REVIEW: ‘Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki’ is An Enchanting Look At Leveling Up On Life

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Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki

Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki is a slice-of-life anime produced by Project No. 9. Tomozaki is great at the competitive video game known as Tackfam.(Think Super Smash Bros.) In fact he’s the number one ranked player in all of Japan. But step outside of his comfort zone of video games and most of the world would write Tomozaki off as a loser. He decided a long time ago that the game of life is no fun. It’s unbalanced, certain players are given an unfair advantage and you can have your entire playthrough ruined due to complete chance. Who wants to deal with that? Then one day he sets up a meeting with the number two Tackfam player. When he discovers it’s Aoi, the most popular girl in his high school, he soon finds himself challenged to level up his character in the game of life. Is life a god tier game? Tomozaki is about to find out.

Growing up I was always an outsider. Being shy and moving to several different towns made it so I was always the odd man out. If I wanted to fit in, I had to put in some legwork, since everyone already had their clicks formed by the time I showed up. And honestly, I wasn’t good at it. For that reason, I always had mixed feelings about all those high school movies where the popular kid takes some outsider, spruces them up, and seemingly overnight they are popular and everyone wants to be around them. Let’s face it, if it was that easy, everyone would do it.

Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki handles the many nuances of such social circles and the difficulties some people have fitting in with far more skill and tact than most programs tackling similar themes. Its pacing, expectations, and the level of respect it treats its characters with gives the series a far more authentic feel than many such endeavors. All this while still delivering the trademark lighthearted humor anime is often known for. And the vehicle with which the show delivers the bulk of this nuance is through its main female character Aoi.

Aoi is the classic all-around perfectionist. She excels at every avenue of high school life. Star athlete, great grades, and unanimously looked upon as the most popular girl in school. Aoi is a force to be reckoned with. But there is also a side of her no one knows about. Her love of Tackfam. At least not until she is surprised to meet Tomozaki on her scheduled meet-up with the number one Tackfam player in Japan.

Aoi is instantly disappointed with what she finds in Tomozaki. How someone so dedicated to a high-skill game like Tackfam could show zero interest in real-life confounds her. And his claims that the game of life is unfair and poorly balanced fall on deaf ears. Aoi stubbornly persists that if Tomozaki just put some effort into things like his appearance and social skills he could greatly enjoy the game of life. He just hasn’t given it a chance.

As Aoi appeals to his competitive nature Tomozaki finds himself unable to refuse her. And so, he agrees that, with Aoi’s help, he will level up his character and decide whether or not life is a God tier game, or a poorly balanced mess.

Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki takes place over the course of a school year. As the episodes progress, Aoi sets short, medium, and long-term goals for Tomozaki. There are no quick fix miracles here. Tomozaki is going to have to build himself up slowly if he wants to gain levels in the game of life. This is one of my favorite aspects of this series.

While it strives to show that Tomozaki is fully capable of changing himself if he puts the effort in, it doesn’t downplay how hard changing lifelong habits can be. Nor does it set ridiculous goals for our protagonist. Aoi never expects him to become the life of the party. They just want Tomozaki to be able to carry his side of a conversation or call someone out when they are full of it. This further lends an air of authenticity to what the show tries to project. Since not everyone can be the life of the party. And as someone who falls into that category, seeing Tomozaki shoot for more realistic goals is far more meaningful than a fantasy that would probably never be.

Along with our two main characters, Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki delivers a memorable and charming cast. As Aoi works to incorporate Tomozaki into her social circle he comes to know each of the students that make it up and discovers they are not the perfect beings he always pictured them as. As the show reveals the imperfections in each character it reminds the viewer, as well as Tomozaki that no one is perfect. Even though some may have a leg up on others where social skills and popularity are concerned we are all fighting battles most will never know.

Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki Episode 3

The only significant failing Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki has where its theme is concerned is how it glosses over the many social inequalities that cannot be fixed with some good grooming and small talk. While Tomozaki briefly mentions in an internal monologue in the show’s opening how things like race, disability, social standing, or physical appearance can be hurdles that unfairly hold a player back in life, the show never touches on them again. Instead, it acts as if all problems can be overcome to some degree simply through practice. This sort of oversight feels particularly glaring given how well it handles the problems that it does address. The show delivers such a great amount of nuance in its narratives that I wish I could’ve seen it tackle some of these larger issues where life is concerned.

The art and animation in Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki perfectly land for its overall light-hearted tone. The character design is filled with classic anime looks for the various high school students that make up Aoi and Tomozaki’s social circle.

While the animation leans a little into the hyperactive mannerisms that anime is known for it never takes it too far. No chibi transformations or giant-size screaming heads break the real-life vibe the story adheres to. And each character is consistent in how they present themselves visually. The preppy girl Mimimi is always a moment away from avhalf jump exclamation of excitement, while the guys in the group will never be found sitting up straight in a chair.

Finally, we have to talk about the intro to Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki. This song is a high-energy bop that bounces along and infects the views with its excited and eager energy. Listening to this intro makes me feel like the production crew is actively excited to reveal the coming episode to me. And I was always excited to watch it.

Looking back over the ten episodes that make up Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki season one I cannot think of a single bad episode. Its energy, enthusiasm, and heartfelt nature had me routing not just for Tomozaki, but his entire circle of friends. They are just a bunch of good kids trying to get through school. Tomozaki just has a bit of catching up to do.

Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki is streaming now on domination.

 

Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki
  • 9.5/10
    Rating - 9.5/10
9.5/10

TL;DR

Looking back over the ten episodes that make up Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki season one I cannot think of a single bad episode. Its energy, enthusiasm, and heartfelt nature had me routing not just for Tomozaki, but his entire circle of friends. They are just a bunch of good kids trying to get through school. Tomozaki just has a bit of catching up to do.