「モテないし、夏休みを満喫する」 (Motenai shi, Natsuyasumi o Makitsu suru)
“Since I’m Not Popular, I’ll Enjoy Summer Vacation”

I’m going to need the thesaurus to do justice to how freakishly brilliant (and freakish) this episode of Watamote was.

This series has been an emotional roller-coaster from the very beginning (except it would have to be a roller-coaster where you’re going up, down and upside-down all at the same moment in time) but in terms of sheer laughs, I think this episode was probably the best to date.  There were certainly plenty of classically Watamote tragic flashes, but the humor definitely took the starring role this time.  Usually this is a black comedy with the focus on the black – this time it was on the comedy.

My initial reaction was that for a while at least, Tomoko seemed as much a typical high-school girl in this episode as she has at any time so far.  Wasting a summer break doing nothing is about as elemental an experience as a teenager can have.  No, it certainly isn’t the healthiest thing in the world for Tomoko to be sequestered in her room non-stop, playing eroge, watching anime, surfing the net, and failing to sleep for every moment of her school break, but let’s face it – it isn’t what you would call highly unusual, especially for a kid who isn’t especially popular.  By contrast, of course, we have Tomoki with his stable of friends coming over to plan their outings – and then there’s Mom, oblivious as ever to her daughter’s isolation as she smilingly goes through her denial-fest of a life.

When you dig a little deeper, though, you see that it isn’t so much a matter of Tomoko blissfully wasting time as it is Tomoko agonizing over how the passage of each second brings her break closer to its end.  This is a classic part of her neuroses, constant worry over what’s going to happen next – not abnormal in itself, but taken to a frightening extreme.  It keeps her (and by extension, Tomoki) awake most of the night.  More pleasantly for the viewer, it also gives her incentive to think of nutty ideas to fill the time.  Like the online request for an explanation of "peropero"(“lick-lick") and what parts of people’s bodies are being licked ("I suspect their naughty bits" Tomoko theorizes, but alas no one answers her).  Or her disastrous attempt ("Viva one-click ordering!") to launch a stream on Niconico, complete with the requisite stream of nasty commentary from the audience.

The meta-humor is strong with this one – it’s a big part of what makes the comedy part of the Watamote recipe work, and the mangaka nails the peculiarities of the online world Tomoko inhabits with unerring accuracy.  A big part of the pleasure of this ep is watching her immerse herself in all her distractions, even something as simple as watching Detective Conan and muttering the supremely ironic "It’d be great to go back to the body of a child but retain the mind of an adult", or as over-the-edge as her grabbing the kleenex box when her eroge dialogue gets especially hot.  Tomoko is a nonstop stream of hilarious aphorisms, such as when she responds to the "How to enjoy summer break alone" suggestion of visiting the pool with "What am I – an ascetic?"  These scenes almost seem to be shot in real-time, giving you a real sense of Tomoko’s stream moving at a different pace from the rest of the world.

The "climax" of the episode certainly is the humor and pathos derived from Tomoko’s realization that she has an event ticket for a "Meet-and-Greet Recording Session" with Ishimine Jun (Toriumi Kousuke), star of one of her current favorite VNs.  The fun starts when she starts researching the limits of what she’s allowed to ask a seiyuu to say for her "personal recording", and winds up getting sidetracked looking at stories of supernatural horrors until she’s too freaked out to even go to the bathroom, and must rouse Tomoki at 3 AM to walk her there – but not before she "pees herself a little".  Then we have a truly genius bit where Tomoki walks in on his mother playing bright, cheerful home video of toddler Tomoki and Tomoko, where he declares his love, demands a kiss, and professes his intent to marry her (if only Fushimi Tsukasa had as much common sense as a 5 year-old budding bundle of disorders).  Tomoki’s reaction to seeing the video alone would have made this a successful ep.

Finally the moment arrives, a huge crowd turns out, and Ishimine Jun turns out to be a hunk.  Tomoko has settled on the rather sweet "I love you, Tomoko", but, emboldened by the girl in front of her asking for "I’m going to mess you up." decides to go with "You sow!  You stink!  Not really, just kidding.  Your hair smells great, Tomoko.  And it’s so smooth!  I love you."  And Jun-san, being the consummate pro he is, delivers with a smile, even petting Tomoko’s hair as he delivers the line.  It’s another of those rare moments where things go better for Tomoko than we expect – though it’s mitigated by the fact that her mother walks in on her playing back the edit of her eroge audio track she’s made with Jun’s dialogue and her own responses (delivered with hilariously bad acting by Tomoko) patched in.  This scene is a perfect example of the ingenious way Watamote makes you laugh and squirm all at once – the camera just lingers on Tomoko and her mother staring at each other as the offending audio drones on, refusing to spare us the discomfort of the moment.

