「モテないし、二学期が始まる」 (Motenai shi, Ni-gakki ga Hajimaru)
“Since I’m Not Popular, Second Term is Starting”

I’ll just be over there in the corner, silently weeping…

Before I even begin this post about Watamote I’m going to hijack it for a bit. I’ve tried a few times during these write-ups to explain what it’s like to live with a person like Tomoko, and why this series isn’t simply a matter of standard anime teenage angst and she just needs to “suck it up”, and all that. I’m a huge fan of Stephen Fry – the fantastically eloquent and compassionate writer/actor/comedian/tech blogger/diarist – and about a million other things, one of them being a manic depressive. He’s attempted suicide twice, and did a documentary about people living with bipolar disorders. Not surprisingly he manages to capture the experience – both for the victim and their loved ones – far more concisely and keenly than I ever could in this video, taken from a one-man show (actually the Q & A that followed) he did at the Sydney Opera House. Now, what Stephen suffers from may not be the precise condition Tomoko likely does, but the larger description is on-the-money. The relevant portion begins at about 3:25:

Impossibly, with this episode Watamote seems to have upped the ante on bleakness and despair. The reason, I think, is because it’s by far the least outrageous episode so far. There’s not much comedy, really, and there are really no developments that are remotely unrealistic. There are no victims of Tomoko’s selfish anger, either – it’s just 22 minutes of Tomoko alone in her misery. And what seems to be happening as the series progresses is that Tomoko is becoming increasingly aware of just how alone and desperate she is. The darkness is almost literally closing in on her – she’s aware of it and we’re aware of it, but we seem equally powerless to stop it.

Several things stand out as I look back on these two chapters in one unhappy life. We start with Tomoko returning for the new semester, only to find that the seating chart has been rearranged (which seems to be a standard practice in Japan, as shocked as she is) and she’s been dumped in the second row, surrounded by the full flock of gabby social gadflies in her class. What do we see here? In fact, there’s an attempt to include Tomoko in their conversation initially – irreverent, yes, but not savage or outright mocking in any way. This is an opportunity for Tomoko in fact, though when presented with it, she can only see it as a curse. She retreats – first to a bunker she makes for herself among disused desks at the top of the stairs – and mutters to herself about how “annoying” all those normals are. And she’s blissfully happy for her lunch breaks at least, playing games on her phone and reading manga, until the desks are removed and she’s left homeless.

Here’s the dirty little secret – when Tomoko isn’t despairing over how lonely she is, she’s happier when she’s alone. Why? Well, partly because when you’re a smart and unusual person most people are annoying a lot of the time, especially in high school. Other people are a lot of work. But of course there’s also the fact that Tomoko is under extreme stress every moment she’s around those people, dreading the moment when they might break into the loneliness she also dreads, and try to include her. It’s the trap of someone in Tomoko’s position – she’s caught between two possibilities, and they’re always “bad” and “worse”. There are no escapes for her, no happy places. It’s so bad, in fact, that with her lunchtime womb deprived her she doesn’t even eat, and passes out in gym class. It’s only at the end of the day after everyone else has left that she’s able to relax – and she arranges the desks in the empty classroom to resemble the disorder of her hideaway so she can relax enough to eat her lunch.

And the, there’s what follows – which is even more depressing. It’s so cutting because we realize that for all her delusions of grandeur, even Tomoko’s fantasies are mostly setting their sights incredibly low. She thinks back to the middle-school past and imagines a club that didn’t exist, and there’s nothing glamorous about her imagined memory – it’s just a group of unpopular kids who sit around and do nothing, but at least they’re not alone in doing it. In a rare moment of decisiveness she grabs a new club application form and after much cogitating and trial-and-error at home, comes up with a proposal for a Nichijou-bu – a “Daily Life Club” for “Doing fun things and finding happiness in everyday life”. I confess I was surprised when she actually summoned the courage to submit the form the next day, and the fantasy she concocts around this club is even more modest – just Tomoko and two other kids, who barely seem to speak to each other. But at least they’re not alone in doing it. The reality, in fact, is that Tomoko isn’t silently drinking tea with this boy and girl but silently drinking tea in her room with her two plushies, fantasizing about silently drinking tea with that boy and girl. And when she returns to school the application has been denied because of “Club description unclear“.

