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.