No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular!, or WataMote for short, is an anime about Tomoko Kuroki, a high school freshman who can’t wait to be popular and live the ideal high school life. Unfortunately, her only friend attends another school, and her social anxiety hinders any sociability. But Tomoko, ever the resourceful, comes up with various plans to end her unpopularity once and for all.
The show encapsulates much of the darker side of adolescence: teen angst, narcissism, and social anxiety forming the basis of Tomoko’s struggles. She talks tough in her head, but ends up being a bumbling mess when her schemes blow up in her face. Every episode has grand set ups with hilarious punchlines. Of course, Tomoko is the one who ends up getting all the punches, but the show isn’t straight Schadenfreude. The show is sympathetic to this character, but illustrates Tomoko’s petty narcissism and how she slowly moves past it as she learns from her experiences. And we care for Tomoko too. We can all relate to those moments Tomoko feels, whether it be lounge about inside all day during summer break, or harbor petty jealousy for the popular kids across the room.
The show works really well. Pacing, music, animation, etc: all fine. Notably, a newer company, Silver Link, is the production studio, and they do a fine job of making a this slice of life show visually engaging. Reflections, frames, and kanji are just some of the elements the production plays around with, and all for the better. It gives the anime a distinctive visual flavor that separates it from the ocean of other slice of life titles out there.
Of course, the show would still stand out by the strength of its protagonist alone. Tomoko is one of the most memorable, loveable, and relatable characters I’ve seen in anime. Part of it is her character design: she’s short, gawkish, and has unkempt hair. She’s what many anime protagonists are not, and that change-up is welcome. I particularly love Izumi Kitta voice for Tomoko. She nails down both Tomoko forceful and sometimes spiteful inner monologue, while also voicing her public voice with a realistic quiet quiver.
Though it’s based on an ongoing manga written and illustrated by Nico Tanigawa, it stands on its own as a wonderful series worth watching. The anime is only 12 episodes, and they’re all free to watch on Crunchyroll. I highly recommend you do!