Image result for Watamote

  • Genre : Slice of Life, Comedy
  • Episodes: 12
  • Studio: Silver Link

 

Tomoko is excited to be starting her happy high school life and why shouldn’t she be. She’s smart, funny, likable and cute. A girl like Tomoko could have the whole world at her feet. She may have had a bit of an awkward period in middle school, but she’s used her time wisely, training herself to be the most desirable girl around by playing countless hours of dating sims and keeping up with everything that’s cool through internet forums and the latest anime. Tomoko is basically the greatest, funnest friend you could have and the most irresistible girlfriend ever. Girls want to be her and boys want to be with her and vice versa. Now if just everybody else realized it…

I think Tomoko and I would have gotten along. After all, she believes that she has some instant magnetism that should draw everyone to her and I agree. When I saw that title I was already sold and Tomoko’s classic yet unusual design pretty much sealed the deal. Much like its main character, this show probably isn’t for everyone but for those ‘wise’ enough to notice it, it’s certainly not devoid of charm.

Image result for Watamote
am I the only one who’s feeling the dark circles?

As I mentioned above, the character design is actually one of the factors that drew me in. Most background are somewhat bland and minor characters are a relatively nondescript group of standard anime hotties in that innocent moe style, but more prominent characters are all given very distinctive and unique looks that go along perfectly with their personalities. For what appears to be a fairly low budget and light-hearted slice of life, the attention to the designs is really admirable. I also enjoyed how overly expressive faces are in this show. After sitting through a plethora of cute girls for the past few months, I have started to expect the same 5 or so stock expressions and when Tomoko went a completely different way I suddenly realized how limited that range is.

I don’t really have that much to say on the practical elements of this anime. They’re all good. Very good even. Aside from design, nothing stands out quite enough for me to call it out particularly but at the same time everything was solid. I enjoyed Tomoko’s voice actress, even though she hammed it up a bit occasionally. Not that this has any bearing on the show at all but I looked her up, she’s a cutie : Izumi Kitta

I have been mentioning OPs a lot in my reviews lately. Even though I don’t talk about them as much as some blogs, I do in fact love a good op. I made a list at one point, where I explained my personal criteria for what makes a good OP. I should really think about updating that list one day. Watamote has a fantastic opening sequence. It’s completely over the top ridiculous, gives you a completely false impression of what you’re about to watch and gets your adrenaline pumping! I loved it:

Watamote – No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular! is clearly a slice of life comedy. If it was live action and/or American, you would call it a sitcom. I know, I know, a whole bunch of you don’t like comedy. Because you do not enjoy laughing apparently, (that’s a super villain trait you know!) I’m joking (sorry) I know that comedy is a much more subjective and personal genre than any other and as such will always be more divisive. Whether you enjoy them or not, there are elements that are objectively dramatic or suspenseful or tragic. Comedy on the other hand can be hilarious for one person and just plain not funny for the next. It’s a bit of a Russian roulette every time. Unless you’re like me. I love comedy, my laughter is easy…

If I had an editor that cared about me, they would probably have told me to cut that paragraph. I’m keeping it. I think you should know that this is the type of series where your mileage will vary. Some of you may love it, resonate with the characters, draw on personal experience and laugh. Others won’t. The comedy is highly reliant on cringe and awkwardness as well as a bit of exaggerated overdramatics. If you’re not good with those – skip it.

a touching moment between siblings

As I watched Tomoko comically consume herself with jealousy and desperately try to fit in and survive those always tricky teenage years, I realized that behind all the standard high school antics there was something much more important and precious. Watamote handles its ill-fated heroine with a surprisingly gentle hand. It doesn’t always show Tomoko in the best light and we get to snicker along at some of her humiliating moments but only the harmless ones. We never get the feeling that the show is trying to make a fool out of her, if anything, we are left with a surprisingly charming and positive portrait of a slightly lost young girl.