I know I’ve said this before, but if you can’t feel anything for Tomoko here, well… I mean, really? Here we see her perform an act which, for her, is one of great courage – all to an incredibly modest hoped-for end – and she gets nothing for it but more loneliness. I know it will shock – shock! – longtime readers of my posts, but I’m not a huge fan of moe and what it’s done to anime. Yet as odd as it might sound, I think Tomoko is practically an icon of a side of moe that’s pretty close to how I first came to understand the term – someone who inspires an urge to protect and comfort. My heart absolutely shatters for Tomoko because I know how hard the road ahead of her is, and how unlikely it is she’ll ever truly escape the prison she’s trapped inside. I’m hard-pressed to think of many anime that have so effectively portrayed the pain of loneliness in the way Watamote has, without resorting to cheap comedy or cheaper dramatics – as outrageous as this series can be, it’s at its most remarkable when it quietly lets Tomoko’s life speak for itself.



  1. Watching all those “fun-doing-nothing” clubs being deconstructed makes me cringe… yup in reality neither SOS brigade nor Neighbours club would ever came to life at all!
    And Tomoko finds herself unhappy both being alone and when overwhelmed by social activity around her. Truly a hopeless situation!
    Sorry, but commenting on this loneliness is making me want to go crawl under the blanket and try to fall asleep, just to avoid my own unhappy thoughts about how much my own life resembles Tomoko’s…
    The irony? Today is my birthday. No phone calls, no visitors. Just some computer games, anime and net surfing.

      1. It may just be a TV show, but Tomoko’s life is so very much like what, I would assume, a lot of us are going though. In my case I lived like her for about five to six years while I was home school for high school. Missing out on all the things being a teen in america means. I came out of it about three years ago and still retain a lot of the problems Tomoko has.
        I have stopped watching this show because it’s a reminder of time I want to forget.

        TLDR: This show is depressing because some of us are in the same situation.

    1. I’m watching this show from the other side of the fence. My teenage years in school was mostly a blur. I have hardly any memory of it save for a few ridiculous events. I blame my old man prepping me to take over his CO, which I was able to sell off a decade ago 🙂 But that sort of thing can crush any teen’s dreams if they had any.

      I never had the opportunity to be alone, whether it be mentally or physically. My life even now is interdependent of those events. The grass isn’t any greener on this side of the fence. Every year SOMEONE bursts into my den with the same whipped strawberry cake. 30 years of that SAME cake. I can even guess who & when they’ll do it. I’ve been right for the past 14 years! I’d probably die if they bought a different cake & THEY know that. Talk about a rut.

      Heck, I even watch anime as an escape tool, but it really just keeps my life in perspective for what its worth. A show like this tends to glorify all those useless “JUST LEAVE ME ALONE” feelings I’ve had for so long. You just can’t fight life. It deals you a hand & that’s it.

      If I was suddenly dropped in a situation where I was alone all the time, I probably couldn’t handle it – even if I do take the most pleasure in those bleak times of solitude. I think the opposite situation would hold credence as well.

    2. You have my feels, bro. Makes me wonder if a change of pace is necessary in such an isolated daily life. I still find it reassuring that I’d go home, with my laptop waiting for me, a fresh can of Coke out of the fridge, and a book ready to be read on top of my bed. Funny, the arcade is just a block away from where I work. Maybe I should try and have a break with some crane games.

    3. You know, first 4-5 comments here is basically a confession-fest on how much their lives used to suck like Tomoko or still sucks… I don’t know how I feel about this. And I don’t think this is the first nor second time I see on comment section for this anime.

      If your real lives used to suck, my condolence to you, but bravo for changing that now; if it still sucks like ewok40k here, you spilling your guts out on some random anonymous forums like here won’t change anything, my friends~~. Temporarily makes you feel better by letting it out here? Sure. But you and I both know it doesn’t change a thing.

