WataMote 4: You Can (Not) Be Touched

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Summary

After surfing the web for too long one night, Tomoko, knowing deep down that she won’t be getting skinship with a real boy anytime soon, tries other means to get into sexual situations: first by trying to induce wet dreams–which don’t come, except at the worst possible moment; second, by wishing that someone would at least molest her–which does not have the outcome she expected or wanted; third, buying sexy panties with help from her now-fashionable friend Yuu–which are exposed in the most humiliating, and unusual, way; and finally by buying a BL game and a “massager”–which is discovered by her father. It seems that Tomoko is destined to be “pure,” and not voluntarily either.

Tomoko: stalker in training
Tomoko: stalker in training

Thoughts

The episode opens with a scene that I can relate to wholeheartedly: spending hours into the night surfing the web, reading one random article after another long past your bedtime. Tomoko is a hikki in training! But the bulk of the episode is about sex, sex, sex, and unlike Nakamura’s railing about it in Aku no Hana, it’s not boring.

Let’s be honest: for a lot of nerds/geeks in high school, one of the most frustrating things is feeling like there’s no outlet for all those hormones rushing through your body. You’re not handsome/pretty enough, you’re not popular enough, no one will go on a date with you, and so while all those other people are making out and learning all about their bodies, you’re just left standing there with only sad fantasies to keep you going. And I can tell you that this is even true, perhaps doubly true, if you have a religious upbringing.

There’s both a refreshing and a troubling level to the things that happen to Tomoko in this episode: it’s refreshing in the sense that Tomoko is not the “virginal pure” type of high school girl that we often see in otaku-oriented anime. Her lustfulness, which gets taken to deliberately absurd heights, is much more believable on a human level, and all the more sad in that we know her efforts are going to be thwarted. (It doesn’t help that she comes off as creepy, even to Yuu.) Her unhappiness over being undateable and untouchable is easy to relate to for some of us.

Does anyone really think this way?
Does anyone really think this way?

That feeling is tied to the troubling aspect, particularly in the molestation storyline, where the story seems to make light of harassment and even rape by the end. Yes, we get that Tomoko is desperate, though part of her does seem to get that this is no picnic; and yes, perhaps the point is that she so starved of validation that her lonely mind can think that this is fine. But it’s not fine, and the show’s ambiguity on the point breaks the tension between comedy and tragedy that the show had negotiated so well. It wants us to laugh at her mindset, but I found it more depressing than funny, and so I couldn’t laugh at that segment at all. Can someone be so starved for touch that she’d think being molested is preferable to nothing?

(Note: I’d be interested to hear whether there are people who can answer that question, or if this episode is a fanciful projection, which is what I suspect it is. And if it is, that’s not a good reflection on the mind of the creators.) 

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We are still treated to the same incredible facial expressions as before, fortunately, and the same genius comic timing/cringe humor, particularly by the third part when she discovers the BL game and the vibrator. (Come now, that’s what we are supposed to think it is and is the basis of the scene’s humor.) Those parts did make me laugh, though the pain vs humor ratio is a lot higher overall. You begin to think, “so this is why Japan’s birthrate is so low…” and why surveys show that the Japanese are the least sexually satisfied out of major developed nations. Combined with the hikikomori phenomenon–and Tomoko is well on her way toward being one–the humor of WataMote might be a reflection of the sad state of affairs that many of the “less desirable” people, men and women, face for relationships. It’s not pretty.

The raunchiness of this episode, is, admittedly, sometimes both fun and funny. But it’s a mask for Tomoko’s humiliation and loneliness. There is one ray of light: we see her dad gently, non-judgmentally carry her to bed after she’s fallen asleep in front of the game with the massager still turned on. Despite her callous treatment of her brother and his reciprocal disdain, Tomoko at least still has a family and a real home. Right now, it’s the only place she really has where she can more or less be herself. Let’s hope she’ll be able to move forward even further.

Then again, he could be thinking: she's going to be living here into her adulthood, isn't she?
Then again, he could be thinking: she’s going to be living here into her adulthood, isn’t she?

