Check-out Station: Watamote ep12 (Dreams, delusions and great direction)
So sad, we’ve come to the end.
We begin (or end) things with a bit of a refresher. The school year has moved on, the cultural festival is over, and Tomoko is still stuck in the same rut. Though it seems she’s adjusted rather well to her circumstances and position. Though, truth be told, she really hasn’t made any progress aside from avoiding the usual trap of falling into bad situations because of her delusions. That said, the delusions don’t go away; they’re only sadder more internal ones. Tomoko tries again and again to imagine the fun she should be having at this point in her school career. But every time she imagines something happy and ideal, the cruel, cold reality of life swats down her imagination. And when she tries to recall exactly what she’s done up to this point, she nearly dies (figuratively).
Faced with the brick wall that is sadly her inability to imagine a happy situation without depressing herself; she decides to focus on the present and future. And when she starts on her homework, that’s exactly what she’s asked to do. It’s a survey asking her to detail her hopes and goals for the future, after high school . She imagines herself to be a liberal arts type of person, which is rather honest and astute, but she also decides to call up Yuu to help her with advice. Yeah, that was a bad idea. As Yuu reminds her that her career goal in high school was to become an arms dealer.
Oh my. It seems that when it comes to the battle between Tomoko’s past and future, the past is kicking her *ss.
In another effort to free herself from her past, she visits her brother Tomoki in his room. It’s been awhile since their last conversation, but Tomoki doesn’t seem to give a damn. As usual, his sister has bad timing, is rude, clueless and doesn’t listen. She just goes on and on with her pitiful, smug rants, and this is no exception. She basically tells Tomoki that he’s under-qualified for the conversations their having (which are about NOTHING), and tells him he’s freed from these conversations.
Back at school, she actually sees the girl from the student council who was so nice to her during the culture festival. Her name turns out to be Imai, and she appears to be a super helpful and dependable person outside of the festival, as well. From what Tomoko over hears, she’s beloved and counted on by everyone across the school. In other words, she’s likely the most popular person in the school.
Even though Tomoko clearly has her vampiric sites set on Imai, there are other techniques she plans to employ during the final length of her first school year. She sneakily voice records her classmates while away to see if any of them are badmouthing her, but when she goes to check the recording, she’s not even acknowledged. It’s another sad failure as she now finds out that she’s not even a presence in the slightest of conversations.
As she fixates on the fact that she’s not even a blip on the radar of her classmates lives, despite being with them for almost a year, she finds a moment that may save her high school career forever. The golden ticket she’s been given is a cockroach (waterbug for you southerners) that has sent the entire class into a frightened frenzy. Tomoko sees it as her big opportunity to play the hero and liberate her classmates from the tyranny of loathsome insect. And so she wastes no time given the opportunity, to smash her foe into – ick! And with that, she is now the hero, her name chanted in thanks and admiration by her entire class.
No! No no no! Ha ha! That’s not it at all. Instead, the entire class (of p*ssies) is grossed out by her for the rest of class. I’m tempted to go on a rant here, but I digress.
As the day ends, Tomoko forgets about her problems as she catches a glimpse of Imai, and tries to walk up to her and strike a conversation. Just as they get alone in a walkway outside, a gust of wind flies up and she catches a glimpse of Imai’s pretty laced panties. The perfect moment is turned awkward and Tomoko turns coward and runs off. Though as she does, Imai’s friends show up and Imai says some very nice things about Tomoko.
And thus ends the totally trivial story of a trivial girl and her trivial problems.
Was the world saved? Did much of anything aside from time actually change? Aren’t you sick of people asking and answering their own questions?
No. No. And yes!
What we got was the pitiful story of a girl with a terrible personality and social skills. And I was thoroughly entertained by all of it. What easily could have been a wash a repeat set up of Tomoko seeing a bad idea and mimicking it in real life, managed to be something more, and a little bit deeper than I was expecting. It offered the opportunity to re-examine what life and society was for people in a modern world. People who are almost shackled by their conveniences and a lack of social contacts. So while it still told a rather familiar story for anime, think Chu2koi, where you have teenagers trying to adjust to their child-like fantasies into a more adult and serious world that places real value on real things. Tomoko’s caught in the middle of course, because what teenagers seek and find important often is anything but tangible. The same goes for the definition of popularity that Tomoko seeks.
