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ANIME REVIEW | “WataMote” Walks The Line Between Funny & Disturbing

By
Posted on August 26, 2013 AT 01:00pm

Once in a great while, an anime series will come around that splits my opinions into two sides. On the left are my thoughts from a creative standpoint, and to the right are the opinions from a moralistic perception. Yet as of this writing, both sides are still duking it out with one another regarding my complete and total critical judgement. What series has left my brain to act this way, you ask? The answer, my friend, is Nico Tanigawa’s twisted comedy WataMote – No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular!

The series follows Tomoko Kuroki (Izumi Kitta), a deranged high school girl who definitely falls in the “talks the talk, but never walks the walk” category. She speaks with high confidence as she does her best to become popular with others. Unfortunately she’s perverted, creepy, and looks like the little sister of Ju-On. Her grim outlook on life, too, gets in the way, as she bad mouths just about every single one of her classmates as they do the fun things she secret wants to do.

This is where my first roadblock appears. Tomoko isn’t that likable as a character, rather her reason for existence is that she be ridiculed by her peers, especially her brother Tomoki (Yuichi Nakamura) who has to deal with her crazy shenanigans on a daily basis. On the more creative side having a character like Tomoko is a bit of a nice change of pace, as her mentality can be compared to the title character of Yamada’s First Time (AKA B-Gata H-Kei). Viewers are supposed to laugh at her, rather than with her, which sometimes we need a character like that in a series. However from a moralistic viewpoint you have to feel bad for her, as there are plenty of students in real-life that are probably going through the same thing she is.

WataMote takes Tomoko and places her in situations that can range from the humorous to the creepy. Some of the more humorous moments include her reuniting with a middle school pal who now looks prettier than before, attempting to catch her brother’s cold, and going to see a fireworks show, only to see another sort of “fireworks” that’s very NSFW. One of the funniest moments involves Tomoko buying a BL video game, and winning a specific object in a raffle that would result in freaked-out leers from on-lookers.

It’s when WataMote treads into a far creepier territory where both sides of my brain battles it out with one another. In the first part of Episode 4 Tomoko becomes jealous of a couple classmates who talk about being sexually harassed on a train, with our anti-protagonist wishing she’d be treated that way. Soon she finds herself on the railway, where she thinks she got her wish. It’s a moment like this that makes me question the original source material. I seriously doubt that in today’s society that there are women out there, of both right and wrong state of mind, that would wish to be put in a situation like that. It’s demented, disturbing, and not the slightest bit funny.

Even though this sort of moment only has appeared a couple times in WataMote, it takes the more funnier scenarios that has happened beforehand and makes them null and void. While I did laugh plenty of times after these scenarios happened, I still was thinking back to them and wondering, Why would they have written something like that? It hasn’t stopped me from watching the show entirely, but I fear that another disturbing situation probably will force me to turn it off once and for all.

Animation-wise the show looks pretty good, with the characters’ creepy appearances working well with some of the actions happening on-screen. Silver Link did an amazing job with the Baka & Test series, so it’s nice to still see some of that quality of work being put into WataMote. Kitta does a standout job with playing Tomoko, capturing the personality of a creep who wishes to be popular. I also have to give props to Sadesper Record for a good (but not great) score that fits well with every scenario that’s put to ink. It’s also nice to hear a great death-metal theme song performed by Konomi Suzuki and Kiba of Akiba, which has something of a Maximum the Hormone vibe to it.

The final battle that both sides of my brain are still having revolves around who this show is made for. It’s not for everyone, but I can’t just say that it’s for anyone who likes dark comedies. There’s a rhyme and reason behind just about everyone’s woes in that genre, but nowhere can I find one for Tomoko. This realization makes me sad because WataMote has an audience in mind, but unfortunately it’s not clear which demographic that is.

In the end, after a long deliberation, I have to give WataMote some credit for at least being different and trying not to be another generic anime comedy. That being said this is an anime that if you decide to view, I request that you watch at your own risk. You may be entertained, but the more discomforting parts of the show may linger more in your mind than you wish they’d be.

Story: 6.5/10
Animation: 8.5/10
Voice actors/actresses: 8/10
Soundtrack/score: 7.5/10
Final Grade: 6.5/10

WataMote can be viewed on Crunchyroll.

Evan Bourgault is an accomplished music, anime, and video game critic. His passion for discovering new bands, developers, and Japanese pop culture began in his college radio days and continues on today. Evan joined the ElectricSistaHood team in 2008, where he is a contributing editor and host of one of the network's weekly podcasts. Follow Evan on Twitter at twitter.com/King_Baby_Duck




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