The messaging in Watamote is extremely positive. Tomoko is shy and painfully socially awkward, but she has a pretty good self-image. She’s desperate for companionship and willing to try any trick but she never feels the need to change herself. As a teenager she’s feeling the pull of puberty stirring and endless hours of media have naturally pushed her thoughts towards her sexual awakening but she’s comfortable and accepting with the notion of sexuality. Sure, there are occasional embarrassing moments, but she doesn’t see her desires as dirty or wrong in any way. Finally, she is really set on getting a boyfriend but not because she needs one to feel better about herself. She thinks she’s pretty great the way she is and would like to share that with someone. I can’t remember the last time I saw such a healthy attitude towards relationships depicted in an anime.

Tomoko is quite a role model in many ways but what makes it better is that in many others she is not. She’s prone to jealousy and quick to judge. She’s petty and often selfish. She’s not above cheating or using others. In short, she’s a normal teenage girl who happens to like herself the way she is and is baffled by why her greatness isn’t obvious to everyone. I absolutely loved that about her. All those weaknesses and setbacks only accentuate her strengths. I wish more girls would be comfortable with just admitting they are great the way they are.

Of curse anyone is going to look gorgeous if you use all those tricks.

And the series remains uplifting beyond the character of Tomoko. As we watch her fail miserably at becoming the school darling and getting a hot boyfriend, we find that without realizing it she actually manages to develop some pretty great relationships. Throughout the episodes we see her slowly deepen her relationship with her little brother. Like all teenage siblings, they bicker and fight and have little time for each other but little by little we clearly see them getting closer. They love each other and will remain close for the rest of their lives. Tomoko also manages to rekindle her friendship with her middle school classmate Yū who’s become everything Tomoko dreams of being. But instead of simmering in her jealous, Tomoko manages to brush that aside and discover the simple pleasure of spending time with a friend. By the end of the series, she’s even managed to grow enough to grab the attention of a kind and popular senpai.

The usual slice of life staples are all there: Cosplay, school festival, mild Yuri, references to other anime. Some of those references do get quite risqué in fact. Along side clear winks at Haruhi (I get those now!), Nozaki -kun (man I love that show!), KnB and K-On just to name a few, you can see a poster of hentai game and awful anime Diabolik Lovers as well as what is clearly supposed  to be a copy of Hadaka Shitsuji (if you don’t know what it is – don’t look it up….) But mixed in with the clichés are these constant affirmative messages and empowering moments that I for one found charming.

Here’s a random example, Tomoko feels bad because she seems to be the only one not having been harassed on a public bus. She’s a bit jealous but the instant she feels something on her rear end she completely changes her mind. Like any normal girls she freezes, regrets ever thinking there was anything romantic about unwanted contact and just wishes she was anywhere else. We rarely get such an honest and reasonable reaction out of anime characters.

Yu’s patience and devotion to Tomoko is just as charming

I quite enjoyed Watamote but it won’t be for everyone. I am going to go out on a limb and call it a feminist anime. If that scares you then it’s definitely not for you.

Random thoughts, using a light lilac on yellow to create shadows is an interesting and calming visual effect. Is B*tch really a compliment in Japan? I’m sad to say it but I think a “verbal abuse cd” would sell well. (not the band, well maybe they sell well too but I’m literally talking about a CD of voice actors insulting and mean flirting…)

Favorite character: Tomoki

What this show taught me: I’m pretty great already

If God had intended us to drink beer, he would have given us stomachs

Suggested drink: Prom Queen On The Rag

  • Every time Tomoko gets jealous – take a sip
  • Every time we get an extended fantasy sequence – put the glass down
  • Every time Tomoko loves herself – raise your glass
  • Every time Tomoki is exhasperated – take a sip
  • Every time we see a new otome – take a sip
    • if you would like to lay it – take aother
  • Every time Tomoko admires Yu – take a sip
  • Every time Tomoko annoys Tomoki – take a sip of water
  • Every time insects are featured – take a sip
  • Every time you recognize a reference I didn’t mention – cheers!

53 thoughts on “Watamote – No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular!”

