Love caught in fantasy world
Barry C Chung
Ayoung Japanese couple walk shoulder to shoulder along the waterfront. They steal glances at each other before Hinata (Shunsuke Daito) timidly professes his feelings for Yoriko (Wakana Matsumoto) and asks to be her boyfriend. Yoriko accepts, but reveals she's an 'otaku girl', a pejorative term that refers to manga and anime fanatics.
How to Date an Otaku Girl, directed by Atsushi Kaneshige, follows the headaches and heartaches of dating - as the title suggests - someone who essentially lives in the fictional world she reads and dreams about all the time. Hinata does not understand the severity of Yoriko's obsession with manga culture, but learns the subtle intricacies on the fly.
Yoriko had tried to veil her obsession from her former boyfriend, only to have him reject her once he found out. Her fear of rejection also stems from Japanese stereotypes that marginalise otaku as freaks.
Later, she is offered a job in England, something she had dreamed about prior to falling in love with Hinata. Her insecurities make her doubt Hinata's feelings so she heads west.
The film feels fragmented, a love story that slaps on a novelty - in this case, the manga craze - just to be hip. There is an otaku section that could be taken out entirely without affecting the main story.
Like an accessory worn over an already complete wardrobe, Otaku Girl is a somewhat pretentious, overly complex disappointment.