Wednesday, June 13, 2018

No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular! (2013)

No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys Fault I'm Not Popular! is based off a manga series, with 12 episodes plus an OVA that came with the limited edition of the 7th volume of the manga.  It follows Kuroki Tomoko, who had just graduated from middle school and about to start high school.  She was never popular in the first place but expects to live out her dreams at high school, having heaps of friends and getting a boyfriend.  The reality is harsh though, especially when you don't try and expect to have everything handed to you on a platter.  Tomoko remains unpopular and has no friends, which is not surprising considering her social awkwardness.

Tomoko is into anime and games, both of which aren't the reason why it's so difficult for her to gain friends.  Rather, she retreats too much into her shell and don't interact much with other people, if at all.  A lot of her understanding of how high school and real life works was gained from her experience in games... which is why it's so funny to see her reactions.  We're frequently shown Tomoko's delusions and unrealistic expectations on interactions and the outcomes from those.  This is actually the funniest, and most insightful, sections of the series, when Tomoko's interpretations are way off base and much more exaggerated than what is considered normal.

For example, Tomoko is often jealous at other "happy people" and resorts to thinking negative thoughts about them to relieve that jealousy.  On the other hand, she then feels sad and pities herself.  What makes this interesting is that these feel normal and something that you would do, you understand why she is having these thoughts.  Tomoko is quiet and when she does speak, it horribly backfires on her as she inadvertently says the wrong things and causes wrong impressions to other people.  She isn't your typical anime main character as she's disheveled and doesn't do much to improve her outward appearance to be more attractive as she does not think that there is an issue.

Tomoko tries all of the different tropes and cliches to become popular, such as the gaudy type, the reserved type and the expressionless type.  As you can glean from the title, she truly believes it is not her fault that she's not popular, but everyone else's.  Tomoko actually does have one friend that she still keeps in contact with from middle school, whom she regularly contacts for advice but not always in the most tactful way.  This is a slice-of-life anime, chronicling Tomoko's daily life of trying to make friends and get through high school.  It covers the most mundane of things but due to Tomoko's personality and misunderstand of the world, certain events will come off as funny.

Tomoko has an older brother who is like the complete opposite, being athletic and popular.  The interactions between the two are portrayed realistically.  Perhaps most visible to viewers is that to all her classmates and any outsider who is not privy to her situations and thoughts, Tomoko will definitely come off as creepy.  The series often have sexual references, which is surprising.  Tomoko frequently leaps to conclusions and coupled with the ominous music during certain scenes, it does wonders to show how futile and silly some of Tomoko's actions are.  There are plenty of funny and at the same time, painful, moments where her family walks in on her during the most awkward of moments.

The sad thing about most of Tomoko's embarrassing moments is that it isn't even being taken out of context, she really is that creepy and doing what the person who walked in thinks she is doing.  The ending of the series isn't satisfying since nothing feels resolved and it just somewhat ends.  The OVA is an interesting side story in which Tomoko tries to impress someone and ends up getting into trouble for her mischief.  Overall, No Matter How I Look At It, It's You Guy's Fault I'm Not Popular! is an interesting and unique take on social anxiety and how the main character tries to interact with the world.  There are plenty of painful moments, plenty of cringeworthy moments, heaps of funny moments and heaps of "real" moments where you truly could see it happening.


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