  1. This series is definitely a favorite of mine, and I have actually written about it as well.

    http://operationrainfall.com/2015/06/09/building-character-tomoko-kuroki/

    That being said, I have no clue how Tomoki was your favorable. He came across as nothing but an intolerable uncaring asshole. I just can’t help but hold serious contempt for someone whose response to hearing his sister wants to kill herself is to act annoyed and contemptuous towards her, or to physically assault their sister over a soda. I get that Tomoko is a flawed character as well, but the lack of care or empathy towards someone someone in need of support is just unacceptable to me and if he were a real person and I ever met him, i’d probably punch him. I

    Given the fact that I have had very much the same issue as Tomoko to the point where I often have crippling feelings of loneliness and often have strong difficulty in approaching others, I am unable to consider Watamote a comedy in any sense even if it is presented like one. Funny thing is I actually LOATHED this series when I first saw it. Seeing such a serious anxiety issue being played for comedic purposes may make a lot of people feel like they themselves are being mocked and made fun of. What changed my mind was realizing that Tomoko brings most of what happens on herself and that most people in this show are caring and nice (again, with the exception of Tomoki). It says that the word isn’t as harsh as you think to not be so scared of other people. It was something that I needed very badly at the time I saw watched this series and it changed the way I view and interact with others precisely because I realized that Tomoko was not just a character in a show; there are hundreds of thousands of people just like her.

    1. I have major sibling envy and I saw a very normal if somewhat exaggerated little brother in Tomoki. Tomoko is a dramatic girl who has a tendency to threaten without an real intent. I doubt he took her seriously but I may be wrong. You are the second person to say you felt the show mocked Tomoko. Somehow, I saw so much of myself in Tomoko (except I was a much more isolated child) and I liked her representation. I honestly loved her and I think I did because the show loved her too.

      1. I don’t think the show mocked Tomoko, I was merely saying that this was how some people may have interpreted it.

        If anything, Tomoki seems to come across more as an older brother type, and having grown up with one, I can say that Tomiki’s portrayal was not much of an exaggeration. A problem I have been repeatedly struggling with is difficulty asking for help, and the root cause stemmed from family members getting annoyed and frustrated with me when they couldn’t fix things. My own brother was exactly like Tomoki and I thought he was a complete prick (he has grown past these tendencies thankfully). My family was far from abusive but certain things of them stuck with me. People like Tomoko often act out for attention as a cry for help, and even if she is faking it (which I doubt based on how the line was delivered), the sheer fact that someone would react to such a threat with disdain sends a message that one just does not care.

        Also for clarification, I hold nothing against my family. I think they are all great people and no one is perfect.

        1. Personal experience has no doubt influenced my take on the show (and everything else). I grew up a very lonely single child and I would have given a lot for a brother, even one as harsh as Tomoki (and much harsher really). Of course, I tend to idealize sibling relationships. I’m sorry, I have to stand by my choice. I loved seeing Tomoko and Tomoki in scenes together and I believe those scenes added a substantial amount of character growth for both of them. This is based on nothing but I had the feeling he begrudgingly cared a lot more than he wanted to admit, about his sister. And I think a dour, confident foil for Tomoko helped balance out the cast and create narrative opportunities that aren’t that common in similar shows. Don’t worry, I’m not going to try to convince you to like the Tomoki – I have notoriously horrid taste in anime characters and I know it.

          I am genuinely happy to hear you and your brother are on better terms now. I hope you continue to grow closer!

  2. I had heard nothing but negatives about this show but randomly ended up watching it with a friend. We were surprised that, outside of a few select moments (the “rape” one for example), the show was really fun and had cool ideas. Great review and glad somebody else also enjoyed this one 🙂

      1. When people are negative towards it they usually qualify it with, “Well it’s just so much cringe…” or, “Way too relatable.” So it probably is that they just feel uncomfortable watching since they see themselves in it.

