Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku Volume 1
Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku by Fujita is something of a rarity still in the US — it’s a manga starring adults in an office setting. It’s a comedy about nerds in their workplace and romantic lives, which I tried because I like seeing more mature characters in manga than the usual school-age kids.
Narumi has been hiding her fandom, because guys keep dumping her for liking yaoi. (She won’t date another otaku, because they’re “creepy”.) She bumps into old friend Hirotaka, a gamer who doesn’t care who knows it, at work, and the two start pretending to date. Their two best friends, slightly older co-workers, are also geeky and also dating, but more for real.
The series is a little slow to get going if you’re not as hardcore into video games and references as it is, but there are plenty of notes to help. The chapters are short, interspersed with one-pagers and sometimes character comparisons. Since the series began as a webcomic, it’s understandable that it’s episodic. I liked best the chapters with clearer purposes, as when Hirotaka helps Narumi exhibit at a comic convention, or when all four of them end up at Hirotaka’s apartment for a gaming party.
Kodansha’s presentation is nice and chunky, with two Japanese volumes in each US book. I liked the second half more than the first, because once it gets past the establishment of the premise, it settles down to short gag chapters with events that were more about the group hanging out, less about making fandom points. Narumi’s friend, a cosplayer, tries to talk her boyfriend into dressing up, or we meet Hirotaka’s clueless younger brother, or they all try playing an MMORPG together. Now that we’ve gotten to know the characters, these everyday events are enjoyable to share with them. It’s fun hanging out with other adult geeks.