Watamote ep10: to the bitter end
Hope springs eternal, but it’s only despair that seems to last forever. Tomoko wishes for nothing more than a fresh start with a new semester starting up. And that’s exactly what she gets, as she’s moved from prime loner territory (the back of the class by the windows) to square center in the middle of the classroom, surrounded by the very students she’s loathed from the beginning of the school year. What burns inside of her is a seething desire to see justice be done, and by justice she means Battle Royale style murder. Adding to her discomfort, the Culture Fair (something any anime watching veteran should be familiar with by now) is right around the corner. What this means for Tomoko is that she’s going to be forced into group activities.
Group activities, how I loathe group activities! Everyone’s grade always seems to hinge on the whims of one lazy, or selfish person. Not to mention there’s always a Type A personality who is determined to be the slave driver of the group. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you’re obviously one of those people.
Tomoko at least has lunch to look forward to – well, she did have that. Turns out that during the start of lunch while she was away, one of the girls took her chair to go sit next to her friends. Instead of asking for the chair back (we all know she’s not going to invite confrontation), she decides to take her meal somewhere else, briefly flirting with the idea of eating in the ladies bathroom. Thankfully she didn’t, and moved on. Instead, she attempts to go the old anime standby route of eating on the roof. Too bad for her, the door to the roof is realistically locked. Tomok takes the unconventional route of cleaning off a dusty desk that’s stored amongst of other desks and chairs by the door. There she finds true peace and comfort in her little private spot, day after day. She contently eats her lunch and plays games – and probably browses porn in pure private contentment. It all continues just fine, until one day the desks are cleared away. Never mind the possibility of the roof finally being accessible, she’s so distraught that she doesn’t even eat.
Later that afternoon, she faints during gym class because of her mistake. But ironically, once she wakes up in the infirmary much later that afternoon, she has the opportunity to go back to her classroom and eat amongst a bunch of empty folded up desks, just like she did before. I found this part almost poetic.
On the way back home, she comes across an arcade and sees a couple just giving up on a prize for one of the crane games. It’s a massive, and rather sad looking plushie that she has to lug around on her back. And once she brings it home, she realizes that carrying the thing around and talking to it only makes her look more lonely.
The next day at school, Tomoko is forced to once again face the fact that the cultural festival is around the corner, and she’s left remembering her failures from middle school during the same haunted house activity that her classmates are flirting with trying.
As the day ends, and she sees all the club applications dotting the student council bulletin board, and then sees various clubs and classes staying after school to work on their projects, she imagines herself being part of a wonderous life where she’s joined a club and made a small comfortable niche for herself amongst her new (imaginary) friends. This is all just a fantasy after all, but Tomoko gets enough of a spark from it to try to make it a reality. She snatches from club applications off the wall, and later that evening comes up with the incredibly vague idea of makeing an Everyday Club, a club devoted to finding the joys in everyday life.
The story flashes forward a few weeks as we see Tomoko has started her club with two additional members, and they enjoy the days slowly, calmly and happily. This is of course a farce that’s easily identified by the fact that the students have no faces, and that if the story were actually true, then the series would be over, and there’s still some episodes left. What’s actually happened is that Tomoko is playing make believe with her two plushies before dinnertime at her house. The club was never approved, and of course never had any hopes of being as such. Her idea was rejected based on a lack of focus. It was a nice try, but ultimately her success has eluded her just as well as her quest for popularity has – completely, flawlessly, and to the bitter end.
End of episode.
The thing I took most greatly from this episode is just how good the direction of this show is and has been. I can’t imagine what this show would be like without it’s clever, poignant and artistic visual flourishes. If a scene is awkward, the visuals and the audio project and amplify that. If a scene is beautiful, the visuals change accordingly to soft focuses and gentler color pallettes; the music lulls you into a calm state. And most of all, if a scene reflects Tomoko’s failure and loneliness, the show manages to portray that flawlessly. The loneliness, the sadness and even the humour of it all is all appropriately represented. You can feel sorry for her, or you can laugh at her, all in the same scene. There’s no wrong choice there, the show allows you to soak it in as you wish, while still properly representing everything. Sure, the mangaka deserves a great deal of credit for that, it’s their story. But I’ve seen plenty manga adaptations get nothing extra or even suffer because of a bad adaptation (Aku no Hana). And I’m aware that this is probably a more appropriate subject for when the show ends, but I couldn’t hold this in anymore. This episode is as good an example as any.
When it comes to this episode specifically, I won’t say it was anything special in the scheme of this show as a whole. It just shows that Tomoko is just as pitiful and unpopular as ever, even though her gateway out of this hell is always right in front of her face. I’ve honestly believed since maybe episode two or three that the friends she’s been looking for are the students that are right in front of her the entire time. The very same group that she hears everyday and loathes, is probably the same group that will most easily and openly accept her. As I said before, these situations are almost poetic. It really helps explain the popularity of the manga in my eyes when I look at things that way.