Watamote

I watched the first episode and… To answer this

I’m going to say yeah, this reaction is not unusual. What’s weird is that my reaction was like Author’s. I think when I was a kid I didn’t have that kind of experience–to be honest it’s hard to see who did, at least on some sliding scale, because it’s not a binary determination. We homely and quiet nerds are often put into situations like this, and different people have experienced/suffered varying extents. What we see in Watamote is albeit an exaggerated version of something, but at the same time it’s easy to see how real people can have had it worse than Tomoko.

It “hits home” for some people, that is why they like Watamote. It “hits too close to home” for others, that’s why they think it’s humiliating.

But don’t you feel humiliated when you watch, say, Love Hina? I definitely felt that way about the nth time Keitaro walks into a half-naked girl, and I don’t really have any connection with K-taro in the way that Watamote is building things up. The odd thing is, the Watamote anime reminds me vaguely of B Gata H Kei, which is actually a story premised on the core idea of embarrassment (and I definitely don’t relate to Yamada). Watamote, so far, is more about self identity and pride. Well, that’s kind of related. But the tone of the two shows can’t be more different. Probably because one show is actually funny? In the riotous, raunchy teenage sit-com kind of way?

tomoko

The irony, though, is that Watamote is the story of someone who struggles to connect with people because this “society” reacts to that sort of a narrative with embarrassment and shame. I didn’t really hear anyone get angry or passionate about Watamote, other than those who “hit home.” For those people God bless your souls and what not. For the “hit too close to home” people, please realize you are what Watamote is actually about–either as part of the problem (eg., society) or as a victim who just hasn’t quite gotten over it. I’m inclined to think all of us are one of the two types of people at some point.

Personally, I think this is all the by-product of self-depreciating humor for a crowd that don’t enjoy hurtful and self-depreciating humor. Basically, can you 8man? And it’s true–it certainly doesn’t have to be enjoyable and it isn’t for a lot of people. But the same goes for everyone else who can (including the people who created Watamote, who have the same problems, and wrote about them in such an open way) enjoy the humor in Watamote, the slow burn, the helpless flailing of arms. There’s a sense of helpless at play here, and you know how that goes.

TL;DR – One man’s joke is an insult to another man’s mom.


8 Responses to “Watamote”

  • lvlln

    I think I must be in the hits close but not TOO close to home camp. Don’t get me wrong, her internal monologue sometimes reminded me so much of myself growing up that it hurt, but it was that sting that made it so fun to watch. There’s a certain absurdity to her thoughts, a self fulfilling prophecy of failure and impressive rationalizing that makes it just so damn funny and fun. Just something so satisfying about being able to poke fun at one’s past self (even while seeing much of it in one’s present self).

  • gendomike

    It’s important that it deflates the self-grandiosity of Tomoko’s thought process. It really does seem silly once you get some perspective in life. But boy it captures what it was like to be on the inside of it. I’m more or less where lvlin is–now. It wasn’t too long ago when this probably would have depressed more than amused me.

  • omo

    I think a little perspective is another way of saying the same thing. You get out of it. You get past it. You grow out of it. You learn to deal with it. Whatever.

    And it’s at this point where the joker points out that a society that can’t make fun of itself is a society not worth living in. Those of us who find it funny has to laugh at it. It’s our duty.

  • TheBigN

    I actually like that the show is kind of polarizing because it gives a good idea of where we are as a fan community in terms of acknowledging ourselves.

    • Author

      Are you implying that anime fan community largely consists of people that are similar to the protagonist? Or even nerds in general? Seems like a ludicrous notion ever since anime went mainstream, but I’m having a difficult time interpreting “acknowledging ourselves” in some other way.

      BTW, read the spin-off manga how 2 nerds make a slut out of a nice girl, it’s a riot.

    • TheBigN

      That wasn’t implication. What I implied is that some of us were or still are Tomoko, or knew someone like that. And how we respond to the show sort of reflects our thoughts on that implication. I’m assuming that not all of us are similar to her, but at least might have had some sort of interaction with someone like her before. Does that work?

    • omo

      i’m going to say that regardless if we are like her or not, many if not all of us can sympathize to some degree.

    • Author

      Very well. So we acknowledge someone in our midst, then.

      Still, she is a nasty piece of work. The episode with the unsent letter was probably the worst.

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