What’s it about? Tomozaki Fumiya is one of Japan’s best gamers, but he can’t seem to beat the game of “real life.” Life, for Tomozaki, is a game with no clear-cut rules, horrible balance, and very little returns. He expects the rest of his life to be all that and more… until he meets a gamer girl who’s just as good as he is, and who offers to teach him the Konami Code to game life and find a way to “win” at it.
Are you tired of getting yanked around by that thing that we call Life? Have you tried to “Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A” your existence into something… better? Are you, dear reader, a Japanese high school boy who just wants life to come with a Prima Games Guide to help you find the best tips and tricks for finding your way?
Well, then Bottom-tier Character Tomozaki might be the anime for you!
Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki (hereafter Bottom-Tier to save my fingers) is being produced by Dream Shift and will be streamed via Funimation in most regions. Dreamshift is a relatively unknown company: their only other title was Shironeko Project: Zero Chronicle, which… according to my partner, the internet, and Vrai… was not good.
Still, Bottom-Tier’s staff gives me a fair bit of hope. Yanagi Shinsuke (High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even in Another World) will be serving as director, with Shimo Fumihiko (Amagi Brilliant Park) handling series composition. Music is being done Mizutani Hiromi (Hell Girl), with character design by Yano Akane (The Ryuo’s Work is Never Done!). Finally, Motoyama Satoshi (How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord) will be handling sound design.
I’m going into Bottom-Tier completely uninformed. While I have a copy of the light novel next to my bed, I’ve yet to crack the spine. Heck, I think the shrink wrap is still on the volume. All I know is that this looks like a rom-com and probably is a rom-com, which as a big fan of the genre, made it an easy pick for me to cover.
But here’s the real question: did episode 1 encourage me to pick it up for my weekend reading? Well… let’s find out.
Episode 1, “Say what you want, famous games are usually fun”, starts off with Tomozaki, whose sole claim to fame is being the top tier Super Smash Bros… ah, the top Super Attack Families player in all of Japan. Outside of that, his life is decidedly bleak, all because he can’t seem to win at the game of life.
Enter Hinami Aoi, an incredibly friendly girl who stands in stark contrast to Tomozaki. At first, her presence in the series seems superficial… until Tomozaki and Hinami find out that they’re both pretty high-tier gamers that have been playing against one another.
Thus you have the basic foundation for a series about a teenage boy whose misanthropy and pessimism feel all too real in 2021, all things considered. You also have the story of a girl who’s about to change his entire world… which also feels a bit too real in 2021, all things considered. Still, that could hypothetically result in a pretty heartwarming premiere… right?
Unfortunately, Tomozaki’s personality—and his somewhat incel-ish characterization—don’t feel good in the least. A lot of episode 1 is spent with Tomozaki blaming life and others for his situation: a situation that he’s also enforced on himself.
Tomozaki calls himself a loner and mocks people with full offline lives, something that he could build for himself. He bashes others who enjoy their lives outside of games, something he could do by choosing to put down the controller. A lot of his complaints are things that he’s kind of brought on himself. They’re things that, with effort and patience, he could change by his own hand.
Aoi is quick to call him out on his disrespect and mocking of people who have lives outside of games. In fact, she doesn’t cut him any slack. She chides him and doesn’t hide her disgust in his behavior. Honestly, I kind of wasn’t expecting that: points to Aoi for not giving him an inch. Still, a lot of the “lessons” Aoi teaches Tomozaki come off less as good rom-com fodder and more like a girl being forced to teach a boy how to be a decent human.
That isn’t helped by the simple fact that Tomozaki’s goal is to get a girlfriend, which like… gosh, that’s a really tired goal to have. Granted, Aoi is the one who suggests it, so I’m blaming her more than him for this one. In fact, I think I gave the deepest sigh ever when she brought it up. It wasn’t helped by the fact that she taught him how to smile, which like… wasn’t as cute a moment as the series seemed to think it was.
Like I said, it just felt a bit tired.
A much more likable goal would be “Tomozaki makes friends” rather than “Tomozaki gets a girlfriend.” A much more realistic and relatable goal would be “Tomozaki improves as a person with his own efforts and the efforts of a new friend.” I’d like that last one a lot. Maybe that’ll find its way into the series.
I like rom-coms, and I want to like this series. I really, really, really want to like this series. And to be honest, I think I do. At the very least, I like the concept, I like the art, and I liked the music direction, simple as it was. I even like the thought of Aoi and Fumiya potentially getting together and supporting one another in a healthy way.
I think I even like this enough to pick up the novel and read a bit this weekend.
In the end, that’s honestly why I’m probably going to stick with Bottm-Tier Character Tomozaki for now: at least through the first three episodes. I’m curious how it’ll handle its source content, and I’m even more intensely curious about Tomozaki’s growth.
I’d love to see Tomozaki become more than a sullen teenage boy who feels owed by the world. I’d love to see him realize that he can be as layered as he wants, that life isn’t an inherently bad thing, and that he can challenge life and find his own way of “winning.”
I’m not sure all of that will be the case by the end of this cour, but for now, I’ll hold out hope. I will say that I’m getting strong Rent-a-Girlfriend vibes from Tomozaki, and y’all: that doesn’t feel good. But, I’m not going to judge this show too quickly. Rather, I’m going to go with the flow and see how things develop.
Regardless, expect me to chime in again about this series if no one takes it for the three-episode check in. I’m very here for it, if only to see a story about growing out of pessimism and changing how you look at the world.
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