‘It’s Not My Fault I’m Not Popular’ is a really fun series. It’s also very cringey and depressing at the same time but I love it nonetheless. The reason is quite simple, it’s very relatable to me. As a shy and introverted person who is struggling with social anxiety, I can see a lot of myself in the main character, Kuroki Tomoko. I don’t try as hard as her to be popular or sociable, of course but I can see myself fail as miserably as her if I tried. So yea, none of the things Tomoko experiences are experienced by me (but maybe only in my mind).
I honestly think Tomoko has evolved from the the anime, the manga after the anime and the later part of the manga. Her personality, although very slightly, changes. How others see her also changes, how she sees other people changes and even the number of people she hangs out with increase over time.
I divide the change into three different stages.
1. The Pitiful Tomoko
At the start of the anime, we can see how socially awkward Tomoko is. She’s depressingly awkward but she tries really hard to be more social or in her words, becomes more popular. Even though it goes against her nature, she is determined to change her life and try her hardest to get rid of her old self. Of course, people don’t just change overnight so we get to see her fail miserably in every attempt. Most of the time, she’s just really painful to watch so we viewers somewhat root for her to succeed one day. We also secretly want her to fail just to see what kind of comedy act she would pull off.
She would imagine all sorts of colourful, best case scenarios in her head and try to mimic those scenarios only to discover that reality is harsh and that giving up is always easier. Those unrealistic expectations come from the dating sims she plays and anime she watches. Those have become her benchmark on how to communicate with other people. Unsurprisingly, her plans most likely fail not only because of her unreliable benchmark but also because the very fact that she has social anxiety. Despite that though, she still doesn’t stop trying and continue to strive.
The despair and the tragedy that she faces is just really excruciating to watch. I have to pause so many times watching this show because Tomoko just does embarrassing and stupid crap all the time. It’s also fun, I have to say. Cringe-worthy.
2. The Bastard Tomoko
Right after the anime, somewhere along the line, I can only see her as a complete jerk. I might even label her as a narcissist. She only cares about herself, very unnecessarily self-conscious and very quick to blame other people instead of herself. All of her perception on any situation or person is just negatively biased.
She also despises people who do things that even she herself does. For example, she always talks bad about other people in her head and has no problem sharing those thoughts to people close to her, such as her brother or her only friend, Yuu-chan. However, once she heard people talk bad about her, she suddenly snaps and started to internally attack them saying that it is evil to talk bad about other people. When I see her like this, my only thought is, you freaking deserve to be treated like shit! It’s your very own fault you don’t have friends, dumbass! Exaggerating other people’s negative traits is her forte.
It doesn’t help that she needs external endorsement of herself to feel better and when she does get one, she suddenly acts cocky like she’s higher and mightier than everyone else. For example, there is a game where she and her field trip roommate have to pick A or B. After picking one, it is revealed that A stands for people who sleeps around and B stands for being a celibate… or a virgin, something along those lines, I can’t remember. She (fortunately) picks the former and she suddenly thinks she’s better than everyone else and starts giving lectures. It’s just so freaking annoying. no wonder she has no friends…
I guess the mangaka deliberately makes her unlikable in many ways and if that’s the case, it is done really well.
Side note: She doesn’t even remember her classmates’ names. Okay I’ve seen this many times in anime but why are the characters seem to not know people even in the same class let alone students from other classes? Don’t even mention people from other grades! Like is that even a thing? I, being very closet and shy at least know half of the people in my grade. Other more outgoing people know everyone in the whole school!!! I hope this only happens in anime. In real life Japanese highschool, they’re not… like that… right? They at least know their own classmates… right?
3. The Likable Tomoko
Like the introvert that she is, once she breaks her wall, she’s actually quite… okay. She’s just okay, no one can actually say that she’s nice because she’s not. The way she speaks also improves a lot, not having much hiccups and clearer. You can see that the wrinkles or ‘roughness’ of her speech bubbles gradually lessen over chapters especially after the second year field trip. She has a slow and steady improvement. Baby steps. I like it.
Since she has a social ‘persona’ to wear a mask on, she is now considerably tolerant towards people around her. If she’s not, obviously she would lose all her friends. I think she also subconsciously know this. She can now hold normal conversation, hang out with people more often and basically do more of the social activities that people normally do. She also thinks about other people more instead of just herself. This is a big development for her.
I am a bit disappointed, however at the fact that she doesn’t change herself. Rather, the situation changes her. Because of the field trip, people begin to talk to her more and ultimately making Tomoko interact with other people more. It’s not her doing. She does pretty much nothing to change herself. She’s still a jerk most of the time but she only becomes slightly tolerant because people start to talk to her and being her friends. It’s realistic, to say the least but it’s a bit of a downer to me because I want to see her get out of her hell life herself. Or at least majorly done by herself. Instead, I got this situational luck given to her. It’s not appealing enough to me. They could do better. Tomoko, could do better.
However, as a person, I believe she’s more likable compared to before.
Tomoko has a long journey from a very pitiful person to being a complete jerk because she’s almost given up hope and finally having some likable traits. I like the direction she’s heading and the development that she’s going through. It’s a (tragic) comedy first and foremost but its drama is equally important and I think the series manages to balance it off. The manga is still ongoing so I’m just going to wait for more chapters to come. For those who have watched the anime but haven’t read the manga, go give it a read. It becomes better after the anime onwards.
Okay now without spoiling too much, I think the mangaka is building a harem for Tomoko. I’m not sure it’s intentional or not but it’s pretty obvious that she’s a harem lead now. I sure hope it’s not intentional and I REALLY hope the mangaka doesn’t go towards the harem route.