15-year-old Tomoko Kuroki is a budding hikikomori—a shut-in who spends her time playing dating sims and watching anime. But even a lifetime of experience wooing virtual boys can't prepare her for the greatest challenge of all: high school.
Everyday life is a terrifying journey for Tomoko, fraught with hidden judgments and secret surprises. Her anxiety makes social interaction nigh impossible, but she's determined to figure it out. Will she make friends? Become popular? Maybe even meet a real-life cute guy? Find out in WataMote!
#1: "Dou Kangaete mo Watashi wa Warukunai (どう考えても私は悪くない)" by Tomoko Kuroki (Izumi Kitta) (eps 1, 3, 4, 7-10, 12) #2: "Musou Renka (夢想恋歌)" by Velvet.kodhy (ep 2) #3: "Yoru no Tobari yo, Sayounara (夜のとばりよ、さようなら)" by Velvet. kodhy (ep 5) #4: "Natsu Matsuri" (夏祭り) by Utsu-P & Minatsukitoka, feat. Hatsune Miku (ep 6) #5: "Sokora no Nuigurumi no Fuusen to Watashi (そこらの着ぐるみの風船と私)" by Velvet.kodhy and Velvet.kodhy and μ and μ (Velvet.kodhyとVelvet.kodhyとuとu) (ep 11)
There is a scene in Watamote where the main character, Tomoko, experiences what she believes to be public molestation. She panics, unable to even breathe or call for help. The train suddenly stops, and the passengers begin to take their leave. Tomoko then realizes that the object pressing against her is simply a bamboo sword belonging to the girl behind her. After much public embarrassment, she finally breaks free, and moves on to yet another miserable day of her life.
To say that Watamote is an uncomfortable anime would be an understatement. Every minute involves Tomoko failing at something in the most awkward way imaginable, to the point where you can't help but pity the poor girl. It's not even amusing. It's just depressing.
Tomoko is a high school girl that simply wants to be liked by her peers. She wants to be seen as attractive by the opposite sex. She is so lonely and socially inept that even hearing a "goodbye" from a classmate is seen as a massive success. Her younger brother doesn't care about her problems, her parents think she's a pathetic pervert, and her only friend (who she rarely even sees) is oblivious to Tomoko's blatant emotional issues. She is alone with nobody to help.
Does she bring some of these problems upon herself? Maybe. Does she try too hard to be somebody that she's not? Definitely. But who can blame her? The only time she had anything even remotely resembling a normal life was when she was a toddler. Of course she's angry. Of course she's fed-up with her lifestyle.
Unlike the source material which presents itself entirely as a gag manga, the anime teases us with signs that Tomoko might actually be changing for the better. But nothing ever does change. She squanders all her opportunities, leaving both her and the audience with a bitter sense of hopelessness. What's the point in enduring so many embarrassing scenes when there is no payoff at the end? Are we meant to be masochists?
The humor of Watamote is akin to kicking a kitten, and worse - a kitten that you sympathize with. It's a punchline where there is no punchline. The goal is make us laugh at somebody in a pitiable situation, to feel happy that our lives are not quite as bad as Tomoko's. Is that comedy? Is that entertainment? For others, perhaps, but all it did for me was bring back awful memories and remind me of everything wrong with teenagers. Some scenes were so uncomfortable that I had to take a break or avert my eyes for a few moments. That's not what a comedy is supposed to do.
Some of the jokes can be quite funny, though. If you've ever listened to porn or something equally embarrassing on your computer, only to realize that the headphones weren't actually plugged in, well, Watamote will remind you of such times. The best moments are when the humor is restrained and situational. The dialogue between Tomoko and her brother is also well-written and reminiscent of most actual brother-sister relationships; I just wish that there was more of him.
It's also very easy to relate to Tomoko's situation if you've ever dealt with social anxiety. Sure, her feelings are blatantly exaggerated for comedic effect, but the way people act around her is very much real. Teenagers love to gossip. They love to ignore and exclude anybody that isn't a part of their group. Watamote hits this fact home, reminding us just how idealized high school life is in anime. It is the opposite of escapism.
