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Anime Review: WataMote (2013)

No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular!  Sounds familiar? Yes, been there before! One look at this eccentric anime title andwatamote-radio we’re sure it will quickly convince you to watch the show within seconds. Also known as Watashi ga Motenai no wa dō Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! or WataMote for short, this black comedy show will — without a doubt — serve your curiosity.

At first glance, many would have assumed WataMote to be another classic SHAFT production like Sasami-san@ganbaranai. Not only does it display a variation of illustrations and animated styles from retro to simplified, but it tends to cheekily play tribute to many mediums such as Yugioh, Death Note and also famous artists such as Picasso and Salvador Dali.

watamote_01_2But before we get excited, it’s actually produced by Silver Link (Dusk Maiden of Amnesia, Kokoro Connect) — which is interesting because the majority of Silver Link’s solo productions have been directed by Shin Onuma — aka the assistant director who previously worked at SHAFT. With such style unique to SHAFT and SHAFT-like productions, this adds a bit of an individualised eccentric touch to the indie series.

Knowing the ropes of conversation and interaction with people in otome games, WataMote‘s heroine, Tomoko Kuroki believes she would become popular upon entering high school. But this is far from the truth as she winds up being an unsociable loner who sits at the back of the class and finds herself blending into the walls of the school.watamote-02

The standard slice-of-life anime would usually focus on the ups and downs of high school life, rivalry between classmates, high school romance, and the eventual rise of the protagonist’s status. But WataMote distinctively stands out from the pack as it soley centres around Tomoko, the socially-dysfunctional heroine, and how she deals with her first year at high school.

WataMote‘s Tomoko is boldy different from other female protagonists as she is an extreme introvert with a very cynical, bizarrely deranged and silently-extroverted personality. Tomoko is the Queen of Introverts — her thoughts are so genuinely (and amusingly) spot-on that she’s basically the mirrored anime version of ourselves. The extremity of Tomoko’s hentai imaginations are to be questioned and judged though!

watamote1p2Tomoko’s approach to life is quite grim: she curses, criticises, fumes and throws tantrums … she’s everything that we are and because of this, the audience feels so well-connected with her. Voice-actress Ms Izumi Kitta as Tomoko is exceptional as she perfectly voices Tomoko with the right amount of awkwardness, pervertedness, and everything that makes up Tomoko in between.

Despite being at the bottom of the social ladder, Tomoko remains highly optimistic about her chances of turning everything around in order to live a fulfilling high school life. Whether it is wanting to be at the centre of the class, or making friends or trying to talk to a boy ‘normally’, WataMote will resurface those awkward adolescent moments that viewers may have tried to personally bury in their respective lives.

It’s amazing how our minds work. When we’re so comfortable in our littleimages worlds, we begin to be accustomed to the idea of loneliness. Even though we hate the world and the people that occupies it, we somehow still want to fit in. And although we like to believe that we’re okay being alone, little things like somebody helping us out or being befriended by a cat, we feel that our existence in the world has been somewhat acknowledged and it makes us try to stick out a bit longer in the game.

Since it’s a character-driven plot, there isn’t a particular progressive plot in WataMote. Everything seems to go back to square one, and we witness the show ending on a bittersweet note with no major progression in Tomoko’s life or luck. This compels us to wonder whether she will ever have her happy ending one day…but she may have found a friend in the end. You’ll have to find out yourself!

Watamote-Episode-1-Image-0000Overall: WataMote is a show for all the geeky extroverted introverts out there. Disguised behind Tomoko’s crazy shenanigans, the show is overtly hardcore depressing in a deep, reflective way. But surprisingly, it is Tomoko’s dramatic character who drives the story home with great ease, and you’ll be surprised to find yourself laughing and crying with her.

If you’re new to high school or uni, WataMote will comfort you in so many ways as it reassures the audience that being an extroverted introvert is normal. Just like with Tomoko, we will eventually overcome the obstacles, and find the much-needed acknowledgement and companionship we deserve.

Rating: 8.5/10

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