Genre: Slice of Life, Black Comedy, Cringe Comedy
Rating: PG 13
Studio: Silver Link
Original run: 9th July – 24th September 2013
Available on: Crunchyroll, DVD Release
Languages Available: Japanese, English
Subtitles Available: English
Manga Available? Yes
Tomoko Kuroki is fresh into high school and thinks she can become popular right away because she is skilled in playing otome games. Instead she finds herself to be an unsociable loner and has to reevaluate her situation.
If you ever want to know what second hand embarrassment truly feels like then this is the anime for you. After hearing a lot of people say this series is painful to watch I always avoided Watamote but after the lovely Irina reviewed it, it made me excited and want to go and give it a shot.
Watamote gave me some very mixed feelings and emotions. First of all many of the feelings that Tomoko carries are relatable. She is painfully awkward in social situations. She can’t order a coffee without completely making a mess out of it and that’s relatable making Tomoko someone who is easy to sympathise with as many people experience similar feelings in social situations. I know I certainly do. Her inability to make friends is upsetting because as a viewer you know and understand her and want her to do well because she is trying. It’s that predicament of “if only you just got to know her” but her lack of social skills gets in the way of that. This side of her was so easy to connect with and I found many of her traits within myself making the relatable factor hit a little closer to home than I would have liked.
She is once you get passed the layers of awkwardness
However, at the same time Tomoko seems to be her own worst enemy. The attitude she has is all over the place. She wants friends and even fantasies about it but then calls everyone around her and acts superior in her inner dialogue even calling her one and only friend the B word just because she is doing well and looks cute. She doesn’t seem to get along with her family either as her mother is always questioning her (questionable) actions and she isn’t the best big sister in the world as she constantly invades her brother Tomoki’s space and ruins his things. Her perverted side didn’t hold my sympathy either. That side of her left a bad taste in my mouth making me wonder if I wanted route for her. Perverted characters aren’t a rarity in anime but something about her perverted side was uncomfortable. Her awkward, perverted or unsociable traits seemed amplified to make the scenarios much worse than they may be in real life and making me often want to grab a pillow and bury my head in embarrassment.
Not the best conversation starter
The development of the show was the disappointing factor. The opening song, which was incredible by the way, depicts Tomoko wrapped in chains before breaking out of them towards the end. This signified the idea that Tomoko would break out of all the things holding her back and she would grow as a character. Instead, each episode held a painfully embarrassing encounter where she would often drop herself in it and would have to worm her way out. Instead they could have chosen to build from each encounter instead of just hopping from one painful moment to the next and she would have gained something from it each time. The ending was undesirable as Tomoko basically accepts that this is it and she will always be an “unpopular girl”. Moral of the story is accept your fate even if it sucks I guess?
I have seen comments and theories both in the comments on Crunchyroll and around the internet suggesting Tomoko may be suffering from social anxiety or something like Aspergers. I did do a bit of research on both of these ideas and some parts of her personality do seem to match up. I don’t want to claim she has anything because i’m certainly not an expert and have no right to label her as anything. That might not even be what the original creator was going for. She may just be a socially awkward loner who struggles with making friends.
Disclaimer: I don’t want people to get the wrong idea that if she does have something that I’m making fun of it. I’m in no way doing that because of my criticisms of the series. It’s just a theory that I wanted to point out.
Whilst many of the awkward situations were amusing and the anime references were spot on I just feel disappointed with Watamote. I would have preferred if it had developed in a more positive light instead of Tomoko being left ultimately in the exact situation she began in. A fun but ultimately unsatisfactory series that left me both laughing and cringing.
Overall Rating: 7/10
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All images are sourced from Google Images