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.
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
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.
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.
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.
What happened? Watamote was a series about this socially retarded girl who came across with some social situations and acted retarded. Then what happened? This same thing over and over. Social situation, then retardation. This happened few times, then few times again and in the end few times happened few times too many, and that is what happened.
Main points where this anime fails are pacing, character development and plot. 1-cour series can achieve a lot, but Watamote didn't even try to get anywhere. Many criticize Slice of Life series for being pointless, even state that Slice of Life is meant to be pointless, but
in Watamote's case, it's mainly just waste of potential. Watamote had the key elements to be the NHK with OreImo funfun, but someone thought it would be cool to start repeating the same stone age joke till nausea, and it sure was. (Stone age and nausea, not funfun).
The characters are meeting my picture of laziness. Kuroko is pathetic, a no-life loser and more importantly, a characters which is easy to develop in whatever direction. ... NOPE. Let's have a character who is the same person always, and an annoying one too! This formula works in fighting tournament shonen, but not here. Never here. Her brother reminds me of an alpaca. Always that stupid fucking face. By alpaca I mean that one guy from Twilight. There is other character too, but they won't matter, except that one senpai girl from the last episodes. She is interesting, why won't they make an anime about her instead of this little fucker?
When it comes to the animation and art, Watamote does a good job not being like all the other recent school series, so it passes. If we ignore the glorious op, the music is forgettable. Same thing with voice acting when ignoring her (you know, her) squeaking voices. Nothing impressive nor disappointing in the production, just the typical neutral nothing.
Now I want to preface this by saying I'm not strictly reviewing the series. I find it hard coming from my perspective to be able to objectively rate the show overall. This is because I believe that whether you like or dislike this show heavily depends on how much you can relate to the main character, therefore your mileage my vary.
**The impressions I give do contain some minor spoilers however I do not believe they effect your enjoyment of the show**
The reason I really like Watamote is because it takes a particularly dark and depressing condition and gives it a light-hearted twist. See many people
seem to misinterpret Tomoko (the MC) as being introverted, however I have to respectfully disagree. Being introverted does not mean that one is socially inept, as Tomoko is. Instead it means that the introverted person in question is energized by doing things by themselves but are quickly tired when participating in things involving a group. While it can be somewhat true that those who prefer to spend time by themselves are not as socially able as extroverts, it is not the 'default' for an introvert to be bad at conversations or unable to recognize social ques.
As someone who has experience with social anxiety in the past I can tell you that Tomoko most certainly suffers from social anxiety herself based on her actions throughout the series. Indeed her main goal through the show is to have lots of friends and be the interest of all the boys. If she was truly an introvert this would be in conflict with the idea that she wants to be the center of attention and be at the social peak of the high school she goes to. I feel like this needed to be explained because some dislike towards this show comes from people perceiving her as being an introvert and then subsequently stating that her behavior is unrealistic and exaggerated because 'introverts aren't like that'. Your enjoyment of the show will be enhanced if you can recognize that she has social anxiety, she is not introverted.
With that in mind I want to say just how accurately the show depicts social anxiety at it's worst. Tomoko frequently struggles to even say 'Hello' or 'Goodbye' to any of the characters in the show despite them actually being more than willing to interact with her. This really is an accurate representation in my opinion. For someone with social anxiety just saying things as simple as hello and good morning are monumental tasks. Since I can relate to this it is one of the main reasons that Watamote resonates so much with me. See Watamote takes this experience and others like it and utilizes the animation and sound to make it comedic, so that I can sit back and watch this show and laugh at all the unfortunate things that happen to Tomoko. It makes it so I can laugh at my own experiences and that really is relieving. It's nice to see such a condition portrayed in anime and not instantly be depressed by it which is a challenging thing for an anime to achieve and it adds a whole new level of appreciation for me towards Watamote and what it does. On one hand it gives an oddly realistic and mature look into the life of someone with social anxiety while simultaneously parodying it, which is fantastic.
In addition to this I really loved the fact that Watamote did not show Tomoko overcoming her social anxiety. One major criticism held against the show is that it does not have an overarching plot and the status quo that is set in episode 1 is still there by episode 12. While a series being too episodic is a valid complaint with many anime shows in recent years, I feel that Watamote is one of those anime that actually really benefits from being episodic. See social anxiety is not something that can simply be overcome in the period of a school term, shyness maybe, but social anxiety no. I feel like if Watamote had shown serious progression or even Tomoko outright beating her condition then it would have been unrealistic and immersion breaking. So for that I commend Watamote for not going down the idealistic route and instead sticking with the 'status quo' it portrays of Tomokos life. It really adds to my enjoyment of the show on the whole.
Like I mentioned earlier your enjoyment of this show may heavily depend on how much you can relate to the experiences of Tomoko. If you can, then I highly recommend this show for you. If you can't, then you may still like it for its charming animation, good use of sound and quality 'cringe' humor. Equally however you may dislike watching a show that is basically about someone who can never do things right and is constantly messing up because of her warped view on events surrounding her. It's certainly not the best anime out there nor my favorite but to me it really had an emotional impact unlike any other anime I've watched making it worth noting for any anime fan.
I was all over this series when it first aired. Coming from someone who was in similar positions with Tomoko; its depiction of social reclusion and anxiety was perfect. Even with a blatantly cheap budget, the series is able to vividly and impeccably flesh out Tomoko’s character. Props to director Shin Oonuma as she makes the best out of her limited budget to use creative, well-directed visual tricks, that aren’t simply used for show, but to further our understanding on Tomoko.
Another great factor about this series is that when it comes to depicting Tomoko, it takes us into her life without trying to conform
the viewer to a certain mindset. All the humor that stemmed from Tomoko’s situations were funny, but in a cringe-worthily pragmatic manner rather than in a form of mean-spiritedness. And all those serious scenes of Tomoko were just to reflect on the quiet and heartbreaking moments of her instead of simply trying to force the viewers to sympathize with Tomoko.
Contrary to what many people claim, you don’t have to have to relate with the female lead to enjoy Watamote. Yeah, it has its clever references to certain anime that casual viewers of anime won’t get, but overall Watamote presents itself in a manner that anyone can enjoy.
Because of this, I was thoroughly impressed with Watamote at the start. The problem, as the series progresses, is that Tomoko’s charm began to fade. I understand that the message the series conveys isn’t about overcoming social anxiety, but how for many, it’s a serious issue that may never be overcome. And though I like that message, it doesn’t translate well into something I want to see for 12 episodes. Watching Tomoko monologue about her everyday life, even with all the novel and different situations she gets herself into, became stale. Even if I could still relate to Tomoko, it just wasn’t of interest to keep watching and it didn’t help that there was no firm direction or hint of what the series wanted to achieve in the end,
Luckily, Tomoko isn’t the lone character in the whole series, there are side characters like her only friend Yuu, her brother and a couple of other characters that make an occasional appearance. Yes, whether it’s Tomoko trying to mirror what’s popular or bickering with her older brother, Watamote is at its best with those moments and not when Tomoko’s alone in her room. Because quite frankly, the show started feeling oddly empty and that didn’t rub me the right way.
