We’ve all gone through a certain point in our lives where we just want to feel less lonely even though our abilities for social interactions are limited for some inexplicable reason. Shows that remind us of those dark times can be polarizing for the majority to comprehend and because of this we don’t see many shows try to tackle the subject. The reason being the fact that most people don’t like to revisit what made them so miserable for so long. Luckily for some of us, we always look back at those moments and laugh at how silly it was and thanks to the show Watamote we can now have a show that does that for us.
Based on the gag manga, Watamote is set as your typical slice of life show, only this time they added some new twists into the mix that make it a little more fresh than others; dark demented twists so to speak. It is dark in its subject matter but at the same time it has a comedic overtone that compliment each other very well. You have Tomoko’s wild intentions on wanting to be popular yet is unable to due to her supreme lack of social skill and the fact that she has been somewhat of a hikikomori for the majority of her life. The camera angles that constantly pans to her face that often looks distorted from the style of animation it tries to exacerbate really give you a sense of dread and anguish for her yet at the same time you can’t help but laugh at her expense. The show also goes into parody territory by showcasing your typical awkward moment of conversation such as picking up a dropped pencil from a classmate sitting next to you and so forth. This is done with some clever flashback sequences that show us Kuroko’s comprehensive mindset.
Sporadic and chaotic are the two words that sum up the humor of Watamote. This is a blessing and a curse to the show as a whole, in which the humor in this show is very unpredictable and goes to new levels of hilarity as time goes on but at the same time it can get quite repetitive quickly. Repetitive in the sense that Kuroko’s constant ramblings and random noises she makes when she goes insane are done too frequently and mostly comes across as tedious than charming after a while. What does save the humor is the actual build-up of the most funniest bits that feel very fresh and unexpected to see thanks to the well-thought out dialogue that is written in those scenes; scenes that involve Tomoko and her mother in her room as her audio recording of a male seiyuu is played in the background and joining a couple of boys peek into a love motel.
One other small aspect that I truly admire about the comedy is the chemistry between Tomoko and her brother Kuroki and their hilarious dialogue exchanges to one another. Whenever the both of them are on-screen together, you get the actual feeling that this is how most siblings treat each other on a daily basis; they don’t necessarily like each other when they are in their personal space but they’re nonetheless bound by blood and can’t help but feel for each others troubles. It’s a shame they don’t have enough screen-time together, that way we could see some growth between them but what we have here at this point is enough for me.
To start out with characters, Tomoko is the type of person you either grew up knowing someone like her or you grew up as her, but for the most part we’ve all been the latter. We’ve all just wanted to try to put up an act of ourselves to make us seem edgy or cool but end up failing miserably as a result. Tomoko herself is the main driving point in the show who performs her antics with pure charm and sympathy, thanks in part to her voice actress Izumi Kitta who is extraordinary playing as her. Her ability to create Kuroko’s personality is almost inhuman in a good way, though there are some times where she performs her job too well to the point where it sounds like she’s going to pass out near the end of the take.
That doesn’t mean that the other characters share the same kind of memorability or charisma as Kuroko does, with the exception of her brother of course. Her best friend Yuu Naruse, played by Kana Hanazawa, is a pretty bland childhood friend type of character who isn’t given much to her performance other than to show more of Kuroko’s despair. Now one way to defend this is by looking at it as the fact that Kuroko is the only character that is the center focus of the entire show. The rest of the characters don’t even have to be fully developed because all we are focusing is on the main character Kuroko alone. It gives off the same loneliness feeling that she is going through to let the audience feel the same thing to make us feel contempt for her sorrow. Then again that’s what makes the comedy all the more meaningful and hilarious.
That isn’t to say the comedy is always perfect by any means. There are times where we’re taken into situations that go a little too far and the comedic timing doesn’t even provide any humorous feedback because of how poorly handled they are. Not that they were anything life-altering disturbing but it’s one of those moments where you raise your one eyebrow and feel uncomfortable at the same time. While there are some hiccups here and there, the writing does jump back into the swing of things and provide endless over-the-top humor that is both dark and clever. The numerous parodies to other anime are a definite plus as well.
What better way to start out your typical slice of life show when you could just provide a loud bombastic metal song into it to make it edgy? No doubt the opening might alienate people as it feels out-of-place by the fact that the scenes being shown in the opening have absolutely nothing to do with the show. I would argue that it’s heavily symbolic as if we’re in Kuroko’s own subconscious thought in how her thought-process is majority of the time and for that it’s a pretty decent opening. The rest of the music is here is fun and nice to listen to, even though it’ll eventually be forgotten in about two years time.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the show is very demented to watch and might leave people with a really sick feeling in their stomach, but it’s something that anyone shouldn’t pass off if they are a big fan of dark comedy and a parodied look into the otaku lifestyle. It can be a tedious ride if you can’t handle the repetitive nature of Kuroko’s random ramblings but there’s always that one moment that makes the ride worth it to go through. A moment that makes you have tears roll down your eyes from sheer laughter and going absolutely nuts by how bold the humor can be observed as uncomfortable. After all, we need more admirable shows like Watamote that isn’t afraid to go too far with its jokes.