I haven’t stopped feeling conflicted when I watch this show, but I have moved past feeling conflicted about it – because it’s now 100% clear to me that I’m reacting exactly the way Tanigawa Nico wants me to react.  Watamote is not only a brilliant black comedy, but it’s also quite compassionate in the way it portrays its hopelessly miserable heroine – without sparing us from Tomoko’s considerable ugly side, I think it unequivocally asks the audience to feel for her, not to dislike her.  This, as I’ve said, is clearly the work of a writer who knows and loves someone like Tomoko (probably a sister), and hated her a lot of the time, too.  I can’t help but imagine it’s the author staring out the window as his sister sets off sparklers at the end of summer break, and only doing that because he was bribed with ice cream.  It’s a terribly sad moment – especially when contrasted with the home video of a few moments earlier – but somehow, oddly contains a kernel of hope to it as well.  This is great stuff – Oonuma Shin’s most restrained and clever work in years, and I could hardly do justice to the performance Kitta Izumi is delivering as Tomoko.  So much of the show rides on it, and she just kills it – she gets Tomoko.  She’s funny, and dark, and angry, and sad, sometimes all at once – much like Watamote itself.



  1. Oh man, I was looking forward to this episode ever since it was adapted, and it certainly didn’t dissapoint. It truly was one of the best episodes so far, and it was as cringeworthy as it was hilarious. I mean, damn, that final shot of her and her mother…that’s every teenager’s worst nightmare right there. The show really isn’t downplaying what a creepo Tomoko can be sometimes either; you’d have to wonder what the voice actor would be thinking of that encounter. But hey, he stayed professional (that’s one disaster averted for her, at least). Not to mention poor Tomoki, being so traumatized by that video. Ahaha, oh man. Watamote really does manage to pull far stronger and conflicted emotions out of me than most dramas will ever do. The direction does help (it’s one of Oonuma’s best work so far, imo) and yeah, Tomoko’s voice actor really nails it. I wonder if this’ll lead to her getting more roles in the future.

    Welp, at least I’m not as bad off as Tomoko. I’ll just go back to spending my summer vacation alone playing games and surfing the internet, while my only friend is off having a social life. Maybe I can go annoy my brother again to leave his friends and girlfriend alone and play some games with me instead.


    1. In my opinion Tomoko is faaar more kawaii while Kirono is Kimoi though. Simply because Tomoko doesn’t develop feelings for her blood-related brother and get married to him and kiss him. Tomoko and her brother’s relationship is far more real and awkward XD

  2. Watching this episode after Ore no Imouto’s last few episodes. Especially the part where Tomoki saw the video. I couldn’t stop laughing when the younger him confessed to Tomoko and declare that he wants to marry her when he grows old, and her subsequent reaction.

  3. Shudder… it is really dreadful feeling watching YOUR summer unwind in the Watamote. Or at least close to. I had the masochism to go to beach alone few times (guess im ascetic!), I had a few go-outs for tabletop gaming with friends, but other than that it is games(just not eroge…), anime and typing commentaries on RC or other websites!
    Tomoki suffered a karmic revenge over his (albeit unknowing) torment of the sister, with the childhood vid. Break the popular!
    Oh and hands up, no writing here needed, anyone who had the earphones-plugged-into-wrong-socket embarassment of anything improper being broadcasted ot loud?

  4. So that’s why Tomoki looked so tired like his sister.
    1)Couldn’t sleep at all at night because of Tomoko
    2)Spent hours at that chair depressed over how much he used to love Tomoko.

      1. Then it’ll turn into Ore no Nee-san Konnani Kawaii Wake Ga Nai. Only that there won’t be any harem. The one and only route will be Tomoko. Not that it’ll be easy to achieve anyway.

    1. Pleasantly surprised that they actually provided an explanation for Tomoki’s eye-bags. I was beginning to think that they were just some quirky familial genetic trait thrown into the mix for comedic effect…

  5. The first 7 minutes reminds me of how I spent my summer break except I don’t play sims and I went on vacation :p

    I feel really sorry for that fly :/

    What an embarrassing video he better not let Tomoko see that 😉

  6. I was pretty sure that was a masturbation joke, and then you confirmed it for me. When she grabbed the box of tissues I was like O.o
    And I agree with Kitta Izumi’s performance, it’s perfect. I’ll go ahead and guess that she’ll probably win your seiyuu of the year award.

