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Manga / Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku

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Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku is a Japanese Romantic Comedy Slice of Life web-manga series written and illustrated by Fujita, first posted on Pixiv on April 17, 2014, and gaining enough traction to be published in printed Manga on April 30, 2015. The manga ended on July 16, 2021 with eleven volumes, but received a spinoff epilogue in 2021.

Two Childhood Friends reunite at work after not seeing each other since middle school: one is into Otome Games, Manga, Idol Singers and Boys' Love, while the other is hardcore gamer. Both are Otaku in their respective ways, so it's a match made in heaven, right?

Well, it's a learning curve for the spirited, self-conscious Narumi Momose and the much more laidback Hirotaka Nifuji. Narumi's Otaku status actually repelled her last boyfriend/co-worker, so much so that it even drove her to quit her previous job. She's trying to stick it out in her current position without anyone discovering her covert Fujoshi side, but Hirotaka and even a couple of her other co-workers (who happen to be High-School Sweethearts and Otaku in their own right) figure it out pretty quickly. From there, it's up to Narumi and co. to figure out how to balance their adult work and romantic lives with their socially frowned-upon interests.

A 2018 Animated Adaptation by A-1 Pictures premiered in April on the noitaminA programming block, while a live-action musical film starring Mitsuki Takahata and Kento Yamazaki was announced in 2019 and released in February 2020. Meanwhile, three Original Video Animation episodes coincided with the release of the seventh, tenth and final volumes of the Manga.

Wotakoi contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: The anime adds some material that fills in the background a bit, like showing what happened during Tarou's photoshoot.
  • Affectionate Nickname: After Hanako learns about Narumi being an otaku, they start calling each other "Naru" and "Hana."
  • Alphabetical Theme Naming: The main characters' named coworkers have an alphabetical theme - Aiba, Baba, Chiba, and Domoto.
  • Almost Kiss: Played with in Episode 9. Hirotaka and Narumi look like they're headed for this, but it's just their faces passing by as he pulls her into a hug.
  • Art Shift: In Chapter 14/Episode 9, Narumi goes into two of these within mere moments of each other; first into the art style of Akagi, and then into the art style of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Tarou and Hanako fight a lot, enough that even Narumi thinks their relationship is rocky. However, they do show genuine affection towards each other after the worst of insults are thrown... and then go back to insulting each other.
  • Babies Ever After: In chapter 86 of the manga, we find out that Hanako and Kabakura are to become parents.
  • Bait-and-Switch: After a movie date, Kou seems to be about to confess romantic feelings for Nao... but ends up only asking him to be her friend forever.
  • Beta Couple: Hanako and Tarou have been a couple since Tarou's high school graduation. While they are more belligerent than the usual example, they know each other very well and are very comfortable with each other otherwise.
  • Bickering Couple, Peaceful Couple: Kabakura and Koyanagi are the Bickering, as they're usually at each other's throats, while Narumi and Hirotaka are more lowkey and laidback. However, unusual for this trope, the former is actually the Beta Couple, since they have been dating for a long time, while Narumi and Hirotaka still go through some new-relationship growing pains.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Played with — when Narumi apologizes and reassures Hirotaka she does return his affections when he thinks he shouldn't have asked her out, he exclaims "Donghae..!", Korean for "east sea", representing the Sea of Japan separating Japan and Korea. However, it's meant to be a slang expression used when a potential pairing finally gets a Relationship Upgrade.
  • Blind Without 'Em: An omake page claims this is true for both Hirotaka and Hanako, though it's only come into play for one of them. In episode 10, Hirotaka accidentally destroys his glasses while half-asleep. He can barely read screens and documents a few inches from his face and has to get very close to Tarou to recognize him. As in, close enough to trigger their girlfriends' Boys' Love fantasies. Somehow, he's still able to recognize Narumi at a reasonable distance.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Each of the main characters have a trademark colour that corresponds with their hair color, and also ties into their outfits and merchandise.
    • Narumi: Pink
    • Hirotaka: Blue
    • Tarou: Orange
    • Hanako: Green
    • Naoya: Yellow
    • Kou: Purple
  • Cosplay Otaku Girl: Hanako most visibly expresses her otaku side through cosplay, especially of cool male characters. She has quite a few fans, including Narumi.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Narumi is very awkward when she starts her new job, going so far as to make 200 bad copies.
  • Deep-Immersion Gaming: When the group's playing in an MMO together it's depicted this way, with costumed chibi versions of everyone fighting monsters.
