WataMote: Wata We Are Is Wata We Do

I made it through four episodes of WataMote before dropping it.  I genuinely liked the series, Tomoko is a riot, and unlike Richard Eisenbeis, I don’t think the series is mean-spirited, but it’s just a little too discomforting for me to continue to spend time following it.

Some of that discomfort has to do with seeing myself and others in Tomoko.  WataMote‘s lead character is delusional, thinking herself only a step or two away from attaining popularity.  But even in these early episodes, Tomoko seems to realize that she’s not an “easy fix.”  She understands that there are many deep-rooted issues keeping her from being a “normal,” popular girl, and it isn’t as easy to treat as 1-2-3.

Still, she can’t or won’t make that connection into a lasting one.  Tomoko doesn’t quite get it.  Most of the time, she thinks of herself in one way, even though her actions show someone else entirely.  There are plenty of examples of this, but one that sticks out to me is Tomoko’s judgmental attitude.  She throws around the word “slut” frequently (in her mind at least) – this even though her best friend would more than fit into her definition of the term (and even though Tomoko tries to emulate these girls).

Tomoko Kuroki
Art by トライフル2杯 (Pixiv)

When I was growing up, and even still, I found myself heaping judgment down on people – frequently and heavily.  I judged the way people acted, how they dressed, and what they did and believed.  I might have been slightly more socially adept than Tomoko, but I was just as twisted – and I was even worse, because I called myself a Christian.

I know I wasn’t alone in this.  After all, the picture of an evangelical Christian in America may be one of two things – the genial and uncool Ned Flanders or the judgmental, hypocritical right-winger.  We’ve done well to cultivate this hateful image, even if our “Lord” was anything but.

So why don’t we just flip the switch and turn the judgement off?  Well, it’s not as easy as that, especially for a heart resisting change.  As with Tomoko, a few attempts to change actions won’t really change anything.

For me, I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) just tell myself to stop judging people.  I needed to understand who I was, the depths of my sin, the holiness of God, and the reaches of God’s grace.  Once my heart accepted grace and love, my actions, thoughts, and motivations began to alter (some quickly and others more slowly).  I no longer had to tell myself not to judge others (not usually) because grace had changed my very heart and now my actions aligned with my words.

Thoughts, words, and actions are inseparable.  While hypocritical people can hide their disdain, it eventually comes out.  But a kind person is lovely from the inside out.  They’re not individuals trying to do nice things; they are nice people who act based on the outpourings of their hearts.  That’s perhaps a lesson Tomoko (and many of us) could learn – if you want to be someone special, start with a changed deep down in your core.  Work from the inside-our rather than outside-in.  It’s much easier – and more permanent – that way.

TWWK

Husband. Dad. Occasionally Korean. Enjoys Star Wars, ASOIAF, and Meg Ryan movies. Tweets before proofreading. Ghibli. Oregairuuuuu. Jesus is King.

8 thoughts on “WataMote: Wata We Are Is Wata We Do

  1. It is a matter of empathy and humanity. When we see ourselves as being in need of God’s grace, every bit as much as someone else (no matter how much or how little wrong they’ve done), it becomes easier to more deeply desire that they understand how loved and how beautiful they are, and to desire that they will receive grace and mercy and not just judgment and punishment.

    1. Very true. I think the more we spend time with God, the more we remember our condition and the power of grace, and the more we naturally become emphathetic and loving toward others.

  2. I’m still enjoying WataMote for the reason you pointed out–I see my past self in Tomoko and that really gets me thinking about stuff I’d kind of buried a long time ago. In some ways, WataMote appeals to the same part of me that Genshiken does because they’re both series that are easy for me to relate to and help me think about the kind of person I was growing up. I can then analyze the ways I’ve changed and grown and I find it enlightening in the dry-humor kind of way that really appeals to me.

    1. While the show’s kind of worn on me, I definitely related to it. I find myself more and more drawn to the characters that have obvious faults, as I related with them so much better than to characters who are rather perfect.

  3. I think i like up to episode 4 because at least there was some character development as you mentioned, after that the episodes keeps on doing the same pattern,,, embarrasing moments only and thats it.

  4. My “thing” about Watamote is how self-referential it is: to both anime as a whole, and the culture that sprang up around it. While I was never Tomoko, I knew plenty of people like her. Most of them ended up doing a complete 180 in college, and looked back on those days with both revulsion and a hint of nostalgia. Tomoko is, in many cases, both innocent and ignorant, of both the greater world at large, and also herself.

    Judgment aside (and I will be the first to admit, I judged like a madman until only a few years ago), Tomoko pokes fun at a “syndrome” that we as fans have seen and recognize, and also is a reflection of the “dark side” of what fandom can be. Idealized? Completely. Erroneous? Yes. But if she conjures up nervous laughter, or a sense of “I’ve seen that before,” then she’s “done her job.” At the very least, she’s done it in the most “non-threatening” way possible.

    I admire your compassion, other Charles ;p

Leave a Reply