6 thoughts on “WataMote 4: You Can (Not) Be Touched”

  1. I’d rather not put my name to this quite yet because it’d reveal just how much of a sad human being I was as a high schooler, but yes, you can be so starved for affection and contact that you think being molested by creepers is better than nothing, and that girls who are complaining about it are really just bragging about being attractive enough to get hit on.

    1. Wow, I see. That’s quite heartbreaking. I’m sorry that you went through that. High school can be hellish sometimes, huh…hopefully things are better for you now.

  2. That’s Ahe-gao (orgasmic face) she got while dreaming in the classroom. Every episode her face is getting more distorted, a state of Kao-gei (facial comedy). Or contortionism.

    The most amazing scene was that no one touches her, so she touches herself. No one gropes her butt, so she gropes her butt herself. That was quite a scene. My case will be no girl lets me touch. so I touch myself, thinking about 2D girls. No one has skinship with me, so I have skinship with myself. Yup, she is a card-carrying Kimo-ota. She is exactly like me, just the sex is different.

    Nietzsche was right, a sense of ugliness leads to ressentiment, Socrates syndrome. WataMote is totally Nietzschean.

    1. Touching oneself…there is a lot of sublimated masturbation in this show. The “massager,” the eroges, the yandere tapes: we may not ever see Tomoko doing it physically, but it’s clearly implied and the effect on her, as written on her “orgasmic face,” is the same. And like in Welcome to the NHK, this is both amusing and sad, a commentary on her loneliness.

      Tomoko is also exhibit A of how isolation can warp her fantasies as well as refine a sense of bitter victimhood. That’s why she’s not a very nice person, even when people are trying to be nice to her.

  3. I’m thoroughly enjoying this series, so I’ll go ahead and toss in my two cents. I completely empathize with Tomoko. I was not even remotely popular in school, I assume because of my weight and/ or comical nature. I never even held a girl’s hand. I would fantasize about suddenly being beset upon by a ferociously hormonal woman, never dreaming that I could initiate any kind of romantic interaction. However, there is a big difference between men and women. Even now, men are expected to ask the woman out and initiate a relationship. I would say that having this mindset is even harder if you are male. The percentage of women that would be interested in me is cut even smaller by also including the requirement that she would ask me out first.

    On a tangentially related note: Men. Beware women who initiate. Two years ago, I began dating a girl because she, in fact, asked me out. Fast forward to about 3 months ago, and I find myself in a heart-wrenching break-up because she had been cheating on me with someone who was my closest friend in the world. I have, therefore, banished these people from my life.
    Men! Beware the tiger woman! Spurn the hungry lioness! She feeds upon your loneliness and will dash your heart upon the jagged rocks of despair.

    1. First off: man, that sucks…I’m so sorry you’ve been betrayed like that. I hope you find worthier people to be with soon. That kind of drama can be incredibly toxic, so it’s good that you’ve cut them out of your life. Get the support and healing that you need.

      And you know, I too spent my teen years and a good part of my twenties pining for some good woman to come along and rescue me from my loneliness, maybe even jolt me out of my dullness. (Manic Pixie Dream Girl anyone?) The reality is, in my experience, pretty much what you describe: for social/historical/safety/lots of other reasons most women do not initiate, and the few who do can be risky. (I have my own ultimately sad story to tell about that, but not in this space.) Is that equal or fair? Perhaps not. Then again, the kind of courage and initiative that is required to ask someone you like out isn’t a bad thing either. It’s a good thing to know how you feel, act on it, and be clear in word and deed. That also happens to be attractive.

      Tomoko could learn that too: instead of constantly stewing and imagining fanciful scenarios, assuming things about people that may not be true, she could try to actually say what she means for a change. But then she wouldn’t be our “lovable” loser…and the story would most likely be over by then!

      But anyways this is not a relationship advice column–I recommend someone far more experienced than me for that :) Best wishes to you, and I hope things get better for you soon.

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