      Obviously anything i say here isn’t something you haven’t heard and I know nothing of your lives, but you need to get out more and stop watching so many darn anime shows!! Most of them are generic/formulaic crap-soups to begin (wait.. note to self: don’t get distracted…). Right, talk to some real person, like a psychologist -not for everyone, but you wouldn’t know it until you really try- or at least your loved ones instead of some random anonymous internet posters. Remember for some, being alone is fine when they know what they want to do, but clearly judging by the comments, folks here aren’t happy like that. It seems to me awfully waste when one only gets to have one life and you only get to live today once. I know it’s not easy since if it were, everyone would’ve done it by now, but man, ultimately only you can do something about your life, so get on with it! Off you go.

      1. Quoting “instead of some random anonymous internet posters”

        Sadly you’re one of those, and don’t judge people who you don’t personally know and nothing you have connection with, since you only sound like an arrogant bastard. If I’m not mistaken people here are saying they experienced what Tomoko is currently experiencing, means it’s in the past ok? Who knows maybe they’re more successful than you are right now.


      2. Watamote,

        “Bakayaro”? That’s a good one. Anglicization is never cool, you hear. It makes you look like a loser. Either say in Japanese or don’t say it at all.

        Also nice going on your hijacking and distorting the above poster’s intention, you fool.

      3. Bashing another bashing and another one, you are all idiots I think, better not to post here rather than that.

        And get your life guys, it’s not that you’re personally affected by them aren’t you.? You are all sound silly to be honest.

      4. “…you need to get out more and stop watching so many darn anime shows!”

        Hold it right there, good sir! You’re basically telling me to ditch my hobby I’m loving since Mazinger Z, Shin-chan, Magic Knight Rayearth, etc. aired?! I’d rather watch a couple episodes of anime or flip a few pages of manga than consult a psychologist even though I know I’m perfectly sane – heck, even my boss thinks I’m doing great (even asked me for a drink, which I politely declined). There’s nothing wrong with sympathizing how miserable your life is, be it with your irl otaku friend/annoying sister or some “anonymous internet poster”. It’s even better than keeping the stress to yourself (but, ofc, not all the time).

        I love this show. It’s definitely targeted towards those people who’s experiencing the same thing as Tomoki does. It’s like a laughter of medicine. What’s more better than making an introvert laugh at someone who’s basically like him? In the end it’ll make you think, “This Tomoki girl is so like me – lame, idiotic. Maybe I should try changing, it looks uncool in somebody’s eyes”. Makes me wonder, what if Tomoki watched an anime something similar to Watamote?

        Anyways, you’re not my mom. Thanks for giving us a heads-up though. We’re doing fine. How about you, good sir?

      5. tsukioniisan, Obviously you who say to have no major social issue nor a shut-in nor unhappy being so weren’t the ones he was addressing here. But nice ribbing nonetheless. Finishing touch with the good old mommy comment.

        Increasingly many people are coming here with their own baggage though, I noticed, too. Real heavy, downer stuff at times casually thrown here and there. And if someone says anything other than “sorry to hear” or “let me hold your hands, there, there”, you get someone like “Watamote” going all crazy and throw a temper tantrum. Funny shit all around.

        P.S. asdasd you sound silly, too!! Everyone talking out of their asses! hooray! …At least put more effort on writing your name next time, will ya? haha!

        Just a grapefarmer
      6. @Just a grapefarmer

        Nah, anyone who knows me irl can compare me to Satou from Welcome to the NHK, another dark comedy themed anime that highlights the life of a shut-in (Thus, the profile picture. That’s Misaki cosplaying).

      7. The only thing I can say here, if you wanted to change something it really depend on the person’s guts and determination.


        Pointing what’s wrong.

        * Generic said don’t watch too many animes right? mehhh this is a hobby and a past time in such a busy world.

        Pointing what’s right.

        * Generic said that talk to some real person, ignore the psychiatrist part >_<, but correct about the relative's part. About the anonymous internet posters it's funny since we're all anonymous here in our part, you know what there are some social media forum/sites out there where you can start to make friends in real life, talk with similar interests and the happy part a gathering with everyone (convention).

