Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki (弱キャラ友崎くん) is a shōnen, romantic comedy anime series about a guy named Tomozaki who’s a badass online gamer. However, in reality, he’s an introverted, anti-social, loner geek. He absolutely loathes the game called Life since most people tend to have it easy with either their looks or personality or other superficial characteristic, and these same individuals make harsh judgments on anyone who isn’t quite like them. Then one day, his gaming rival asks to meet him in person. After meeting up, he realises that she’s one of the most popular girls in school. They end up having a huge difference of opinion that leads her to challenging him to make the effort to actually “play the game” of Life rather than complain about it being too hard. The anime is being produced by studio Project No. 9 with direction from Shinsuke Yanagi.
The anime sounded interesting to me as I tend to like shows where the main character finds motivation to better themselves. They can either be super endearing or heavily cringey. My hope was that Tomozaki would be of the former category. While I see the potential the series has to offer, with the way the first segment plays out here, I can also see how it can be construed as problematic for a lot of watchers.
Tomozaki is a naturally pessimistic dude. He’s always alone and very depressed in his life. The only time he feels confident is when he’s playing video games, particularly a specific brand of an online fighting game. He’s the highest ranked player in the world and his passion for gaming is wonderful. Yet, outside the digital realm, he’s lonely with no friends or social circle to speak of. When you combine that with an intense lack of self-adoration or confidence, it can be quite a solemn brew.
In many ways, I relate to his perspective on life. Those individuals who have it supremely easy don’t realise how much of a breeze life can be for them, and because they don’t comprehend the darker parts, their judgements and perceptions on people that are “less than them” are incredibly harsh and even outright offensive. It can be supremely challenging to find common ground with these types of folx, or to even reach out and make an attempt at building rapport with them. As a socially awkward introvert myself, this portion of the anime hit very close to my heart.
When Tomozaki meets his rival gamer and discovers that she’s the popular lady in school, I was expecting shock and astonishment, but also some kind of respect on her part for this person whom she can’t defeat in gaming. Yet, instead of awe she basically assaults him with such a plethora of rude assessments and commentary that I wanted to punch her in the face. It was awful. But Tomozaki, feeling incredibly hurt by her unfair appraisal of him, gives her a piece of his mind. I respected that so much; the way he stood up for himself. That was unexpected and great.
This altercation somehow leads to her showing him how she puts on a face for the outside world so she can survive the game of life and offers to help him “play the game” so he can be a champion at it instead of feeling sorry for himself. While this whole situation felt a little funky to me, I appreciate the message that’s being shown in how if one really wants to experience a different life than what they currently have, then some effort on their part is needed to enact those changes. I’m a firm believer in this because I’ve lived this and done this myself and it has worked outstandingly for me. Granted, everyone is very different and what works for me may not work for another, which brings me to the problematic essence.
That woman was a complete and total bitch. I don’t typically use this word seriously, however, in this situation I feel it’s apt. She was godawfully rude and disrespectful towards him and had the audacity to tell him to that he needed to change himself without knowing anything about him, his life, or his circumstances. This is problematic because it makes the assumption that people in his position are callous, lazy, and stuck in their situations by choice, which is grotesquely incorrect. There are many, many people out there who might be living the life of a loner with crappy clothes because that is literally all that’s in their means. They could be working their arses off for something better, yet what they have may be the very best of what’s possible for them in the moment. Does that mean that they aren’t putting in enough effort? Does that mean they’re losers who deserve to be treated like trash because they don’t fit in the superficially supreme masses?
There’s also this notion that because he’s a loner geek, he’ll never make friends or find happiness in life. This is also bullshite. I don’t believe a person needs to change the core of who they are, or even put on pretences to be something fake, merely to be accepted. I did that for the longest time, and I was still miserable. The people that I was trying to be like ended up being the sorts of folx that had no respect for who I was underneath all of the changes and facades. It wasn’t until I accepted myself as I was that I finally found joy and contentment. That also led me to finding friendships that were genuine and heartfelt, and I sure as hell wouldn’t accept the assistance of someone who had treated me with such vehement disrespect, comparing me to fucking trash on the street, upon meeting me for the first time. I think out of everything from this episode, that is what boggled my mind and ticked me off the most.
Now, my ranting aside, as I mentioned, I do like stories that show people trying to change who they are for themselves. If moving forward the series shows him learning and growing as an individual without sacrificing or hiding the parts of him that makes Tomozaki who is he, then I’ll definitely have a lot of fun with it. But if it’s just a series telling him he needs to be a normie in order to survive in life, then I’m going to call bullshite and enjoy it significantly less.
Other smaller things that I enjoyed about the first episode include the animation style. It’s very neat and bright with a good use of detail work in the backgrounds and foregrounds. I also like the potential for camaraderie that may come from two rivals working together and possibly even falling in love. The musical score is also cheery and sweet.
All in all, if you’re in the market for a romantic comedy that is about two unlikely people coming together to help one another (because I strongly believe he can teach that girl a thing or two about being a decent human being) and in the process building a bond of sorts, then you may enjoy Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki. If you’re a watcher that likes narratives surrounding people making changes in their life to feel more fulfilled and joyful, then I’d recommend this to you as well. You can catch this series over on Funimation and Anime Lab (linked below).
Source: Light novel series by Yūki Yaku and Fly (artist)
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Season: Winter 2021
Studio: Project No. 9
Director: Shinsuke Yanagi
Content Warnings: A short scene of verbal bullying.
AniList: Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki
Streaming: Funimation, Anime Lab (Aus)