Remember those high school days back in the day? Remember those times were you think it’s the good years of your life there? Remember the times you hung out with your friends for a period of 5-6 years?
Yeah, I don’t believe that bullshit either.
Let’s face it. High school sucks for most people out especially for people who try to fit in but ends up being lonely, disheartened, or looked down upon by society for being weird and/or your unique self.
And what person is an example of that? Tomoko Kuroki. A Mojyo. That’s Japanese for Unpopular girl and boy, wait until you get to know her.
Fifteen-year-old Tomoko Kuroki believed that she would become popular upon entering high school because she’d become well-versed in the world of otome games. In reality, she finds that she has become an unsociable loner and she is forced to take a long hard look at herself for the first time in years. The story follows Tomoko as she attempts to improve her social status as she progresses through high school.
Throughout the series, we focus on Tomoko making attempts on being popular and more well-known and sometimes she always get these exaggerated fantasies in her head that everything is going to work out for her but falling flat on her ass. It’s the self-discovery journey of a girl who yearns for being noticed more and we as an audience mostly questions herself as a character. On one hand, we often see ourselves as Tomoko whenever it’s listening to students’ conversation that almost seems like we’re watching a slice-of-life anime, dealing with parents or your other sibling, your long-time best friend is doing better than you and it comes across as relatable. On the other hand though, most of the stuff she does in her attempts question her sanity and have us think, “What in the hell is wrong with you, you crazy-ass girl!?”
Some say that the social anxiety portrayed in here does make it seem like we’re laughing at her as if we are making fun of her but the series’ intention never come across at that although some parts do suggest that. It just never sugar-coats the situation……it’s supposed to make you cringe at those moments and if it did, then it’s doing something right.
Oh, and did I forget to mention the Meta anime references worked out well into the show? Especially doing a lot of slice-of-life anime references (mostly the Kyoto Animation titles like K-On! and Haruhi Suzumiya) that matches some of the scenes in there.
Now for characters although I think I described Tomoko while telling you about the story as she is a character that you feel sympathy (or empathy) for but most of the time, you feel like you need to either comfort or slap her sometimes but she is a fully realized character. Most of the other characters are OK as there is minimal side characters and the rest is mostly just background characters. Her long-time friend Yuu who was an originally dorky looking girl but she looked prettier as time passes but yet still thinks of Tomoko as a friend and still enjoys anime and good thing, too, because I was worried that they were going to make her some complete bitch and I’m glad they didn’t. Her brother Tomoki (HA!) is slightly similar to her sister but he’s saner than she is.
I have never watched an anime made by SILVER LINK (aside from that one anime I’m watching for Time of the Season) and their animation style does vary from the traditional average slice-of-life look that just doing what it’s supposed to be doing from its comedic/Meta references that was the most interesting aspects of the series and the omake scenes when they’re doing a preview for the next episode. Color palette are a mix of both lively and muted for more of the exaggerated moments in the show and it did it justice for the part being.
The opening theme, the self-titled song by Konomi Suzuki and Kiba of Akiba does deliver a great feat upon who Tomoko is as a character and had some great animation to offer on that. The ending theme……I’m not so thrilled at because first time listening to it, I felt like skipping it to the preview of the next episode. I find it kinda ‘meh’ and some of the other songs used in different endings felt so much better in there than the actual ending song.
And of the English dub……I can say that Sentai Filmworks are getting better in their dubs as of recent and that’s mostly due to having a new ADR director in most of their shows. The director in question being Emily Neves, who also voiced Yuu in the dub and she does a good performance in there but the MVP of the show is definitely Monica Rial as Tomoko as she delivers a fantastic performance capturing Tomoko’s likeness and traits, as I imagine that’s what her in English would sound like.
FINAL VERDICT: As split as many people are on Watamote, I will say I’m one of those people that favors it more than dismiss it. The show does deal with a person with social anxiety issues and while the comical antics does get cringe worthy at some times, it doesn’t go off the rails with it and the cringe often works. It’s an anime that you could probably watch once in your life and if you like it, you would want to watch it again.
Well, I guess it is my fault that this show is not that popular….but I will give it a honest…
7.5 / 10 – High OKAY/Low SOLID B.
WATAMOTE is available to own on DVD & Blu-ray via Sentai Filmworks. Streaming options are available on Crunchyroll, Hulu and The Anime Network.
And that is it for me….I’m MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid, and …….wait, does this count as a Valentine’s Day anime review?
Oh, it doesn’t? Well, I don’t care anyway.
I’ll see you next time.
WATAMOTE – animation by SILVER LINK / distributed by SENTAI FILMWORKS