  • Doujinshi: Narumi draws and sells doujinshi for every Comiket, both as a hobby and to make some cash on the side.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Because her boyfriend recently dumped her after finding out she's an otaku, Narumi has no problem chugging mugs of beer while confessing her woes to Hirotaka.
  • Embarrassing Hobby: The story starts off with Narumi being dumped and ostracized at work for being an otaku. She changes jobs just to avoid the shame. She also states that not even she would date an otaku since they're "gross."
  • Energetic and Soft-Spoken Duo:
    • Narumi and Hirotaka who are dating. Narumi is an upbeat Genki Girl and Hirotaka is laidback and The Stoic far more willing to remain silent.
    • Hirotaka also shares a similar relationship with Tarou, who is arguably his best friend. While Tarou is not as excitable as Narumi, he can be loud and energetic, particularly when he's arguing with his girlfriend Hanako. Hirotaka remains his same, stoic self in this relationship too.
  • Evolving Credits: After Naoya and Kou are introduced, they start appearing (briefly) in the opening credits.
  • Fan Convention: Some chapters center around Comiket (a real-life doujinshi convention and the world's largest fan convention as a whole), since Narumi draws doujinshi to sell there.
  • Fear of Thunder: Hirotaka and Narumi are both terrified of thunder. As a child, Hirotaka was traumatized by a power outage that wiped out his save data and needs to wear headphones at work during a big storm.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: In chapter 11, Narumi comes to work to find that Hanako and Tarou have switched bodies, and that Naoya is in Hirotaka's body. Until Tarou comes up and acts normally. After a bit of confusion, she's told to check the calendar - it's April 1st.
  • Gender Flip: One chapter has Narumi and Hanako discussing what it would be like if the main cast's genders were changed, and how that would affect their relationships and hobbies. The only character who doesn't change much is Kou, since she already looks so masculine that the only difference between her and a male Kou is that he'd be taller.
  • Girls Are Really Scared of Horror Movies: During the amusement part date episode, this is played straight with Narumi and Hirotaka when they get on a haunted house ride (Narumi is easily terrified; Hirotaka is flippant), but gender-inverted with Tarou and Hanako (Hanako is impressively stoic; Tarou is jumpy and shouty all throughout). Hilarity Ensues when Narumi accidentally drags Tarou instead of Hirotaka onto the ride with her, and the missed opportunity for romance on all sides is discussed.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Tarou gets visited by two pairs while debating whether to indulge in his otaku hobbies or socialize with his kohai in chapter 60: A devilish Hanako urges him to go home to watch some taped anime, while an angelic Narumi says he should go drinking since this is the first time they've invited him out. Later, Demon Lord Hirotaka advocates ditching the kohai to pick up the newly released manga and Archangel Naoya says he can always do that the next day. Tarou manages to buy the limited edition in the morning.
  • Gratuitous English: Narumi loudly growls "GODDAMN!" when pleading with Hirotaka to help her... with grinding materials in a video game, of course!
  • High-School Sweethearts: Hanako and Tarou first met in high school and have been dating ever since then. The trope is solidified when Hanako and Tarou get married in Volume 9.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • When Hirotaka asks Narumi why she hasn't tried dating someone who understands otaku, she replies that only another otaku would understand and otaku are gross, so she won't do it.
    • When Narumi and Hanako run into Kou while out clothes shopping, Narumi glomps onto Kou in happiness that she remembered her name. Hanako scolds Narumi for invading Kou's personal space, and then immediately gets very handsy with the younger girl, saying that she has a great figure (for cosplay).
  • It Was with You All Along: In the story running through Volume 7, Hanako panics after losing her necklace, one of a matching pair Tarou bought many years ago. She finds it after Tarou presents her with new matching accessories - engagement rings. The necklace had actually been caught in her scarf.
  • Josei: Surprisingly, this series targets an older demographic that has experience with the otaku phenomenon, in-line with its main characters, who are of working age.
  • Last-Name Basis:
    • Hanako and Tarou generally address each other as Koyanagi and Kabakura. Using first names generally indicates something dramatic is happening.
    • Kabakura has this with everyone. His calling out "Nifuji!" in Naoya's debut chapter is what introduces the relationship of the two brothers. As such, he refers to Hirotaka and Naoya as the older or younger Nifuji whenever there's the possibility of confusion.
