How Watamote Shifted From A Loner Comedy to A Character Ensemble!

This will be a spoiler-free post.

Watamote was, in my opinion, a really underrated show. Seeing as it never got a season 2, I ended up picking up the manga to continue where the anime left off, and I was rather pleasantly surprised at the development of the plot. It ended up going in a direction I never expected from a story of it’s type, and that was turning it into a character ensemble.

I will mostly be talking about the manga AFTER the anime. If you want a comparison of the manga chapters adapted by the anime, I highly recommend Cactus Matt’s post focusing on the differences between Watamote’s manga and its anime counterpart.

Loner Days

Just to give context for those of you who are interested in the manga but didn’t watch the anime:

Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! chronicles the life of a socially awkward and relatively friendless high school otaku as she attempts to overcome her personal barriers in order to live a fulfilling life by becoming the most popular girl in school!

A huge chunk of the manga’s first half is focused on either Tomoko’s Wil E. Coyote like attempts at getting attention, only for them to backfire on her miserably, or her constant procrastination of socializing normally. A lot of the humor comes from the cringe of Tomoko being humiliated in some way or another, or her own imagination getting the best of her.

She’s crass and elitist, constantly thinking rude thoughts about other people, but she herself can’t even properly speak to a non-family member without shaking, and has a lot of pent-up confusion about her own sexuality.

Not to mention, being an otaku who bases her experiences with romance from eroge, she also has a very skewed perception on real life due to her tendency to project otome tropes to real life situations as well, making her a massive pervert.

For most of the first half of the manga, the only people she can even interact with on a regular basis are her brother, her parents, her younger cousin, and her teacher. All of them pity Tomoko greatly, and to varying degrees, try to help her become a functioning member of society.

Tomoko’s Change

Although she is still a crass and socially inept nerdy girl, she eventually learns to be more honest with herself. She accepts that her constant attempts at becoming the most popular girl was ridiculous, and so sets her sights on a much more attainable but still difficult goal: make a few friends.

Every new character we meet that interacts with Tomoko is, at first glance, out of her league in one way or another. Most of them tend to be much more social or confident than she is, and yet they all seem to gravitate towards her with each chapter. The reason for the attraction isn’t actually plotforce, but a genuine sense of progression in both Tomoko’s character and the cast’s ongoing journey to understand her.

The Ensemble

The best way that Watamote deals with Tomoko’s inability to converse with people at first, was by literally forcing her into social interaction, via friendly people such as the ever-energetic Hina Nemoto or the senior class rep Megumi Ikae-

-Or being grouped together with complete strangers during a field trip.

Masaki Yoshida, a delinquent girl with dyed hair and temper issues and Yuri Tamura, a fairly ordinary girl of few words, end up together on the trip without having had any prior interaction.

It was from this point on that Watamote turned from a gag comedy focused on Tomoko’s loneliness to a character ensemble that gives every character of the cast a day in the limelight. The plot doesn’t shift to make Tomoko relevant, but instead, it’s Tomoko who changes to progress the plot and takes part in it. The humor as well completely changes from being based on cringe, to being more focused on how different character react and interact to a situation, and it makes the manga much more fresh.

Conclusion

Watamote has changed a lot from its initial premise, but I genuinely believe that it’s all the better for it. Even the humor has improved because it’s no longer centered around Tomoko’s awkwardness alone, but also the quirks of everybody else around her.

Giving us a taste of how lonely she is in the early chapters only makes the development on the later chapters and change of focus that much more satisfying, and I highly recommend that you follow it to support the creator!

Do you know of any other manga that had a major tonal shift in the middle? Is shifting the focus so late in the story a good thing, or a bad thing? Let me know in the comments below.

Until next time!

– TLM

13 thoughts on “How Watamote Shifted From A Loner Comedy to A Character Ensemble!

  1. Before I can tear in to your post a quick note: I found the manga so widely different from the anime as the cringe in the original works is upped a lot more from what I remember of the start and the anime tones it down in terms of cringe and horridness which was needed for this anime to be accessible so that when people saw her she gathered empathy or sympathy rather than ‘I don’t want to watch these horrible things happen to this girl anymore.’ End of note.

    Okay with that out of the way let’s head back to the topic of the tonal shift and my answer is that I expected it to happen, this manga is set in a High School and our main character is represented with her mental illness in a straight forward way that is treated with respect rather than a joke, this had a clear feeling that things would get better for her rather than continue as they always did. What I wanted to know was how her situation would change would it be her or the environment and to my surprise it was her surroundings rather than herself that changed albeit she has but not her core values i.e perverseness.

    With the change in her surroundings I find the series more enjoyable as Tomoko has found some friends and a possible love interest (I don’t know if she’s gay but when she has a flash forward she is a house wife and she’s married to a woman, I don’t want to speculate but that may seem where the series is headed for her and remember she is a fujoshi not to stereotype but gay woman enjoy those story’s not to say straight woman don’t but add in the flash forward and what have you got a possible gay character) and it’s also true to how the world works sometimes it’s not your fault that your alone but rather it’s the situation your in, when I was at School I had no friends and couldn’t really talk to people but now I’m working I find my day to day life far more enjoyable.

    Watamote to me shows sometimes that sometimes your situation has to change and trying to force it won’t help at all it will just lead to heartbreak and pain.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. To be honest, I never really watched Watamote past the first episode…
    Because it’s kinda unbearable for me to watch outright delusional people. My top three anime are all from a first person perspective which incorporates the protagonists’ often subtle delusions, and I think that kind of perspective is key for me. Because of Tomoko’s radical character, it’s impossible for me to buy into her perspective. And I hate pitying people almost as much as I hate laughing at tragic idiots. (though I have no problem laughing at simple idiots like Baka Test, because they often don’t take it seriously either or get depressed)
    But if Tomoko grows up a little, then maybe it’s worth watching for me.

    Like

      1. I used to have delusions of paranoia and I did my best to always convince myself that there was no reason for anyone to enjoy my company… so it’s kind of hard for me to personally relate to someone with the opposite outlook. They’re both maladjustments that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, and I can sympathize in moderation, but Tomoko’s just a little too extreme from my hazy memory…
        I was also always too much of a romantic to ever actually fantasize about a girl in middle/high school. Sexual desire implies selfishness… which my ego does its best to repel. I see that Tomoko’s kinda the opposite there too! There’s some awful ways to view the world…
        Though I can understand the appeal of a relatably flawed character. That’s how Monogatari gets to me every time…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I just like how inside her head, we know how shitty she is, but to outside viewers, she’s just a very quiet and lonely girl. In the manga, she became a better person in the span of a few months thanks to people befriending her and making her come out of her shell.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Only watched the anime, and never delve into the manga. I might now knowing how it develops. There’s only so much of the same old gag of Tomoko failing in social activity before it gets old. Wonder how it’ll continue to develop as it goes on.

    I would like another season of the anime. I surprisingly enjoyed it, despite the cringe Tomoko went through. Also, it had a surprisingly good soundtrack. Something it doesn’t get enough credit for.

    Liked by 1 person

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