  3. At times, I found this anime highly unpleasant to watch, because it hit home so much. It mercilessly exposes all the things I’ve done wrong (and some I could have done wrong but thankfully didn’t). Among shows who “get it”, it’s up there for me with Welcome to the NHK and Oregairu. The exclusion of bullying was a very good choice to make, in that way. It allows for the lasersharp focus the show has. The comedy was so, so relatable.

    A reference to Nozaki-kun? I didn’t get that, but that’s hardly surprising since the anime would only air a year later (the mangas ran con-currently, though, both in Gangan Online).

    2013 was a very strong year in anime and had five anime that made my all-time favourites (most years have 1 – 2, some years have none):

    1. Uchouten Kazoku
    2. Kyousogiga
    3. Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge
    4. Watamote
    5. White Album 2

    Great, great anime in a great, great year.

      1. White Album 2 might not be quite up your alley, but it’s unrelated to White Album other than sharing the same setting. White Album is a harem, while White Album 2 is a focussed love triangle. (I like White Album, too, but not quite as much.) I’m told the anime of WA2 only animates the opening bid of the VN.

          1. It’s definitely not a show I’d go out of my way to recommend to you; if it’s one thing it’s a drama. In fact, it might be a DRAMA. However, it’s very well written, doesn’t shy away from anything, and the two girls involved have a friendship that goes beyond just their relation to the boy involved. What locks it in for me, though, is that the show’s very good with music, even though it’s really just background flavour. One of the girls, for example, doesn’t talk much about her feelings, but you can tell by the pieces she plays on the piano (I caught on when she played Liszt’s “Liebestraum”, but more savvy people pointed out pieces I missed). Obviously, I love the show, but again I’d probably not have recommended it to you.

            Out of the ones I mentioned, priority definitely goes to Kyousogiga – I think that one’s got the best chance to be a hit with you. (And you’ve already seen Crime Edge.)

            I really also liked the visuals of Watamote, for example the strangely angular halos that would sometimes appear. And some of the visual imagery fits rather well, like the ants carrying off the dead cicada at the end of the summer holidays (a rather fitting twist on a common seasonal image). It’s Oonuma Shin at his best. (Speaking of Oonuma, I just watched A Sister’s All You Need, a show I speed-dropped as it aired due to the double-team blow of imouto-fetish concept and starting out with a rather graphic sex scene. Then I saw a lot of screen shots and kind of wanted to see it, and surprisingly I found it fun, too. His current Death March is a train wreck, though. He’s the most uneven director I know – making anything from godawful to great.)

            1. I was and am still a bit scared by A sister… Blatantly underage fanservice is always difficult for me. NGNL is my limit I think.

            2. Hm, NGNL was actually way worse, for me, than Imouto Saega Ireba Ii turned out to be. Even though it’s way more graphic and concentrated, it just feels far less… sleezy? It’s bad enough, to be sure, and my anime age detector is broken at a fundamental level, but the show’s occasionally even mildly clever is in its sexualised scenes, and beyond some rather terrible jokes there’s very little actual little-sister fetish in the show. Once I forced myself to sit through the scenes that made me drop the show initially, it actually ended up quite good. That sex-crazed, white-haired 18-year old I was sure would be the most grating character in the anime turned out to be one of my favourite characters. The show is absolutely not what I expected. (It’s not a clean, unproblematic show; when you read this post, you’ll need to remember I thought it would be really horrible.)

              Now, this season’s Ryuou no Oshigoto is really trying my patience. It’s a really good show when it comes to shougi, but the constant lolicon sleeze that comes in three flavours of unfunny jokes… Grr… Why, anime, why? Either drop that lolican shit, or, if not that, at least have decency to be all-round bad, so I can drop the show with no regrets.

            3. Oh that’s heartbreaking…Ryuou was something I was looking forward to. I was hoping for a Hikaru with shogi. I had no idea it was loli…

            4. Maybe try it anyway? It’s really good as a shougi show, and the lolicon stuff… well as I said it comes in three flavours:

              (1) straightforward: anime rom-com tropes applied to a child; this is mostly annoying, but not too bad and can be ignored. This mostly comes across as eye-roll jokes.

