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WataMote 2: Turn and Face the Strain

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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.


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.

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.

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