Well, as a fan of the manga, this was the series I was really looking forward to this year. After all, it is a manga that I’ve been follow for close to a year now and I’ve loved every second spent reading it. So, how does the anime hold up? Really well.
For starters, I will only recommend this series to people already into anime, who know someone or is someone who has or has had anxiety or alienation from people (acting anti-social), and can laugh at themselves or the people they know who are like that. That may sound horrible, but that is the base criteria for this. It is cringe humor for people who relate to it (and the anime, at least for episode 1, is toned down in cringe-worthy humor from the manga).
Tomoko is a fujoshi (I’ll describe it as a female otaku for now) who was unpopular in middle school. She feels like when she goes to high school, she’ll become popular. 2 months in and she has no friends and is crippled by anxiety whenever someone talks to her. And yet, she blames everyone else for her not being popular.
The series is very otaku-centric, with references ranging from blatant (tomoko name-dropping Gantz) to stylistic (the scene where she researches how to look cuter is shot like any scene from Death Note) to blanket (the otome rub-down game she plays). Yet this seems slightly counter-intuitive, since the series mocks and condemns Tomoko for being the way she is. Every second of screen time condemns one for being a nerd, especially an anti-social one.
Which makes the episode, and series overall, more impact full. We relate to Tomoko, yet she is never right or successful (her successes in this episode are stuttering bye to someone and looking away when talking to a store clerk). We want her to succeed because she is like us. It’s hopeful gallows humor, condemning yet confirming. This could very well be the best slice-of-life comedy anime this year, if not for a longer span of time.