Popularity isn’t a tangible thing, especially in high school, but it’s something she grasps for. And the definition of it actually changes for her as the series goes along. In the beginning, she’s have grand delusions of grandeur. She hopes to be the most popular person in school, weighed down by the sheer need for her presence. However, by the end of the series she’s really just trying to get one single person to be friends with her in the entire school. The goals unbeknownst to her shrinks more and more, the more and more she fails. It doesn’t mean that she’s any less of a scumbag, or a social misfit, it just means that she’s getting more and more desperate for smallest of crumbs.
I’ll give the show credit for not trying to hard to be funny or depressing either. I never found Watamote truly “laugh out loud” funny, but appreciated its efforts to set up a gag. I liked how when it did nail a joke, it was often both cruel and hilarious. The show never ever lost its tone, even in parody. And above all, this shows a portion of the reason why I love-love-love the directing for this series. Shin Oonuma did a wonderful job of making this show look pretty without it losing its tone. Animation is a very controlled art form, so anything you see in an anime is very unlikely to be an accident. That’s why I can appreciate so much the beautiful scenes in the show that work to depict Tomoko’s different emotions when she’s not speaking to herself. It’s a very important thing, too. When you have a character who is constantly lying to themselves, you need some way to show what they are truly thinking. So when you see a scene where only get to see the back of Tomoko or her head is down and you can’t see her face, or she just has a stunned look on her face as she stares awkwardly around at her surroundings, you need someone to add to that. And this show’s director nailed it every time for me. I don’t know if he was experimenting and just nailed every scene, or if he really, really knew what he was doing, but appreciate it all. It gave me the wonderful feeling of watching a Japanese Peanuts. Tomoko is obviously Charlie Brown with less bullying and less friends. So I get this wonderful feeling of a lesson learned, though things still seem to go on the same as normal despite that lesson. It’s a cruel trick of showing progression without there actually needing to be any progression proven in the next scene or episode. The characters just keep their same personality traits while seemingly ignoring or getting over what has happened previously.
Adding to my talk about the production of the show, the ending theme for this show is definitely one of my favorites not just of this season, but of this year. It reminds me of a twisted “Vanilla Salt” which is my favorite anime ending theme of all-time. I love the audacity of this show to have the main character sing like utter sh*t, but with all her heart. It fits the show perfectly, just in the way it makes me cringe and warms my heart simultaneously.
If I had to harp on anything, it would be the horrific opening theme (sorry I never liked that kind of music), Tomoki needed to be in show a lot more, and the fact that the show really wasn’t that funny, which is only a minor thing for me because the show was never super focused on merely being funny. In the end, its strength was in the fact that it was so relatable to people who had social troubles or were just awkward in school. I think most everyone short of the most popular people in their schools could identify with the soul-crushing loneliness and depression in some way. And it’s that relatability, mangaka’s own stellar work on the source material, and the stellar directing that really made this show fun, memorable and a true surprise for myself to watch. And surprisingly, I think this show can be a hell of a gateway anime, too. So not only do I enjoy it, but I damn well encourage anyone else who did to share the experience, too.
Let’s hope there’s a second season. I not only want to laugh at Tomoko’s suffering and failures, but I do eventually want her to get herself together and be genuinely happy with her own friends.
See you guys later!
- Watamote ep11: she’s very good – at cutting up!
- Watamote ep10: to the bitter end
- Watamote ep9: your desires should not equal your expectations
- WataMote ep8: liar, liar, life on fire!
- Watamote ep7: it’s best to make sure you always stick it in the right hole
- Watamote ep6: ANT you had enough yet? Heh, heh heh!
- Watamote ep5: it’s just not that easy!
- Watamote ep4: awkward erotic asphyxiation
- Watamote ep2 & 3: not merely water under the bridge
- Check-in Station: Watamote ep1 (but I think you’re cute, zombie cute maybe)
- Watamote 12 (Final) and Review – The Ending Was Perfect
- Although I still love the show, I feel let down by the Watamote ending