Anime has touched many genres and concepts. There’s romance, slice of life, psychological thrillers, etc. But one that is tampered with A LOT is high school life. It is one of the most awkward and transitional stages of our life, and for this reason, there is an infinite amount of possibilities with it. In watamote, this particular point of life is seen through the eyes of a socially awkward and reclusive girl. The main character, Tomoko, is entering high school, and her main goal is to be as popular as she can be. In this chase for popularity, she is seen going through denial, embarrassment, and of course, daydreaming. She is basing her popularity off of her middle school “popularity,” which included talking to six people, which she never really talked to again. Because of this, it sort of shows her belief system. It’s obvious that talking to six people does not make you popular, but she believes this. There’s just this irrational side to the brain that takes information and totally disregards logic or common sense to protect your character. I really think she was just trying as hard as she could to convince herself that she was popular. Anyhow, when she enters high school she is surprised to find out that she is not in fact the popular girl in class. She relies on her only real friend from high school, Yuu Naruse (who she refers to as a bitch,) and she also has talks with her pessimistic and emotional brother Tomoki to become better at communicating. Even with Yuu and Tomoki, she still has the constant desire to become popular, EVEN WHEN SHE DESPISES THE PEOPLE THAT ARE ACTUALLY POPULAR. Instead of accepting herself, she spends her days daydreaming and meticulously planning the possibilities of her becoming popular. With these ideas, the wonderful, and embarassing pursuit of popularity begins in Watamote.
The most debated question at the end of the show is Tomoko's progression as a character. In the beginning, she starts as a socially anxious and pessimistic character, but does she come out like that at the end? It’s like Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye. You either think she began the process to becoming a more self secure and optimistic person, or you can think that she just stays in the same location. I personally think she began the process to becoming more self secure. She really learned her lesson. She realized that the past was the past, and that the only thing she could honestly effect was the future. Speaking personally, that is such a hard thing to do. It is hard to accept your regrets, and accept that they are behind you. But she did it. Another thing that implied her progression was her growing relationship with Imae. Towards the end of the series, Imae started caring for Tomoko, and even noticed the true and beautiful side to her personality. I really think that with the help of Image, she had the chance to improve her social and inner self confidence. The problem with her way of thinking was that she thought that everyone was a “a corporate and robotic whore” and that all of the people that were popular were dumb and naive, but towards the end, she accepted that she was okay with being different, and that she actually wanted to be a modest and well regarded classmate. Like I said, it’s my opinion, but I think she was heading down a good road.
Other than the character of Tomoko and her attempts at becoming popular, the animation was one of the main things that caught my attention. Whether it was the light from the moon and cellphones being represented in pentagons, a square representing a portion of her face, or a hellish filter used to emphasize a gloomy feeling, the art style did the show justice. It showed the artist's ability to pay attention to small little details, but it also showed their ability to keep it simple and sweet. For example, I thought their characterization of Tomoko was really good. They showed her pessimistic and neglectful attitude through her eyes sacks and messy hair, but they did it in an original and authentic way. These small details make the show really pop out.
Overall, watamote is one of the most relatable school animes that I’ve watched in a long time. They were able to characterize an adolescent who was an introvert, but at the same time show a character that didn’t sugarcoat things. It showed me that you can overthink stuff and be extremely timid and reseved, but in the end, we just have to accept it as the past and move on. Even if we didn't see Tomoko fully accepting her character and moving on with her life, I still got the feeling that she did realize that she just had to accept herself and give up the chase for popularity. She had to accept her interests such as playing videogames and watching anime as her personality, and stop catering to peoples expectations. I took that as a great message. In the grand scheme of things, Tomoko is the side of all us that we all have, but are too embarassed to admit it.
Rating: Strong 8/10 Tacos