I’ve been staying clear of most anime lately because it either A.) doesn’t interest me in the least, or B.) is Attack on Titan and I swear I’ll watch it sometime when everyone shuts the hell up about it. In the case of Watamote, I ended up watching it because a friend showed me the opening sequence, told me Tomoko Kuroki is me as a Japanese school girl, then got mad when I wouldn’t shut up about how fucking perfect Tomoko is.
The show is like Welcome to the NHK lite. A girl, Tomoko Kuroki, is completely socially awkward, demented, in love with anime and nerd culture, and doesn’t understand how the world works. It follows her life as a freshman in high school, a world where everything sucks, no one is her friend, and she can barely do anything without failing. Most of the failure come out of normal, everyday social situations while the rest come from demented fantasies. It’s a show aimed at a demographic that rightly knows who they are and rightly understand the situations that Tomoko gets into. The show gets a lot of hate from some people who rightly know that they are just like Tomoko and reject the fact that someone made a show aimed at them, but to me, I’m not afraid to laugh at myself. Just like Welcome to the NHK, it’s there for people with social problems and total nerds who aren’t afraid to look at themselves in the mirror and laugh.
The anime follows its respective manga pretty well, in fact it rarely deviates from the source material. Sometimes the anime puts a part from the manga before it happened in the manga, but that doesn’t matter. The problem the anime faces as opposed to the manga, which managed to stay pretty balanced, is that there is a slump in the middle of the series where a few of the scenarios and episodes fall into general comedy tropes. The most embarrassing offender is the panty episode. While chuckle-worthy at points, it deviates so far from the fairly original comedy of the previous few episodes. And then there’s a part where Tomoko wants to get raped on the train because she feels it would make her feel popular. While kind of funny and contributing to that skewed view of popularity that she has, it’s not as relatable or likable as her previous and later attempts at popularity.
The show is excellent when it goes through real life scenarios rather than crazy ones. The episode where she goes to Starbucks, doesn’t know what the hell she’s ordering, and ends up screwing up royally after getting her coffee is funny, but also really cute and sad in a way. It’s when she’s doing very normal things that you feel so bad that she screws up so much or can’t manage to do it. Another example is the very first episode where she has to say goodbye to her teacher. Those moments of social awkwardness that can be related to are where the show shines. It’s a new kind of humor that is funny because it’s realistic and relatable for many people. Which is why some of the more outlandish attempts at humor fall flat; they just don’t seem to fit in. They fit Tomoko’s character, but they don’t fit the style of comedy.
As far as supporting characters go Tomoki is Tomoko’s brother and a rather unattached and unlikable fellow. Her mom is just there to be a mom. Her best friend Yuu is a busty—as Tomoko would call her—“bitch” with very little personality. But that’s one of the main points of the show. That’s why I can understand the faceless background characters. Tomoko lives in a world where everyone has the same personality, everyone is looking for a girlfriend to bang. It’s seemingly one of the reasons she is the way she is, she sees the world as being totally faceless and everyone to be without a distinguishing personality.
The style of the comedy combined with the style of animation and great directing really lead to a very unique show that has a few slip ups along the way, but manages to continue being funny and original for much of its run. It’s in no way perfect, but Watamote is really damn good.