- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!