Basically this episode.
Summer is over and it’s back to school for Tomoko. Sounds like a prime opportunity for her to rework her image again! Let’s see how she does…
Who Needs Friends?
Surrounded by role models.
So yeah. It’s the same stuff as before, but we should have expected that. Thanks to a change in the seating arrangement, Tomoko finds herself smack dab in the middle of the group of popular kids she spied on all of spring semester. The show again makes a point to demonstrate that these classmates are very nice to her, and as usual Tomoko’s isolation is brought on only by herself. In spite of all her talk of becoming one of the popular kids, when she’s given a golden opportunity to do something about it, she lets it go to waste. I’ve already mentioned time and time again that Watamote keeps recycling this development so at this point it would be pointless to elaborate.
A rare male interaction!
Instead, let’s talk about something I don’t think I’ve ever pointed out before. Most times a show highlights its main characters by graying out the background characters or drawing them with few details. Watamote interestingly does the exact opposite. In this episode, we see many instances where the rest of the class is still drawn in while Tomoko is the one grayed out. And if you’ve been paying attention, this has been done in many previous episodes. It’s just a minor little detail, but still one that I find to be deceptively powerful. In every occurence of this “effect”, the implication is that Tomoko doesn’t fit into her surroundings. Whether it be the local Starbucks ripoff or her classroom, it is always her surroundings and its occupants that are bustling and lively while the heroine is almost completely neglected. A rather powerful visual aid to stress Tomoko’s position, if not a novel divergence from the usual pattern. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any other show pull it quite like this, but if you believe another show has in fact done this, please do mention it in the comments.
Moving on, this post is going to differ from my usual content since I don’t really feel like writing about the actual contents of the episode here. Instead, I will return to something I’ve brought up sparingly in the past, which should make my motivations clear. Before the season began, I voiced my primary concern that Watamote could easily “get old” very quickly. Fortunately, the show has actually held itself up for the past nine episodes. Which is very impressive when you consider it’s essentially pulled the same exact trick with only a few minor variations each time. But as well as you may be able to do something, there’s no preventing the inevitable. Yes, that’s right. Watching this episode, I finally found Watamote to be boring and repetitive. For a show that relies so heavily on the one plot element that it has, this is very bad news.
The dream club.
Now, I’m not saying that Watamote is now a bad show because it finally got old to me. As with all repetitious events, your mileage may vary. Perhaps I just have a lower tolerance for it. Or perhaps I already have a very high tolerance since I was able to put up with it for nine episodes. But ten is just pushing it for me. True, there have been a few spicier events sprinkled here and there (Kii-chan’s episode comes to mind), but more bland episodes like this one can’t be repeated so many times and still be entertaining. As entertaining as Watamote’s unapologetic depiction of Tomoko’s high school life of despair has been, when there’s nothing else to garnish it with, the show comes across as disappointingly dry.
At this point there’s little hope for the show. Once you start finding it repetitive, there’s no going back. Every once in a while it does manage to deliver a particularly painful hilarious experience, and there’s still a chance that the two remaining episodes might turn out to be ones like that. But having to rely on this unpredictability just doesn’t reflect well on the state of things. The only obvious solution is to change the formula and thus deliver something refreshingly different. But we already know that Watamote isn’t going to do this; not ten episodes into the season.