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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Given who the main character is, Tomoko merits several pages of discussion on her own:
      • Just how much of a jerk is Tomoko anyway? Yuu's spinoff shows that Tomoko has always been like this, though her jerkishness is shown to be less pathetic (and sympathetic) as she had two other people to bounce her smug personality off to (Yuu and Komiyama). The moment she stepped into high school however, she had to start from scratch, which made her attempts to get attention much more pitiful (and sympathetic).
      • To what extent is Tomoko's situation really her fault, and to what extent is it under her control? Many of the earlier chapters imply that a lot of her problems stem from her desperate need for attention and affection stumbling over her innate cynicism and belief that the world is out to get her.
      • Tomoko's sexuality also gets discussed a lot. Is she bi-curious, or genuinely in the closet? Earlier in the manga, it could be argued that, despite her attraction to other girls (see Yuu), she still had had an end-game goal of getting a boyfriend (and getting laid) in mind. After a certain point however, her attraction to other girls become blatantly sexual in nature (see Asuka), and she barely even thinks about boys anymore.
      • Tomoko has a tendency to, rather rudely and hypocritically, think of fellow unpopular people as being losers, those more popular than her as sluts, and generally has a negative opinion of anything that doesn't have to do with her. Is this her genuinely being narcissistic and hateful, or is she coming up with excuses to give herself a (frankly much needed) confidence boost? Note that she rarely, if ever, actually voices this negativity, and keeps it all inside.
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    • Could Tomoki do more to help his sister - or does he have his hands full with her already, since she often acts like an Annoying Younger Sibling, apart from her issues (filching his drinks, etc.)?
    • Tomoko's classmates typically don't bully or mock her, but they don't take much notice of her either. Though whenever they talk to her, they treat her normally. Even considering Tomoko's own issues, are her classmates more nice or indifferent people?
    • Did Komiyama really want to reconcile with Tomoko for her sake or did she just want to get close to her crush Tomoki? Or both? Was Tomoko ironically on the right track when she accused her of only craving his cock? On one hand, Komiyama only responded to Tomoko's own overtures of friendship when she found out Tomoki attended their school too. On the other hand, she honestly admitted to Tomoko that she didn't like her back then, and said she hoped they could get along now.
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    • Hina Nemoto in general. Is she genuinely friendly, or is it all just an act? The revelation that she was a Closet Geek muddles things even further. After Chapter 122, the popular interpretation is that while Hina's really a Nice Girl, she's also tired of putting up a public facade in order to fit in with her more normal friends, and has been using Tomoko as an outlet to vent her frustrations at the situation.
    • Is Yuu a Dumb Blonde, or is she actually Obfuscating Stupidity? There has been some evidence for the latter.
    • Asuka Katou's sudden interest in Tomoko begs a LOT of questions, especially since we don't get into her head (via thought bubbles) at all. Why is a hot, popular girl all of a sudden interested in befriending the class outcast? Is it because of Tomoko's social circle noticeably growing to include her own circle of friends? Is it because, due to Tomoko's "I don't care anymore" attitude that she can be herself and comfortable around Tomoko? Is Tomoko just interesting because of her weirdness? Is she gay? Your guess is as good as ours.
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    • Yuri after Characterization Marches On set in. Is she a highly sympathetic character who has serious issues with loneliness and communication? Or is she a clingy, needy brat with no tact or social graces?
  • Audience-Alienating Premise: For a lot of people, Tomoko's situation is a little too familiar. Rather than a funny reflection they can laugh off, it feels more like an embarrassing reminder of what having crippling social anxiety feels like, while those who don't have social anxiety can't identify with the story and pass it over. This, combined with Japanese culture's general disregard for mental illness, is a big reason the anime flopped in Japan, yet has a strong American fanbase. It's also why the manga would eventually tone down Tomoko's suffering and throw her some bones by having her go through some positive Character Development and actually make some friends.
  • Awesome Music: The anime opening which, hilariously, feels more at home in a battle anime than a slice-of-life show.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Hina Nemoto early on, particularly during the chapters where her anime hobby got accidentally discovered by Tomoko. Some like her for her (usually) friendly attitude towards Tomoko. Meanwhile, others are more leery, seeing her as a more antagonistic figure who's not as nice as she seems. Even in-universe, Tomoko doesn't know what to make of Hina. After getting in a few bouts of Passive Aggressive Combat with her, Tomoko tends to act suspicious of Hina, only to get caught off-guard whenever she does something genuinely nice.
    • Then there's Yoshida, the "pure delinquent". As the Disneyland trip showed, she can be downright adorable because of the child-like wonder she normally has. On the flipside, there are also those who think that, as a 17-year old she should really really grow up already, as her childish nature's caused her to start fights with people who'd normally get along with her. Or at least, that she shouldn't punch people just for disrespecting Disney.