Story – Non-existent, it’s episodic story-telling didn’t work for me and there’s no set direction of where it exactly wants to go
Characters – Tomoko is a fantastically depicted recluse, but her development is quite static. Side characters are great and bring out the best of the series, but lack more show time
Setting – Its themes of recluse and social anxiety are well presented, but don’t translate well into a vastly entertaining series
Production Values – Cheap, but is well made use of with incredibly creative and well-directed visual tricks
Do I Recommend?: Overall, I enjoyed Watamote for how it depicted a social recluse and I certainly enjoyed Tomoko’s interactions with the real world, but in the end - with static development, scenes of monologue that felt empty and no real sense of direction - it was just another episodic comedy that didn’t leave much of an impact on me. I commend the series for being open to viewers whether or not they relate to Tomoko’s problems, but it’s a very black and white series for the ones that do. You’re either captivated by it or completely turned off by it.
~No Matter How I Look At It, It's You Guys Fault This Review Is Not Popular!~
But either way it doesn't really matter since this show is here to accommodate for that. On the surface, the Watamote series follows the everyday life of our fellow heroine Tomoko Kuroki as she tries her hardest to become popular with her new high school life. With it, we are presented with everyday situations and how Tomoko deals with these events.
Many factors such as the art and sound help to present these events in a comedic tone. You'll come across many references from anime today and a couple years
back, and these references serve to emphasize on the theme of being unpopular. In addition, the soundtrack is filled with fun and high-spirited tunes that don't take it self too seriously and presents the mood that Tomoko is currently in. Not only that, but there are surprises to see within this soundtrack which I best should not mention. Furthermore, Kitta, Izumi really shines in her role as Tomoko, she is able to portray a voice that sounds crazy yet desperate but when it comes time for Tomoko to socialize with other characters, Izumi really stands out with her awkwardness.
As you watch this show, many of you will come to realize just how much Tomoko is like us. When I finished watching, I was left asking "Did they make an anime based on my life?"; the show's sense of humor could hit hard at home for many, which would either leave many cringing or leave you laughing at just how much you could relate to it. Tomoko is a dimensional character because of this, you'll feel her pain when things don't go her way or be happy when something good actually happens for her, and some of you may even despise her for the way she acts. But in general, without Tomoko, this show just wouldn't be the same at all. As for the supporting cast, they all fit into the story of Watamote without them feeling out of place. A notable character to highlight would have to Tomoki, he is like the opposite of Tomoko and when those two are together, the situations could get very funny or very painful.
At the heart, this show shouldn't be taken seriously, although many of us have experienced or still are experiencing the type of life that Tomoko has, it is meant to be taken in a humorous fashion, which could put off many. But if you're willing to look past that, then I assure you that Watamote is worth the watch, not every day would you be able to find a show as popular as this, no pun intended.
If you saw someone who is regularly alone, would you talk to or try to befriend him/her? Are you or did you used to be that lonely person? Or do you pity those type of people and tend to ignore them?
Watamote is designed to give the viewer a taste of the daily life of such a person with an excellent mixture of reality and comedy. Prepare to enter the world of an introverted, socially inept girl named Tomoko, who desperately wishes to become popular and get a boyfriend. Depending on the person, Watamote can appear depressing, funny, or ridiculous. It may be difficult to laugh
at someone else’s misfortunes and embarrassment regardless of whether or not it is fictionalized. However, it can draw several emotions for those who can relate. It gives you an opportunity to laugh at your own faults or sympathize with the character as she experiences loneliness and launch laughable schemes to get noticed.
Story (9) / Character (9)
Tomoko is an Otaku who spends most of her time in the fantasy world. She visualizes her life being as glamorous as in her virtual dating games or favorite anime. However, she learns that popularity is not so easy to gain in high school. She survived middle school with one geeky best friend, but she must start from scratch as she attends school with complete strangers.
The reality and comedy is executed excellently as the anime follows Tomoko’s daily life in social isolation. Her awkwardness and nervousness is what brings forth the comedy, because her attempts at popularity are kind of weird and hilarious. Tomoko tries to become more feminine and attractive to boys by changing her appearance, copying actions from anime protagonists, etc. Some scenes were exaggerated to create laughter. Tomoko’s sudden reactions to certain occurrences, including being approached by a hot guy, are honest and comical.
As a person who suffers from social anxiety disorder, Tomoko struggles to talk to strangers. Whether it is a simple hello/goodbye or ordering fast food, she speaks softly and stutters as if it’s a pain. She shies away from several opportunities that could gain her a friend or improve her social skills. One part of the comedy comes from Tomoko bugging Tomoki (her popular soccer brother) to converse with her until she gets a boyfriend. The conversations are amusing with the weird subjects (e.g. Tomoko asking if he gets quickies from his female coach) and Tomoki showing his annoyance and disgust.
Tomoko’s inner monologues greatly expresses her character. They involve honest feelings from cursing the happy people of the world or inspiring herself to try harder to socialize the next day. Tomoko’s view of the world is that of a sim dating game or anime, causing her to have strange and inaccurate assumptions about the real world. Her time in the virtual world causes her to have perverted thoughts of what it’s like to have a boyfriend. There are two or three ecchi scenes as Tomoko does both inner and outer research on how to become more feminine.
Tomoko slightly improves socially towards the end, receiving a little recognition from schoolmates. The ending is hopeful but disappointing for those who will expect immediate progress. It is yet another anime that urges you to continue the story with the manga because of its incomplete ending.
Character development goes at a steady pace for a shut-in like Tomoko, which is the reason for the incomplete ending. A faster pace would make the story unrealistic, since popularity cannot happen overnight. Supporting characters give a great contribution to Tomoko’s development as she tries to gain self-confidence and hope for the future. Although the series strictly follows Tomoko, it goes inside the head of other characters and tells their thoughts of Tomoko. Some quotes from them are either funny or sympathetic.
Animation (8) / Sound (8)
The animation and sound are both memorable, underlining the anime’s moody atmosphere. The animation is highly responsible for bringing out the comedy by creating an over-exaggeration of awkward scenes. Visuals portrays Tomoko’s hallucinations and embarrassment with vivid colors, and her facial expressions constantly distorts to match her emotions.
Character design was distinctly good. Tomoko is drawn exactly like an unappealing emo character with dark circles under eyes, long black hair, and plain clothes. Other characters’ appearances are suitable for their nature. There are gray, colorless figures to express depression and loneliness in Tomoko’s surroundings. Characters sometimes have faces with no eyes. Background designs are colorful and well-drawn. There are sometimes aerial views of a setting (e.g. inside a restaurant). Settings are diverse and brings excitement to the series, because each setting adds yet another incident to Tomoko’s life.
The OP song is a heavy metal song that’s named after the anime itself, and the lyrics of "Watamote" describe Tomoko’s character: “I won’t accept this world until I make it to a future where I’m popular.” There are five ending songs throughout Watamote, and they all match the moods to the ending of each episode. Background music sounds like a video game, so it's not that special. The VAs were very good and fit each character’s personality. Izumi Kitta (voice of Tomoko) did an excellent job expressing Tomoko’s nervousness throughout the series.
Watamote is one of the best slice of life comedies I have ever watched. I sympathized with Tomoko on several occasions and found her breakdowns funny most of the time. The animation and supporting characters brought excitement to the series by highlighting the different emotions (sadness, laughter) of the anime. The pacing also demonstrated hope for Tomoko. I was disappointed with the ending, but I loved it so much that I moved onto the manga.
Overall, Watamote delivers a perfect combination of reality and comedy. It takes you on a ride through the life of a socially inept girl whose primary goal is to become popular. Sympathize with Tomoko as she goes through loneliness. Enjoy (and laugh) at her several crazy schemes to get people to notice her.
