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Manga / Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku

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Two childhood friends reunite at work after not seeing each other since middle school. One is into otome games, manga, idols and BL. The other is a hardcore gamer. Both are otakus in their respective ways, so it's a match made in heaven, right?
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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. And 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.

Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku (ヲタクに恋は難しい), , is a Japanese romantic comedy / Slice of Life webmanga series written and illustrated by Fujita, first posted on Pixiv in April 17, 2014, and gaining enough traction to be published in mprinted manga on April 30, 2015. A 2018 anime adaptation by A-1 Pictures premiered on April in the noitaminA programming block.

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A live action film is in the works, slated for a 2019 release.


Wotakoi contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: The anime adds some material that fills in the background a bit, like showing what happened during Taro's photoshoot.
  • Affectionate Nickname: After Hanako learns about Narumi being an otaku, they start calling each other "Naru" and "Hana."
  • 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.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Taro 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.
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  • Beta Couple: Hanako and Taro have been a couple since Taro'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 seperating 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' BL fantasies. Somehow, he's still able to recognize Narumi at a reasonable distance.
  • Christmas Cake: Graciously averted. Narumi and Hanako are 26 and 27 respectively, but they're career women, and despite Hanako being in a relationship for a decade, neither of them seems concerned about marriage.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Each of the four main characters have a trademark colour that corresponds to their hair colour. Narumi is pink, Hirotaka is blue, Hanako is green, and Taro is orange.
  • 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 300 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.
  • 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.
  • Evolving Credits: After Naoya and Kou are introduced, they start appearing (briefly) in the opening credits.
  • 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 is 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.
  • 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.
  • Gratuitous English: Narumi loudly growls "GODDAMN!" when pleading with Hirotaka to help her... with grinding materials in a video game, of course!
  • Hollywood Nerd: All four leads are reasonably attractive and have stable jobs, but are all otaku.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Taro'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 BL work.
  • Odd Friendship: Narumi and Hanako are very different, but are good friends. Lampshaded by one of their coworkers.
  • Office Romance: Hirotaka/Narumi and Taro/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 PSP or 3DS in the manga or a 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 BL like Narumi. Oddly enough for this trope, she's an athletic otaku, and she's also not a very avid gamer.
    • Tarō 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.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Narumi and Hirotaka respectively.
  • 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 come up empty-handed, raising the possibility that it's all digital. It's probably a coincidence that a pile of "big-tit books" mysteriously appeared in Kabakura's desk overnight.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The PSP 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 their Nintendo Switches (PSPs in the manga).
  • Reality Ensues: 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 killing Tarou several times in one day. Being friends with his younger workmates Hirotaka and Narumi also doesn't stop him telling them off if they are slacking off (as seen when Hirotaka needs new glasses).
  • 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 Kohai: Hanako and Taro are senpai to Narumi and Hirotaka, but the latter never call the former "senpai."
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: In-Universe, Narumi and Hanako tend to support opposing pairings, much to their chagrin.
  • Shout-Out: Has its own page.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 BL 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.
  • Yaoi Fangirl: Narumi and Koyanagi bond over their similar passion for Boys' Love Genre, spend most of their shopping sprees over BL books, and eventually question whether it's a good idea to fantasize their respective boyfriends 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.
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