    • In a chapter showing when Hanako and Narumi first met, they called each other "Momose-san" and "Koyanagi-san," since they weren't yet close enough to use nicknames. In fact, Hanako was trying to keep some distance from Narumi, lest Narumi discovers Hanako's status as an otaku.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In the original manga, the characters (mainly Momose) would periodically hint at their manga nature, such as saying that Hirotaka's bath was too quick as it was only 3 pages long.
  • Necktie Leash: Hanako grabs Tarou's tie to forcefully correct Naoya's misconception that Narumi is going out with him. Meanwhile, Narumi is taking notes and thinking she can use the image for her Boys' Love work.
  • Odd Friendship: Narumi and Hanako are very different, but are good friends. Lampshaded by one of their coworkers.
  • Office Romance: Hirotaka/Narumi and Tarou/Hanako are all coworkers at the same office, although the fact that they're dating is not common knowledge in the office.
  • Oh, Crap!: Narumi's reaction when Hirotaka outs her as an otaku while they're walking with their respective working seniors on the first day.
  • Otaku: The series' overarching theme and the central focus on the main cast, seeing how each of them is an otaku in their own right.
    • Narumi likes otome games, manga, idols, and BL-related stuff, and she also draws doujinshi that she sells at Comiket. However, because she has trouble finding a boyfriend due to these hobbies (she even broke up right before the series started), she tries her hardest to hide what she considers an unsavory passion. This comically backfires when her childhood friend, Hirotaka (an unabashed gaming otaku), meets her again and starts talking about their otaku hobbies.
    • Hirotaka Nifuji is a gamer who always has some kind of gaming device on his person, either a Playstation Portable or Nintendo 3DS in the manga or a Nintendo Switch in the anime. Unlike the other three main characters, he doesn't bother to hide his love for video games and frequently brings them up around his more "normal" co-workers.
    • Hanako Koyanagi is a famous cosplayer who likes crossdressing as handsome guys. She's also into Boys' Love like Narumi. However, she's not a very avid gamer, and flashbacks reveal that she wasn't actually much of an otaku at all before growing closer to Kabakura, being the captain of the girls' volleyball team in high school.
    • Tarou Kabakura finds good taste in heroes and bishoujo genre, though he's self-admittedly low-key compared to Narumi and Hirotaka. Like Hanako, he used to be a volleyball team captain, making both of them oddities as athletic otakus.
  • Personality Blood Types: The four main characters are given different blood types which fit their personalities very well. Kou's blood type also fits her personality, although Naoya averts it.
    • Kind and sweet Narumi is Type A.
    • Laid-back and self-absorbed Hirotaka is Type B.
    • Hot-Blooded but responsible Kabakura is Type O.
    • Cool, independent and cross-dressing Koyanagi is Type AB.
    • Naoya is type AB, despite being the nicest and friendliest member of the cast.
    • Kou is extremely shy and constantly apologetic. Naturally, she's a type A.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Narumi and Hirotaka, respectively - Narumi has pink hair and Hirotaka has dark blue hair and they sometimes wear their respective colors for work or leisure. Narumi typically wears a pink skirt, blouse, and shell while Hitotaka wears a blue suit jacket and dress pants.
  • Porn Stash: When the four leads gather for a game night at Hirotaka's house, Hanako recruits Narumi for a "treasure hunt" in search of their host's putative stash over Kabakura's objections and comes up empty-handed, raising the possibility that it's all digital. It's probably a coincidence that a pile of "big breast books" mysteriously appears on Kabakura's desk overnight.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The PlayStation Portable was already a bit dated in 2014 and an outright relic by 2018, so Hirotaka gets a Switch in the anime.
  • Product Placement: Narumi and Hirotaka are seen playing Monster Hunter on the Nintendo Switch (PlayStation Portable in the manga).
  • Relationship Upgrade: Nao finally confesses to Kou (in terms that she can grasp) and they become a couple.
  • Right Behind Me: Narumi is dating Hirotaka. She admits to Hanako that Hanako's boyfriend Tarou is more her usual type than Hirotaka is...only for an upset Hirotaka and a facepalming Tarou to pop up behind her.
  • RPG Episode: Episode 7 (chapter 11 of the manga) has the four main characters playing an MMORPG together, despite Hanako not being much of a gamer and Hirotaka not being a fan of the genre. It all culminates in Hirotaka practically one-shotting a high-level rare monster despite mostly wearing joke equipment. Later on, Naoya starts playing the game with Kou.