Tip: Watch the entire episode and enjoy the ED. After the credits, Tomoko and Tomoki converse for a few seconds about the main topic related to the next episode.
Along with Free!, Gatchaman Crowds and Danganronpa, Watamote was one of the most famous animes of Summer 2013. Everyone talked about Watamote. It was Watamote here, Watamote there. Everybody loved this anime. And I'm still wondering why.
The art is good, the animation is OK, the sound department is decent. The characters were well written and, even that I don't relate to her, Tomoko deserved to be a highlight.
But the story is what kills Watamote. Nothing happens during the series. I didn't expect a killing like Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. I didn't even want she to become popular, what would make the name senseless. But
I expected something to happen. Episode after episode, she tries to change her reality, but fails. She tries and fails. She tries and fails. She tries and fails. 12 episodes of failure after failure. If you watched the first episode, you watched the whole series.
If Watamote was an OVA, I would accept it better. But a TV series? It's almost unbearable.
And "Oh, you didn't understand the concept of the series/the character" is not a good excuse.
I simply wanted to say that Watamote is one of the most depressing anime I've ever watched. Just as I kept watching it, I couldn't stop wondering how much it would've took to reach the end. This anime has often been described to me as "realistic", "relatable" and "funny", and as a fool, I believed that it would've actually been a fun trip. It is even labelled as "Comedy" on almost every website.
The show itself is nothing but a lonley and geeky high-school girl ( Her name is Tomoko ) and her struggle to integrate herself into the society and make friends. At first, seems
relatable towards the ones who have or had the same problems, but it truly isn't. The title itself says "No matter how I look at it, it's your guys' fault if I'm not popular", but it is actually Tomoko's own fault for being so bad, and isolated. Now, you'd expect such a character to be not cold nor hot, to have her issues but a positive side, something that we can say about her that would not be as we think... Instead, she's straight up rude, awkward and disrespectful, either with people she doesn't know or her own family.
The story is just filled with sadness, all over it. Not a happy, or even NORMAL moment. For those who praise this anime for being "realistic" clearly didn't think this through, as the show is filled with clichés and silliness. As an outcast and anti-social person, I can describe Tomoko's experiences past and present as totally unrealistic and odd. Like the fact that in an entire week of school, she had not shared a word with ANYONE exept a barely said "Goodbye" to her teacher. Which she took like a win to the lottery, by the way.
There are also dozens of references to other anime, that are nowhere near subtle, as the only thing that stops from saying their respective name is a censorship *"beep"* in the dialogue. Not only some of these reference are out of place, but they are so obvious and in-your-face that I couldn't even enjoy or appreciate them, and I like parodies.
The characters are basically clichés and nonexistent, as this anime focuses only on one and one character only.
The animation is mediocre, with good, but often overwhelming effects and lazy scenes that can easily be improved. The music can hardly be noticed, and barely adds any impact to any scene. Which is a shame, since the opening is absolutely awesome, and despite the ED isn't one of the best, it is very creative.
The voice acting is well done, but when 80% of the dialogue are just inner thoughts coming from the main character, you can barely notice it.
Overall, no character, nor story development whatsoever. If I'd just put some percentage to sum it all up, it would be:
30% Random references to other shows
1% Actually relatable scenes
2% Of out of nowhere useless Ecchi you can't even predict
And 7% of western and anime clichés spread around in random order.
I do not recommend this anime, unless you really enjoy tragic "comedies" or find funny a depressed girl that threatens to kill herself if she doesn't talk to her brother once in a while.
Solid 3/10 and I'm being generous.
Before watching this anime, answer yourself the following questions:
1. Do you consider yourself weird?
2. Do you feel like you don’t have any true friends?
3. Do you think of sex constantly all day?
4. Do you feel like people don’t understand you?
If you answered yes and no appropriately for a normal human being, skip this anime and watch something else...you're in for torture.
If you answered no to all of these questions, you're fine. Watch with contentment.
If you answered yes to all of these questions, though, slap on some naked butler porn and start whacking with toothpaste at the prologue of Episode 1—this anime was made specifically for you.
(Psst. I answered yes
to all of them.)
“Watashi ga mottenai no wa dou kangaetemo omaera ga warui,”—or from hereforth Watamote—would be equally as titled as “The Autobiography of the Narcissistic, Melancholic Otaku.” It outlines the boring, waste-of-food lifestyle of an introverted, 21st century teenager, Kuroki Tomoko, and her misadventures in becoming a sociable person. With the lewd objective of capturing the hearts and souls of her peers, with each episode she draws forth a depressing, yet outlandishly hilarious conclusion.
The plot in this anime is episodic, outlining the seasons of the school year more definitely as the series progresses. Tomoko struggles with communication, and all but too often winds up doing something socially awkward or unacceptable at little expense of notice to her colleagues. The series gradually draws towards more embarrassing or heartbreaking consequences, all-in-all while Tomoko remains spirited through to the narrow conclusion. I strongly feel that the story itself is the weakest part and precisely why the series faces much scrutiny; the balance of the plotline heavily relies on a character that is distrusted by the audience, and rapidly grows repetitive with the endless frustration. I think the series would have benefitted more with another arc, possibly more focused on the character changes that slowly developed as Tomoko’s continued failures amassed.
Which in regards to the characters, this series shines. Tomoko is undoubtedly a relatable character to a part of all of us—wherein we seek to blame others for our weaknesses, try to change too quickly, and excuse our dark thoughts with solidarity in loneliness. In my lifetime I cannot stress enough how often I’ve thought along similar lines as Tomoko about my peers, only to realize in the end just how catastrophic that was to my personality. The consistent negativity and judgmental thoughts that she exudes are enough to make anyone feel sorry for her, if not additionally hate her.
Yet, brilliantly, she emblazons the series as the protagonist (or dare I say “anti-hero”.) We watch her struggle to an end to become a happier person, sometimes even feeling proud that she has sought out meaningful changes. Also, considering her level of social anxiety it is fascinating watching her persist and continue to look brightly toward the future. After all we might choose to hate her, but are forced to love her.
Laughing the entire time.
Tomoki, her brother, is another catch. Though he remains secondary and purely comical, he provides the audience a chance to see Tomoko act as herself. His shrewd responses and sarcasm add just the right amount of flavor. Though many disagree with me, I feel that this was enough to keep the focus on Tomoko alone, preventing her from being trapped in the inner monologue.
Izumi Kitta, did an astronomical job voicing for Tomoko. Being a good seiyuu is something expected out of Japan, but her mastery of inner monologue and conflict gave the series a bigger kick than had it been a higher-pitched tsundere. Voicing in a darker, messier timbre than a typical shoujo, Kitta employed the role with the right snappiness and vulgarity expected from a person like Tomoko. Also, her emphasis on certain words and sounds in Japanese (for those of you who don’t speak Japanese just call me a name and skip this part), especially puns and sexual innuendos are outstanding. The general grit of her tone alone kept the series best in the balance.
The opening ranks high on my top 10 favorites. I am a classical musician and absolutely hate scream, yet I am enamoured with this opening. The 1 minute and 30 seconds of clashing drum sets, vein-popping growls, and echoing female vocals are accompanied by a vignette of Tomoko’s personal struggle. There is a great deal of innuendo of sexual repression and symbolism that is profound to this series. I strongly recommend to everyone to not skip the introduction when watching this series, as it will constantly refresh you about the deepest meaning of the series itself. The background music is perfect, too. It actually is quite unnoticeable, maybe perhaps for a few weird, sexualized beats, elevator music or accordions. For a series of this nature I think stronger BGMs would make the subject too lighthearted, which defeats the purpose of Tomoko’s character study.
