Watamote Vol. 1 Review

WatamoteTitle: No Matter How I Look at it, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular Vol. 1
Author: Nico Tanigawa
Publisher: Yen Press
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Pages: 144
Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy
Publication Date: October 29, 2013

The Story

Japan is known for having some pretty long titles to their series and this one is no exception. In Japan, it’s known as Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangetemo Omaera ga Warui. In English, it’s known as No Matter How I Look at it, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular. Either way, it’s a mouthful to say and from here on out, it’ll just be known by its more popular abbreviation: Watamote!

The story of the series is about as simple and straight-forward as they come. It’s about a girl named Tomoko who is entering high school and her desire to be popular. That’s it. That’s the entire story, but it’s not really all that shallow. The manga is episodic in its chapters with each chapter presenting a different situation where Tomoko attempts to become popular (and hilariously fails).

In the first volume, Tomoko attempts to become popular by changing her looks to appear more cute, but it backfires and she looks absolutely hideous! She also tries buy some new panties after reading that cute panties not only make you popular, but they attract boys as well. It all goes well until she misplaces them and later discovers them in her pocket at school…. After thinking it’s a handkerchief and she uses them to wipe the sweat off of her brow from a raunchy daydream during her lunch break! These are just a couple of the embarrassing situations Tomoko finds herself in. I won’t go through every situation because doing so would spoil the entire volume, but these examples should give you the gist of what you’re in for.

Characters

There aren’t many characters (so far) in this series as it mainly focuses on Tomoko herself. Her character is, actually, insanely layered and complex. The majority of her dialogue is nothing more than her inner thoughts. She is an introvert through and through and has great difficulty talking to people outside of her family and her best friend Yuu. Despite the odd situations she gets herself into, she is a very relatable character that people could see as a self-reflection of themselves. Typically, introverts are locked inside of their heads, trapping in the racing thoughts that flood their minds. Any and all bets are off when introverts think and that is exactly what Tomoko is like.

Her thoughts are extremely brash and straight-forward. For instance, she wished that terrorists would bomb her school or she thought it would be okay if she could trade a year off of her lifespan so that all the second year students could die in a fire because they were going on their class trip soon. Of course, her inner thoughts aren’t all disturbing. She also spends a lot of time trying to talk herself into ways to become more popular. Her thoughts also shift whenever someone actually does speak to her out in the real world. She freezes and can’t form any verbal reply because her mind is too busy trying to think of something to say.

She is an absolute mess that’s also adorable in her own, special way. She’s just the kind of character that deserves a hug, but you’d never know it because on the outside she just keeps to herself.

Yuu is a more outgoing version of Tomoko. The two of them love reading manga and watching anime, but Yuu caved to peer pressure and started changing the way she looked in order to fit in at her school. Yuu and Tomoko went to middle school together and then went their separate ways. Tomoko even mentally condemns Yuu for changing her look and for even getting a boyfriend. Despite this, Yuu is the only one who Tomoko can talk to outside of her family so she tolerates all of the changes Yuu made to herself.

The only other mainstay character we were introduced to was Tomoko’s brother Tomoki. Yes… Tomoko and Tomoki. Tomoki used to be really close with his sister, but he grew up and became more concerned with his sports clubs and school exams. He finds Tomoko rather annoying, but he ends up getting roped into talking with Tomoko in an effort to make her more comfortable talking to people out in the world.

Final Thoughts

The first volume of Watamote is pretty hilarious. It presents Tomoko in such a way where you feel bad for her, but at the same time, you cringe whenever you see the results of her attempts to become popular. The situations aren’t all that extreme either which keeps the series very down to Earth. That also makes the series and the Tomoko character relatable to anyone who is an introvert. With the chapters being episodic, it’s almost like you can pick up any volume and not really feel like you’ve missed anything, but there are some chapters that do require you to have read previous ones to know who certain characters are.

So even though the manga is episodic, it also presents an overarching story. Combining the style of a 4-panel comic with that of a traditional manga is not an easy feat, but Watamote seems to be doing a fine job of it so far! If you want a good comedy series that’s going to keep you laughing as well as make you feel embarrassed for the main character, then I recommend picking this one up and giving it a try!

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This item was purchased for review.

About The Author

Josh Piedra

Josh (or J.J. as some have come to call him), is a long-time geek culture enthusiast with a deep passion for anime, manga and Japanese culture. Josh also has a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design and is a creative writer who has created original content for over 20 years! He is also the author of the original English light novel Final Hope.

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