    • Asuka has been getting a lot of criticism from Western readers due to how, compared to the rest of Tomoko's acquaintances, she's too pretty and too perfect, which makes her boring as a result. Averted a bit in that later chapters reveal that she has a bit of a controlling nature, and gets jealous when Tomoko's involved, but by then all the focus she's received as Tomoko's "crush" has soured the reception of her, as far as Western readers are concerned.
    • Yuri from chapter 124 onwards. While adored by many fans for being a realistic depiction of a socially inept introvert, many more started to dislike Yuri as her issues with jealousy and possessiveness came to light and felt that she became increasingly unlikeable. Yuri was also criticized for being a rather jarring case of Characterization Marches On. Originally, Yuri was characterized as the Only Sane Man of the Kyoto group, and after that arc she was a Nice Girl Ordinary High-School Student who invited Tomoko to lunch and walked to and from school with her. During the end of year party, however, Yuri suddenly became even more socially inept than Tomoko and was The Stoic most of the time. And lastly, during the Disneyland field trip Yuri became so prominent she arguably became the series’ deuteragonist, causing many to view her as a Spotlight-Stealing Squad.
    • Fuka to a degree. Some find her running gag and storyline regarding her curiosity over what's going on with Asuka and her behavior funny and don't mind how frequently she appears. Others find her forced and that her near constant use since her proper introduction is taking page time from longer tenured members of the main cast who haven't received as much attention.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The beginning of the OVA. It's a trippy, fourth wall-breaking scene where Tomoko enacts some Executive Meddling on her own show to boost ratings, going so far as to propose adding more lesbian subtext between her, Yuu, and Kii-chan, all the while dressed as Gendo Ikari in a place that looks like SEELE's meeting room. It has absolutely nothing to do with the plot for the rest of the episode, and is never mentioned again.
  • Broken Base:
    • As the series goes on, it becomes apparent that Tomoko's not as much as a social wreck as she was when she first started high school. You'd be surprised at the amount of people who say that this is a bad thing for her, since it takes away from the fun of the story. On the other hand, others say that she becomes a bit of a Weirdness Magnet, since as she becomes more normal, everyone else's quirks become more prominent. And she still isn't even remotely well-adjusted, just less of an absolute loner.
    • Due to the series leaning heavily into Cringe Comedy territory concerning Tomoko's Social Anxiety, a debate sprung up over whether the humor of the series was too mean-spirited given the subject matter. Others find it fair game since the majority of the bad things that happen to Tomoko end up being self-inflicted.
    • As the cast expanded to include more and more of Tomoko's schoolmates, the fandom got divided even further. Though many welcomed the additions, there's a small but very vocal minority that disliked all the focus given to the new characters, as they felt that Tomoko was getting alienated from her own series.
    • The increased amount of Les Yay and Ship Teasing from the Disneyland trip onwards. While many don't mind and parts of the fandom even enjoy it, others feel that the constant Les Yay and Ship Teasing undermines the focus on platonic friendships, detracts from proper Character Development, and comes across as Pandering to the Base since it happened after shipping became a major part of the fandom.
  • Creepy Cute: Tomoko. Her Creepy Shadowed Undereyes, disheveled appearance, gloomy demeanor, extreme perversity, violent thoughts, and crippling awkwardness make her very uncomfortable to watch and be around, but her childish looks and inability to do anything right do much to make her endearing, instilling more sympathy than disgust. In-universe, this seems to be Ucchi's opinion of her, as while she thinks Tomoko is creepy, she notes that there's a strange charm to her creepiness.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: A lot of the series comedy is built on Tomoko's social awkwardness and depravity going so far that they shoot past painful into absurd. Tomoko seemingly hitting on her little brother? Not funny. Tomoko hitting on her little brother for no reason other than she's trying to contract his cold so she can miss school? Hilarious.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Considering most of the cast is made up of ascended extras who started getting some level of popularity with fans before their expanded roles in the story this is in large effect.
    • Komiyama, to the point where she's now featured in the main series.
    • Tomoko's three companions from the Kyoto Trip arc — Yuri, Yoshida, and Ucchi — have all gained considerable followings since their introductions, partly due to their individual quirks, and partly due to how their differing personalities clash with Tomoko's.
    • Asuka Katou, prior to her joining the main cast, primarily due to how different she was compared to the host of weirdos Tomoko had as friends. And this was before Tomoko started crushing on her..
    • Megumi Imae. She only made a handful of appearances before graduating but she's practically considered a saint among fans.
    • Kii-chan has appeared in less than a dozen chapters, but being a Creepy Child who is responsible for some of the most uncomfortably hilarious moments in the manga made her wildly popular.