Artwork in Watamote is bewildering. The splash of light effect and heavy detail on the eyes deceives us to believe that the series is meant to be cute. It, of course, does have many cute moments, but the choice of ambiguously dark colors or animation methods (such as crayon during imaginary scenes) retains the moody quite well. There is a great amount of detail on the passage of time, as we see emphasis on Tomoko’s moods reflect the time of the day.
Again, if you’re afraid of seeing disgusting or repulsive behavior from your protagonist, then go watch cheap, direct-to-video Christmas films. Watamote thrives on less perfect minds and hearts, engaging them as It does Tomoko about her issues and choices.
And again, make sure your naked butlers are well…nevermind.
We’ve all gone through a certain point in our lives where we just want to feel less lonely even though our abilities for social interactions are limited for some inexplicable reason. Shows that remind us of those dark times can be polarizing for the majority to comprehend and because of this we don’t see many shows try to tackle the subject. The reason being the fact that most people don’t like to revisit what made them so miserable for so long. Luckily for some of us, we always look back at those moments and laugh at how silly it was and thanks to the show
Watamote we can now have a show that does that for us.
Based on the gag manga, Watamote is set as your typical slice of life show, only this time they added some new twists into the mix that make it a little more fresh than others; dark demented twists so to speak. It is dark in its subject matter but at the same time it has a comedic overtone that compliment each other very well. You have Tomoko’s wild intentions on wanting to be popular yet is unable to due to her supreme lack of social skill and the fact that she has been somewhat of a hikikomori for the majority of her life. The camera angles that constantly pans to her face that often looks distorted from the style of animation it tries to exacerbate really give you a sense of dread and anguish for her yet at the same time you can’t help but laugh at her expense. The show also goes into parody territory by showcasing your typical awkward moment of conversation such as picking up a dropped pencil from a classmate sitting next to you and so forth. This is done with some clever flashback sequences that show us Kuroko’s comprehensive mindset.
Sporadic and chaotic are the two words that sum up the humor of Watamote. This is a blessing and a curse to the show as a whole, in which the humor in this show is very unpredictable and goes to new levels of hilarity as time goes on but at the same time it can get quite repetitive quickly. Repetitive in the sense that Kuroko’s constant ramblings and random noises she makes when she goes insane are done too frequently and mostly comes across as tedious than charming after a while. What does save the humor is the actual build-up of the most funniest bits that feel very fresh and unexpected to see thanks to the well-thought out dialogue that is written in those scenes; scenes that involve Tomoko and her mother in her room as her audio recording of a male seiyuu is played in the background and joining a couple of boys peek into a love motel.
One other small aspect that I truly admire about the comedy is the chemistry between Tomoko and her brother Kuroki and their hilarious dialogue exchanges to one another. Whenever the both of them are on-screen together, you get the actual feeling that this is how most siblings treat each other on a daily basis; they don’t necessarily like each other when they are in their personal space but they’re nonetheless bound by blood and can’t help but feel for each others troubles. It’s a shame they don’t have enough screen-time together, that way we could see some growth between them but what we have here at this point is enough for me.
To start out with characters, Tomoko is the type of person you either grew up knowing someone like her or you grew up as her, but for the most part we’ve all been the latter. We’ve all just wanted to try to put up an act of ourselves to make us seem edgy or cool but end up failing miserably as a result. Tomoko herself is the main driving point in the show who performs her antics with pure charm and sympathy, thanks in part to her voice actress Izumi Kitta who is extraordinary playing as her. Her ability to create Kuroko’s personality is almost inhuman in a good way, though there are some times where she performs her job too well to the point where it sounds like she’s going to pass out near the end of the take.
That doesn’t mean that the other characters share the same kind of memorability or charisma as Kuroko does, with the exception of her brother of course. Her best friend Yuu Naruse, played by Kana Hanazawa, is a pretty bland childhood friend type of character who isn’t given much to her performance other than to show more of Kuroko’s despair. Now one way to defend this is by looking at it as the fact that Kuroko is the only character that is the center focus of the entire show. The rest of the characters don’t even have to be fully developed because all we are focusing is on the main character Kuroko alone. It gives off the same loneliness feeling that she is going through to let the audience feel the same thing to make us feel contempt for her sorrow. Then again that’s what makes the comedy all the more meaningful and hilarious.
That isn’t to say the comedy is always perfect by any means. There are times where we’re taken into situations that go a little too far and the comedic timing doesn’t even provide any humorous feedback because of how poorly handled they are. Not that they were anything life-altering disturbing but it’s one of those moments where you raise your one eyebrow and feel uncomfortable at the same time. While there are some hiccups here and there, the writing does jump back into the swing of things and provide endless over-the-top humor that is both dark and clever. The numerous parodies to other anime are a definite plus as well.
What better way to start out your typical slice of life show when you could just provide a loud bombastic metal song into it to make it edgy? No doubt the opening might alienate people since obviously it feels out-of-place by the fact that the scenes being shown in the opening have absolutely nothing to do with the show. I would argue that it’s heavily symbolic as if we’re in Kuroko’s own subconscious thought in how her thought-process is majority of the time and for that it’s a pretty decent opening. The rest of the music is here is fun and nice to listen to, even though it will eventually be forgotten in about two years time.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the show is very demented to watch and might leave people with a really sick feeling in their stomach, but it’s something that anyone shouldn’t pass off if they are a big fan of dark comedy and a parodied look into the otaku lifestyle. It can be a tedious ride if you can’t handle the repetitive nature of Kuroko’s random ramblings but there’s always that one moment that makes the ride worth it to go through. A moment that makes you have tears roll down your eyes from sheer laughter and going absolutely nuts by how bold the humor can be observed as uncomfortable. After all, we need more admirable shows like Watamote that isn’t afraid to go too far with its jokes.
Watamote overall has been proven to be a very worthy watch. Many people including myself have been able to connect themselves to the main character Tomoko in the sense of the frustrations that they have with feeling unknown to the rest of the world.
Watching this series, with the relationship between Tomoko and her younger brother Tomoki it had me thinking about how I see my relationship with my own sibling and I, how even though they didn't get along they still share memories together and take the extra step to tolerate each other.
Above that, the interactions between the background characters that Tomoko had observed shows
perspective on how unaware some people may be of the others around them, if they are lonely and need company or even need somebody to talk to.
I particularly enjoyed the ending of episode 11 where the class representative in charge of the culture festival, Imae, noticed Tomko was lonely after her friend Yuu had left, then got in the mascot costume and offered her a balloon. When Tomoko went to take the balloon she pulled her in for a hug. That was one of the sweetest moments I've seen.
This anime also introduces very interesting music and makes several humorous references to other popular animes. If anyone is looking to watch something a little different this is definitely the series to watch.
