WataMote Episode One: Tomoko the Outsider

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WataMote‘s first episode begins with the protagonist, Kuroki Tomoko, checking out a website delineating the “unpopular girl” in the comfort of her own home – the narrator even anounces that her story “really doesn’t matter,” something that may be peculiar upon first glimpse, but makes sense when viewed with the understanding that Tomoko represents the sort of social outsider most shows present as a minor character or a secondary protagonist. She has to resort to the Internet to gather information about what it means to be popular or unpopular, making her self-conscious; this immediately presents her as the sort of person who lives “outside” the conventionally-accepted boundaries of social interactions, and throughout the episode, she silently wonders about her own position in society. That the episode opens within Tomoko’s bedroom, with the only source of light being from her computer (the lights are off, and no sunlight streams in from any available window) at once places Tomoko within an interior space without any sense of a large national or local social framework – she’s alone, without any sort of social cues to help her understand the world around her, with only the computer and the ever-expansive Internet at her disposal.

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