So sad, so sad. It’s a sad-sad situation…
I started reading Watamote! No Matter How I See It, it’s You Guys’ Fault That I’m Not Popular around the time they announced that the show was being adapted into a anime series. Since then it has quickly become one of my favourite manga series and I make sure to read every chapter when they are released to this date. Even so, I was slightly worried about how the anime adaptation of Watamote! would turn out.
One of the main reasons was that for a long while there wasn’t any word on what studio was actually producing it, how many episodes would be or even if it was going to be a full length show. It was until the release of the PV just a week or two prior to the premiere that it was revealed that Silver-Link was producing the full length show for twelve episodes.
Watemote! is about Tomoko Kuroko, a somewhat socially awkward girl (a “mojyo” in the show’s terms) starting high school without knowing anyone there. It’s all set up just like your normal school life story. which is very much intentional as that’s exactly what Tomoko is thinking as well. The twist is, of course, that unlike other main characters in anime, Tomoko doesn’t actually start fitting in, she remains lonely and unpopular. And she wants to change that.
That’s the set-up for the entire series, it’s designed to hit close to home to anyone who has ever felt out of place or lonely. But unlike a series like OreGairu that would focus on how different “outcasts” would act together and towards each other, Watamote!‘s focus is entirely on Tomoko and her struggle to become appreciated by others. The manga does a great job at this, and the anime doesn’t fall that short of it either.
Tomoko is a flawed character, in a good sense. She’s often unkind, but not to a degree where she becomes detestable or “evil” of any sort. She’s angry and frustrated with people around her, but she keeps it to herself. It’s a well-done interpretation of anti-social behavior that makes for a character that will split the viewer base in two. Because either you relate to Tomoko and understand why she’s thinking like she does, or you think she’s just being whiny and mean. If it’s not obvious, I’m in the former league of the two.
Almost all of the show is presented in highly stylized fashions depending on the mood and though processes of Tomoko. The direction does a great job at never feeling stale or basic thanks to this, always adding a fresh element to the visual design. It helps of course that most of the show is done in monologue by Tomoko as she makes her way through her day, allowing for a direct peek into her emotions both interpreted visually and laid out word-by-word. This also means that when the show actually does something heartwarming, it’s given even more impact.
The show is at its peak at the first and last few episodes, unfortunately leaving for some less memorable moments during the middle. The two episodes focusing on the summer break have a feeling of intentional boredom to them. While that is clever in execution, it still does make for a disappointing result when you’ve waited a whole week to watch the episode only to find out that the episode essentially wants to bore you for half of its running time. I still enjoyed these episodes, but I can see many others giving up when they come around.
While the show is a adaptation from the manga, it does take some liberties with the structure. The twelve episodes jump back and forth between volumes and chapters as it pleases and doesn’t actually follow even a slight resemblance of the order that were in the original manga. This, along with some rewrites and added scenes tend to make for a better presentation, but sometimes causes the writing to fall a little flat. It’s the trick of how true you want to stick to the original and how much you want to branch off, but thankfully it does mostly a good job at it.
The voice acting by Izumi Kitta as Tomoko is outstanding. having mostly done minor roles prior to this it’s amazing to see her have such range and talent both during the inner monologues as well as when Tomoko actually speaks in her reluctant frightened way. While she didn’t give my favorite VA performance this season (Listen to Just Another Anime Podcast this week to hear who did), she ended up being in the lead for it for a damn good reason. She’s currently playing Rainbow Dash in the Japanese dub of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic as well, which is kind of funny seeing as they are polar opposites in terms of characters.
The rest of the cast does a good job as well. Yuichi Nakamura does a great job at playing Tomoko’s brother, Tomoki and often manages to steal some of the scenes he’s in because of it. Kana Hanazawa plays Yuu, Tomoko’s friend from grade school. While she doesn’t really stand out as anything special, her performance is still solid and falls in line with the rest of the actors and actresses in the show.
Watamote!‘s soundtrack is for the most part forgettable. Barring the great opening theme and ending themes there’s just not anything that stands out as memorable or particularly good. If there’s any part of the show that is played safe in any way it’s the sound direction here, a shame for a otherwise wonderfully memorable presentation. But you can’t win them all.
Now, Watamote! is not even slightly a show that everyone will find enjoyment in. It’s often downbeat or just outright depressing. But that’s the point and the charm as well. It’s a black comedy with a very emotional and serious core. And you know what? It may not be just as good as the manga, but no matter how I look at it, it got damn close.