First Impressions – Watashi ga Motete Dousunda

So, two things I want to address right up front:

  1. I laughed.  Hard.
  2. I kinda hated myself for laughing hard.

watamodou-01-1So here’s the thing with Watashi ga Motete Dousunda (is there an abbreviation?  Because that’s going to take way too long to type)…  Based on one episode, I think this series is built around kind of a reprehensible hook.  That is Kae, the main character, is a mean-spirited caricature of overweight girls, and the entire rest of the cast (apart from her best friend) goes from mocking her and ignoring her to slavering all over her.  All of the cast are basically jerks in the premiere – either shallow like the main girls or shallower like the main boys – except for the guys named Mutsumi and to some extent, Igarashi.  And Kobayashi Yuu’s take on a fat girl is frankly pretty mean-spirited and demeaning.

watamodou-01-2So why the hell did this thing strike me so funny?  Dammit, the fucker is really clever – it gets the otaku humor pretty spot-on, for staters.  The dialogue is snappy and smart, and the visuals are amusing.  Also, there’s something hilariously meta about Brain’s Base doing a series that deconstructs otome game situations the way Watamodou (there, I made one) does.  And then there’s the matter of timing, which is so crucial to this sort of comedy.  Banter-driven humor is driven by rhythm – the dialogue has to flow a certain way (Steins;Gate is among the best examples of this).  And Watamodou clearly understands this and pretty much nails it.

watamodou-01-3The core premise (once you set aside the weight stuff) is innocent enough – a fujoshi girl who would much rather fantasize about guys getting together than be in a relationship with one herself ends up being chased by a bunch of guys.  Given how prevalent yuri is in anime these days  it’s telling (no mirrors welcome) that we haven’t seen this premise get more play gender-reversed, but it’s always interesting to see the female otaku experience portrayed with some wit and incisiveness. Seeing Kae go out on a date with four guys straight out of a Brain’s Base otome game all drawn in a distinctly shoujo art style is side-splittingly funny – first she hides, watching from a distance, then all the while tries to play the role of the demure heroine while pairing them off in her mind.

watamodou-01-4Finally, Kae’s otaku self wins out when the local Animate Anime Ito puts a stock of swag from her favorite series (it’s the death of her favorite character, Shion, which has caused her to precipitously lose weight and become a hottie) on sale and she’s forced to admit the truth to the guys. Mutsumi seems genuine in being understanding (I sense a closet otaku here), while for the others it strikes me as more pretending not to care because they want to get into her pants.  Finally, Shion dakimakura in hand, Kae happily recounts her date to her friend and fellow fujoshi A-chan, who at least seems to have a bit more common sense than Kae does about what’s really going on here.

watamodou-01-5I could easily see Watamodou going sour really fast – I mean, the whole idea behind it is pretty abhorrent.  But I can’t deny I found the premiere very funny indeed, and it’s certainly not impossible that all this is a setup – maybe mangaka Junko (who seems to be mainly a BL writer, FWIW) actually intends to take these disturbing elements head-on later in the story.  I’m not remotely sure how I’m going to feel about this series after one more episode, never mind an entire season, but for one week at least it did more than enough to bring me back for more.

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6 comments

  1. I read the first chapter of the manga and I think that without the doubtlessly questionable dubbing choices the mean-spiritedness you mentioned is non-existent. Kae comes off as a sympathetic character and there’s not really any attention drawn to the matter of her weight; her personality is defined more by her fujoshi-ness, and the slimming down simply a ridiculous plot device to set the situation in motion. It’s the way her voice was changed in the anime that strongly shifts the meaning of that part. Luckily it won’t happen again (save for the possibility of a “Kae goes back to being fat” arc, which I’ll admit for a series like this is as likely as any other source of potential conflict).

  2. Honestly, I’m more concerned with the construct that everyone’s attitude towards her changes when she loses the weight, and the author seems to treat this like it’s perfectly fine.

  3. A

    Yeah, i agree. In the manga, her weight is not something that was focused on, and guys are less mean in the beginning. Anime is overplayed for laughs. Still, loved the first episode despite its shortcomings and looking forward to next episode. Also, senpai is for the win:)

  4. F

    Yeah, it was really funny and I even smiled numerous times during watching the show despite that I’ve already checked out the first volume of the manga so I knew what was coming. As the previous commenters said the mean-spritedness is much more low-key in the manga than in the anime adaptation but the jokes are still funny and came in a good rhythm in both medium. And when I read that part in the manga where Igarashi said that he has also seen Evangelion before just to show Kae that he’s not a judgemental prick towards otaku I almost fell off my chair with laughing. (I mean it’s quite a good joke normally but for me it is really accentuated by the fact that where I live among my generation in the anime fandom there are just a few people who have even seen the original Evangelion series and fewer who appreciate it for the masterpiece it is. I have a friend whom I have tried to persuade over the past five years to watch Evangelion and till this day my tries were unsuccessful since he always says that it is an old shounen anime with strange animation and despite my best efforts to correct him he keeps being unrelenting. The funny part of our situation is that he has also tried to get me watch his favourite anime (The monogatari series) and his tries are also unsuccessful since I find Nisio Isin’s style of writing pretty boring.)

  5. r

    If you take a look at the ending credits, you can see that TBS had already an abbreviation:
    http://www.tbs.co.jp/anime/watamote/
    Seems like we’ve got an abbreviation conflict on our hands, lol.

  6. G

    The humour seems a little uninspired for me personally; I chuckled a bit, but I think this sort of humour won’t stick for long. However, Kae and A-chan’s banter is oddly endearing, maybe it appeals to this slightly fujo heart of mine.

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