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Watamote Episode #01 Anime Review

4 min read

Watamote Episode 1
Watamote Episode 1
It’s hard to be popular when everything seems to be going against you.

What They Say:
The protagonist, Kuroki Tomoko, thought she would naturally become popular once she became a “high school girl”, but reality was different… Tomoko panics at her situation and decides to take action to become popular. But… she doesn’t stand out in class, she’s extremely shy, and bad at communicating with others so she has to start by talking to someone other than her family first… The unpopular girl, “Kuroki Tomoko” fights her hardest to become popular, but… Does a bright future await Tomoko?! The struggles of an unpopular girl start here!!

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga known in long form as No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular!, Watamote is a new series from Silver Link that’s already been picked up by Sentai Filmworks. The manga began back in 2011 by Nico Tanigawa and has been picked up for release by Yen Press and even a new spinoff series kicked off this year in anticipation of this series. When it comes to slice of life manga, they can be pretty fun if done with the right kind of hook, and Watamote certainly seems to be setting up for that as we deal with a young woman named Tomoko. She’s intent on having a great high school life, dating, being involved in things and just enjoying that aspect of her life, but as her first year has gone on, she’s ended up being very disconnected from everyone.

While Tomoko does want to be popular and have friends, she’s also very accusatory towards others as she sees the cliques come together and the way the boys get all interested in a lot of the girls. She’s pretty cutthroat in the way she thinks about it, which is at least comically accurate, since the venom in ones mind is almost always stronger than what’s actually said out loud. What makes her view of them all the more interesting is that as they move about the school day, they’re all pretty faceless and often come across as slackers and goof offs, which just reinforces her opinions of them. Like a lot of girls this age, and in this position, she does her best to find ways to be popular and cute, convinced she’s not ugly, but that leads her to doing some changes to her appearance that does make her look pretty crazed. Which at least is done at home, though it freaks out her younger brother, Tomoki.

As her days go on, she does try to do her best to fit in as much as she can, but she’s got such a superior attitude in so many ways that’s just beneath the surface that you can easily imagine people being put off by her. She does show interest in others though, such as a convenience store clerk that she definitely finds attractive, but as it progresses she just keeps finding things that she can do alone that are socially acceptable. Which is admittedly quite a lot of things, but there’s some cultural aspects to it as well. What gets to be fun about it, such as when she goes to read manga in a book store or deals with going to WcDonalds, is the way in which she tries to not be noticed but is slowly being noticed in some ways. But there are those that are on her side, though she hasn’t quite realized it in some ways, and some particularly painful moments she has to suffer through as well.

In Summary:
Watamote doesn’t hit it out of the park with its first episode, but it’s set up some potentially interesting things if it can actually build off of it. With the first episode, we largely get a show about Tomoko herself with a decent dash of her younger brother brought into it for a bit. But beyond that, it doesn’t have much in the way of name characters, friends, potential friends or anything else. Tomoko really comes across as not just unpopular, but utterly alone, which is something that even Tomoki can’t quite believe is her case. That’s a bit unusual and the show ends largely with a down note, though with a bit of hope mixed in as well, but it’s a piece that feels a bit darker and more depressing than one might think, but it’s mostly because of the kind of attitude and belief system we get out of Tomoko that dominates the episode. It’ll be interesting to see where this goes, but it’s got itself in a particular box at the moment with some easy ways out of it, but how it handles Tomoko herself is what will make or break it.

Grade: B

Streamed By: Crunchyroll

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Apple TV via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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