Title: No Matter How I Look at it, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular Vol. 15
Author: Nico Tanigawa
Publisher: Yen Press
Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Volume fifteen of Watamote was a bit of a slow once since the Golden Week arc ended and Kuroki ended up settling on which college she wanted to attend. This one felt a bit more like the older volumes in the sense that it was more episodic… especially with some chapters having mini-episodes within them which lead to the resolution of how Kuroki ended up with a black eye.
From studying to dealing with the rain, to even eating alone for the first time in a long time at a WcDonald’s (gotta love Japanese brand warping!), the volume had a bit of a slower pace than usual. The humor seemed to be toned down a bit as it mainly focused on the fact that Kuroki has made a ton of friends. During her alone time chapter, she even reflects on this and compares her time now to how it used to be. She even goes as far as to make a profound realization that she feels she is on the cusp of losing all of this.
The rest of the volume highlights the cast in various ways but it just didn’t seem like it executed that like it normally does. There were still some pretty funny moments, such as Kuroki trying to get her skirt shortened or when Tomoki jogged past and even made a brief comment about Tomoko being a shrimp. Still, I felt it lacked its usual raunchy punch that the series became known for.
Kuroki ended up getting the most development through the aforementioned inner monologue. Realizing all of the friends she made and then coming to another realization that she was about to lose all of them really became a landmark for her development. Even in the dialogue, she’s opening up more and more to the people around her and she’s not stammering or speaking nervously as much as she used to. That in and of itself is a great sign of progression but I wonder if a relapse is in order? Obviously, this is all due to the Golden Week arc where everyone was picking out their colleges of choice. Not everyone is going to go to the same school which means that there is a high chance that all of these friends that Kukori made are going to go away. It just mirrors one of the realities of life but it has a bigger impact here on a character like Kuroki.
Shiki talks about her desire to be a professional gamer in not just e-Sports but in any game. Then she gets last place when everyone at the arcade challenged her to a game of mahjong. I guess she has quite a way to go in order to live her dream but at least we got to know emoji girl a little bit better!
Outside of this, the rest of the characters just felt like they were there. Nothing really too important in the way of development.
This series feels like it is hitting a period where it’s just kind of going with the flow but I expect that to end soon. This volume had mid-terms in it so with the second half of the school year in full swing, I’d expect Tanigawa to ramp up the whole college aspect. I’m not sure if the manga is set to continue into Kuroki’s college life but if not, I would imagine the end of the manga happening when they all graduate and go their separate ways. I would also expect Kuroki to do a bit of a self-reflection and make an all-important decision on whether or not she felt that she had become popular over the course of her high school life.
That’s just my guess but it does seem like that is the direction that the manga is taking. How much of a “go with the flow” wave the manga will ride until then remains to be seen but something interesting needs to happen soon because the series is long overdue. Sure, this series hasn’t been known for having big, major arcs or anything but we are getting to the point where the formula is losing a lot of its luster. Even the humor has changed a lot since the beginning and any hints of it feel more like a quick breath of fresh air more than anything.
Despite my qualms, it is enjoyable and I’m still looking forward to Volume 16.
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This item was provided for review by Yen Press.