As for the art and animation quality, Watamote is an above-average anime. Each scene is made even more depressing by the dark, often blue-and-grey color scheme. The animation is consistent (though there isn't much of it) and, for once, a shut-in character does not look like a supermodel. Tomoko looks disheveled, tired, and unclean. As she should. The animators don't even hold back on making some scenes look utterly repulsive (including a failed experiment with make-up, and a colony of ants making their home in Tomoko's hair... ugh). There's definitely some talent here, and it shows.
The sound is more of a mixed bag. Kitta Izumi does a fantastic job of voicing Tomoko's character, but the background music is barely noticeable and the opening is some mixture of awful screamo and generic J-Pop. It's a cacophony that I never wanted to sit through more than once (although I'm sure that I'm in the minority). At least the ending sequence sounds more in line with the tone of the series: delightfully disgusting, and cute all the same.
If nothing else, Watamote should be commended for daring to be different. This is not your ordinary anime. If it was an ordinary anime, Tomoko would be male and she would have a harem in love with her for some inexplicable reason. There is none of that. Watamote wastes no time on romanticizing the high school life, and instead portrays it for what is in reality. Few anime out there have had the courage to do the same.
But for all the awful, depressing things we see happen to Tomoko, what do we get for it at the end? Nothing but a sad glimpse of a girl desperately clinging to the hope that some day, she might attain a normal person's happiness. A dream that we all know will never be fulfilled. read more
WataMote is a painful story. That's the easiest way to describe it. It's the painful story of a painfully anti-social girl's painful life. There are very large pros to having a story like this, but there are also huge cons that can come with it. WataMote is no exception, it's amazing but also majorly flawed. So why did I give it a 9? Because the flaws with stories like this is that they are completely hit or miss, there's no in between. For me it was a home run, but it's very understandable that it can be a strike out.
Baseball metaphors aside, let's get into why WataMote is good and why it's bad.
It's relatable. The strongest thing that painful stories have is that people who have felt similar pain can relate to the main character, when that occurs a person can easily fall in love with a story. If you're someone that is anti-social, socially awkward, shy, or can't express yourself well then you'll find Tomoko practically reading your mind at several points.
But what about people who aren't like that? What of you folks who can easily talk with people, have tons of friends and go out and have fun regularly? What you end up with is a gruelingly torturing story of a sad girl futilely attempting to make friends. When you see the things in the story that happen to Tomoko, you don't go "It's so true!" You go "Oh, my god that's so sad. Poor Tomoko."
Let's put it this way. While you watch you might think, "When is someone just gonna go up and try to become friends with her?" In a fluffy story about friendship that would happen. But this is a realistic story about a loner, that person who wants to become her friend doesn't exist, in the story or real life. If you're thinking "That's terrible." Then you probably won't like WataMote.
Looking at the story objectively also opens some flaws to you. There is almost no plot. The entire story is just the life of Tomoko, period. The pace is slow and and the progression is very lifelike, AKA nonexistent. There is a notable amount of repetition and things can eventually become stale. To a person who's experienced similar pain however, these issues are nearly invisible because of how close to life it is. But that doesn't excuse that the issues exist.
An interesting thing about WataMote is that the only true character is Tomoko. There are only two other notable characters and even they are very minor to things. When this show says it's about a girl with no friends it means it. The whole story revolves around Tomoko observing the world around her and making commentaries, trying to become popular, and then reverting back to her NEET state in recovery from the pain. Being that everything is about her and her alone, the story is very Me VS The World, which some can enjoy but a lot of people can easily find so much time spent with just one character suffocating.
No matter how you look at it however, Tomoko is a brilliant character. She is realistic at scary levels. She has no friends, but wants to make some. So then why does she spend all day cooped up in her room? Why does she watch what her classmates do in disgust? It's because that's how she has developed to survive. The only way to make it okay to not have friends subconsciously is to hate them, yet she consciously still wants friends. She wants to go out and have fun, but subconsciously she knows that only pain awaits outside her room. Tomoko is absurdly lifelike and likable.