    P.S. I see you couldn’t resist taking another jab at Oreimo ^.<

  7. …and then there’s Mom, oblivious as ever to her daughter’s isolation as she smilingly goes through her denial-fest of a life.

    I wonder if she’s really denying it or whether she just doesn’t know how to deal with it so she keeps it all inside and cries herself to sleep at night…

  8. “I haven’t stopped feeling conflicted when I watch this show, but I have moved past feeling conflicted about it – because it’s now 100% clear to me that I’m reacting exactly the way Tanigawa Nico wants me to react. Watamote is not only a brilliant black comedy, but it’s also quite compassionate in the way it portrays its hopelessly miserable heroine – without sparing us from Tomoko’s considerable ugly side, I think it unequivocally asks the audience to feel for her, not to dislike her. ”

    I… Don’t think it could be said better. This is how I’ve felt from the moment I started watching the show and reading the manga. The show is a total roller coaster of emotions. One moment you will be crying your eyes out in sympathy for Tomoko, the next you’ll be laughing your ass off at the horrible luck of the moment, another you’ll be groaning at Tomoko’s bitter outlook and it all gets capped off by a sigh of relief as the episode ends and you sort of just take comfort in the fact that the painful but endearing trials of Tomoko’s unintentionally negative outlook on certain parts of life is finally at an end.

    Most importantly, if there’s one thing the show has done, it’s given me that ‘I just wanna reach out and hug her’ moment over and over again, because Tomoko is the kind of person that I think would she hear ‘you’re not alone’ on any of her thoughts, it would make her become aware of it. When discussing this show with friends, even over some of the darkest dialogue early on like Tomoko wishing for the school to be invaded by terrorists or the ‘god, just kill me now’ moment, we’ve all admitted to those moments of dark and negative thoughts. The problem is that Tomoko is at that age where so much shit is going on that you don’t have the mental aptitude to fully overcome the downsides yet. But in due time with eventually making friends, learning to tolerate or overcome the bad things in her life or less than stellar facets of her behavior, as long as Tomoko can still find positivity, there’s definitely a case for her becoming a stable human being again… In due time.

    I don’t know what point of the story the manga is at yet, but I seriously hope that this series will follow Tomoko at least into early adulthood, because for me at least, that’s when I found myself starting to overcome some of my biggest emotional struggles in life and begin to improve my social skills and come out of that depressed funk and just ‘roll with it’. Whether or not anyone else shares this hope, I don’t know, but it would make for one of the most realistic and compelling black comedy/dramas out there since… Well, possibly Dead Like Me. That’s the one series I can think to compare this show to in terms of quality dark humor… And that was SO far from grounded in reality.

  9. I am always paranoid of the fail!headphone happening to me when I am listening to BL drama CDs on the bus, hence why I always start playing a music track before moving onto the main event XD.

  10. Enzo, I have to say that your analyses of Watamote are spot-on. Like you said, if you’ve known someone with depression or an anxiety disorder, or have gone through it yourself, you can really see how realistic this show is. And it really does work on two levels; what seems like just funny irrational actions on the part of the main character are very true to life actions of someone who’s developing a disorder.

    After I read the first two chapters of the comic I had to stop and do something else because it brought back so many painful memories. In my case the loneliness started from drifting apart from my best friend, but the thought processes and self-destruction were exactly the same as what I went through. Right down to having a friend from my previous school who I saw occasionally, knowing that I was doing so much worse than someone I’d known for a long time made me feel terrible, just like Tomoko in the show.

    It was quite surprising actually since I’ve never seen any anime or manga apart from Watamote and never expected to find something so applicable coming from a country halfway across the world.

  11. summer break & what been tomoko doing from day 1 to 6 been usual doing til hear her brother got pals then go tried vid camera show til not going to happen.

    then tomoko notice got a ticket to meet voice actor so give late night then bring brother to rest room cause “splat” & next day go meet with voice actor wonder to ask give make saying give other girls go “ugh”.

    tomoko’s brother got why is my mom watching vid of his kids years with tomoko so like bro-sis wanting that got him why me & tomoko doing a recording til mom arrive to hear it all indeed so screwed both of them.

    so cheer the night tomoko light fireworks to show to her brother.


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