        Only one thing I can say, raise your guts a notch to talk to people irl.

      8. @Deathto… Well, what purpose is to get out and be alone in the crowd, sit in the darkest corner of a night club to avoid dangerous attentions of peoples, lay on the beach and avoid the sights around? Because thats what “getting out” means for some of us. Truly, you dont seem to understand Watamote at all…

      9. Anime helped me to make new friends who also like to watch it. They are special people who are different and posses a certain level of culture and intelligence to be interested in anime and japanese culture. So I’m still watching it, and have no regrets.
        I think most people who mention who WataMote resemble their school lifes, probably are not lonely anymore. In school years you might have little social skills and high school isn’t a place to gather individual with same interests – that’s what college is for. Or even work. You choose your own enviroment and earn your own money to attend places that help you grow and meet new people.
        Even though WataMote is really good at descrbing this lonely school life, I wish series would resolve with Tomoko finding a way out, and this would give us, viewers, a piece of advice. They only show how she’s doing everything wrong (like neglecting a chance to socialize a bit with classmates that now sit aroud her, or join an actual club – ads noted you don’t need any skils). With latest episode paced like this, I look forward to final episode to give us a little bit of real resolution, be it manga-based or not.

    4. Do something for your birthday, even if it’s belated. Everyone needs something to make them content, if not happy. You have yourself a happy birthday now.

      … I love how this show is making these replies into therapy sessions.

  2. a silent ambience episode.

    i really felt sorry for her dreaming about having non-existing friends on a non-existing club and only to get hit hard by reality, “objective too vague, REJECTED!”.

  3. Yet as odd as it might sound, I think Tomoko is practically an icon of a side of moe that’s pretty close to how I first came to understand the term – someone who inspires an urge to protect and comfort.

    I’ve been secretly thinking this for quite some time, Tomoko is the most moe anime character in this season or in any of the past seasons that I’ve seen. Though I’m not opposed to the ‘moe’ culture, I do think the term is being grossly overused to mean insanely cute girls who do silly things.

    Anyway, I loved the transition to the OP in this episode. And this is one of the few shows where I really notice the BGM. Normally, I don’t care much about that, but I’ve noticed that this show has a very good soundtrack I can’t stop listening to.

    With each episode, Tomoko seems to go deeper and deeper into the pit of despair. It’s amazing that she still has some fighting spirit left in her, after all those let-downs.

    Lord of Fire
    1. That transition caught me off guard, but was super well utilized. Tomoko has the fighting spirit like Eren from Shingeki no Kyojin…Except instead of fighting giants Tomoko is fighting life…

    2. @LordofFire and Guardian Enzo

      Yes! This precisely! I have been ruminating on that very concept of moe since about episode three or four. Since moe is supposed to evoke this sense of protection, I do feel that Tomoko qualifies. Long rant cut short, I feel that the concept of moe is now some HD ‘shopped-to-death manufactured creation that takes the female form (most of the time) and gives them a checklist of ‘cute faults’ with little to no demonstration of their logical conclusions extreme or otherwise. Tomoko is probably one of the roughest unrefined moe characters I can currently think of. The scene that got me the most (and most people already touched on it) was when her imagine spot fantasy was over, it was her alone in her room sharing tea with her plushies. As soon as I saw the club sequence, I knew it was fake. That’s the kind of show this is, so there was no creeping sense of dread that it was going to crash and burn, because I was just waiting for her to wake up from the dream. But, when I saw her there with the two plushies, it was just…sad. There honestly is no other way to put it. Looking at her experiencing this new low made me feel numb in a way. I couldn’t feel any worse than I already did for her. All I could think was ‘This is how the rest of her life will be, but I pray it isn’t’. This episode just further exemplifies the Catch 22 that is Tomoko’s life: She wants social interaction and to feel love and attention, but any social interaction and attention (outside family and her ‘bitch friend’) causes anxiety to the point of physical pain and results in an aura of creepy, standoffish, or whatever else. Also, I’m sure there’s something profound to be said about how she only found solace not just in being alone, but with disarray around her.