A big part of her character is that no matter what happens. No matter how likable she is, she is never cute or moe in any way which is so important for this show to make her relatable. Several times I got see absorbed into Tomoko's character that I started to fantasize about nice things happening to her, which is exactly what she does to get her spirits up. Your spirits get lowered to the same level as hers as she connects to you. I didn't want to refer to her as Tomoko as I watched, I wanted to call her Watashi(Me).
The sound of WataMote is excellent. Kitta Izumi does a brilliant job as Tomoko. Her voice is unique, fitting, and enjoyable. The opening is fantastic in my opinion. It takes a very different direction than typical openings by being a serious dramatization of Tomoko's desire to break out of her recluse nature. The ending in contrast shows the representation of Tomoko's inner awareness that she can't break out of it.
The art is also notable. It's simple but also very expressive and erratic at many points. Tomoko is a NEET and she looks the part.
So with what I've said it might seem like WataMote is the a massively depressing story, that's not entirely wrong. The way that it manages to keep things lighthearted is by always trying to make the depressing let downs, failures, and truly pitiful successes comedic. It's a dark humor, it's funny how much Tomoko is beat down, not because I like watching girls in pain but because I understand her pain. And when they finally portray Tomoko's pain as pain instead of dark humor it really resonates with you. But only if you can stomach watching a really pitiful girl. The extreme darkness of the humor can easily turn a lot of people off.
The last thing I have to say about WataMote is that a lot of other people, including the show itself, claim that the story is a trivial one that eventually leads to nothing. Throughout the whole thing there is pain, pain, and more pain. Where's the payoff? There isn't any. The story is too realistic to offer something like payoff. However I don't believe at all that the Tomoko at the beginning of the story is the same one at the end of it. WataMote has one of those endings that when you first see it it seems like nothing, but if you give it another good hard look you can see that Tomoko changes a lot at the end. To me, the ending is the payoff of everything and it is massive payoff. It's a great and very realisstic ending. But it's not easy to see the payoff, only people who understand can probably see it, but it's there.
Should you watch WataMote? In most cases an anime scored with a 9 might be an "Absolutely". Not here. As a matter of fact, I think most people would probably not like WataMote. I think that only those quiet, anti-social, loners are the people who would praise WataMote the same way I do. But all of you sociables probably want to avoid this one. You might think you can sympathize with Tomoko, but sympathy won't carry you enough to ignore the flaws the same way relating to her can.read more
WATAMOTE -No matter how I look at it, It's you guys fault I'm not popular- is a comedy aimed straight at dysfunctional geeks, or former dysfunctional geeks, who can laugh at their own faults and take them with a grain of salt. Its gallows humor centers around a socially inept mess of a protagonist who goes through life repeating the cycle of self-embarrassment and loneliness while learning nothing from it, and garnished with anime and pop culture references and parodies. It's a show that hits painfully close to home for anyone who has social anxieties, yet playful enough that it remains morbidly funny rather than becoming straight-up depressing, most of the time at least. It's also pretty blunt about who's really at fault for all the main character's problems.
Our social misfit of a protagonist is Tomoko, an unkempt antisocial teenager entering her first year of high school. Despite having difficulty with talking to the opposite sex and having hardly any friends in middle school, Tomoko convinces herself that she will become instantly popular after her high school debut. It goes without saying that this isn't the case. Instead, she ends up brooding, having odd fantasies, and lamenting the fact she isn't popular. She spends her days fading into the scenery and going unnoticed by her fellow students, except for her occasional bouts of awkwardness; her days off school are usually spent cooped up in her room. Still, she's determined to gain popularity among her peers, even if she has absolutely no clue how to go about accomplishing that goal. Cringe inducing awkwardness and hilarity ensue.
