-An Anime review by Miasma
The term recluse gets thrown around playfully these days. Agoraphobia and social anxiety are known conditions and are very serious. But how can a series make light of such serious social problems? Make it a black comedy of course! Enter the anime Watamote or Watashi ga Motenai no wa do Kangaetemo Omaeru ga Warui or “No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys Fault I’m NotPopular.”
Watamote follows Tomoko Kuroki a high school first year who has dreams of being a popular girl boys drool over and girls envy. She wants to be adored and respected. One big problem though, she has crazy overpowering social anxiety. She cannot hold conversations with strangers and has a tendency to obsess over anime and video games instead of bettering her appearance.
Every episode chronicles Tomoko’s recluse lifestyle while she tries and miserably fails to become popular. The show summarizes itself at the start by saying it is about a girl whose story doesn’t really matter. And as such some out there will hete this show. I can see that something so episodic and trivial can be boring and at times I myself was bored but nonetheless I adore this show.
On a personal level I empathize with Tomoko. I did not have dreams of being a popular girl but I was always the oddball in school and it was not until late high school and early college in which I was able to make friends. This series holds true catharsis for me especially when Tomoko is forced to eat alone as I did this same thing in high school. It is truly never easy being the weirdo of your class, and while some may argue that responsibility lies within oneself for social status, I would say that if Tomoko actually had people from her early days including her in a social environment,she would have likely been different as a teen.
Relatability aside, Tomoko is nuts. She is intentionally the absolute personification of how bad social anxiety can be and how otaku/gaming lifestyles are an escape from such reality. Any progression she makes in this show is minimal and it does get repetitive.
Tomoko’s best qualities are her determination and reliance on her brother Tomoki. She is always thinking about the future and avoids crying most of the time but her anchor is her brother who thinks of her as a pest yet truly cares about her. I have a sibling I can relate to in this manner so once again Watamote hits close to home for me.
This show is animated well by studio Silver Link. It has its drops but when it wants to look sharp it does. I particularly like how they portray people’s faces or lack thereof when Tomoko is in contact with them. She has major social issues so she’d never try to look at faces and so they don’t bother to animate them on purpose. I also liked the designs of the characters especially Tomoko.
The opening is my favorite of all time. Its loud proud and a kickstart to what are actually very mundane episodes. It will hsve you headbaging then relaxing as you watch a girl play hentai games in her room all summer.
The dub was okay, Monica Rial does a good job of being the zany Tomoko but for some reason I preferred her Japanese actress. The opening song and animation is amazing and my number one of all time, but many may disagree for sure as it is rather brash.
Be warned. This show doesn’t really go far in terms of plot. But that’s not the point. It is a black comedy about very real problems just pushed to a high degree. And the series does not cover the entire manga so it is possible Tomoko ends up a success story. I know I will read it to find out. One thing that the anime also did not delve enough into were its side characters.
Tomoko’s only friend Yuu is an interesting character having gone to a different school and found a normal life where she is much more popular than Tomoko. This contrast is hilarious but she could have been in the anime a bit more in my opinion. Another character I wanted more of was Tomoki, the main character’s brother who shares hilarious scenes with his sister while he’s there but that does not happen quite enough.
For many I’d say try an episode of Watamote. You can stream it for free on crunchyroll. Just try it as an experiment then you can decide to drop it if you do desire. I know some people causes splits of love and hate and while i can see the hate I connect with the series so much I had to buy it. But let me know what you thought maybe my opinion is…dare i say it….UNPOPULAR!