for Cinetalk.net

The word geek used to be seen alongside nerd as having negative implications. These people were outcasts exhibiting OCD features and let’s face it, obsessiveness about their favorite things.

Nowadays, being able to recite the airdates of every Star Trek episode may be seen simply as niche knowledge (*cough* Obsession). Gamer nerds are gainfully employed by big names like Ubisoft. Tech geeks run the show behind the scenes for music and movie studios. Not such weirdos after all, hm?

Likewise, in Japan, otaku has had similar unsavory connotations, bordering even on perversion (hentai). But, modern times have shown international geeks to even adopt the word with much affection. So, is being otaku in Japan still frowned upon? In some circles, perhaps, and there are certainly niches within niches which may be considered more lowbrow than others.

Why be so obsessed about a video game or an anime?

Isn’t that a …mental illness?

For our self-hating otaku heroine, Narumi, it is something she would be embarrassed to admit to her coworkers. But she would squeal as loudly as any fangirl given the right entourage. Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku certainly gives her plenty of opportunities. The gonzo musical rom-com sees Narumi treading lightly when trying to disguise her love for BL aka Boy’s Love. Wouldn’t anyone think of her as a pervert, since she finds titillation in manga depicting boy-on-boy affection?

Shameful.

Yuichi Fukuda’s live action version of the web comic series (by artist Fujita) portrays the dichotomy of trying to act normal while worshiping our idols. Otaku don’t want to be “normies”, but don’t want those normies to type them as otaku either.

The film is silly, and uses cues from other pop culture. Sound effects gamers might recognize, visual bling akin to anime superheroines’ transformation sequences, exaggerated reactions and facial expressions – they’re all here.

Romance level-up jokes aside, there are also some interesting insider views of on-location events, such as Tokyo Big Sight’s anime convention, and J-idol performances at Kawasaki’s Club Citta (Small trivia here: this nightclub is where Cinetalk horror soundtrack favorites Goblin have held Halloween concerts for the last few years).

If you are a geek, you’ll get this. If you’re not at least an anime geek, you might miss out on the film’s final ode to geekdom. Stay tuned for the ending theme as credits roll. It’ll give you nostalgic thrills if you were ever an Evangelion otaku. The not-so-subtle rip-off is in fact, composed by Shiro Sagisu, known for the original Evangelion theme, A Cruel Angel’s Thesis.

Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku7:15 PM, Aug 28th, 2020

Official Fantasia Website