              (2) Shot-framing: This is really bad at times, and sometimes practically non-existent. As far as I remember, it’s mostly a thigh focus. In combination with (1), though this becomes a constant sort of irritation, and you start seeing otherwise innocent elements as potentially sexual. For example, our heroine has this tic, where she rocks back and forth going to eye-level with the board, mumbling, when she’s concentrating. In any other show, I’d just be thinking of this as being really into the game. Here, because of the unfortunate framing, this strikes me as a potential source of irritation, even though on its own it’s a perfectly fine piece of characterisation.

              (3) A vague sense of grooming. It’s hard to express in words, but there’s the fact that all the children are girls, and while the main character isn’t interested, there’s a sense of “wait until she grows up”. There’s a scene where this is explicit, when there’s talk with the girl’s mother, who’s against her daughter becoming a professional, but agrees to let her, if the Ryuou promises that – if the daughter does not become a professional – he will “take responsibility” and marry her (and work in the family inn, himself). Again, traditionalist arranged marriages are a thing, and tradtion is also thing in the way the show portrays shougi, so it’s not thematically out place. But the show does little with this, and together with (1) and (2) it becomes really uncomfortable.

              You might actually have fewer problems with the show than I do, but considering that most people have more problems with it… well… In any case, as shougi show it’s really, really good and well worth watching. The portrayal of the professional shougi world is very interesting, and unlike 3-gatsu no Lion also addresses issues of gender, age, amateur status (and public shougi halls), etc. Half the show is an easy recommendation; the other half rangers from ignorable to deal-breaker depending on the person. It’s not easy to judge, since a lot of it is framing effects, and entire episodes are pretty much free of objectionable content (to the degree that you don’t let yourself be tainted by framing). It’s difficult, and the only way to really know is to see for yourself.

  4. I was so excited to see you reviewed this anime and as I expected, I am really pleased with the review. You manage to express my thinking when I am not even sure WHAT exactly it is I’m thinking. Watamote is probably one of my favorite all time anime. The OP is exciting and fun, both music and art. But most of all, I see myself in Tomoko, and now I realize why I find this a comforting anime. It’s like, yes, you are weird as shit, and it’s okay. People will love you anyway. I laughed myself to tears more than once during this series and there are episodes I still go back and watch if I need a good laugh. You are easily my favorite anime blogger, btw, simply because our tastes seem very similar – so if you love it and I haven’t seen it yet, I know it’s got to go on the queue.

    1. Ok – I’m printing this comment and putting it on the fridge to cheer me up on Monday mornings!!! This said – my tastes are usually not in line with popular opinion so hourray for us weirdos! Maybe someday we could work together….

  5. I don’t know why so many people are pissed off because of this anime. Honestly, I fucking love this anime because of the concept is the reality. You know, something like otaku or anything itself? Bunch of people hates this anime because of the character that so cringes. I know that because I also feel like that and many people just look at one aspect. I also love that OP’s metal thing. Konomi Suzuki and Kiba of Akiba so lit. Thank you for your great review!

    1. I don’t get the hate for this show either. Unless you really wanted to see a moe sho and got mad at the lack of fanservice but even then… The comments have been super positive though and I’m really happy you enjoyed it!

  6. The minute I saw the picture I was like “Oh I want to watch this” which then was reinforced by your paragraph about character design. This show looks great and it looks like something I’m in the mood for at the moment. Thanks for the review!

  7. I always like to run to Watamote, and specifically to Tomoko, when I’m talking people about the fetishization of social awkwardness, and that it runs far deeper than just the charming, quirky, adorkable characters who are designed by focus groups to march to the beat of their own drums and feel relatable to you, the viewer, and all of YOUR many differences.

    Tomoko is the reality of it. She comes far closer to peoples’ actual experiences.

