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No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys'…

No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular!, Volume…

by Nico Tanigawa

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Review originally found on Looking Glass Reads.

You know how sometimes you stumble on something that hits so close to home it makes you a little uneasy? This manga does that. Over and over again. No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys' Fault I’m Not Popular, Vol 1 by Nico Tanigawa is a story about an awkward teenage girl who loves video games and manga, has trouble making new friends and talking to boys, and isn’t as close to her brother as she used to be.

No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys' Fault I’m Not Popular (an extraordinarily long title abbreviated to Watamote for the manga and anime series) is written by Nico Tanigawa, a pen name for the two creators of the manga. Both the chapters and manga itself are significantly shorter than some other manga I’ve read. The art is rather wonderful. Facial expressions especially are often highly stylized and convey the characters thoughts and emotions perfectly.

Tomoko Kuroki is fifteen and just starting high school. Her goal? Make new friends and get a boyfriend. Shouldn’t be too hard, she’s talked to boys a whole six times last year. The manga follows her misadventures in navigating high school, family, and friends. All of a sudden Tomoko cares about things like her appearance, only she has no idea what to do to fix her perceived flaws or how to really handle high school and social situations in general. The only thing she has as a reference point are dating sims, and she quickly finds out that they are not a good reference point for actual high school life.

A shut in to the point where she doesn’t seem to understand how the real world works, Tomoko seems to judge Yuu, her best friend, for changing, but simply expects all of her classmates (some of whom she’s known throughout middle school) to treat her differently in high school without making any sort of concerted effort herself.

This manga is funny, but also endearing. It’s very easy to see yourself in Tomoko, despite the extreme reactions she sometimes has. Tomoko’s actions are cringe worthy, and I can’t help but compare my own high school days. We’ve all made the mistakes she makes. Every incredibly embarrassing encounter, every over the top social faux pas, is something we’ve all personally done, though perhaps not to that extent.

Of course, Tomoko takes every embarrassing encounter or awkward exchange to the extreme. Not only does she never manage to say the correct thing, but she always assumes the absolute worst of people and picks the exact wrong thing to do or say in almost any situation. Yet, the manga shows the goodness in the people around her as well, something Tomoko always seems to miss. Yuu sticks beside her even when others might not. Even after the incredibly botched attempt to talk to the two boys stuck in the rain with her, they still go out of their way to leave her an umbrella.

Something else I liked about the manga was the Translation Notes section in the back of the book. Its short, only two pages, but has notes on words and terms found throughout the book which people might not be familiar with. Some are references to things in manga, anime, and video games. Others are more tied to Japan and Japanese culture. As for the translations itself, it’s really very good, with none of the awkward phrasing or too-literal translations that can sometimes slip in.

No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys' Fault I’m Not Popular is a manga series I love. It’s relatable while not entirely true to life. The art is style is, at times, a bit over the top but wonderful nonetheless. If you like slice of life or high school manga pick up a copy and give this one a read. ( )
  kateprice88 | Jan 30, 2017 |
Brief segmented manga about a socially awkward girl (who is kind of obsessed with sex). Super funny, but a bit raunchy for some high school-ers. Although there is technically no nudity or graphic content, the older teen rating is well deserved. ( )
  LadyBill | Jan 23, 2016 |
Tomoko is 15 years old and has no real friends. She thinks that both friends and a boyfriend will just fall into her lap once she enters high school. Sadly, this does not happen, so she tries to figure out why not and fix it. That is, when she's not mentally grumbling about slutty girls and the stupid guys who gravitate towards them.

In this first volume, she forces her younger brother to speak to her for a certain amount of time each day, because she's out of practice talking to people. She meets with a friend from middle school, who now goes to a different high school, and is at first pleased that they still share an interest in geeky things like anime. However, she, too, has managed to find a boyfriend where Tomoko has failed. When the rain briefly strands Tomoko with a couple good-looking guys, she finds herself unable to talk normally to them. At school, she's horrified when she's assigned to do a make-up assignment with a male student in her art class.

This was the worst thing I read during my recent vacation. Tomoko was the female version of the stereotypical male geek who silently stews over his inability to get a date with one of the popular girls, obsessing over them while scornfully referring to them as sluts. Flipping the gender did not make that stereotype any more appealing.

The depth of Tomoko's lack of popularity was painful (she considered herself to be popular in middle school because, during those years, she interacted with guys a total of six times), as was her complete lack of knowledge about how to fix it. For example, at one point her appearance was better than normal. When she thought about it, she decided she looked better because she'd spent the night playing a really good otome game. She'd heard that sex makes people look more appealing, so she figured that a game that made her feel sexually aroused would work the same way. So she played it nonstop until her hair and skin were oily. I think this was supposed to be funny, but I didn't feel like laughing.

I both loathed and pitied Tomoko. To her, all pretty girls were fluff-brained sluts, and all good-looking guys were probably idiots who'd only be interested in makeup slathered sluts. Even as she thought these things, she tried to make herself look more like those “sluts” in order to become more popular. And failed miserably. She was interested in manga, and yet she viewed the other people browsing manga in the same store as her with disdain, labeling them all probable NEETs. Yu, Tomoko's only friend, confused her by still being a fan of anime like her, and yet also having a boyfriend and looking like one of the pretty “sluts.” Personally, I felt Yu could have done better when it came to friends and was glad that she didn't have the ability to peek into Tomoko's thoughts. At one point, Tomoko thought of her as a “sow.” I'm not kidding.

It's possible that future volumes show Tomoko growing as a person. It's possible, but the series title tells me it's not likely. I opted not to read the other two volumes I had available, and I doubt I'll ever continue with this series or watch the anime adaptation.

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | Nov 6, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nico Tanigawaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Shipley, KarieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shipley, KristaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316243167, Paperback)

Tomoko Kuroki naturally assumed she'd be popular when she got to high school...but then cold, hard reality swooped in for the attack! Turns out all the popularity points she's racked up in her video game dating sims are worth squat in real life, and Tomoko's far from prepared to navigate high school! How can she possibly hope to impress her classmates when she can't even talk to them?! A new high-school heroine is born (maybe?)!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:35 -0400)

"Tomoko Kuroki naturally assumed she'd be popular when she got to high school-- but then cold, hard reality swooped in for the attack! Turns out all the popularity points she'd racked up in her video game dating sims are worth squat in real life, and Tomoko's far from prepared to navigate high school! How can she possibly hope to impress her classmates when she can't even talk to them?! A new high-school heroine is born (maybe?)!" -- from publisher's web site.… (more)

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