An unfortunate truth that many fans of this medium can agree on is this: anime is generally not especially keen on addressing topics like social anxiety or giving them the respect and nuance they deserve. This is not to say this sort of thing doesn’t exist, just that it’s particularly hard to find. WataMote is an outlier, in how it confronts a legitimate issue and portrays it with utmost honesty, while utilizing comedy as a source of amusement and coping, not to make light of the situation. Through a collection of gags conjured in a fundamentally bleak scenario, WataMote finds amusement and humor in
a portrayal of anxiety which rivals that of Evangelion. Perhaps one of the worst, cruelest things to be imposed on someone is the feeling of isolation and loneliness. Shyness can look cute on the outside, but the same can be said about an animal trapped in a zoo. Both sheer hilarity and blistering tragedy ensue in Kuroki Tomoko’s cavalcade of mishaps, exploring the multiple facets of her character which speaks to the hearts of those who have had the displeasure of feeling invisible to society.
Various monologues, delusions, and fantasies are at play here as we follow Kuroki Tomoko in her quest to become popular. Having almost no social skills whatsoever, much of the action takes place within Tomoko’s own thoughts, from scheming on how to approach a situation to conjuring an ideal fantasy where all her desires are met, sometimes referencing an anime or manga she knows of. Tomoko is genuinely a fun and endearing character to follow, partly thanks to how vividly and creatively her thoughts are presented. Her point of view is depicted in a litany of wacky and comical ways, with each affair being executed in a way that wouldn’t look out of place in a battle shounen; exaggerated and dramatic. To say that WataMote plays out like a battle shounen undersells it however. Unlike many manga adaptations which tend to have uninspired camerawork and lazy implementation of dialogue, WataMote is always exercising creativity in how to present her thoughts. New visual elements are constantly brought to the table so that the experience never grows stale. Inventive visual work, snappy pacing, and Tomoko’s constant narrations work in unison to bring this character to life.
Despite depicting these situations in a goofy, comedic light, WataMote presents one of the most accurate depictions of social anxiety I’ve seen in an anime. This portrayal is not limited to simply being nervous or shy in public interactions. Tomoko’s thoughts, perspectives, and attitude all personify that of a socially awkward and anxious high schooler, serving as a basis for her actions. The way her anxiety dictates what she thinks and how she behaves is exploited both comedically and narratively, leading to events which highlight the tragedy of the situation while providing some degree of amusement. All of Tomoko’s delusions and insecurities are welded into a series of gags and humorous moments to exploit the absurdity in her ways of thinking, while eloquently demonstrating what exactly is crippling her in these situations. Feeling nothing but fear and distrust in social situations, Tomoko almost always assumes the worst in people. Internally, she’ll often scoff at or antagonize anyone who isn’t some hot guy she met at a store, and impulsively puts the blame on others for any misfortune that comes up in her day. She’ll desperately gravitate towards any method that is said to make one more popular, attractive, or whichever else, even if it involves purposely getting molested on a train. And yes, she does actually attempt this. The various incidents she pulls herself into are presented in a wacky, hyperbolic manner, sometimes to the point where Tomoko comes off as downright maniacal or demented in certain cases. This particular style does a lot to make Tomoko a very endearing character, but she’s made all the more captivating by how she fully encapsulates what social anxiety is really about. It’s a harrowing dilemma to face especially in your high school years, and it’s one that many of us can admit to have had around the same period as Tomoko has. Almost all of us who have had social anxiety can relate to many of Tomoko’s ordeals, which can possibly bring back painful memories of our own. WataMote subjects us to the bleak and dreary realm of social anxiety and the consequences of having it, amplifying the absurdity of the situations that stem from it to soften the blow. In spite of this glossy exterior, WataMote is made fully aware of the situation and gives it the integrity and nuance it deserves, just as a black comedy should.
The primary method of which WataMote delivers its humor is by stressing the dichotomy between how Tomoko perceives the world compared to how it actually is. This is the format which pervades the entire show; the reality, often lukewarm and indifferent to Tomoko, is twisted in such a way to abide with her own insecurities. Tomoko constantly deludes herself into believing that she is above everyone else, and it’s portrayed to be rather pitiful, yet still funny and amusing. Consider this scene as an example: on a rainy day, when Tomoko finds that her umbrella is missing, she instinctively assumes it to have been stolen. She then has an internal rage about how she is an innocent victim whose day was ruined by this abominable crime. Then, she stops to realize that her umbrella was just a few feet in another direction. This is a funny moment on its own, but it’s also a perfect example of how Tomoko operates outside the comfort of her own home. When something seemed to be wrong at first, she instinctively assumes it to be another’s wrongdoing, without taking even a second to consider any alternative.
Things that seem relatively mundane and trivial to us are made into a much bigger deal than they need to be. This exact way of thinking is what leads Tomoko into numerous awkward situations involving other people, which is exactly what blocks her off from others. Her rationale is purely based on knee-jerk suspicions rather than logic, some of which are understandable to at least some degree, such as worrying about what classmates will think about the sight of you eating alone. Others can be quite outrageous or downright unfathomable, such as the notion that wearing certain underwear makes you friends more easily. Both of these can be attributed to how someone with social anxiety really operates. Tomoko’s antics come in a seemingly endless variety, as new situations arise after another and more inspiration is attained. Because we are given a thorough introspective on what possesses her to take these actions, it’s made easy to gravitate towards Tomoko and understand what she does, as irrational and ludicrous as they are most of the time. The sad truth of the matter is, as over-the-top and balls-to-the-wall as it’s all portrayed to be, it’s conceptually accurate to how some of us behaved in our adolescent years. Both these factors are what effectively put us in her own shoes, making it all the more uncomfortable to watch when these actions actually follow through, there to be witnessed by outsiders. This discomfort is a large part of what makes it funny, yet oddly impactful on a personal level. I for one can admit to have operated along the same lines as Tomoko in my own school years, and I imagine plenty of others are the same way. Whether you have fully grown out of this phase or are still in the process of doing so, laughing at yourself is a good first step towards moving on with your life.
This is even the case with her own family as well as her best friend Yuu-chan. Even though they, particularly Yuu-chan, are relatively close to her, they are not exempt from witnessing the crazed antics Tomoko stirs up on a daily basis. Her brother Tomoki serves as a test subject of sorts, as Tomoko uses new bizarre methods of communicating to see how they play out. Tomoki, like everyone else, has no idea what the hell goes on in Tomoko’s mind, and thus wants nothing to do with whatever nonsense she subjects to him. Tomoko’s interactions with her mother go about as smoothly as those with anxious teens who feel as though nobody understands them would expectedly play out with their parents. Yuu-chan, being the only character besides Tomoko’s parents to give her unconditional support and attention, ends up being one of the most likeable characters on offer. Tomoko even still projects herself into Yuu-chan and holds her on the same standards. Yuu-chan’s presence, compared to how she once was, as an attractive, well-endowed specimen with many healthy relationships is an abhorrent sight to Tomoko. What Tomoko feels could be described as a feeling of betrayal, or rather severe envy. Tomoko’s twisted and misguided view on people erects yet another barrier around even her best friend. Luckily for her, most of anything Tomoko would usually do comes with almost no repercussions when around Yuu-chan. Tomoko’s company with Yuu-chan is relatively painless and refreshing compared to that of other people, as Tomoko is rarely wound into such humiliating incidents. In a way, seeing these characters together is somewhat euphoric. Nonetheless, there is still much awkwardness to be be found among their interactions, as Tomoko’s insane ideas run amok even still. Tomoko’s interactions with these characters are very distinct from one other, which makes Tomoko feel more like an actual person and makes each encounter with them very unique. As a result, WataMote is given plenty more sources of comedy at its disposal and makes Tomoko’s moments involving them varied and original.
