WataMote features the lonely Tomoko Kuroki, who struggles with crippling social anxiety and depression that audiences may genuinely resonate with.
WataMote: No Matter How I Look At It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular! is a twelve episode anime that aired from July 2013 until September of the same year. WataMote was directed by Shin Oonuma, who is known for directing ef: A Tale of Memories and Kokoro Connect. It was adapted from the ongoing manga of the same title that currently has twenty-one volumes released.
Tomoko Kuroki is a fifteen-year-old high school student who struggles with severe social anxiety and depression. This results in her having low confidence in interacting with others and having a less than ideal social life. The series is about her day-to-day struggles with handling her social anxiety. These are some of the many quirks and moments she has which viewers may be able to relate to.
Although Tomoko isn’t afraid to enter public indoor spaces such as stores or fast food establishments, when it comes to speaking to cashiers, she automatically shuts down due to her severe anxiety. When she enters a convenience store to buy sweets for herself and her brother she has no issue with the actual shopping. However, she struggles with the dreaded cashier interaction anxiety. What comes out is stuttering words and a quiet voice, that many may be able to relate to after the lack of socializing with others for a long period of time.
Tomoko gets freaked out when her phone rings as she normally doesn’t receive calls. There’s a moment when she’s listening to a romantic boys love drama CD and her phone unexpectedly rings, causing her to feel a rush of anxiety. Her hobbies end up being the same as what is perceived as stereotypical indoor loner activities such as video games, anime, and drama CD’s. However, she’s often seen continuously making an effort to try new things outdoors even if alone. Her social anxiety holds her back from truly enjoying other hobbies.
Tomoko is able to talk to family members without issue. She shares a close bond with her brother, Tomoki. She’s able to talk to him smoothly, with no stutters whilst speaking her mind. She’s also able to do the same with her young cousin. But, when it comes to people outside her family, she becomes a different person and struggles with communication. This may be because she’s always self-conscious and ashamed of herself for not being popular. Many times in the anime she’s comparing herself to others and tries to prove, or fake to others that she’s having an excellent high school life.
Despite her crippling social anxiety, Tomoko makes efforts to improve her life. She forces herself to go outside and interact with the world. She’s seen experiencing different shops and cafés and engaging in activities such as joining a community trading card game competition and attending events. Whenever she has to talk to someone, she makes an effort to communicate and doesn’t run from the interaction regardless of how awkward it is. Even if it’s a few words, such as a simple greeting, Tomoko is proud of herself after conversing with someone. This positive self-talk is the stepping stone to improving her social interactions and self-esteem.
WataMote: No Matter How I Look At It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular! is an ingenious title for this anime, as it is not entirely Tomoko’s fault she’s not popular. Crippling social anxiety is tough to overcome for many people, especially for Tomoko due to high-school life being overly glamorized and the social pressure to want to be popular as shown in WataMote.
This condition makes it significantly challenging to reach out to others. Ironically, if Tomoko Kuroki could overcome her desire to be popular–to make others like her, perhaps she would actually end up popular because of the unique characteristics and personality that she brings.
WataMote: No Matter How I Look At It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular! is available for streaming on HIDIVE.