First Reactions: WataMote Episode 12 (End) and Quickie Scores (7/10)

The ending for this series was very much its twelfth episode. It opened with a recap and ended with a loop to the beginning, showing a main character who made no real progress as a person. It wasn’t a conclusion that was difficult to predict, but it does again highlight the biggest weakness of a show that expects one character to carry the entire show on her back with only a bunch of situational humor as a sidekick. As it is, it’s a fun show, but by no means the best comedy of the year (or even the season).

Aside from the one almost-moment with Imai at the end, the meat of the episode were a few skits highlighting Tomoko’s attempt to get attention in the class: using a hidden mike to try and figure out why she was so indistinct and squashing a cockroach (as if that would turn things around in one swing). With her rocket-high expectations in the cockroach scene and her cutting off the daily talks with her brother, it seems she’s no closer to realizing that being popular will take constant effort than she was in episode 1. Too, the Another reference in the mike scene, one of the shallowest references in the show, didn’t help the humor content of that skit.

To top it off, the beginning and ending of the episode were a low-pizazz clip show and a looped running sequence (to be fair, Yuu getting distracted by the cat at the end was pretty neat). Not exactly the kind of thing that’ll put me any higher up on a show that I was still trying to decide how I felt about.

WataMote’s ending may have been climactic when judged against the rest of the show, but it was a fairly typical one structure-wise. As much as I liked the show, I feel it would have worked just as well if it were half the length. In a way, the irreverent premise that is its biggest selling point (one loner character taking most of the spotlight), is also the show’s biggest weakness; it ultimately lacks the second gear that a comedy with multiple characters can get by playing them off against each other. Compare it with Joshiraku, Full Metal Panic, or even Servant x Service this season, where the characters don’t have amazing amounts of depth but make up for it in a number of ways, and it falls short of the upper tier of anime comedies. It probably would have been able to get away with that in a 4-6 episode OVA, but it comes off as a show with a solid opening kick that spreads itself thinner and thinner over time.

Final Scores:

Character Designs: 1/1 (Tomoko’s design, the most critical one, is a smooth fit, varying between bushy-cute and clearly a little ugly depending on the situation.)

Soundtrack: 2/2 (Tomoko’s voice actress nails the antisocial bent of her character, and the music is well-fitted to the awkward situations the show provides.)

Writing: 1/3 (Creates clever scenarios and has a suitable main character, but is handicapped by the lack of any real consistent second banana cast members.)

Direction: 3/4 (Probably the biggest plus of the show. It’s visually clever with plenty of pop, and never tells a joke the same way more than 2 or 3 times.)

Overall: 7/10 (Being well-made makes the show worth watching, but don’t expect it to flip the switch and kick into a higher gear.)

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