Even with all these shenanigans at play, WataMote doesn’t shy away from providing full, unfiltered attention to Tomoko’s dilemma when it needs to. Whenever Tomoko is legitimately hurt or grief-stricken by what happens, the show seizes to pull any punches at that point. The limelight is positioned squarely on her humiliation and anguish, often laying a somber melody upon the scene; she even sheds tears at some points. These moments might as well be climaxes, as she is in a position where no ounce of delusion can divert her from the crude reality of what she’s led herself into. WataMote understands this disorder which Tomoko is bound by, and knows full well when it is no longer a laughing matter. The absence of comedy during these moments is enough to draw attention to how affected Tomoko really is; yet another factor of what makes her so easy to feel for. Of course, once these moments pass, the proper course of action is not to dwell on those past situations, but to shrug it off, move on, and hope tomorrow will be better. And this is exactly what WataMote does. The moment follows through, the whole arc fades into a somber close, and the cycle begins anew.
Although the show’s structure is based around repetition, WataMote is not exempt from providing actual character development. The actions Tomoko takes do in fact affect what she does in future events. Additionally, as the show draws into its later half, Tomoko’s denial lessens while she gradually becomes more accepting of her dilemma. Her life concurrently becomes more bleak and hopeless as a result. This is the point where her actions, while still less than ideal, become significantly more reasonable, as she makes a conscious effort towards amending her newly found flaws. This development comes across very naturally; there’s nothing drastic or sudden about this change. It comes in minimal pieces as Tomoko retains what she has experienced through her mishaps. Of course, she never truly unbounds herself from the self-destructive tendencies we see throughout. As we all know, it’s incredibly easy to fall back to old habits.
It’s easy to see that if Tomoko was a person in real life, she would not be a fun person to interact with or be around, but that doesn’t make her struggles any less real. Despite how abrasive and hostile she is portrayed to be overall, Tomoko is a character who is easy to sympathize with, because the full context of her troubles is made very clear. While not exactly universal, experiencing this kind of distress is something very many people can identify with. Because of this, we immediately understand her actions, even if we don’t find them to rational in any sense. Her life is very empty and miserable, affirmed all the more through her constant denial and acts of desperation. We want her to succeed, and thus seeing her get into humiliating situations through her own doing is genuinely an unpleasant experience. It just goes to show how coming out of your shell is never an easy task for anyone. Whatever Tomoko suffers through, we are forced to suffer through with her.
This leads into what is perhaps the most common criticism towards WataMote. For many people, WataMote is a very uncomfortable, cringe-inducing experience. I would be one of the first to agree that the show is certainly uncomfortable at many points, but I would also say that it is so for the right reasons. Some say it’s uncomfortable for the reason that Tomoko is unlikeable, which is obviously something I disagree on quite strongly. Others say it’s for the reason that they don’t want to see Tomoko go through these miserable affairs. As mentioned previously, despite how frequently and badly she fucks up, there is change in her character to be found along the way. While not always necessarily positive, it’s still change nonetheless. These small changes show that there is legitimate hope for her. For this reason, it’s made all the more cathartic and heartwarming when Tomoko really does manage to find a fair bit of comfort towards the end of the show.
Not only does she reflect nearly every facet of the usual social awkwardness that resides in many high schoolers, she’s also a funny and charming character independent of that. Her antics are unpredictable and she’s endearingly quirky through each passing episode. She is voiced extremely well in the Japanese audio as well as the English dub. Of course, a considerable factor in what makes Tomoko so appealing to many is her visual design itself. Her small stature and baggy, half-open eyes make her look rather cute with an element of mischief, which is perfect for the character. The way she constantly and drastically changes into different expressions is a huge factor in what makes this character so funny and loveable through each of her schemes and shenanigans.
Despite how commendable the design of Tomoko really is, it’s a shame that her design is the only memorable one in the entire show. Almost every other character is rendered to a bland default anime design with very little distinguishing qualities. This is excusable for background characters, but the more important characters don’t fare much better. Yuu-chan’s design has only her yellow hair and well-endowed physique to make her stand out from the rest. Even Tomoko’s own family suffers from a lack of inspiration in their design. It’s unfortunate that this is how it turned out to be, but it could also just further affirm how remarkable the design of Tomoko really is.
Apart from that, the visual department on the whole is something to be admired. The backgrounds are bold and daring, which makes the scenery very eye-catching and vibrant. The animation is very fluid, especially when it really needs to be. Never did I feel as though the animation quality was ever lacking through any of my viewing experiences. Perhaps the most unique and notable aspect of the visuals is how the lens flares are designed. Light sources like the sun always produce flares that take the form of angular shapes. There isn’t a particular rhyme or reason for this design choice, but rather it serves to further enforce the cartoony nature, which is perfectly welcome in my book.
So when you think of “self-insertion” in anime, there’s a good chance that conjures up images of an ideal fantasy world in which the protagonist is blessed with numerous desires and conflict is trivialized; basically your typical harem or isekai. WataMote is self-insert in a different way, where you connect Tomoko’s various mishaps to that of your own. Once this happens, WataMote provides an experience few other anime could hope to emulate. It’s hellbent on reaching that one specific audience it’s directed towards, and does so marvelously. The “thorned rose” analogy is perhaps more applicable here than it is with any other show in recent memory. It is shame however that WataMote covers only a portion of its source material, meaning that an ideal conclusion for Tomoko isn’t present here. This leaves the only hope of getting one to the manga itself, or perhaps a possible anime sequel. Regardless of this shortcoming, I for one am glad to have laughed, cried, cringed, and cheered through Tomoko’s endeavors.
If you live under a rock, you’re probably impressed by Family Guy‘s and South Park‘s ‘dark’ humor. They show you people suffering, dying and cursing. They expect you to laugh because people are dying, suffering and cursing. You’re supposed to be shocked that the creators don’t mind putting these characters though such a pain, but that’s not a major achievement. Terrorists do it all the time, but it doesn’t make them comedians.
A truly dark comedy is not that one avoids that darkness. It’s one that forces us to confront the darkness of it and still laugh. Even Borderlands, where the whole joke is that everyone
thinks dying is a joke has insight into violence and how we perceive it. It’s an exaggeration of the flippant treatment most video games have for violence. Likewise, WataMote is an anime that stares into the eyes of the abyss that is being socially retarded
WataMote is a dark comedy. It’s far darker than any so-called ‘for adult’ cartoons from the West. It doesn’t create a bunch of punchlines and try to make the premise fit the jokes. It’s aware of the how crippling Tomoko’s situation is, and it tries to find humor among all the darkness. It uses humor not to downplay the darkness, but as a means of coping.
Shyness is cute when you look at it from the outside, but so is a panda bear caged in a zoo. Tomoko has the privileges of the Western world, such as running water and food. How much of a consolation is it when you have no way to relate to the world?
Human beings are social creatures. Isolation is one of the worst type of punishment you can bring on one. That’s where solitary confinement comes from. Without feedback from others to keep us in reality, it can feel like it’s slipping away from us. A similar process can happen with sensory deprivation.
This is what happens to Tomoko. There is a gross contrast between how she views herself and the world, and how it really is. The world outside is not very hostile. In high school, the popular kids are too busy having fun to bully you. People will talk to you if you initiate. At worst, they’ll be indifferent.
Indifference isn’t harmful in and of itself. It doesn’t target you. When that’s the only feedback you get, it becomes scary. Tomoko barely spends any time in the real world. We spend most of the episodes inside her head. In her inner monologues, she talks fast, with a steady pace and a hard voice. She’s full of energy and life.