Majority of the show's humor comes from Tomoko's breathtaking ineptness. Not only does she have trouble talking to people, she has no sense of how to handle social situations at all. On top of that, she's also pessimistic and has a really dirty mind. Consequently, she constantly misinterprets even the simplest of interactions and blows them out of proportion; sometimes putting a sexual twist on them. A single kind gesture from a boy sends her into hilariously ludicrous fantasies of that boy having having a crush on her and becoming her boyfriend, even if there isn't a single indignation that he is actually interested in her. She comes up with half-baked ideas how to get noticed by her classmates which either go unnoticed or cause her embarrassment, even as she has overblown daydreams of becoming the most popular girl in class. She even botches an attempt to impress her visiting younger cousin, who had actually admired Tomoko until this particular visit. It would be depressing (actually, it still sort of is) if it wasn't for how clearly deluded Tomoko is (she takes social ques from anime), and the show's unhinged presentation of her delusional fantasies and social ineptitude.
The irony in this is, despite coming up with harebrained ideas to get her classmates' attentions, Tomoko rarely tries to interact with them normally. Instead of actually attempting to get acquainted with her fellow students, she just mopes around and daydreams about having friends. Of course, this is partly due to shyness, but Tomoko actively avoids interacting with people. She's also jealous, and even a bit spiteful, towards people more popular than her. Tomoko's loneliness is something she brings upon herself, if even just partly. Of course, she's unaware of this; propelling the show's morbid laughs as she runs around in circles.
Now, you may have noticed Tomoko is the only character I've mentioned so far. This is because she is very much the essence of the show; she is horribly pathetic and self-centered and incredibly counter-productive, yet somehow surprisingly sympathetic. Her desire to become popular, warped as it is, comes from a genuine place. Beneath her unkempt appearance and unsocial demeanor, she's a confused teenager looking for someone to connect with. As funny as her misfortunes can be, and they can be pretty damn hilarious, there's an underline melancholy to them. This resonate strong for anyone who has had crippling social anxieties like Tomoko. What makes WATAMOTE a breath of fresh air is that it is able to spin these negative feelings into something fun to watch. The show's manic energy and countless silly references to other anime (K-ON, Fist of the North Star, and Another just to name a few), which usually take form in Tomoko's delusions, keep the humor from being overwhelmingly bleak... most of the time, at least.
The other characters in the show have significantly less attention, which isn't surprising given the nature of the show, but add extra flavor to the show as they interact with Tomoko. In complete opposition to Tomoko's high school experience, her best friend from middle school Yuu (her only friend, really) has made a full transformation from quiet shy girl to a trendy, fashionable girl. Unlike our protagonist, she's friendly and sociable and actually pretty sweet; even with her new found popularity she makes time for her unsociable middle-school friend whenever she can. It's rather funny to see the striking contrast of the separate paths the two took after middle school. There's also Tomoko's younger brother, who always seems to be at the butt of Tomoko's shenanigans at home. Their vague animosity towards each other mirrors that of an actual sibling relationship, something that is oddly rare in anime. Late in the series, there's also a character that gives Tomoko a much needed hug.
Director Shin Oonuma has a very busy visual style, constantly throwing colorful and weird imagery into scenes; a habit that has been unnecessary in some of his previous works. This fits WATAMOTE like a glove, however. Tomoko has a very skewed outlook on life and an equally as overactive imagination; Oonuma's manic direction does wonders to illustrate this. Sometimes this comes in little touches like many of the characters having minimal detail in their designs, or Tomoko slowly becoming transparent and fading into the background. Other times it takes form in delirious spectacles, such as any of Tomoko's ludicrous fantasies. Also adding the unhinged visual design is the oddly angled lighting and color schemes and visual windows into Tomoko's thoughts. Tomoko's character design itself is cute in a dirty abandoned puppy kind of way; giving her some major icon power. You get the feeling that she would look pretty good if she actually took care of herself.
The music is on the zany side. It's reminiscent the usual light music used in high school comedy anime, but with a distinct oddness to it that works well with the visual design. The real attention catcher, however, are the show's opening and ending themes. The show has several different ending themes; all of which are both fun to listen to, and a little crazy. The main ending theme is preformed by Tomoko's seiyuu, Izumi Kitta (who does an incredibly job in the role), and fits the character perfectly. The opening theme is a blast of hard-rocking energy that is accompanied by visuals that encapsulate the show's themes and change slightly as the show continues. It is easily one of the best anime openers in recent memory.
