I usually don’t get overly emotional while watching something (movies/anime/shows/etc). The worst thing they can do to me is a few tears and a sniff, and then I would brush it off like 10 minutes later. Until recently, I stumbled across Watamote, which is a 12 episode show about a high school girl who suffers from social anxiety disorder. I discovered this anime through a quiz I took the other day called “Which Anime Character Are You?” and the result I got was Tomoko Kuroki. My curiosity got me into watching this anime to see what it was about because I’m a person who suffers from anxiety and depression everyday and it has been getting worse as time passes.
I started watching the first 3 episodes and I was immediately hooked by the show’s main character. Tomoko Kuroki wants to be popular in high school but due to her anxiety and bad social skills she constantly misses her opportunity by either embarrassing herself or not do anything at all. She’s so afraid and nervous that she can’t even talk in a complete sentence towards anybody without freaking out and stutters every single word she tries to spit out. She also has a self esteem problem where she’s constantly being judgmental towards other people and society in general but in her defense, she’s young and has no experience being with other people or knows what it’s like being in the outside world and you are constantly rooting for her hoping that she will improve herself.
But my personal interrelation with this character was so surreal that I could only handle watching one episode per day because I’ve never felt such passionate and emotional feelings towards a fictional character before in my life, I felt that she was made perfectly just for me. I was so connected with Tomoko Kuroki feeling so sad for her because I completely understood the struggle she’s constantly going through and it felt so real to me that it felt like I was watching myself. I desperately wanted to reach out into the screen and give this girl a hug, which something I never had before towards a fictional character in my life.
Sometimes when I watch something that tries to make me feel sad like Grave of the Fireflies, Barefoot Gen, A Silent Voice, Your Name, 5 Centimeters Per Second or non-anime stuff like Gladiator, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Toy Story, or any other Pixar & classic Disney movie, I usually brush it off a few minutes later because I understood that it’s all intentional. But this one particular anime however was so personal to me that I was feeling things I ever felt before in my life. When I finished watching the last episode of Watamote in my dark room in the middle of the night, I collapsed on the floor feeling nothing but pain all over my body, sobbing my eyes out, and screaming inside my head “Please! Somebody help me! Oh god, please! I can’t live like this anymore! I want to fucking die!” It emotionally wrecked me so badly, I couldn’t even sleep. This was an experience that has never happened to me until now.
Despite it's comedy elements, the show would make a really good drama by using anxiety in a way that makes you feel related rather than using mental illness as a tool to laugh at and it doesn’t feel out of touch or insulting. As a person with anxiety disorder, I feel so grateful that I got to stay alive experiencing this anime’s existence because whenever I feel depressed or socially abandoned, I would go straight back to watching this show feeling like I’m not alone by myself. Like with all forms of art and entertainment, Watamote isn’t for everyone. That’s the most important thing to understand about this anime. If you watch this anime and felt nothing like I did, that is 100% reasonable. It’s purpose is self-aware and was made to connect with a specific audience. I’ve had conversations with other people on social media (especially the anime community) who also suffers with social anxiety and everyone told me that Tomoko Kuroki is their favorite character. As cheesy it may sound, it does make me feel better knowing that a lot of people have shared connections with his character the same way I did. And if you felt the same way I did, I’ll be more than happy to meet you.
I believe this is the thread for you.
Yo! That's one of the most original series I've seen!