Then she opens her mouth and barely a word comes out. The people often react in confusion. You can’t expect them to react in any other way to a person who can barely utter a phrase. Since it’s not complete approval, Tomoko’s dualistic worldview sees it as negative and she runs away.
That dualistic worldview is another aspect of being a social retard. Tomoko sees things in black and white. There are popular kids, and losers like her. In her eyes, Yuu turned from a loser geek to a ‘popular slut’, although all we see is that Yuu developed breasts and dyed her hair. Tomoko tries a little to fit in, and when it doesn’t work she throws the bathwater with the baby.
The absurdity of social anxiety is that it makes you fail in basic, day-to-day interactions. Tomoko’s failures wouldn’t bother and otherwise well-adjusted person. People say embarassing shit all the time. Most of them say so many things that one failure doesn’t bother them. Tomoko always bets all her money on one single moment.
The comedy comes from the darkness itself, from how absurd it is. We’re talking about a barrier that doesn’t exist physically. Nothing prevents Tomoko from talking with people but herself. She’s fighting a shadow. Seeing a person fight something invisible is both sad and funny at the same time.
Sometimes the comedy is just from Tomoko’s failures. Thankfully, the creators are imaginative enough. They make these realistic failures, rather than inserting a poop joke or a sex joke like a lot of Western comedy does. There is also a powerful use of silence. It’s another way of pointing out the joke, but it lets the situation stand on its own. Besides, it’s a more realistic reaction to absurdity. Something absurd is something we don’t know how to react to. We may need time to think it over.
Tomoko would’ve nothing without her voice actress. It’s a brilliant performance. She has to play different characters. Tomoko is a megalomaniac world-dominator in her monologues but a coward when she speaks. Her voice actress doesn’t just capture this World Dominator in her speech, but she performs it with chinks in the armor. She exaggerates the confidence so much that it’s clear Tomoko tries hard to convince herself. As for how she does Tomoko’s stuttering, I doubt any person can replicate it so well. The fact a dub was even attempted is a brave, but probably an Icarian feat.
The character design fares a little worse. Tomoko isn’t really ugly. She looks odd and a distortion of the Moe design. Her eyes are huge, but have a darkness in them that looks frightening. Her figure or facial features aren’t special enough to cause any shock. She looks likes she’d rather listen to My Chemical Romance and Avenged Sevenfold rather than look for a boyfriend.
The state of comedy is a poor one. Too many comedies are references to sex and shit in-between random words. It’s hard to find a comedy that understands comedy’s purpose – finding humor in the absurdity of life. If it can find humor in the darker parts, then all the better. Whatever you think of anime in general, WataMote is a great work of comedy.
I'm Miss Lonely
Wish I had somebody, to text on my cell,
Now I'm in high school, in a lonely high school
Away from everyone, with no friends of my own
That's why I'm lonely, I'm Miss Lonely
I wish that I could just go home
Lol, Perdon amigos, if you think that it's some kind of poem, well, YOU'RE WRONG, it was actually something that I took from a classical song "Mr. Lonely" by Vinton Bobby that I modify it to fit the main character Tomoko. Ok so the anime "Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo
Omaera ga Warui!" has ended and I must say that it was a rather unique one since it is all about a typical Japanese loner\ loser who doesn't seem to do anything by herself to improve her social skills. Frankly if I can compare this anime to a western cartoon the close that it would be is 'Ed, Edd and Eddie" co'z both features a typical teenagers whom were pretty much losers in life that I would like to whack their heads with a rolled up newspaper, except in "Ed, Edd, and Eddie" I 'd give those characters some respect since they're the kind of losers who never stopped trying, while in "Watamote" the girl loser never tries at all. Ok so I think I'm gonna have to present my ratings for this anime:
Story: Very Good 8.
Well, I did mentioned about this anime's uniqueness, since its slice of life was focus on Kuroki Tomoko a loner and pessimist who procrastinates a lot, her story simply represents the very thing that every loner does and what he/she wishes which either she becomes a hokikomori if he/she is unconsciously contented of being a loner or eventually get a life and enjoy the world provided that such determination to change oneself is present. But in this case the story of the everyday life of a loser girl like Tomoko was more amusing that one would like to be the backseat character and criticize Tomoko for not having the guts nor the fortitude to even improve herself, also the story shows us that improvement is something that one must undertook by herself, that is, if there is really a determination for one to really improve.
Art: Fair 6.
Well for Tomoko, at one point I'm a little bit disgusted about her illustration, attire and facial concept, but, I can't deny that it was those very concept that makes her funny. Also, there is a few fanservice that me likey, like Imae's one time panty shot and Yuu's big bouncing melons.
Sound: Good 7.
The score is for Tomoko which includes, the way she catches her breath, her evil smirk, evil tone and of course I also like the way that her brother's speaking tone when he get's piss off by her antics. Oh, and about the opening theme, it really doesn't fit the anime as a whole, unless thai anime has an intense action genre, in fact the closing theme fits better as an opening theme.
Character: Decent 4.
I may be a bit pissed about the main character Tomoko, ok so she might have some aggression within her and her fantasies are too dark to comprehend, then again she's not bad to be this stupid loser high schooler, which the only types pf people she can get along with are kids and middle school perves. So the "Decent" score is for her.
Yuu Naruse, maybe Tomoko only friend or least when they were in middle school, but the thing about her is that she doesn't make any effort to change Tomoko and it's rather annoying, then again she does provide this hot bodacious babe that's present in every anime\manga.
Tomoki on the other hand he is somewhat this character that I would like to give her sister a rude awakening, however just like Yuu he's also annoying that he doesn't do anything to change her sister, Tomoko.
As for the mom, what I like about her is the part that she has to give Tomoko a bitch slap because of Tomoko's stupid antics with the vacuum cleaner.
Enjoyment and Overall: Very Good 8.
Like I said, this is one anime where we the audience would like to be a backseat character who would wanna give the main character a rude awakening if she ever wants to have an enjoyable high school life. Also I did mentioned about the uniqueness about this anime that deals with a typical Japanese loser which can only go two ways; become a hokikomori if he/she is unconsciously contented of being alone and blames the world for his fate or get a life if such determination to change exist in that particular person. Overall, this is one of the best anime for this season despite of its shabby final episode. The end.
I have struggled with social anxiety most of my life. I've never felt like I belonged to part of a group, and I've always felt like more of a shadow than a real person in the eyes of others. I'm taking medication for it now, but that doesn't stop the pain of those memories.
So for me, Watamote was like reading a very embarrassing autobiography. I related to the main character, and it made me ashamed.
First off, this anime is hardcore cringe comedy. You WILL have to pause the show at least once just because watching this girl fail is so
painful. You will scream no at your television, only for your plea to fall on deaf ears and Tomoko to humiliate herself anyways. It's not a feel good, chortle jubilantly whilst crunching on pocky sort of anime. It's a face-palm-and-shake-your-head-despairingly anime. If that doesn't sound like a roaring good time to you, then you should probably go watch Lucky Star instead.
Speaking of Lucky Star, that's just one of the many anime Watamote references. Ghost in the Shell, Haruhi Suzumiya, Death Note, and a plethora of other shows are visually mimicked from time to time for your viewing enjoyment. Okay, that's a nice shout out to otaku, I guess. And I suppose it helps emphasize Tomoko's otaku nature. But I can't help but feel like this show is more preoccupied with imitating iconic images rather than creating its own. That's the danger when you rely to heavily on shout-outs and references: you leave no room to make your own impression.
