Watamote

Watashi ga motenai no wa dō kangaetemo omaera ga warui (try saying that three times fast) or Watamote is a slice of life comedy manga written by Tanigawa Nico and published by Square Enix. The anime adaptation was handled by Silver Link, the studio behind Baka to Test (one of the worst things I’ve ever seen), and they’ve produced nothing else I’ve seen. I just hope this is nothing like their other slice of life comedy or I’m in for roughly three unfunny, unpleasant and problematic jokes repeated over and over and over again until I have to go back on anti-depressants. Let’s take a look. 

The “story” focuses on the High school life of Tomoko Kuroki, an unpopular girl who barely interacts with her classmates. Not that there’s anything wrong with preferring solitude. The problem is that Tomoko wants to make friends and interact with people, but the only people she can talk to normally are her family and the vast majority of her social experiences come from dating sims. So, how well do the comedic elements work? To be honest, they don’t. Most of the jokes are based either on Tomoko doing things that are kind of stupid or socially awkward or based on her general lack of social graces. And there’s a big difference between awkward and funny. They can overlap, but they don’t very often and this series isn’t good enough to pull that off. Consequently, a lot of the series just drags and involves nothing of consequence or interest happening. Just long periods of Tomoko’s inner monologue, which can basically be summarised as “I wish I was more popular. Maybe if I tried *insert stupid thing here* I could change my image and be popular.” It might have been good for a few laughs if her ideas were interesting or if the execution had been good, but that doesn’t happen. Her ideas are stupid and usually lead to a few gags that you’ll probably be able to see coming really quickly and which would only be mildly amusing at best if you didn’t anticipate them. 

The characters in this aren’t interesting. You’ve got the socially inept Tomoko. Her more popular younger brother who basically serves the purpose of pointing out her failings and occasionally giving her her comeuppance. Their parents, who are pretty much only there for reaction shots and to do generic parent things. They don’t even have names, that’s how generic they are. The only other important character is Yuu, Tomoko’s only friend. The rest of the characters are relegated to the background and rarely get to say or do anything or they’re one-shot characters who show up in an episode or two. With so few reoccurring characters, you’d think they could take some time to develop them. They don’t. The only one who gets even a slight amount of development is Tomoko. Who goes from being socially inept to showing very slight signs of improvement by the end. And the series never gives you a reason to care. Yes, she’s pathetic, but she’s also pretty unsympathetic and her problems are almost entirely her own fault. 

The art isn’t very good. A lot of the animation looks kind of blocky. Furthermore, Watamote as a whole is just kind of lazy. There are a lot of scenes that linger for no real reason. The worst offender is one of Tomoko’s fantasy scenes that lasts for about five minutes and has really slowly moving, stagnant art. The worst part is that there’s absolutely no reason for it to go that slowly. The scene isn’t funny, nor does it do anything for the narrative. My guess is that they just drug it out so they wouldn’t have to animate as much. There are also scenes that get pretty much recycled. The backgrounds are pretty bare minimum as are the character designs. 

The sound is… okay. Kitta Izumi does a decent job of sounding painfully shy. But most of the characters don’t have a range of emotions to work with so their performances end up kind of flat. Nakamura Yuuichi, for example, just sounds annoyed with every line of dialogue he’s given. Hanazawa Kana gets two emotions. Vaguely excited and concerned. All in all, there’s no chance for the actors to shine. 

The Ho-yay factor is a 3/10. Tomoko has a pretty obvious crush on Yuu, at one point going so far as to fantasize about groping her. But they never do anything with it except for the occasional throw away line or scene that heavily implies it. 

That was Watamote. Is it as bad as Baka to test? Well, no. The “humour” in it may fall flat and it may drag, but it’s not terrible or infuriating, mostly. The characters, as underdeveloped as they are, are still stronger than the characters in Baka to Test. But while it’s not terrible, it’s also not good. Watamote’s biggest problem is just that it’s dull. You get long stretches of nothing followed by an awkward moment that you’re supposed to find funny because… Tanigawa thinks awkward equates to funny? My final rating is going to be a 3/10. I can really only recommend it if you think awkward moments are hilarious. Otherwise you’re probably going to be as thoroughly unamused as I was. Next week, Dennou Coil.

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