      TL;DR Tomoko may be the old/new school moe, her life is textbook sad and pitiful, and she lives a social catch 22.

  4. Just when Tomoko finally steps out of her shell BAM! Rejection! My heart broke at that scene knowing that something that could have changed the course of her sad life was snatched away by a heartless reality. Don’t give up though Tomoko, highschool always sucks, but college is always a lot more fun!! Actually, I wonder how she and Hikigaya from Oregairu would interact…I’m sure they’d be the best of friends, sorta. On a side note Tomoko’s relationship with her brother reminds me of the relationship my sister and I had in highschool. Best frienfs during childhood, but embittered rivals who couldnt stand each other in highschool. She was like Tomoki, a year younger and crazy popular. I was like Tomoko, a loner, otaku…God this anime brings up too many sad memories 🙁

  5. I noticed 3 different Kyoani parodies in this episode: Nichijou (which Tomoko used in the club name), Haruhi (SOS brigade mentioned a few times) and Chuunibyou (the guy and girl who Tomoko fantadized as being in her club had a striking resemblance to the main two characters of Chuunibyou). Anyone spotted anything else?

    1. My god I got shivers reading that. If that’s how the manga ends and the anime actually uses it, that’s daring and no matter how depressing of an ending that is, I got to give them respect to end it that bold.

  6. With Tomoko’s increasing realization of her own loneliness and depression, I really hope that she talks to someone–anyone–about it before the show ends. Mom, Dad, Tomoki, Yuu, anyone will do. When you’re not aware of your own problems, it’s so difficult to extricate yourself from them. But when you’ve fully realized your barriers, sometimes you need to find help to break through them.

    I know that Tomoko is reserved and would find it difficult to express herself to others, but I still really want her to try. It’s been a long time since I wanted something so badly for an anime character.

  7. Holy!Watamote was just too merciless this week…However I did like how Tomoko was quite modest with what she wanted,as well as her increasing realization on how alone she is yet not lashing out on others(in her mind) as much as before.She might continue being a loner but this episode gave me the impression that she’s starting to accept that fact which is still some form of progress if you ask me – she might reach Hachiman level that way.

  8. Watching this show is like getting gutpunched every week, heh. This episode probably hit closest to home for me, because it was like I was looking at a mirror. Those aimless years of high school, where reality slaps down any big amibition (in relative terms to you, of course) you have (in Tomoko’s case, because those clubs in anime are wish-fullfillment for a reason) and where life is stuck in an endless rut. Though I guess I should call myself lucky, because despite being socially awkward I actually like being alone. So I pretty much did the same thing as her – sneak off to have lunch by myself in some dark corner – and I always got miffed whenever something stole my chairs and whatnot. But hey, those were calming, nice experiences. At least until the teachers caught me, send me to the school shrink and wanted to put me on group therapy, because being a loner obviously meant that I was a sick weirdo who was going to shoot up the school or something. God, high school sucked. Personally I’m expecting teachers to start bothering Tomoko too when they find out.

    But I digress. Loved the art direction this episode, especially that transition into the opening, and it did have a few lighter points (had to laugh at Tomoko thinking ‘kill steal!’ when she got the doll). For the rest, it really was one of the most down to earth episodes. I wonder if the author is speaking from experience, really, because it pretty much nails it. I do wonder if there’ll ever be a happy ending for Tomoko, for one, though it would be nice if the show ended with another of her little victories, at least.

  9. Tomoko fears that if she breaks the shell and asks for help, she fears further isolation and rejection from those that surround her if things go wrong.

    Right now, she is stuck in a quagmire. If she tells people what she really feels, she fears that people who do nothing to her now will start to reject her because she is “kimoi.”

    Hence, despite that she wants company and a friend, she is stuck in that state where she won’t do anything so as to keep the way things are. If she does nothing, she is just air – a person who no one cares if she is there or not. If she does something and it backfires, now she goes down one rank and becomes an outcast. In her view, that is worse because everyone thinking she is “kimoi” > no one caring about her existence.

