WATAMOTE ~No Matter How I Look At It, It’s You Guys Fault I’m Not Popular! is an anime based on a manga series by two people who work under the pseudonym Nico Tanigawa. The anime was directed by Shin Onuma and was produced by Silver Link. The 12 episodes of the series aired on Japanese television from July 8-September 23, 2013. As of this writing, Sentai Filmworks holds the North American license for WATAMOTE ~No Matter How I Look At It, It’s You Guys Fault I’m Not Popular!
The main character of the series is Tomoko Kuroki, a 15-year-old girl who is about to start her first year of high school. She plays a lot of otome games and thinks this means that she’s well-versed on how to be popular in high school. Unfortunately, her social anxiety makes it hard for her to reach out and try to make friends… and no one at her school is exactly stepping up to the plate to try to become friends with her. As the series progresses, we see that Tomoko has a habit of thinking situations she sees in her games, in anime, or on television shows are realistic and tries to use these media sources as inspiration for how to act. Let’s just say that none of these attempts ever work.
Tomoko has a younger brother named Tomoki. He’s often annoyed by Tomoko’s odd behavior and often gets into fights with her. Yuu Naruse is a friend Tomoko had in middle school, but they now go to different high schools. The two of them do get together on occasion, although Yuu has changed from the dorky girl from middle school and has now changed her look and image to try to become popular at her new school. Even so, the two of them still have some shared interests.
WATAMOTE ~No Matter How I Look At It, It’s You Guys Fault I’m Not Popular! would be considered a “black comedy” series. Even though it features a main character with social anxiety issues, it focuses a lot of the humor on Tomoko and her mishaps whenever she tries to do something to try to improve her social standing. In the Wikipedia entry for the series, I see it’s also received the label of “cringe comedy”… and I can’t exactly say that that’s wrong. There are some things Tomoko does that made me cringe sometimes. One of the most cringe-inducing scenes is when Tomoko goes to the red light district after hearing a woman being interviewed on TV saying that she gained confidence after she was hired to work as a hostess. Tomoko didn’t even stop to think about the fact that she’s legally too young to be working in that kind of environment and seeing her panic in the red light district did make me cringe a bit.
To me, one of the best episodes was the second-to-last one that takes place at the school festival. An older student notices her and treats her nicely. The final scene of that particular episode was kind of touching.
I actually watched the first two episodes of WATAMOTE ~No Matter How I Look At It, It’s You Guys Fault I’m Not Popular! on Crunchyroll when it was being streamed as a simulcast. The series didn’t do much for me at the time, so I dropped it. However, I decided that seven years later, that I would give this series another shot. While I still can’t say it’s a great anime, I had a better appreciation for it now that I’ve been exposed to more anime over the past seven years. While this may sound weird, I think seeing Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun during the intervening years helped me to better appreciate this series. I can’t exactly explain it, but there are ways where it feels like the storytelling in this series has some similarities with Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun.
I did pick up some anime references over the course of this series. I picked up on The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Case Closed, and K-ON! There were probably more, but these were the three that stood out to me the most.
The biggest disappointment to me, though, was the fact that the WATAMOTE ~No Matter How I Look At It, It’s You Guys Fault I’m Not Popular! anime doesn’t have a true ending. This is another case where the manga was still being written and released when the anime was in production, so the anime couldn’t give the series an ending.
Even though this series isn’t something I’d rush to watch again, I think that anime viewers who enjoy dark humor in a story that focuses on teenagers will find something to enjoy in WATAMOTE ~No Matter How I Look At It, It’s You Guys Fault I’m Not Popular!