I requested Wotakoi because I thought the cover was cute. I’m also totally into glasses-wearing manga guys, especially when they look like they could pass for masculine-of-center women. It’s just my weak spot, alright? 😳 I also love manga and try to take advantage of first-in-series reading opportunities when they arise because #2 may excite me, but I’ll still have to read #1 first. I dislike reading out of order when I can help it!
Twice, I’ve read this book, the first time being in April, but I didn’t get around to writing up a proper review. I don’t know why, although I do surmise it was because I didn’t understand the sorting of volumes for the English translation, which puts two volumes in each book. The second time was a week ago after watching the anime, which I loved despite it containing several spoilers for book #2, which I have yet to get my hands on at all.
To do this review justice, I did something I seldom—try to avoid, really—when reviewing a book I received through request and/or preparing to write my own review. I wanted to see what others were saying about Wotakoi before I penned out my own thoughts and put them out there. I loved this book so much that I didn’t initially know where to start. Seeing the anime, reading some reviews, rereading the book, reading more reviews—this all gave me new perspective. It’s probably unorthodox; I probably should have just reviewed the book straightaway, rereading it a second time if I needed, but I only decided to reread it because the anime had me itching for it.
So? Here we go.~
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku #1
Published by Kodansha on 17 April, 2018
Genre: Adult fiction, Contemporary, Fiction, Graphic novels, Manga, Romance
# pages: 274
Narumi Momose has had it rough: Every boyfriend she’s had dumped her once they found out she was an otaku, so she’s gone to great lengths to hide it. When a chance meeting at her new job with childhood friend, fellow otaku, and now coworker Hirotaka Nifuji almost gets her secret outed at work, she comes up with a plan to make sure he never speaks up. But he comes up with a counter-proposal: Why doesn’t she just date him instead? In love, there are no save points.
I saw a lot of younger reviews—ones who are within the young adult age range and/or read a lot of YA fiction. Wotakoi is not about young adults, and it has more adult themes to it, so if you don’t want or like that kind of thing, you’re not going to like it. After all, the characters are in their late-20s. 💁♀️
There are innuendos sprinkled about, which I found refreshing. I mean, I’m an adult—27 years old—and I find some innuendos downright hilarious, especially when I’d be the character who doesn’t understand it most of the time. They weren’t plastered everywhere to the point that it was distasteful. It read like adult humor books do and adult humor comedians do, and maybe I’ve seen too much Whose Line Is It Anyway?, but I thought they helped create balance in a manga based on adult otakus and emphasized that this manga is about adults—not children. 🤦♀️
When I consider how I communicate with my friends, I realize it’s no different—so who am I to judge them for that? It makes it all the less realistic when you censor that ish out from the book, especially the toilet humor, like none of us find poop funny. I’ve changed too many dirty diapers to not find poop funny. I mean, it’s poop. 💩 The palindrome itself is hilarious. 💩
Characters & development
I related to all four main characters, which was lovelier than I can describe.
Hirotaka’s character development was my most favorite, though I do hope to see more of his development as the series progresses. He is apparently a boob guy, while his coworker Kabakura is a small chest guy. It’s odd, because they’re dating women the complete opposite from this, though the couples as they are are better suited this way than to be switched.
Narumi x Hirotaka
I want Hirotaka’s inner thoughts to stop regarding Koyanagi’s boobs, or Narumi’s lack of in general, as a small-chested woman myself. Those types of things hurt, and no matter how much it’s shown that Hirotaka’s loved Narumi since they were kids, the more he comments about them and/or is insulting towards them, the less confidence I have that he truly cares for her.
I have a hard time understanding romantic love. I’ve been hurt a lot and degraded for believing what I do about love. I’ve had my heart torn from my chest, blended into a pulp, taped back together, and ripped apart all over again—and not as a teen, but as an adult, in a romantic relationship. I thought my mom loved me, but in truth she resented getting pregnant with me—yet for so, so many years I took this hatred she held towards me as love.
So I want less comments against Narumi’s lack of boobs and more lovey-dovey romantic fluff between these two.
Koyanagi x Kabakura
Koyanagi has big boobs, and this is totally appropriate to say because it’s the first thing Narumi notices about her. 💁♀️ She cosplays male characters and does it so well that I feel really confused. I mean, I have questions—like, what does she do with her boobs when cosplays? Can you really hide so much with a binder? Wouldn’t it hurt, though? And wouldn’t that get uncomfortable? But I’ve also realized that I wouldn’t be against dating a woman who cosplayed male characters, because that shit is hot. (꒪ཀ꒪)
Koyanagi and Kabakura fight a lot. I feel like they have so much in common, but are also so passionate about the things which they disagree on, and that’s why they fight so much. This couple does, however, have redeeming qualities, but I can’t share much because it’d be a spoiler.
The conflicts in Wotakoi are different from conflicts I’ve seen in other manga, in that there’s no drama for the sole sake of having drama. Rather, the conflicts in this manga are those fangirls would run into, or natural happenings, and it generally feels more like an adult story in that sense because of it. Melodramatic conflicts get boring and all trope-filled.
I’m fine with the conflicts being Hirotaka’s preference for bigger boobs over small boobs, so long as he develops into a person who realizes that this is just a shallow preference and says nothing about who the woman is on the inside.
However, I would like to see Hirotaka and Narumi acting more like a couple, regardless of what sets them into that. Maybe it’s her ex-boyfriend showing up with apologies and trying to make up, and Hirotaka getting jealous or something. I just don’t get the feeling that he loves her like he says he does, because a lot of his actions and inner thoughts don’t convince me. Of course, this is only the first two volumes in a series that seems like it’ll be a slow-burn—so all I can do is be patient, yeah?
I don’t talk about cover art when I review books, but Fujita did something splendid, so staying silent on it would be a disservice! I love symbolism, too.
On the Wotakoi covers, the characters tend to point to whichever part of the Japanese title is most relevant to them.
The Wotakoi covers alternate between the main and secondary couples (save one potential third) who always point to something different! I thought this was a cool implementation. 🤩
With that, I rate it 4/5 stars.
I don’t think points should be taken off for the things that make it realistic, and I’m not about to call humor between friends and toilet thoughts “perversion”, because that’s mere opinion AND WHAT ELSE ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO FIND FUNNY?! Seriously—change the diaper of a baby whose poop makes it all the way up to their back shoulders, ask yourself how it got up THERE, and then try not to laugh through all your freaking out. 💩 (Maybe I just had too many brothers. 🙄 Or I grew up too rural. 🙄 Or whatever. 🙄🤷♀️)
Wanting more fluff isn’t a common theme with me, but in manga I always want it. I WANT ALL THE FLUFF. 💘
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