WataMote Review (Anime)

I’m not sure if WataMote is genius with its ability to capture being an awkward adolescent almost to a tee, or if it’s infuriating due to Tomoko’s unbearable reactions to almost everything.

WataMote focuses on what it’s like to be a new highschool student who’s social experience almost exclusively stems from visual novels, and what ensues is Tomoko trying to become popular through unusual means. She’s thrown into wacky situations such as visiting the nightlife of the Red Light District, trying to become a cool cliche, dolling herself up and attempting to make conversation with others – something of which she’s abysmal at. She’s incredibly starved for affection and I desperately want her to feel loved, but I’m at odds as she’s constantly pushing others away.

I assume we’re supposed to root for her to be successful in making friends, but the only thing I realised is that she has minimal friends due to her own thoughts and actions. She’s spiteful, selfish and complains about how the world is unfair rather than trying to fix her own faults, and she takes her frustrations out on those around her. Her mother, brother, and best friend Yuu are all loveable and clearly care for her, but Tomoko feels sorry for herself and tries to use them to boost her own agenda in having Yuu make her look good, her mother getting her jobs and taking care of her and she’s envious that her brother has a thriving social life. Everyone else seems so lovely bar Tomoko.

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I was a teenager once so I’ve been a part of many awkward situations that I’d much rather forget about, but I don’t remember being as infuriating as Tomoko; I may have been just as unlikeable at one point though! I want to like her, I do, but she gives me no reason too as she refuses to help herself and seemingly expects the world to hand her success on a platter. She’s lazy and ungrateful and I felt bad for those around Tomoko rather than for her. Being lonely is hard and I did get a lot of laughs from her and a lot of the situations she’s thrown into, but after a while her personality grated on me as she refuses to really try hard; I understand she’s a confused teen but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating to watch.

There’s zero payoff at the end of the series and it left me deeply unsatisfied, although I didn’t resonate with Tomoko despite being able to relate to a few things due to her overall attitude. I think the show would’ve benefitted with giving Yuu and her brother, Tomoki, more screentime as they’re both much more enjoyable to watch and I feel that her brother portrays the average teenager better; he’s moody, sleep-deprived but has fun playing games with his friends and lives his life whilst putting up with his older sister, despite her stealing his snacks and waking him up when he’s ill. Tomoko does try, but it comes across as being forced to try rather than trying to be a good person.

The plot is paper thin and is filled to the brim with missed potential, more so when there are three episodes taking part during the Summer which are each dull and uneventful and felt like filler. The second half of the show lost much of its already conflicting humour and slugged on, and it could’ve been much better paced as a whole.

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WataMote’s strongest point is humour although it won’t be for everyone, it’s crude, cringe-inducing yet it’s sometimes relatable and realistic. Talking to someone you like sometimes leads you to say something silly, and it’s easy to misread signals but what isn’t easy is mistaking a stick for an incredibly long and bent penis. Tomoko is huge pervert and is ignorant enough to believe that being groped is cool as it apparently happens to popular students, until she realises that being groped isn’t fun at all. The show plays on her pervert-side a lot, including her love for sexual visual novels and her day-dreaming of friends and strangers.

Visually it’s a mixed bag. The overall animation is nice, particularly the character design, but the visual gags leave a lot to be desired and made me glad that I was watching the show alone; although it might be clever in making me feel as awkward as Tomoko is. Much of the visual humour is presented via Tomoko’s ever-changing face and daydreams where she imagines herself to be a beautiful and popular woman, and then she abruptly is made to realise that she isn’t. There’s even a couple of cats having sex which shows Tomoko how sexually inexperienced she is, although I can’t say I was too worried about that when I was 15. I imagine people actually have used hoovers to give themselves hickeys/love bites though, although I’ve never done so personally.

There’s both English and Japanese voice-overs available, and fortunately the subtitles are great no matter which audio option you choose. Both voice-overs are good and the actresses for Tomoko nail the whiny and angsty voice which is both a good and bad thing – it’s annoying, but it fits so perfectly! The same can be said for the rest of the cast who have matching voices, and I feel that the show benefits from an English dub as it makes it somewhat easier to relate to the awkward situations and Tomoko’s plight, even if you don’t agree with or relate to her directly.

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I despise the OP which has a heavy metal song and thrashy animation to go along with it, but I adore the ED. I enjoy how both of the themes show Tomoko’s inner thoughts although they’re as insincere as she is in the show. I like how the ED shows Tomoko using mobile phones to help a miniature version of herself walk through her day, ending with her leaving the phone and being disappointed that there’s not another to walk into.

There’s fortunately not much in the way of fan-service, although when there is it’s due to Tomoko believing she has killer feminine charms – which she usually uses on her brother (there’s no incestual undertones, she’s just teasing her younger brother) – or daydreaming about Yuu which I don’t necessarily blame her for, especially as Yuu is a source of envy for Tomoko who’s figure is the polar opposite of Tomoko’s; Yuu is curvy and well-endowed whereas Tomoko is flat-chested small. There’s nothing wrong with this whatsoever, but of course younger girls believe that confidence comes in the form of body shape.

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WataMote relies mostly on humour and your ability to relate to Tomoki as she struggles through school life, but I found her to be mostly unlikeable and irritating and found myself yearning to see more of the cast who I loved, and I found the humour to be very hit or miss despite getting a good number of laughs out of me earlier on in the show. With twelve episodes and no second season in sight, despite the manga continuing the story, I think my time would’ve been better invested in another anime as this has left me rather disappointed. I wish I enjoyed it more but it felt as if it tried to push the limit and it became almost unbearable at times. It’s a promising premise that was poorly executed, and the show loses its charm quickly as it goes on.

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