Watamote – Review
Original Air Dates: July 8th, 2013 – September 23rd, 2013
Synopsis: Tomoko is a shy, awkward teenage girl struggling to make her high school debut, seeking to finally be recognized by her peers as the wonderful, sexy, and incredibly amazing woman she is. Or at least believes herself to be. She wants to be popular. Unfortunately, Tomoko has absolutely zero clue on how to be social and outgoing! Tomoko does her best to improve her social status but often just ends up throwing himself into the most uncomfortable of situations.
Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: The synopsis of Watamote is likely going to ring a painful and awkward bell for those who had similarly experiences or might still be going through one. However, it’s also what makes Tomoko so endearing because of how relatable she is. You’ll find yourself cringing and yet also desperately pleading for her to have a better life. While a lot of the situations and the show itself is played as a comedy and are done really well, there’s no denying that watching the show will be an emotional experience for anyone who identifies with all the uncomfortable parts of it or desperately seek to cheer Tomoko on.
Tom: Watamote could feel like an out of body experience for anyone who’s already lived through their awkward teen years, or perhaps ring painfully true for viewers still within that turbulent period. Watamote is the kind of comedy where you find yourself cringing again and again as Tomoko goes from a bad situation to a worse one with frequent precision. In some ways Watamote might even make you look back on your own awkward teen years with a fonder memory, thankful it never got as bad as it gets for Tomoko. Perhaps the best example of how painfully awkward and cringe worthy this show can get is when Tomoko’s mother walks in on her playing a more “personal” type of game. But all this isn’t to say Watamote is bad, in fact, it does its cringe comedy so well that I don’t believe it’s been topped since it first aired back in 2013. It manages to stand out on its own as a unique flower amongst other, far less awkward, anime comedies.
Linny: That scene Tom described is one of many cringe worthy scenes, which include others like one where Tomoko ends up watching people f***ing in a love hotel with two pubescent boys and using the vacuum cleaner to give herself hickeys in order to impress a younger female cousin into thinking she is popular with boys. My personal favourite was watching her extremely nervous and inappropriate declaration when she finds herself alone and trapped by the rain with two boys her age. There are some solid comedic moments in every episode and it’s impressive how funny the show can get while remaining true to the unpopular, frustrated and bitter loner theme.
Tom: The comedy is undoubtedly on point, providing plenty of laughs and cringe episode to episode as Tomoko struggles to socialize like a proper teenager. But what the show offers in comedy, it lacks in overarching substance. For those who prefer to see their characters grow, know that Watamote offers nothing of the kind. Tomoko begins and ends the series in about the same state she started, awkward, off her rocker, and without any real progress at making friends or perhaps even finding a boyfriend. Don’t go in expecting to see Tomoko overcome her awkward teen years and you’ll come away pleased with what little progress she does manage to eek out in the final episodes.
Linny: As someone who has been following and collecting the manga volumes, I’d like to add that there were a lot of chronological changes with the storyline from the original manga to this anime adaptation. But other than that, the show remains true to the source material. The ending of the show might feel a little too abrupt as the show is forced to give an ending to a series that continues way past where the show chooses to wrap things up. It may also feel a little disappointing and underwhelming as Tomoko achieves so little in the end. These complaints aside, Watamote has so much going for it right from the start, including a really intense opening song sequence that is sure to leave an impression immediately.
Tom: The opening sequence sells the show’s utter insanity and fits with Tomoko’s personality so incredibly well. But we’ve mostly talked about Tomoko up to this point. Touching on the supporting characters, they’re often utilized sparingly to the point where many don’t stick in your memory all that long past viewing. It’s not to say they’re used poorly, but so much of the show is about Tomoko’s internal ramblings and consternation that everyone else feels so much more distant, out of focus compared to our ever lovable, if embarrassingly awkward lead. Standouts however are Tomoko’s put upon younger brother, or Tomoko’s cousin Linny mentioned above. No matter what though, Tomoko herself stands above the rest as the star and biggest pull for watching Watamote, assuming the cringe never becomes too much for you to bear.
Linny: Overall, Watamote could prove to be a cathartic watch for the awkward teenager in all of us. No matter how popular or unpopular we all are/were, Tomoko is funny and relatable to some degree and watching her get herself into some really messed up situations is a hilarious experience. I’ve noticed people complain about being unable to complete the show because of Tomoko being a little TOO relatable, so for those of you who do not want painful reminders, it might be best to give this show a skip because of how well it gives you an honest and realistic look into the life of a loner. Other than that, Watamote is a show that stands apart from the rest with its particular brand of cringe inducing comedy and is worthy of being a must watch show for fans of comedy anime.
Tom: Watamote is undoubtedly squarely aimed at an audience than enjoys cringe humor, and is capable of laughing at awkward teenage years rather than coldly remembering your own embarrassing youthful experiences. Its comedy is solid, its art memorable, and attitude all charming in its own, exceedingly awkward way.