Watamote (No Matter How I Look At It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular!)

Tomoko is our schoolgirl protagonist, ready for popularity, friendship and fun on entering high school. She is quickly shocked to find that her expert knowledge of video games and dating sim experience doesn’t translate to real life social success.

Each episode of this anime is titled “Since I’m not popular, I’ll…” and charts the quirky and outlandish methods Tomoko turns to in an attempt to make friends and impress her peers. The antics that follow make for a cringey but relatable anime as we see the impressionable heroine attempt everything from over the top makeovers to cheesy one liners to try and win the people around her over.

Tomoko herself is a refreshingly different presentation of young woman from some of the cookie cutter softly spoken sweet girls in so many high school anime. With her grungy black hair and sallow eyes she even visually stands out from the commonly drawn bambi eyed perky anime girl. Personality wise, she also represents a much more realistic adolescent girl – we see the ungraceful blossoming of her sexuality as she fantasises over a male celebrity at a meet and greet, sleeps in a certain position because she read in a magazine it would give her more sexual dreams and lies about her relationship status to her younger cousin.

Watamote focuses almost exclusively on Tomoko’s viewpoint, but the constant access to her thoughts and feelings help to ensure we never feel too far away from her wacky or embarrassing actions, making her a likeable character overall. This helps to balance out some of the more two dimensional background characters who are often simply there to provide reactions to Tomoko’s eccentric behaviour.

Watamote is a warts and all account of the lengths a person will go to in the name of looking cool and making friends, something everyone can relate to – even more so when you throw in the mistakes a gullible socially challenged teenager makes. It’s always refreshing to see anime in which female characters are acknowledged to have sexual desires without being sexualised. If you’re looking for a simple anime to dip in and out of with a quirky heroine – check out Watamote.

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Ouran High School Host Club

Haruhi Fujioka is a bookish girl, clever enough to be granted a scholarship into the prestigious private Ouran High School. However, she remains a “commoner” amongst the wealthy and elite around her, so when she accidentally breaks a priceless lamp, she finds herself paying off her debt in the most unusual manner.

The ouran host club
                   Meet the host club!

Enter the host club – a group of attractive young men who spend their time entertaining and charming the young women of the school. This group is comprised of each kind of anime male archetype – the prince, the stoic quiet one, the cynical smart one, the adorable one and mischievous twins. Haruhi finds herself joining the group and dressing as a male host to pay off her debt.

shoujo parody
This may be a shoujo anime but it isn’t afraid of a little self-parody

Ouran High School Host Club is a mixed bag. It draws much of its comedy from parodying the shoujo genre with exaggerated motifs such as flower petals and sparkles, alongside postmodern references – at one point Tamaki (our prince figure) observes that he and Haruhi are the key players in a romantic comedy, and the rest of the host club are the “homosexual supporting cast”. Slapstick and melodrama is also frequently used, which can be tiring or distracting in places, but often works well to highlight the differences between the superficial emotional tendencies of Tamaki with Haruhi’s pragmatic nature.

ott ouran
Expect plenty of over the top moments like this

For all of its fooling around, Ouran High School Host Club offers some hilarious moments, and some truly moving ones too as we witness the blossoming relationship between Tamaki and Haruhi, and are offered some touchingly presented emotional scenes as we learn more about how each host club member has become the person they are.

This is a classic shoujo anime with heart and humour, if you can get used to the over the top antics, you’ll enjoy its spirit.