, in case you’re wondering.
And then came the bit where they seemed intent on trying to find Hirotaka’s “stash.” This one kinda stumped me. Perhaps it’s just my not “getting” the appeal, but why were they so fixated on the idea that every dude has a stash? The internet is a thing, right? Kabakura even points it out, only to get shut down by Hana. Though I suppose (to an extent) she’s right. The same argument could be made about most forms of entertainment, especially comics, manga, etc. Since those can be bought digitally and people (myself included) still buy physical copies. I dunno, though. Seems to me like that would be a bit low on the priority list to bother having in physical form. Eh. Whatever. The scene’s still pretty amusing. And gave me this gem.
Aaand then the cuteness hits, once Hirotaka gets back. I dug the scene that got into how they wound up becoming friends. If only because of the nostalgia, having met a few of my own friends in grade school over trading Yu-Gi-Oh cards or Pokemon (when we could smuggle our Gameboys/DS’s into class and not get caught, that is). And the follow-up was adorkable. funnily awkward, yet undeniably sweet.
Episode 4 focused a lot more on the relationship between Kabakura and Hana, which I wasn’t really expecting. I’m also not sure I have even the slightest idea how to comment on that. Are they ever not fighting? I mean, I get the whole “argue like an old, married couple” schtick (supported by them having been dating for a long time), but I find it odd that the only time we really see them happy to be in one another’s company is in a picture Hana’s showing Narumi, early in the episode.
The entire second half of the episode basically hinges on one of their fights. And while the way in which they fight is funny (usually), I can’t help but feel like they should look happy at least sometimes. Right? And yet they legitimately care, through all that fussing. Hana even breaks down over it, worried that all the fighting is hurting their relationship. And that might’ve been a good move, showing that at least one of them is showing the same concern.
I also like how the situation impacts Narumi, getting her to think about the idea that maybe she or Hirotaka might be dating the other purely out of convenience. You know. The perceived idea that otaku dating otaku is easier because there’s no worry about being judged over it. Personally, it really strikes me as more of a Japan thing, since I’ve known a handful of couples where one party was an “otaku” and the other was… well… not. Yet there were no thrown stones over it. Either way, that bit of introspection on Narumi’s part was a nice little addition to keep her and Hirotaka’s relationship relevant to the episode. Given that the title, in English, is “Love is Hard for Otaku,” it only makes sense to have the characters go through those moments of doubt and tougher times. One of the formulas for comedy is Tragedy + Time. That isn’t to say all of it is, but one thing that can make a more grounded comedy work is when the characters are allowed to have these complex feelings and situations and then laugh about them, later.
Um… so I really liked these episodes. I still have some doubts about Kabakura and Hana’s relationship, going forward. I would like to see them actually being more amicable towards one another at least occasionally, just to get the sense that they actually do like one another. Hirotaka and Narumi continue to be a really refreshing one as well, being neither particularly love-dovey or distant. They genuinely get along, have a few cuter moments, are both dorks, the works. I like that. And, of course, the references – Gevanni! (I don’t even like Death Note and I laughed at that) – are basically perfect. Both episodes earn my seal of approval in the Super Effective category. But for another, somewhat less comedic and more straightforward romance, I’d say to check out my coverage of 3D Kanojo: Real Girl. It can be groan-inducing, but also incredibly sweet when it feels like it.
If you’d like to check Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii out for yourself, it’s streaming on Amazon Prime Video. That’s all I’ve got for ya here. As always, thanks for reading, folks. Keep up the awesome.