We are all different in some way or another: some of us are extroverts while others are introverts. Some of us are socially popular while others are social outcasts. Whatever the case, we all fit into one part of society. Watamote is something different from your usual anime; it explores social class and shows us how hard it can be to fit into society.
Watamote is about a girl named Kuroki Tomoko. Tomoko is a high school freshman who is very shy, introverted and has social withdrawals – you could almost classify her as a social outcast. Her main goal in the entire series is to overcome her shyness, improve her self-confidence and to be accepted by her peers as well as society. She tries very hard to fit right in to society: from changing her clothing style to using a vacuum cleaner to look like she has hickeys all over her body from a boy. The more Tomoko tries to boost her self-confidence, the more disappointed she gets when her plans backfire. There are only 3 people that Tomoko can talk comfortably with: her mother, her younger brother, Tomoki and her best friend from middle school, Yuu. Tomoki and Tomoko have a very indifferent relationship with one another. Tomoko usually goes to speak with him to try and improve her self-confidence, but Tomoki gets easily irritated by his sister’s antics and usually chases her out of his room. Tomoko is an otaku: she loves anime, plays video games and also reads manga. She is confident when speaking to people online but struggles to speak with others when they interact with her.
While the show is considered a comedy, you could almost call it a tragedy. While the show is set in a light-hearted and funny tone, it also creates an awareness for people who are social outcasts in their specific societies. Tomoko’s character is a reflection of some people who don’t fit the ‘norm’ of society: they try very hard to fit in but are shut out when things don’t go the way they want or they are unable to impress their peers. No one at her school seems to take notice of her and treat her as though she doesn’t exist. You feel for her and her shortcomings and wish that things turn out better for her. Many people, like myself, can relate to Tomoko and her personal struggles and that is one of the strong points of Watamote: relating to the character.
What I love about the series is the comedy. Although there are some comedic instances where you feel sorry for Tomoko at the end, you can’t help but burst out laughing at some of her antics (although some of her antics are perverted). The series also parodies and makes references to anime and Japanese pop culture. Most of these references relate to Tomoko’s delusions about a certain situation or it sometimes relates to Tomoko’s wild and perverted imagination.
Watamote isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but it’s a very interesting (and sometimes disturbing) show. With moments that will make you laugh and cry, Watamote will allow you to relate to the characters and help you reflect on where you truly stand in society today. Although Tomoko is presented as a fallen heroine, the many lessons she learns about life make her a suitable role model for those who have had experiences similar to hers and can relate to her personality.
[If you got that Linkin Park reference in the title, I salute you!]