「モテないし、スキルアップしてみる (Motenai shi, Sukiru Appu shitemiru/i>)
“Since I’m Not Popular, I’ll Boost My Skills
Having been a manager for Starbucks in the hazy past, this episode held a special resonance for me.
Watamote continues to be a hard show to watch sometimes, but not nearly as hard as it is to be Tomoko. There’s an old Yiddish story (any of you old enough to have seen a Laverne and Shirley rerun will know of it) about the "Schlemiel and Schlimazel". As the saying goes, "the schlemiel is the one who spills the coffee, and the schlimazel is the one he spills it on". But Tomoko pulls the rare double of being both. It’s a hard-knock life.
Yes, many people didn’t know about the whole "Tall, Grande, Venti" thing – and some got downright irritated at the naming convention. But only Tomoko could turn it into a veritable fireworks display of embarrassment. Her trip to the cafe (it’s actually a Tully’s) comes about as a result of her failed quest to be an mysterious, expressionless alien character. As Tomoko soon discovers, the silent bit really only has impact if someone else is trying to talk to you in the first place. In a sense, it would almost be less heartbreaking if Tomoko were actually being bullied – as it is, it’s as thought she doesn’t even exist. Realizing that is enough to bring tears to her eyes, and she stops at the cafe where she and Yuu met earlier to try and play the cool game with a cappuccino. To say what results is a disaster is the understatement of the year, and it’s brutal to watch.
This week was mostly victimless crimes with Tomoko, though she did commit a few minor misdemeanors against Tomoki. The next go-around of humiliation is a trip to the purikura booth, again in a desperate attempt to gain some street cred by doing something cool. Needless to say it isn’t hard to see how this is going to turn out, though the sheer level of humiliation is low compared to some of Tomoko’s other clusterfuck moments, so it’s easier to laugh at her tortured attempts to ape the coquettish schoolgirl poses of the day. In this context I didn’t mind so much when she got her ¥400 worth by plastering the results all over Tomoki’s room – she’s done a lot worse, and she deserved to blow off a little steam.
Finally, the cabaret club segment, and this is easily the most disturbing chapter in the episode. It’s reminiscent to some extent of last week’s train molestation chapter, in that Tomoko shows how hopelessly naive and innocent she is by wishing her way into a situation she’s in no way prepared to handle. It was funny seeing her sitting in the park waiting for the chance to light cigarettes for salarymen and get in way over her head in Kabukicho (that truck with the "robot revue" girls is everywhere these days) but it’s also sad and more than a little frightening. It really points up both how disturbed Tomoko is and what a lost little girl she still is – dealing with scumbags in Kabukicho is nothing any high-school girl should have to deal with (nor, obviously, is being molested on the train) yet many girls do have to deal with it.
Tomoko gets lucky here, again – she flees before she gets into something she can’t extract herself from, and her Mom reminds her to come home for sukiyaki and all is well. But as long as she keeps digging her way into these situations in the desperate desire to break out of her cycle of social isolation, danger will always lurk around the corner. How in the world can her parents be so oblivious that they have no idea this isn’t just normal adolescent angst? No, don’t answer – I know that’s a question that doesn’t even need to be asked. The ED, by the way, is a parody of an ancient one from Manga Tales of Old Japan.
ED3: 「夜のとばりよ、さようなら] (Yoru no Tobari yo, Sayounara) by (Velvet. kodhy)