WATAMOTE doesn't live to the likes of Welcome to the NHK or The Tatami Galaxy, which feature similarly dissatisfied protagonists, because Tomoko ultimately doesn't grow or develop much at all by the end. The show itself says that "her story doesn't really matter". However, perhaps because of this irreverence, the show is gigantically entertaining. While social anxieties are certainly a serious issue, there is something refreshing about having a show that centers around them not take itself seriously. The show isn't trivializing such anxieties or even making fun of them. It's simply inviting the viewers to laugh them off.read more
Before you decide to watch this show, make sure you do the following:
First, lock your windows, close the blinds, and make sure you're in an isolated location (preferably soundproof). Also, have plenty of supply of water ready. Oh and don't forget some cough medicine. Now you're probably asking yourself, “why??” The answer is simple:
You're going to be laughing so damn hard in this series like you've never ever before.
Watamote, aka No Matter How I Look At It, It's You Guys’ Fault I'm Not Popular!, is an animated series based off the manga of the same name written by Tanigawa Nico. The series chronicles the life of an antisocial girl named Tomoko Kuroki. It depicts the every day life of this young girl as she finally becomes a high school student. The problem? She is literally an otaku with no social experience with no real friends, much less a boyfriend. Well, now that might be something that not any of us wants to be in the shoes of but for Tomoko, it's what she has to go through every single day of her life.
For Tomoko, she is what represents the antithesis of a high school girl. While most girls in high school already have friends and are looking forward to the dating cycle, Tomoko is still in the baby stage of her making a real friend. (a boyfriend would obviously be better but I think that might be out of her league for now) Tomoko has always being a shy girl throughout her childhood and has a problem of getting along with others socially. In fact, her social skills are so below average that through flashbacks, we see she has only made three actual “conversations” with her peers. But hey, it's high school so the opportunity to shine is now right? WRONG. For Tomoko, it doesn't seem like much has progressed. She is still stuck as an antisocial girl with zero experience in socializing. She often has thoughts in her head too that are filled with delusions about others. For instance, she often fantasizes what it would be like if she really was popular. These delusions expands on her being the queen, majesty, or some sort of celebrity in her own mind. Other times, she pictures herself in a world of her own where she is the ruler and the subjects are those 'popular kids'. Unfortunately, she often mixes the wrong way between her fictions and reality. These usually result in consequences...mostly getting herself embarrassed or humiliated.
What impresses me most about her character is that Tomoko is very relatable. In fact, most of her life situations can be traced to our own childhoods. In fact, some of you reading this might be one of those folks who were once antisocial yourself. There's a line though between being antisocial or just a nutcase. In Watamote, Tomoko takes it to the extremes through her behavior. She has a love for BL games, often gets ideas from the manga/anime she is in love with, and always seems to say or do the wrong things at the wrong time. (mostly anyways) Furthermore, Tomoko seems to have a perverted mind as well as she fantasizes about genders of both sexes. In particular, her 'friend' Yui is a target of those perverted thoughts as she plays strange imaginations in her head.
The series follows a slice of life format so don't expect any form of arc going on. What you should expect though is Tomoko's progression as she tries to climb out of her shell in terms of being the antisocial kid. She doesn't have any real friend and seems like High School isn't getting any better. In fact, her vow to become more popular is played as parodies with each of her attempts. These usually are plans played in her head that often doesn't seem to go the way she wants to. Tomoko's reliance on the knowledge she gets from anime, manga, and in the otome game world doesn't help her at all. Although it's played as a parody most of the time, there are moments where we may also feel sorry for her. Why? Perhaps it's because we might have been in the same situation before. In fact, there is probably one moment in life where you feel like you just can't succeed in something no matter how hard you try. In the end, you realize it might all be pointless. For Tomoko Kuroki, it's something she has dealt with many times in her life. “What's the point?”
