The Japanese word otaku is a slippery one to define, but it is mostly used to define an obsessive fan of a pop culture phenomenon, such as anime or manga. In the wider culture, otaku long had a negative image as unkempt, anti-social and even sexually deviant. Say, a pudgy, wild-haired guy who rarely leaves his room except to buy sketchy anime, on which he is a leading expert.

But “Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku,” Yuichi Fukuda’s bubbly, hyper-comic musical about two otaku who fall for each other, shows how that image has changed. Far from being grubby social outcasts, its central couple — a male gamer and a female fan of BL (“boys love” or gay romance) comics — work regular jobs and present as normal. That is, they indulge in their hobbies in their private time and try to hide their “otaku-ness” from their co-workers.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.