Post Reply WATAMOTE ~No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys Fault I’m Not Popular!~
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Posted 9/5/13
Written by Eclipsed_Oblivion

For many people, anime is an escape from reality, a way of throwing oneself into a completely different world and leaving all problems behind. However, this escape method does not always work, least of all with a series like Watamote ~ No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular!, an anime that reflects what is a reality for many. It’s filled with cringeworthy, but witty humour, as well as a very quirky and relatable main character, and those two elements combine to create a subtle despair that results in a realistic tragicomedy.

After countless hours clocked in to otome games, Watamote’s protagonist, Tomoko Kuroki, is about to enter high school and is convinced that, despite her abysmal social life, her “dating experience” will ensure her popularity. After one month of high school passes and she still hasn’t spoken to a single classmate, Tomoko resolves to make herself popular, but her social awkwardness always causes her attempts to end dismally. Tomoko’s efforts often result in extreme secondhand embarrassment for viewers due to her social awkwardness and humiliating mistakes, all of which make Tomoko a very sympathetic character.

On the surface, Watamote is simply a straightforward comedy, and it fulfills that role well. Most of the humour arises from Tomoko’s inability to socialize, for she often says completely inappropriate things or acts oddly in her attempt to be accepted and loved by her peers. Rather than inching toward her goal, Tomoko only falls further from it in ways so horribly embarrassing that one can’t help but laugh. Tomoko is not a shy girl though; her inner thoughts reveal how she is actually a cynical pervert rather than the quiet girl she appears to be. This huge contrast between who she is and who she presents herself to be is hilarious, especially as these sides conflict with each other often quite rapidly. The numerous anime references Tomoko makes also provide extra laughs, as they always suit the context rather than just being sprinkled in randomly, and they are sometimes even slightly warped to reflect the disaster that is Tomoko’s social life.

While Watamote is certainly hilarious, it also is quite engaging because Tomoko herself is a very sympathetic character, especially as she is definitely not so typical. Though not exactly a tomboy, Tomoko doesn’t subscribe to typically girlish habits either; she is simply herself. She plays a variety of games and enjoys all sorts of anime, lusts after both boys and her female best friend, and dresses practically in either the modest school uniform or just pajamas. On top of that, her inner and outward selves are two completely different people; she is actually quite deranged, but her social awkwardness prevents her from expressing herself, and she ends up an outcast. Being so different from others is unfortunately a very relatable experience, and this only serves to make Watamote more gripping despite simply being a comedy on the surface; even though Tomoko’s social failures are inevitable, we want to see her finally be accepted by others because she is different, and if that can’t happen, we as an audience can at least cheer her on.

Tomoko’s social ineptness, while comical, also gives Watamote a subtle despair through its realism. Tomoko does odd things and makes strange comments thinking they’ll make her popular, and while hilarious, these mistakes are partially so embarrassing to watch because at least some of them can be applied to our own lives. Many have experienced the panic of having to reply quickly and making odd comments as a result, being caught in a situation that looks worse than it is, feeling nervous even about having to order coffee at a cafe, and more. Watamote shows how horrible social anxiety can be, and the worst part is that, in the end, not many notice or help; Tomoko’s family doesn’t notice her social issues except for her brother, who treats her disdainfully as if it is her fault, and this is often a sadly accurate reflection of reality. Tomoko’s escape methods - anime and gaming - are at least similar, if not the same, as the viewers’ methods, but the difference is that she can escape her reality, whereas those watching Watamote are facing their own. As depressing as it sounds, it allows people to take an outside view of their own lives and, in a lighthearted way, try to understand how they could improve their own lives, or at the very least not go down a worse path.

On the whole, Watamote ~ No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular! is more than just an awkward comedy. While the humor is often facepalm-inducing out of secondhand embarrassment, Watamote stays consistently engaging because of its unique main character, and its realism concerning social anxiety is quite accurate - it can help others examine their own lives in a lighthearted manner. Most of all, Watamote can help people to realize that, no matter how horrible their own social lives and skills are or how isolated they feel, they are not alone.
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Posted 9/15/13 , edited 9/15/13
It's actually quite interesting if you look at the discussions raised in Japanese forums regarding how to relate to this show. On the one hand, there are those that feel that the show gives a bad reputation to "otaku" in general, while there are those who aren't necessarily otaku, but resonate with the experiences of Tomoko who just blatantly fails at social interactions.

True to the roots of the social phenomenon, WATAMOTE focuses on the "MOJO" (喪女 - lit. "fail girl") - or the so-called "unpopular girls" or "loner girls", which appear to be a mix between Hikikkomori ("shut-ins") and Otaku ("hard-core obsessive", not necessarily anime). In Tomoko's case, she has a hint of "Fujoshi" ("perverted girl", specifically those into BL and the like), but this is more of a character addition to drive home the point.

So for much of the show, Tomoko is at war with herself as she makes assumptions based on what she thinks people are thinking about her. The irony is that people don't really care, and this self-persecutory complex drives her further into her own ruin. Tomoko actually has it quite easy in that no one really pays her any heed, but the real-life MOJO are far more subject to ridicule and bullying. Still, WATAMOTE is more light-hearted than reality, it seems, and gives us an interesting view of life as a female outcast.
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Posted 3/11/14
Really love this series. She always does something most of us can relate to from time to time, such as wondering if anyone is saying anything about you, or looking for a place to eat alone. I have only ONE problem with this series, and that's her character development. I feel she should be changing in some way, but so far the only change i've seen is VERY minimal. Either way I plan on buying maybe 2 volumes of the manga to support the author and for the anime to continue.
elux72 
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Posted 5/21/14
I think Tomoko is a great example of a pathologically shy and anxious person. I found myself rooting for her when she made attempts to break out and talk to someone, and, even though the result or lack thereof was extremely awkward and not infrequently cringeworthy for her and the viewer, it was believable and realistic. I agree, too, that more development would have been a plus. I thought that when she tried to form a school club, she might have found someone like-minded, but oh well. I think there is a lot more of Tomoko's story to be told.
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