Title: Watamote -
Platform: Anime series
Directed by: Shin Ōnuma
Starring: Izumi Kitta (Japanese), Monica Rial (English)
Kana Hanazawa (Japanese), Emily Neves (English)
Rating: E/U (Everyone)
Length: 12 Episodes
Written by Whistler 1st April 2015
Ah high school, a place where you meet friends, grow as an individual and begin on the path of mastering your chosen ‘craft’. Well, for most people that’s how it is.
For many introverts, social outsiders, quiet folk and the socially inept it’s far from that, instead high school becomes a minefield of emotions, a battle for sanity and a place of social suicide; it’s not usually that doom and gloom but if you were the silent type who fit under the anime or video game aficionado category you probably seen your fair share of bullying and mental destruction.
Whereas in anime, high school is often portrayed in a very unnaturally ideal and fantasized manner, where everyone has their roles and the bullies are usually outnumbered 5:1 by caring teen girls and spikey haired heroes.
Well except a handful of anime, one in particular being Watamote or to give it it’s full title,
Watashi ga Motenai no wa dō Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!/ No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys' Fault I’m Not Popular!
A short comedic slice of life series that follows first year high school student Tomoko Kuroki as she struggles to break free from the shackles of unpopularity and extreme levels social anxiety.
To say the story follows Tomoko is an understatement as she is the series, what doesn’t revolve around her physical being or inner monologue barely takes up 5% of the series and it’s no exaggeration when I say Watamote certainly focuses most if not all its attention on the mental journeys and crazy shenanigans of our socially non-
While the story isn’t exactly Evangelion nor Ghost in the Shell levels of intricate plots and arcs, for a relatively simple ‘high school life’ anime the characterization at least for Tomoko is spectacular.
Tomoko is both a horrendous yet amazing character who by all rights is, to put it bluntly, has an awful personality and just radiates a negative aura (literally) to the point where she’s basically an archetype of the anti-
The very motions Tomoko goes through hit the nail on the head for most introverts or students with social anxieties or typical teenage fears and for myself, lands close to home on several occasions to the point I was wondering when I should sue for the use of my life story bar the brother seducing and Tomoko being female.
Typically each episode plays out in a formulaic fashion where Tomoko is thrust into a humorous and sometimes creepy scenario resulting in some half-
Sadly this formula never really alters and leads me to my biggest problem with Watamote; while Tomoko has some great characterization she never achieves anything in the end, and the only progression is the passage of time itself. Tomoko learns nothing in the end and is just as much of an introvert as she is if not more so in the end. Her arc doesn’t finish, not even in an open ended kind of way that’s leaning in with the ‘to be continued in the manga/second season’, it just doesn’t happen.
By the end of the anime she’s made no progress that leaves me feeling like the experience is, not empty, but pointless.
I feel there should have been perhaps more forced interaction with her class mates (I was even surprised when the handful of actually detailed recurring class mates don’t amount to anything), or if her only childhood friend Yui played a more recurring prominent role.
I feel like Tomoko needed that one character that pushes and pulls her through school similar to her brother’s role but more engaging one.
However this is my only gripe with Watamote that’s notable (well besides the cringe worthy moments), in fact while the story doesn’t really go anywhere it held my attention from start to finish. Watamote is a very enjoyable and somewhat questionable anime that touches on so many true to life notions that I can’t help but wonder if it’s truly a comedy or a serious character study of social dysfunctionality with just how realistically portrayed Tomoko’s seemingly bizarre and out there actions are when compared with their very much so real world comparisons.
When all is said and done Watamote is a solid comedic anime with a unique leading character that is sadly let down by the lack of a proper send-
It was a fun ride rooting for her as Tomoko (clumsily) strides through all the hardships of typical high school life coupled with extreme anxiety, but I wanted to see her grow, instead she’s stuck on the first level of character development.
Unique leading character,
Hilarious be it questionable humour,
Hits close to home,
Relatable scenarios and characters.
Ends on a non-
Tomoko lacks that all important end to a character arc,
Sometimes overuses the embarrassing moments.
Watamote scores an awkward 6/10 and a very unsure recommendation.