No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular (better known as the mercifully quicker to type WataMote) is a twelve episode anime series based on Nico Tanigawa’s manga strip. The show is animated by Silver Link (the studio behind Dusk Maiden of Amnesia) and is presently available to buy in the UK, thanks to MVM Entertainment, for around twenty pounds. The anime stars a teenage girl named Tomoko Kuroki who, as alluded to by the show’s elongated title, is one of the most unpopular kids at her high school. Tomoko can attract any man she desires when it comes to dating sims, but her virtual smooching skills are for naught in the real world where she struggles to attract friends let alone the affections of the opposite sex.
If one were to analyse WataMote they’d soon come to the realisation that it’s a rather cruel show. Strictly speaking I would categorize the series as a comedy, although much of its humour relies on viewers laughing at the poor protagonist’s misfortune. Tomoko entered high school with high aspirations, but her hopes for a blissful time have sadly been sabotaged by a crippling case of social anxiety. Unable to bond with others, Tomoko has transformed into a bitter recluse who spends her days plotting crazy schemes, which she hopes will get her noticed by the more jolly classmates she jealously resents.
Despite her chronic shyness, there are a couple of characters Tomoko can interact with. First up is her younger brother Tomoki, who has little patience for his sibling’s bizarre antics. Unfortunately for him Tomoko has a habit of making frequent uninvited visits to his bedroom. Tomoko theorises that chatting with her bro for an hour a day will improve her dire conversational skills, so for now Tomoki will have to put up with his sister’s inane ramblings. The other person Tomoko can confide in is her sole friend Yu Naruse. The pair were the best of chums during middle school thanks to their shared love of manga. Although the two remain good pals, Tomoko is exasperated by how seamlessly Yu has metamorphosed from a dorky middle school student into a popular high school lass who has a boyfriend.
Remember how I said that WataMote is a cruel show because it generates giggles by tormenting its lead character? Well, I guess I am a horrible person because I found its gags to be hilarious. The awkward predicaments Tomoko gets into are a hoot, as are the manner in which her hair brained schemes backfire. All that said I cannot bring myself to award the series more than three stars. Although the first few episodes had me in stitches, I found that the show loses steam by its halfway point. Story wise WataMote is lacking, as its episodes are nothing more than slice of life skits strung together. Even though we get a dozen episodes chronicling a year of her life, I was a little disappointed to see that by the end Tomoko has made little progress in attaining her popularity dream or growing as a person.
Reception towards the series has been mixed, so it is tough for me to recommend WataMote to others. Depending on your sense of humour, the cartoon’s jokes may cross the line that divides funny from sad. Although the show has many fans that find it hilarious there are some viewers who cannot stomach it, as they feel sympathy for the lead. Perhaps the subject matter is striking a nerve with anime fanatics who are stereotypically portrayed as lonely introverts? I personally can relate to Tomoko’s condition, which causes her to get tongue tied when dealing with strangers, but I can’t say that I ever pitied her. The over the top reactions she displays ensure that, however uncomfortable things get, I never regarded the narrative as a serious exploration into the effects of social phobia. Take a chill pill Tomoko. Real world popularity is over rated. Stick to enjoying games and manga. That works fine for me… sniffle I wish I had friends 😦