    1. https://carnivorouslreviews.wordpress.com/2018/02/27/watamote-how-to-make-a-loser-protagonist-feel-like-an-actual-loser/?preview=true

      I actually talk about that topic of Tomoko being an actual socially inept character here!

      Sorry if this is comes across as shilling, but Irina’s post reminded me of this kinda old analysis I did on reddit, so I decided to post it on my newfound blog for content while I watch this seasonal stuff in between breaks. Would love to hear your thoughts.

    1. It was a quick one I wrote out way back when I first finished.

      And just to add more to my post and yours, I really like your pointing out of the characters’ relationships with her subtly growing in the background without Tomoko noticing. Kind of a funny little way to show how friendships kinda just happen without fanfare. Plus, I was of the opinion the show had a positive message in a harsh light, while you seem to think it handled it much gentler. It’s an interesting split 😀

      1. Well you see some people see insecure girls that try really hard and think – what a pathetic dork, whereas I think you do you – I respect people who try! That doubtlessly coloured my take away.

  8. YO, This show is actually going to be one of my next subjects for my blog, specifically the character of Tomoko!

    I’ll upload it in a short bit, thanks for reminding me about that analysis 😀

  9. A feminist anime! A fascinating take on something I watched many years back and simply saw for its surface-level cringe and “How-to-delude-oneself” properties. I found your claims of self-affirmation to be odd considering how fondly I recall how pitiful most of her actions/situations ended up, but I can’t find myself outright disagreeing with them. You’ve actually made me want to watch it again! Particularly liked the detail about her being on the bus and the realization of unwanted contact. Never thought about it like that.

    1. Of course there is room for interpretation but I really didn’t find her pitiful at all. Having been a teenage girl at some point and having had a few as friends – she seemed really quite normal to me. And the anime never seemed to imply that she should fundamentally change aside from relaxing a bit which I found refreshing.

      1. I’ve considered adding some anime reviews to the site at some point, but that requires me to remember to make time to watch anime. :3

        Also I’m running out of space in my top menu and am not sure where I’d put anime. Perhaps under “Essentials”, since that’s where I toss everything that doesn’t go anywhere else!

        1. You do have a crowded menu – I’ve noticed that. Maybe you could do a sister blog!
          Are you enjoying how I’m just casually doubling your workload for my personal entertainment?

  10. Yay! A review of one of my favourite anime, it’s interesting because I feel like this show is unique not only in its main character and the kind of comedy it goes for, but in something that you mentioned that I never really knew how to quantify. It’s a sitcom. Like there are a LOT of comedy anime I watch, but none of them really feel like the American sitcoms I grew up on, and while cringe comedy is a big part of this show, it is still very much a sitcom. I’d probably compare it to Curb Your Enthusiasm as far as having a main character that you’re watching and going “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WHY ARE YOU LIKE THIS?” but she is a lot more relatable than Larry David is that’s for sure.

    I’ve been biding my time on how and when to review this show myself but I think you’ve given me the necessary jolt to do so. Great review by the way, but that should go without saying by now…

    P.S. The manga is better than the anime. #justsaying

    P.P.S. I LOVE talking about anime OP’s but never really get the chance to in my reviews, I think I want to do a series discussing anime songs but maybe I just need to find someone to collab with 😉

    1. That’s exactly it! It’s a teenage girl curb your enthusiasm. Now that I read it, I realize that I won’t be able to define this show any other way.
      I’m not sure it resonated the same for you – but I really did see this as empowering. I wish more teenage girl characters were written with this type of balance and honesty.

      1. You may not know it because of all my talk of cute girls and fan service but I’m a feminist too! Plus my irl waifu was/still is basically Tomoko so I totally understand the importance of this kind of character in anime and all forms of media.

        1. Oh I wasn’t necessarily talking about feminism – although good on you! I am too. But not everyone relates with characters the same way so I wasn’t sure it was having the same impact on others. I saw a lot of myself in Tomoko and grew up with shows telling me I should change. I series that embraced those quirks meant a lot to me.
          You obviously have excellent tastes in waifus.

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