The term “otaku” is often dubiously associated with antisocial behaviour, attached to an almost pathological obsession with popular culture. It’s for this reason that Narumi is keen to hide her visceral enthusiasm for anime, and especially yaoi manga, in which heterosexual men share moments of burning passion. However, her childhood friend Hirotaka, himself a video-game otaku, works in the same company and knows all about Narumi’s passions. Although she initially shuns him, they reconnect over a few games of Mario Kart and vow never to reveal their secret. As they spend time together, Hirotaka falls in love with Narumi, but she, out of fear of the gaze of another, has no intention of falling in love with another otaku.
After having amazed Fantasia audiences with several outstanding works including HK: FORBIDDEN SUPER HERO and HK2: THE ABNORMAL CRISIS (which you can find in the Fantasia 2020 Classics section), director and screenwriter Yuichi Fukuda returns with the superb musical/romantic comedy WOTAKOI: LOVE IS HARD FOR OTAKU, adapted from an extremely popular webcomic by Fujita. The man behind the diptych GINTAMA surpasses himself here, delivering an extremely funny and delightful work where musical numbers ranging from J-pop to jazz, perfectly adapted to the story, are up there with the successes of Fantasia 2019’s DANCE WITH ME. The sparkling performance of Mitsuki Takahata, who plays the voice of the cat Nana in THE TRAVELING CAT CHRONICLES (also available at Fantasia this year), and the impassive performance of Kento Yamazaki (JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE, KINGDOM) are simply phenomenal! Thanks to the amazing chemistry between the actors, Fukuda's immense creativity and the soundtrack that will haunt you for weeks, WOTAKOI is the perfect immersion into the fascinating world of otaku culture! Translation: Rupert Bottenberg