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Tomoko Kuroki – A Girl in a Hard Shell, Looking Out

If you were to ask me to name the most relatable characters I’ve come across in fiction, Tomoko Kuroki would be one of the first to come to mind. I’m not very much like her and haven’t really had many experiences like hers, but I can clearly understand where she’s coming from and heavily empathize and sympathize with her. All of her mood swings, her thoughts about herself and others, her hopes and dreams, her doubts and fears, and every other aspect of her character feel very down-to-earth and true to how people think, behave, and react. These things are the mark of good character writing and execution in general, but I feel like they’re just a little bit truer of Tomoko than of most other well-crafted characters I’ve seen, primarily because her story is a very normal one to begin with, rather than something more fantastical or dramatic.

Well…it’s only fantastical and dramatic to her.

That story, WataMote (full title Watashi ga Motenai no wa dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!, or No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m not Popular!), is all about Tomoko and her attempts to become popular upon entering high school. Sort of. That’s a very simplified, generalized, basic outline of the plot of the show, which is sparse. What WataMote is really about is a teenage girl with massive, crippling social anxiety who has an unrealistic view of what her high school life “should” be like, and has become frustrated, resentful, despondent, and lonely as a result of her perpetual, seemingly unalterable isolation.

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