And that is Watamote's visual failing. The animation is never bad, but it never goes beyond bare simplicity. You are ANIME, art incarnate, moving masterpiece, you shouldn't settle for mere passing. Watamote fails to create any sort of distinctive style of its own. It's bland. If you do not create images that stick in the mind of your audience, then you are going to be forgotten. Ironically, that's a lesson Tomoko is very aware of, and yet her own show fails to put it to use. So I must award you no points for style.
Back to my own neuro-chemical failings: as someone with social anxiety, I understand what it is like to struggle to connect with people in a way that is meaningful. Watamote definitely got that message across. Unfortunately, it provides no light at the end of the tunnel, and thus ends up feeling somewhat hollow. Now, mental illness is a hard subject to portray, because it does not lend itself to a satisfying story-arc. You do not OVERCOME things like anxiety and depression. There is no final battle, no clear climax. Instead, it is a slow, uphill struggle. There is no end, because it's not something that ever goes away. That makes a satisfying conclusion almost impossible. A person can't just suddenly "get better" from internal struggles. If they do, it comes across as contrived and insincere (see the TV ending of Evangelion). Victory against mental struggles is so gradual that it can be hard to see, which is why it can be very unsatisfying for an audience to watch.
Watamote falls into the trap of trying to show character development in a way that is thematically satisfying, but distant from real life. The conclusion of the show has some last-minute growth from our main character, probably in order to give its audience a freaking bone after all that torture. However, as someone who has struggled with this same issue (and as such as the likely target audience of the show), I know that sort of change doesn't happen. I don't want to see the main character be able to put aside all their anxiety with the click of a button, because I know that kind of change isn't lasting. Poor Tomoko will be back to her regular behavior in a week, with no permanent improvement.
Instead of trying to make things look magically better, why not just give her small victories throughout? That's how real progress is made. It comes not from willing your situation away, but slowly learning to deal with it. Show her continuing to reach out to people in her own minute, faltering ways. Then, even if she fails, help build that gradual change in her perception that she is learning to deal with rejection and failure, so it isn't as crushing. At the very least, have her experience empathy towards others, and learn to focus less on her internal, selfish problems, and more on being able to sympathize with others.
I'm just ranting now. All in all, it is refreshing to see this sort of main character. I mean, how often do you see a female nerd as the main protagonist? Practically never. And despite my gripes, the show was fun to watch, even if it occasionally made my stomach turn. However, I wouldn't recommend this show to anyone who isn't hard core otaku. If you aren't some sort of social misfit, it might be hard to find common ground with Tomoko, and would make her very hard to relate to. Which funny enough, is pretty much her struggle within the show. Watamote is a strange little piece, and most people will probably just want to ignore it. But whether you acknowledge it or not, it's still there, waiting for someone to notice.
If you think the main character of this anime is pathetic, two things can easily be concluded from that:
1) You have a great life. Congratulations!
2) You're an insensitive prick. Congratulations...?
Now on to the review.
STORY : On the surface, this anime appears to be comedic tale of a loner who's desperate for attention and friends. Her situation is so bad that she can't even utter a word in public. That's it, right? No plot development, no cliché transformation to a beautiful/popular girl, and no happy ending.
No, that's definitely not it.
This anime is about a girl with social anxiety. Being someone who suffers from social anxiety, although
not on as serious level as her, I can say that there's nothing funny or "pathetic" about suffering from social anxiety. Before you go and say: "Come on! What's so bad about it? Just talk to people! Make friends!", let me just make it clear that its impossible for shy people to easily communicate or indulge with friends easily because we're very conscious of ourselves and our surroundings. What about delusions and fantasies? That's also part of being a social failure, I can vouch for that.
ART : Brilliant. The character design, the background, everything about the art is brilliant. Couldn't find a single flaw.
SOUND : Personally, I loved the opening and ending theme. The opening theme portrays the mind of someone suffering from anxiety perfectly. The anguish and envy in the song and Tomoko's expressions...ah, so accurate! Voice-acting was good, although you might need some time to get used to Tomoko's voice.
CHARACTER : The main character is fantastic. She's realistic and not all cutesy like most anime and that's just what makes her so awesome. Her relationship with her brother is also realistic and cute (at some points). Yuu-chan...erm, what can I say about her? She's a slut.
ENJOYMENT : I enjoyed it. I laughed at her misfortunes that often reminded me of my blunders in the past, and empathized with her dearly throughout the anime.
OVERALL : This anime is not for everyone, that is given. Watch it if you're going through the same thing and half laugh, half cry while watching it (like I did). Its definitely not for people who have lots of friends and/or look down on loners. Will this make you feel fuzzy and warm inside? No, it's uncomfortable especially if you can relate to her. But its realistic. I can't emphasize on this factor enough; not everyone has a perfect high school life, you know. A realistic anime once in a while won't hurt'cha, buddy.
Considering the anime I watched so far, there are 2 types of 'Slice of Life' anime: regular, and Watamote. Watching characters living their lives is one thing. But another thing is watching only one character TRYING to live her life.
And what a life it is. Kuroki Tomoko, antisocial otaku striving to become popular in her new school. We watch her as she struggles to interact with people in situations like… saying “Hello!” and “Goodbye!”. But there are also things she shines at - playing video games and watching anime...
That’s the part of her, I kinda liked. I must confess, I’m a shut-in myself. Of
course, unlike her, I do have friends… I swear! Anyway, she tries her best to meet someone in new class. But I believe, one thing she’s got wrong, is that she waits for others to make the first move. Her contribution is minimal.
As I said, it’s different from other ‘Slice of life’ anime, where social interactions are the basics I guess. Who would watch anime where protagonist is awkward and can’t talk properly to other people? Well, look at the number of fans of Watamote, and you get the answer. But that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. As we can read from discussions and reviews, it’s a show, that’s sometimes hard to watch. For me, especially when the second half started, watching the show was really painful, and made me realize how weird I may look to other people.
Tomoko IS weird. And sometimes… unappealing. When I started watching, I thought “Oh, she’s just quiet and kinda kawaii girl”. But then, near the end I realized… that’s not the case, and the way she acts… just how can she be the protagonist? There are A LOT of embarrassing moments waiting for her. I often empathized with her, whenever something like that happened to her and whenever she reflected on the worst moments of her life.
We follow her for one year of the new school listening to her narration. That gives us great contrast between what she does and what she intends to do. Also, probably that’s why there are so many references to other poplar anime. Hearing her thoughts not always justifies her actions. Although she tries to be popular, she clearly doesn’t want that or really lacks the skills to do so. It’s hard to change one’s way of behaving, I know something about that.
Please skip this paragraph if you don’t want the ending spoiled. [SPOILER ALERT]. Ending might not be satisfying for some. We have Tomoko in situation, that could greatly improve her status. Yet, she… panics (running scene is epic by the way). There she goes, back home to her loneliness. So what now? Was it all in vain? I believe her last words will eventually cause her to pay less attention to what people think about her, and that will lead to making some friends and having less pressure. Yay, happy headcannon! [SPOILERS END]
In short, I highly recommend watching the anime. Not everyone may like it, but I sure did. It’s great in its own way, and gives a chance to experience something new and different from what other anime have to offer.