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In this blog I want to share my interests and experiences with you in the hopes that we'll get to know each other a little better. Here you'll find entries relating to occurrences in my life, my many hobbies, the PokeCommunity and perhaps even the world.

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Review Aloo - WataMote [Dish #68]

Posted November 23rd, 2016 at 7:29 AM by gimmepie

Review Aloo - WataMote

WataMote is a 2013 comedy and slice of life anime following the every day activities of Tomoko Kuroki who suffers from extremely severe social anxiety and lives her life as a shut-in, although she's desperate to change. I have been skipping this anime over for several years now every time I've come across it, but thanks to the nagging of TheRealOCD I have finally sat down and watched it. Let's see how it went.

WataMote's biggest shortcoming is one that's very common in the comedy and slice of life genres. Despite a fairly unique and interesting premise, there's not much in the way of a plot. Each episode is mostly self-contained and we do see very little development. With a premise like WataMote's, this anime could have taken us down a very complex and emotional roller-coaster of a story but instead chose to stick to the tried and true formula prevalent in most of the genre.

That's not to say that WataMote was exactly a let down either. The individual plots of each episode were well-written and amusing to watch unfold. The writer pulled no punches with their delivery, exploration of the struggles presented by social anxiety or with the satire of popular anime series and tropes. So whilst WataMote's plot could have been significantly better, it also didn't really hurt the experience of watching it either. I'm willing to give it a 6/10.

If ever there was an anime that was character driven it's WataMote, and that is truly where it excels. WataMote does something interesting in that whilst many of the actions of characters, especially in the case of Tomoko, are hyperbolic they are also an excellent portrayal of how social anxiety can make someone feel, how it can effect people's lives and how it can effect the lives of everyone around them. We see both the strengths and weaknesses not only of Tomoko who despite her crippling fear still has a colorful and interesting personality but also of her family members who find her frustrating but still care for her and for the only person she can call a friend, who is deeply confused by Tomoko and ignorant of her plight but who remains by her side all the time. This results in an amusing, likable and easy-to-relate-to cast of characters.

A seeming flaw with the characters might be a lack of development, and in a sense this is true. Tomoko doesn't take anything in the way of huge steps forward and none of the other characters grow at all. However we need to keep two things in mind here as viewers. Firstly, this story is about Tomoko and the other characters are simply tools for the writer to steer her story and her development. Secondly, yes Tomoko does develop as a character even though we don't see those enormous jumps we are used to in anime. As the story continues we see Tomoko becoming ever so slightly more comfortable with herself, we see her try to talk to others more and we see her finally able to relax and enjoy herself properly with someone she is comfortable with. What seems meaningless to the average person represent enormous steps to people who actually experience severe anxiety, representing a strange realism in an otherwise hyperbolic representation. So whilst the plot is non-existent there is definitely character development, it's just extremely subtle and it makes sense for it to be. 10/10

I won't say too much here, because there's not that much to say I feel. The performances here didn't really require much in the way of intricacies but they did require a sort of honesty and believably to ensure that we ended up as invested in the story as we should have been. The cast completely delivered.

You didn't hear people voicing characters, you heard the voices of characters. Each and every voice actor voiced their characters close to flawlessly and were a very important part in drawing you into an otherwise lifeless plot. It doesn't matter how amazing characters are if you don't have a capable cast portraying them and that was not a problem with WataMote. In particular, the voice actors of Tomoko and her mother were exceptional in my mind. 8/10

Artwork is far from being my forte, but I know what looks good and what doesn't. The artwork for WataMote is definitely more in the former category although it was in no way revolutionary or particularly beautiful either. Where the art did shine however was definitely in the expressions of characters which were fantastic both when overdone and when subtle and conveyed exactly how the characters were feeling in combination with the voice actors. So the art and animation for WataMote might not fall into the superior category that some anime series do, but they definitely add to the experience and don't hurt it in anyway. 7/10

WataMote is an interesting anime. It's a comedy but for every time you find yourself in stitches you'll also find yourself pitying character or emphasizing with them, often to the point of straight up cringing at Tomoko's antics - I had to pause several times just to collect myself before continuing. Whilst the overall plot is lackluster, WataMote's real draw is the characters and in the way they are represented by the voice actors. I wouldn't recommend to people who can't stand the lack of plot development common to the genre because WataMote is not really an exception there, but if you're looking for characters you'll fall in love with and a new take on an old genre this is definitely something for you. WataMote gets a 31/40.

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