  • Running Gag: Tarou has misconceptions about Narumi's innocence and purity. The chapter which introduces Naoya lampshades this several times through narration.
  • Senpai/Kōhai: Hanako and Tarou are senpai to Narumi and Hirotaka, but the latter never calls the former "senpai."
  • Sexy Shirt Switch: Played with in an omake page that showcases the guys' reactions: Tarou just wants Hanako to put it back after she's done with it, while Hirotaka is shivering and complains that he feels like he's just been robbed.
  • Ship Tease: Of the six main characters, Naoya and Kou are the only couple not established within the first few chapters of the manga. When it seems as if Kou is finally confessing her feelings to Naoya, she's actually only confessing that she wants them to be friends forever.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: In-Universe, Narumi and Hanako tend to support opposing pairings, much to their chagrin.
  • Shout-Out: Has its own page.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Hanako and Tarou's relationship in a nutshell. They bicker back and forth constantly only for one or the other to come to their senses, cool down, and promptly make up. It's to the point that Hirotaka, despite being around them for long enough to know that they are indeed in a long-term relationship, asks them how they behave when they're alone because there's just no way their relationship could last if they argued in private as much as they do in public.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: All characters work in the same workplace. As such, it's inevitable some personal relationships can be strained at times, especially when it's Tarou's job to supervise and manage. Though Hanako and Tarou work things out, Hanako admits she's fantasized about killing Tarou several times in one day. Being friends with his younger workmates Hirotaka and Narumi also doesn't stop him from telling them off if they are slacking off (as seen when Hirotaka needs new glasses).
  • The Swear Jar: Hirotaka brings a piggy bank along on his amusement park date with Narumi. They put a coin in every time they do or say something otaku-related: pointing out two guys who look a little too close to each other, playing Pokémon GO, wishing to use a "Musou Attack" to clear a crowd, etc. They open it at the end to buy souvenirs.
  • Those Two Guys: Baba and Aiba, who serve as Hirotaka's non-Otaku "friends" and have practically no further characterisation beyond that. Hirotaka can't even be bothered to remember their names, and the one time he gets it right, he confuses one for the other.
  • True Love is Exceptional: Everyone has a type. Narumi likes tall and scary-looking guys like Kabakura, Hirotaka likes big-breasted girls like Koyanagi, Koyanagi finds men like Hirotaka to be good catches, and Kabakura likes girls like Narumi. Yet they all chose people that don't have what they're looking for and are perfectly fine with that arrangement.
  • Ukefication: Invoked when doujin-reading yaoi fangirls Narumi and Hanako try to imagine what their (both relatively masculine) boyfriends would be like in a yaoi. Narumi argues that her boyfriend, the stoic glasses-wearing Hirotaka, would be the seme, turning the brash Tarou into the uke who gets teased. Hanako counters with the scenario that Tarou's rough and experienced personality would seduce (and ukefy) Hirotaka. They then argue that both of their boyfriends would be more suitable on top.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Hirotaka's backstory with Narumi. She only thought of him as a friend when they were growing up and he had to watch her fall in love with other guys during their school years. Changed to Victorious Childhood Friend after they get together, of course.
  • Unsettling Gender-Reveal: For Naoya, when he finally learns that Kou's a girl. He sees her coming out of the women's bathroom, and embarrassed, she runs away in tears.
  • Wall Pin of Love: Played for Laughs when Narumi and Koyanagi ask Hirotaka to perform the infamous kabe-don on Kabakura for no other reason than to satisfy their whimsical boys love fantasy of having their respective boyfriends get together. Hirotaka is nonplussed, while Kabakura gets annoyed.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: At least four chapters are devoted to showing Kabakura and Koyanagi's high school relationship, and how they fell in love.
  • World of Technicolor Hair: Almost all of the main characters have unusually colored hair; Narumi's hair is pink, Hirotaka's is dark blue, Koyanagi's is green, and Kabakura's is bright orange. While Naoya's blond hair is confirmed to be dyed, no one comments on other characters' hair colors aside from that.
  • Yaoi Fangirl: Narumi and Koyanagi bond over their similar passion for Boys' Love Genre, spend most of their shopping sprees over Boys' Love books, and eventually question whether it's a good idea to fantasize about their respective boyfriends being in a relationship; they end up squeeing and taking photos when they ask Hirotaka to make a Wall Pin of Love on Kabakura, and they also war over the pairing name and the dominant partner.

Alternative Title(s): Wotakoi Love Is Hard For Otaku