WataMote 2: Turn and Face the Strain

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Summary

While fantasizing about getting verbally abused by handsome yandere boys, Tomoko receives a call from an old friend, Yuu (c.v.: Kana Hanazawa). Yuu wants to meet up on the weekend to catch up, since they haven’t seen each other since high school started. Tomoko, fearful that she has nothing to talk about with her, starts accumulating experiences that she finds discussion worthy: “sleeping with” (next) to a boy in the nurse’s office, and, perhaps more consequentially, being drawn by an otherwise unappealing boy….But when they finally meet, the once nerdy Yuu has been transformed into a fashionable high school girl in a miniskirt and contact lenses. Tomoko only relaxes when the two of them go to the arcade, play their old games, and talk about anime. When it is time for them to part, they emotionally express their encouragement to one another…only for Yuu to reveal that she has a boyfriend, to the shock and dismay of Tomoko, who once again retreats into her yandere abuse fantasies while clutching the cute picture the boy drew for her earlier.

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Opinion

Yes, folks, I have made an impromptu return to episodic blogging. We’ll see how this goes.

Tomoko is much more likable in this episode than in the previous one. Her relative unlikability, note, was a feature and not a bug of the first episode, because being scorned by outsiders really does tend to turn the scorned into scorners—and that Tomoko is still there when she comes across a flirting couple planning to make out at the guy’s home. But there was something even more exaggerated about her behavior this time: whether it’s the MP3s of boys chastising her or her fantasies of being ravished, her vomiting when faced with social anxiety (something we’ve been seeing more of lately in anime—see Tsuritama and the beginning of Kids on the Slope), her creepy, possessive chuckling over her portrait. Sawako this is not, though, really, they are both just as naive in their own ways. The humor makes her more likable overall, and even cute in her own way. “Cute in her own way” is something Tomoko needs to learn in due time.

There are two plots with new characters here, one about the manga artist boy who draws her picture, and the other with her middle school friend Yuu. They reinforce each other by showing her that appearances aren’t everything. Tomoko is not free from the usual human superficialities—the overweight artist is not someone that even she would want to get to know, at first—and her shock at seeing the much more fashionable Yuu makes her wonder if this is the same person she once knew. She is proved wrong in both respects. The fat nerd quickly captures her face in a way she finds appealing, and Yuu is still interested in the same nerdy, otaku-ish hobbies as before—they have a blast at the arcade and in in taking some well-deserved swipes at the current anime scene.

You know, this isn't entirely so true anymore. But it's true enough.
You know, this isn’t entirely so true anymore. But it’s true enough.

However, since this is WataMote and not Kimi ni Todoke, there are further twists that indicate trouble ahead. Fat artist actually only knows how to draw one generic face and doesn’t really see her as an individual, though she doesn’t know it yet. Yuu has a boyfriend, which sends Tomoko scurrying back to her fantasies in jealousy and despondency. It seems that Tomoko will not be able to catch a break that easily, which not only helps keep the plot going but is all too reminiscent of reality.

This episode sets Tomoko on a path to either open up more—the scene where she shouts out her encouragement to Yuu was sincere and earnest, and she realizes a boy seems to appreciate something about her—or to close herself off even further due to neither of them being exactly what she dreams of. The collision between expectations and reality forms the central internal conflict of this show and it’s off to a good start.

EDIT: corrected information about the artist boy, whose motives were far less obsessive than I first supposed.

5 thoughts on “WataMote 2: Turn and Face the Strain”

  1. Dude, the fat guy is not obsessed with her, truth to be told he doesnt even really care about her. The joke is that the fat guy can only draw generic cute anime faces for characters because thats “the fastest and easiest face he can draw” but Tomoko misunderstood that thinking that someone thinks that she is pretty.

    1. You know, that interpretation makes more sense. When we see the identical faces at the end I thought I was seeing his version of Tomoko specifically but I can see that’s not quite it. Corrected, thanks.

  2. From the way the manga artist delivered his lines, it seems that it is not a question that he can’t draw other faces, it is that that face is the fastest to draw, thus makes populating crowd scenes easier.
    Basically that face is hes generic female face, perhaps how he sees the masses of girls who pay him no attention or scorn him. His portrait lumped Tomoko with all those girls. This grouping behaviour is quite common for outcasts and the oppressed to do. It hurts less to be ignored by a group than an individual. Consider it an avoidance mechanism,
    It the artist becomes a recurring character, especially if Tomoko shows a more positive attitude toward him them other girls have shown, she might start becoming one of his leading characters as he starts seeing a person and not part of a group.
    Often outcasts attract and such atrraction might serve to adjust both to look beyond their own fears (and experience) to see there just might be other possibilities for their lives.

    cat

  3. I mean, do girls always fancy about erotic stuff all the time? Her logical thinking is exactly the same as mine, which I find pretty scary. You know, every time I encounter couples, or riajuu people, I immediately think about what they do in bed, like what kind of position they enjoy or enclosed place like karaoke box, they must be doing dirty stuff like, “oh my microphone down there is hauling!” When she tried to peep girl’s pantsu, that was really hilarious. Her head is entirely clouded with sex.

  4. A basic difference between adolescent males and females is the focus of their obsession. For males it is sex and for females, romance.
    Ever notice how many girls go wild for some young singer or actor like Justin Bieber? He is popular not because of a sexual attraction but for the opposite reason. They know there is no chance they would really end up with him, so he is sexually safe. At the same time that makes him the perfect young romance. With sex removed romance can be pure so they are able to indulge in romantic fantasies, of trips to romantic places, etc.
    At the same time society objectifies girls so they rush to become an attractive object of male attention. Again this is more for social and romantic reasons.
    But in the case of males, they rarely have romantic interest in some far away safe female. Their interest is almost exclusively sexual. Not for them fantasies of romantic getaways. They fantasize wild sex and lots of it.
    So what you see in young girls is not the sexual fantasies of the males but a more romantic vision of the whole couple thing. Where guys expect sex behind the karaoke door, girls envision kissing and looking into each other’s eyes. Sadly this seems to be going away in current US society (and the societies to which the US so aggressively exports it’s culture) so eventually there may be no more differences between love and lust.

    cat

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