Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! follows the life of Tomoko Kuroki, a 15-year-old gloomy, unpopular shut-in with unsightly under-eye bags (very different from normal ones) and a mind wrought with paranoia and misunderstanding. Tomoko would very much like to improve her image and social standing, to break her shell and emerge a social butterfly, but normal interaction with other people doesn't come naturally for her. She has to try hard to seem likeable, but "trying too hard," unlike working hard, tends to not go so well, thus causing our protagonist multiple cringeworthy and nauseous moments. Her behavior is unbecoming for any conventionally lovable anime heroine, and makes me incredibly uncomfortable. But conversely, that's why she is loved.
How Is Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! Special?
It has a special portrayal of social anxiety and other mental issues, namely what we see in Tomoko. Her awkward, neurotic disposition is unique to Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! because it's grotesque and unforgiving, something unseen in other anime. You can't empathize with her because she is too odd and many of her awkward moments are avoidable - you can only cringe; and if you ever would find yourself in those moments, you would likely not even forgive yourself for a while.
Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!: What is Awkwardness?
Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!'s portrayal of awkwardness in human interaction manifests in a brand of Tomoko's cringeworthy moments that make you unable to react regularly, and we are familiar with these moments in our everyday lives. It is not because we ourselves are awkward, but because that is the nature of our physiology: we are individuals through and through. We have our individual minds and individual inner thoughts and emotions, so no matter how hard we may try, we cannot know exactly what another individual is feeling or thinking - we can only guess. That's what Tomoko does; she constantly guesses the happenings of her everyday life, whether that be the thoughts of another, or just a general situation where she is scared and in the dark of just what is going on around her. Tomoko seems to always fail at this, but we can relate since we must try to understand these things and to be as mind readers since we are constantly put in situations where we must, and that causes the air of awkwardness between us. We must be like Tomoko and observe our surroundings to learn the commonalities of the socially adept, so as to have the skills necessary to network to further our careers, or to strive for social happiness. We must constantly try to "read" people so that we ourselves are protected from any dangers those people may bring. We must do this to connect to our surroundings; after all, we are animals with instincts. We have mechanisms in our heads that cause us to be anxious of, to fear, the unknown, so it is understandable that we are anxious as a people, and it is understandable that Tomoko would seem rather frustrated and depressed from her inability to read situations and others. The moments Tomoko makes - you just stare blankly at the hot mess Tomoko brings forth and laugh, awkwardly. It's because it's extreme, weird, and honest, but you also have to admit to some degree that you recognize yourself in Tomoko. She isn't fully like you and you don't puke from anxiety or make awfully ugly facial expressions, but there is one psychological trait you share with Tomoko since we as a people tend toward the neurotic. Sure, you may be socially savvy, have good looks, can read people, and have self confidence, but perfection is fleeting, and that previous physiology makes us imperfect. There will always be one situation that you misunderstand; and because of it, cause awkwardness. The best thing you could do is partake of a forbidden fruit, subscribe to revelry, and accept the awkwardness. Accept and not deny, then forget. It is better that way.
Comedy Element and School Setting
Although there is satirical and hyperbolic comedy by nature of the twisted facial expressions, exaggeration of Tomoko's reactions, and emphasis on an aspect of human weakness (social anxiety or social limits), you may find that it is overshadowed by the seriousness of the anime that portrays realistic angst and actual thoughts, and it may not seem like comedy. The school setting details some of the struggles of students, but the themes and parallels of the show can be attributed to much of society. It details the struggles of human seeking social power and social acceptance. Social anxiety is not limited to the young, and it can be seen in the workplace and in the general midst of adults. So too do the limits of human physiology follow us through adulthood, and we must continually question our surroundings and seek answers to what lies deep within the psyche of the persons we hang around with, whether for comfort or for social gain. Socializing is a task we must carry, though it is daunting for a good portion of us.
Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! aired from July 9, 2013 to September 24, 2013, a time when we were becoming more socially aware of mental issues like social anxiety and depression than previous years. We began to treat mental issues as such and accepted them, instead of stigmatizing them. This awareness, and the social issues surrounding it, could have directly affected the reception of Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!; it must have, because much of our entertainment and media has allegories, satire, and themes based on current, real life social issues and ideas. It's what sells. More importantly, it's what interests and inspires us. And before the anime, the manga it was based on, titled the same and written by Nico Tanigawa, was serialized two years prior, in 2011, to the anime's release, on Square Enix's online webcomic service Gangan Comics Online. The anime was produced by Square Enix, Silver Link, Sentai FilmworksL, Watamote Production Committee, and Good Smile Company.
Who Should Watch
Basically, everyone should watch Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! for its uniqueness. However, you will truly appreciate it if you can appreciate well done cringeworthy moments, and the emotions that follow. Equally so, if you find yourself neurotic, you will appreciate the way the show talks about you, almost makes fun of your situation with brutal honesty. Additionally, you may enjoy watching the suffering of others and want a good laugh, you sadistic creature; after all, Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! does contain an element of comedy.
Shows Like Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!
I'm looking at shows that have an emphasis on the psychology of human interaction and social issues. After Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!, you can watch these three shows to refresh your entertainment spirit.
Black Rock Shooters follows a school-age girl who constantly has dreams dealing with the emotions and situations around her. Both Black Rock Shooter and Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! deal with the human situation of socializing, where Black Rock Shooter has an emphasis on the emotion of pain. It is metaphoric and more self-aware than Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!, but maintains an undertaking of psychology and philosophy. It also has well-done actions scenes, so watch this for a different pace.
Wagnaria!! follows a calm-headed, though at times hot-headed, high school male who beings to work at a restaurant. He must deal with his highly eccentric and neurotic coworkers. Like Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!, it deals with the awkwardness of human interaction and weird human characteristics, like phobias and gluttony. However, unlike Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!, Wagnaria!! maintains its comedic aura. It's also set in a restaurant rather than a school. Watch it if you want something bright and light-hearted.
NKH ni Youkoso follows a hikikomori(Japanese term for person who withdraws from social life intentionally). I haven't watched this yet, but from the looks and sound of it, it's Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! with a mature feel, while both anime deal with social anxiety.