Saturday, September 7, 2013

Farewell, Tomoko

As of the eighth episode, the novelty of Watamote's realistic(ish) premise has worn off. For a while, I, like many others, found Tomoko to be a relatable character. I focused on what I had in common with this socially anxious teen, rather than the glaring differences. I planned to root for Tomoko until the end, and hoped to see her gradually overcome her social anxiety and twisted thinking. Unfortunately, I don't think I can stick around long enough to watch her overcome anything. I'm not sure I'll be able to finish this episode, actually.

I'm learning more and more about how twisted Tomoko is. I still care for her and want her to succeed in life, but I can't hang out around her if she keeps doing and saying things that I'm this uncomfortable with.
Tomoko wanted her younger cousin to think she had
hickeys, so she used a vacuum cleaner on herself. Her
ideas of what's "cool" and "mature" for a high school girl
are a little off... (ep 8)

I still care about Tomoko as much as for any character in an anime drama. I wish I could continue with her through her painful high school journey. But I cannot keep company with her. It just isn't good for me. It seems like each episode, we see more of her erotic fantasies and habits. Sure, very few of those are explicitly shown. In fact, I have no doubt that much of it would have gone way over my head two years ago. But it's enough. I must say goodbye, despite my previous resolution to watch to the end.

It's been a while since I last decided to drop an anime halfway through due to personal convictions. In fact, the last one I recall was Gankutsuou: the Count of Monte Cristo a few years ago. Even then, I only marked it as "stalled," with the thought that someday, when I was a little older, it might be okay for me. There have been some anime that I dropped after only one or two episodes. There have also been some that I probably should have dropped but didn't. Unfortunately, Watamote has crossed the line.

To be clear, this is not meant to be a judgmental statement in anyway. I'm not quitting Watamote because Tomoko did something I firmly believe to be wrong. If that was the only criteria, my list of watchable shows, anime or live action, would be very short. I'm quitting because I don't like that stuff littering my mind. Some Christians may be able to watch this show without it affecting the purity of their thoughts. I don't think I can. For similar reasons, I've unsubscribed from YouTube channels and marked songs as "disliked" on Pandora. I've even considered unfollowing Twitter feeds that have a very high frequency of R-rated tweets (that's a harder decision, especially if I've had any interaction with the person). My personal strengths lie in my mind, which means my weaknesses do, too. I'm not great at dwelling only on "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable" (Philippians 4:8). I just hope that, for me, dropping shows like Watamote will help the images in my mind stay clean. It's a small step, and I know I could benefit from greater discernment with what I watch. But it's a step, at least.

So, farewell, Tomoko. I wish you well. If I have the time, I'll keep up with you by reading other people's blogs and tweets.

To the reader: different shows impact different people in different ways. There are some TV-MA level anime that seem to leave no damage to my mind and conscience, but would scar others. Same vice-versa. How do you feel about Watamote? Any comments on the subject of discernment in what you watch?


  1. Nothing about Watamote stuck out to me as problematic, aside from some things here and there. Or rather, Tomoko's fantasies and habits come off to me as so ridiculous, depraved, and detached from reality that it doesn't really affect me other than make me laugh at how ridiculous, depraved, and detached from reality they are.

    And with discernment, I think that's something we have to watch out for. It's one thing in a show like this, where such things are portrayed in clearly negative lights, as Tomoko's fantasies and habits are clearly keeping her from being able to improve herself in any meaningful way. (They may be too much for some people to handle, still, which I think is more of a personal thing.) What's really dangerous, though, is when something that is sinful is portrayed as though it is something good or okay, and that's where our discernment powers need to kick into overdrive.

    That said, Watamote isn't really among my favorites of this season; a full two-thirds of the shows I'm following are ranking higher than it at the moment. For me, Watamote represents the sad tale of a girl that has significant issues and who can't see what problems she has, so she spins her wheels trying to improve herself and ends up making a mess of things. I can definitely laugh at the ridiculous things she does and the ways they backfire on her, but at a certain point I guess I felt it wasn't worth cheering her on anymore, as she just stopped being particularly sympathetic.

    1. It was interesting to me to realize that it wasn't the stuff explicitly shown in Watamote that got to me. In fact, I've probably seen worse just fine. But my imagination could more than fill in the blanks. I'm pretty visual person. If I know something's happening, my mind will probably give me a picture to go along with the knowledge. Tomoko's actions gave me too many icky images, and the general atmosphere wasn't uplifting. So I had to quit, and I agree that is more of a personal thing.

      It's pretty normal for sin to be portrayed as okay. Like you said, that gets dangerous. So I guess, as Christians, discernment is something that always needs to be turned on. Sometimes, it's discernment about what's okay for me personally to watch. Sometimes, it's just filtering what I watch through a Biblical worldview.

      It was the sad tale that drew me to Watamote, since, despite its extremeness, it seemed so real. Unfortunately, Tomoko's particular strand of issues include ones I'd rather not observe. :P


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