I wasn’t entirely sure whether to laugh or cry. So I did both. Again.
Story: Nico Tanigawa
Art: Nico Tanigawa
Translation/Adaptation: Krista Shipley, Karie Shipley
What They Say
Despite having made it to high school, her long-awaited promised land, poor Tomoko Kuroki continues to strike out with her peers and remains utterly, wretchedly unpopular. And before she knows it, the first school term is nearly at its end! Can Mokocchi manage to make at least some happy memories over the break? Plunge into one girl’s summer of… agony!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
I read the first volume of WataMote (the short version of the Japanese title) a few months ago and found it equal parts hilarious and heartrending. Kuroki’s wild attempts to be popular and relevant always backfire in increasingly crazy ways, and more often than not, it is her own insecurities that cause her to continually fail (side note: I love how each chapter is called a “Fail” rather than a “Chapter”). And the fact that she understands her own inadequacies and oddities makes it even worse. I cringed every time I laughed.
Well, this volume was much the same. If anything, it was even more difficult to read. The social tragedies in Kuroki’s life just get worse and worse. In this volume, we find her so desperate to have some form of success before summer break that she attempts to trick people into asking her to watch the fireworks with her. When that fails, she readily accepts the oncoming of summer just so that she can take a break, but she soon is back to her tricks when her cousin arrives and she feels the need to impress her. After numerous more fails, her now jaded cousin leaves and Kuroki is left to reflect on how pathetic her life is. The final story (not including the two bonus chapters) is so sweet and so sad, and it is a beautiful note to end the volume on.
That final story really is the epitome of what this series has done so well so far: every concept is really simple in execution and we never stray very far from its main conceit: Kuroki knows her own hangups and is so desperate to break free from them that she just tries way too hard. It’s both funny and sad at the same time. And those few moments (such as that last chapter where she is watching the meteor shower) when the story stops and lets her quietly reflect on her issues just press all the right buttons.
Everything I said about the first volume of WataMote still hold true here. I spent the entirety of this volume both laughing at Kuroki and feeling awful for laughing at Kuroki. If anything, this volume hits the heartstrings even more as the summer progresses and Kuroki is left more and more to her own devices. I was surprised to see at the end of the volume that the creators had planned to end it after two volumes but are now happy to continue it. I’m happy too, because I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Highly recommended.
Content Grade: A
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: January 21st, 2014