Tomoko's relation with her family is surprisingly quite realistic; at least at first glance. She has caring parents whom often cares for her daughter despite them not knowing of her way of life. Tomoko's younger brother Tomoki Kuroki is also portrayed as being just what a younger brother might be like in the real world – impatient, reserved, and often brutally honest. Throughout the series, we clearly see that the two of them behaves like siblings because of the way the argue. Some of these are based off of normal norms while other times are related to almost no reason. Regardless, it's realistic in my point of view because siblings always gets into fights no matter what. In fact, if you had a sibling, wasn't there at least one time where the two of you disagreed over something? (even if it's completely pointless?)
On the other hand, we later meet another character who served as an 'old friend' of Tomoko. Unlike Tomoko though, she significantly changed not only physically but also in terms of her personality. She represents what Tomoko is not – pretty, cheerful, and sociable. It's sad to see Tomoko being compared to such a person throughout the series because the gap in their differences. Furthermore, she seems to have accomplished a goal in her life that has been an obstacle that Tomoko tried to overcome all this time. Sometimes, you just have to feel sorry for her.
The idea and originality of Watamote isn't as fresh as some people might think though. Recent series such as My Romantic Comedy SNAFU also depicts a young boy with delusions and being antisoical while being acquittance with a beauty. Other series such as Welcome to the NHK and The World God Only Knows also depicts the otaku culture with an antisocial character and being unpopular with their peers. The highlight to Watamote though is that Tomoko is an extreme case but also struggles to overcome her obstacles in a more humorous way. The way Tomoko is portrayed often shows that she is stuck in a labyrinth of her own problems. There seems to be no way out for her because of various reasons. These reasons are often humorous but if we take them to the real life world, it can be a serious problem. Regardless, I find Watamote and its portrayal of Tomoko's character to be very entertaining to watch.
The comedy of the series are also the highlights. There are references being made to pop culture as well as other popular anime/manga series. Sometimes though, I feel like the show is trying a bit hard or more repetitive than it should be. Tomoko's quest to become more popular in high school might also frustrate viewers especially those who wants her to succeed. Then finally, Watamote might also be a painful watch especially for those who has truly been in Tomoko's shoes before. It makes some of us look back and tell ourselves, “wow, I think I've been there before..just look at me now”.
Watamote's artwork overall is painted with a simple style. Tomoko's character is probably the most noticeable. The way she looks isn't what some people might call 'attractive'. Rather, she is designed in the way an antisocial kid might be like. Her long hair, bagged eyes, and way she dresses shows that she isn't the typical valley girl. In fact, she doesn't use makeup or spent hours doing her hair in the morning. Silver Link adapts the manga well for the visuals just the way it ought to be – straight forward and simple.
As for soundtrack goes, Watamote's OP song, Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaete mo Omaera ga Warui by Konomi Suzuki n' Kiba of Akiba is extremely noticeable with its combination of rock and metal cords. Along with the strange appeal to her character, the song depicts Tomoko as a kid who doesn't fit with the popular crowds. The OST of the show is pleasant and often times plays noticeable tones of its soundtrack during certain scenes. These usually include moments when Tomoko gets caught up in awkward moments. The ED contains several different styles but all of them are portrayed as humorous and awkward. Finally, I would like to give praise to Tomoko's VA Kitta Izumi for her role in this series. Her voice as Tomoko truly shows that she is antisocial girl with no social skills and troubling delusions.
Ultimately, this show is one hell of a fun ride. I forgot the amount of times I had to screenshot those hilarious moments involving Tomoko. It brings about the humor of what an antisocial girl might be like in the case of Tomoko. Although the series does take it a bit to the extreme at times, I find it funny to watch because it pokes fun at the idea. In fact, the idea of being antisocial is often portrayed as a serious consequence. And indeed it is but in Watamote, the show gives off more of a humorous experience in the eyes and shoes of Tomoko. It's not a good thing to be antisocial or delusional but this show portrays it in such a way that you can't sometimes help but laugh. (at least I did) I hope you get a good laugh from this series as well. High school experiences might not be something we all enjoyed in our lives but it's certainly an important part of our memories. For Tomoko, that might not be appealing but this series sure was. read more
Are you looking to become a better anime reviewer? Well then you should probably start writing reviews. However reading this article is another great way to get better at reviewing and reading takes less time, so you might as well start here!
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