    This is a common mindset for introverts with low self esteem. They think negatively, never positively. Asking a friend (i.e. Yuu-chan) for help is usually the positive mindset. Positive thinkers look at if Yuu-chan is Tomoko’s friend, she’ll never shun her off. But introverts with low self esteem like Tomoko, only sees things negatively where asking a friend for help means defeat (low self-esteem pride) and a potential for disaster (negative view) where instead of looking at Yuu-chan helping her, Tomoko thinks Yuu-chan will not be her friend anymore, leaving her with no friend at all.

  10. I was expecting the club story to be in this episode and so I THOUGHT I had gathered myself before starting to watch it animated, and with audio. I thought I was prepared!


  11. I’m starting to get bored of this formula, Tomoko either screws up the opportunities she’s given or avoids them completely.

    Where is the progress?! The only form of progress I’ve seen so far was Tomoko reconnecting with her busty ex-megane friend.

    1. The point of the show is figuring out how Tomoko’s going to spectacularly fail at her next genius plan to become more social. So if you expecting progress, it’s not going to be here. Also, the manga is on-going so this anime won’t even have a real ending.

      1. And that’s the bad part. This show is unique because they depict a lonely lifestyle like this, so would also be nice to show a way out. Unless the way out is when you understand what Tamoko is actually doing wrong, like neglecting opportunities.

  12. new class term for tomoko but now in seat in front middle row area give going why me yet after some break wonder found her own area to do her things.

    then days later give lack of food & etc got wasted then see her area got cleaned & moved well move on give take advantage of arcade doll prize yet still more lonely.

    school fest coming give tomoko don’t want to give horror hair doll from middle school was flop then go around see club making idea so try make own club.

    yet with imagine doing having own club & not doing school stuff well reality kick in yet her club got denied.

  13. While I can’t stand someone like her calling probably the only friend that cares about her “b1tch” is kind of irritating to me, I think Tomoko needs to realize that her problem isnt the others around her, but herself. She kind of isolates herself in an aura she created, she has many chances to step out of her cage, but she hasn’t. I don’t feel bad for her, and I might be mean to say that I am only watching to show to see her stupidity, and have the same reaction as her brother. I want to see how far she’s going to go before she realizes her own problems, before blaming others. Cheers for your review, M.

  14. That transition into the opening song was amazing!

    I hate that feeling when you find your place and someone uproots it 🙁

    That intro song they played during her fantasy was just way to happy I was just waiting for reality to smack her in the face and it smacked way harder than I expected.

  15. As for what Tomoko’s imagined club looks like… in the words of the legendary philosopher Billy Joel, “they’re sharing a drink they call loneliness, but it’s better than drinking alone.”

    Unfortunately for Tomoko, she doesn’t even get to share the drink of loneliness…

  16. Hey Guardian Enzo, I appreciate your reviews for being lively and opinionated, but you are also making a mistake when you turn it all in a psychiatrist’s diagnosis. Which is, in the end, wishful thinking: Tomoko’s case is a known one, it can be cured, it will be – not so different from the common commentary that is just a phase which Tomoko will eventually grow out from (only, with meds). There’s a reason if physicians don’t hold a monopoly over fiction commentary: their perspective is intrinsecally limited to their professional goal; and their abilities are not a magic wand that can fix anything wrong with anyone. Of course you don’t agree that you hold such a mindset (pathologize, hope for a cure) but try entertaining this thought: Tomoko is not sick, that’s how she will always be like. Commenters routinely report being discouraged into approaching the series by this crushing notion.

  17. I was this same way in high school. Luckily being in band forced me into scenarios where I just couldn’t ignore people no matter how hard I tried. After HS and before college I realized that that’s what I wanted when I was watching anime in much too large of a capacity. I almost pulled the same shit in college but, I went out to a fraternity recruiting event and found other people that shared my obsessive love of the medium while also being insanely outreaching. If you are truly and utterly in the same situation as Tomoko, and you want to not be. You have to have to speak words to people. Any words. Lots of people are nice, and they ARE aware of “That Kid In The Corner”. To quote Yang from RWBY

    ” You have friends all around you. You just haven’t met them yet. “


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