Watamote – 10

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.

Watamote - 10 (2)

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.

Status Update

Making friends.

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.

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A mechanical engineer who spends too much time watching anime and reading manga.
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8 Responses to “Watamote – 10”

  1. Highway says:

    When it became clear that this show was not going to ever show Tomoko doing ‘better’ or growing more comfortable around other people, the show moved itself into the territory of a newspaper comic strip. It’s an artistic choice, but it’s one that means that at some point there will be very little keeping each person watching. Watching Tomoko self-destruct as everyone around her acts ‘normal’ doesn’t let you invest in the character as much, doesn’t let you feel encouragement.

    And while apparently there’s a subplot of mental illness that some people get out of it (although I’m not the type to really be overly sympathetic to that – examining my privileges…), that’s not going to hold most viewers.

  2. Irenesharda says:

    I understand what you mean. This episode just really hammers it in that things are just not going to get better for Tomoko, and now that her psychological issues are almost too obvious, it’s beginning to get tedious as well as sad. I remember being in elementary and high school and sitting by myself, sometimes with desks all around me, to read or each lunch just as Tomoko is here. So, I can understand where she’s coming from, though by high school I had begun to come out of my shell a bit, thanks to finding other classmates that were interested in things I liked. Some of them, including my best friend, I’m still friends with today.

    I really hope that Tomoko can come out of her shell by the end of the series, but I’m begging to think that wish may be false.

  3. HannoX says:

    When first watching this show I had hoped that after a few episodes of showing Tomoko’s delusions and self-isolation, it’d show her gradually and haltingly start to come out of her shell. But it’s obvious that’s not going to happen so this show is a biting, often hilarious, look at a girl with deep psychological problems. Okay, I still find laughs in every episode, but it’s a cruel humor. If Tomoko was real, laughing at her would be a terrible thing to do.

    Now to switch gears. Her class should have gone with a haunted house and put Tomoko in it. With the facial expressions she can make she’d scare the hell out of anyone who comes in.

  4. Liza says:

    I think this is the first episode I’ve seen that is past the part where I stopped in the manga. Huh, well then.

    I feel really bad for poor Tomoko as I know exactly what she is feeling being surrounded by the popular kids and stuff in school and not wanting to be around in class and such.I was never as bad as her though. >_>

    I am still hoping a little bit that things will change but yeah, I don’t think that is a possibility. *sigh*

  5. Foshizzel says:

    This is the first time I actually felt bad for Tomoko…damn…

    The club part omg I was waiting for either a Haruhi parody or Haganai or even Snafu! I knew her club would not fly in the “real world”

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