    • Anna's popularity seemed to jump after chapter 142 where she was given a proper name and, more importantly, invited Tomoko to hang out at lunch because she found her funny.
    • Ucchi's friends after chapter 152 generally and specifically Kayo and Nagi. Kayo already had this status a bit due largely to her design but the former Glasses-chan saw a surge of fanart due to her easygoing personality and taking the lead in trying to get Tomoko and Ucchi closer.
    • Miho has gained a lot of popularity during the study camp arc due to her friendly and fun-loving personality, especially the way she quickly warms up to Tomoko.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: Happens sometimes in the Subreddit, in chapter threads.
  • Fanfic Fuel: The Special Edition for Volume 18 includes a number of What If? stories showing what would have happened if Tomoko was able to join one of the various social groups during her first year of high school, including Masaki's, Minami's, and Asuka's. They're short, but they plant a lot of seeds for writers to explore in greater depth
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The petty annoyances Tomoko inflicts on Tomoki, such as hogging the shower while he's getting sick and playing a prank on him purely on a whim, become less funny considering that this behavior is what made him start hating her in the first place.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff:
    • The manga rapidly gained a fanbase outside of Japan via 4chan's /a/ — mainly out of empathy. It also has a fanbase on /v/ as well, despite their eternal rivalry with the former. The cover of the first volume even acknowledges the foreign fanbase. And thanks to becoming Les Yay driven since the Kyoto trip, it's one of /u/'s favorites to discuss.
    • This has also become a Colbert Bump - a significant number of people have bought copies of the tankōbon (despite not knowing the language) simply to support the authors, which in itself has drawn even more attention to the manga.
    • So much so that Square Enix ended up lampshading it with an April Fools announcement.
    • The authors even said on Twitter that this act was responsible not only for the anime being made, but also the continuation of the manga itself.
    • Early on, some fans on 4chan showed they cared by tweeting the authors pictures of their penises, which the authors acknowledged in an omake.
    • Reddit also loves this show.
    • Heck, it's actually popular enough that it was given an English dub and BD treatment by Sentai Filmworks.
  • Growing the Beard: The early volumes were well-done but having Tomoko be an absolute social wreck with scarcely anyone to turn to could feel repetitive after a while, bordering on pointless for some people. The manga picked up when it built up Komiyama as her Not So Different Sitcom Arch-Nemesis and eventually "frenemy", but many agree that the Kyoto Field trip was a major turning point for the manga, as it led to a small explosion of other recurring characters Tomoko could bounce off of. The anime just adapts the early part, though.
    • This is eventually acknowledged by Tomoko herself in-universe, where she muses to Shizuku in Chapter 149 that her life turned around after meeting Yuri and Yoshida during the field trip.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The manga club guy comments that he draws the same type of face for background characters because it is the easiest for him to draw. Later, Nico Tanigawa would publish Number Girl, a 4-Koma about... clones.
    • In chapter 9 of the manga, Tomoko has a self-insert fantasy about Fate/Zero, where she's an eighth Master and her Servant is Souji Okita as an Assassin. Several years later, Fate/Grand Order would introduce Souji Okita as a Servant, but Okita turns out to be a Saber-class Servant as well as female.note 
    • Pokémon X and Y reintroduces the Hex Maniac trainer class - which now bears a striking resemblance to Tomoko (and the Fairy Girl trainer class to Yuu). Much Memetic Mutation ensued.
    • Unfortunately, local BD sales of the anime weren't good. But Tomoko was right since the very beginning: the title No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular! is entirely true because it really is those Japanese guys' fault, as she's more popular among foreign fans.
    • In Episode 8, the boy who brought Tomoko an umbrella sees Tomoko again, and she tells him her name. He mishears it as "Momoko" and Tomoko freaks out, which is incidentally the name of another character that Monica Rial played, from Ghost Stories.
    • Tomoko muses with Komi and Yuu that if her life was a show, she'd probably have it turn into a schoolgirl ensemble show, increase yuri subtext, and find a male friend for her brother so that people can ship them together. By the end of Tomoko's second year and going into her third, she's amazingly achieved most of that list through no fault of her own.
    • All of Tomoko's Slut-Shaming comments toward Hina and Akane in the early chapters become a whole lot funnier when later chapters confirm that not only are both girls virgins as well, but they're also much more innocent than Tomoko.
    • Considering the other WataMote is about a Yaoi Fangirl slowly building up a (mostly) heterosexual harem over the course of the series, Otome nerd Tomoko's own Homoerotic Subtext-riddled circle of friends seems like an inverse.
    • The more overtly yuri tone and questions regarding Tomoko's sexuality once fans learned that Izumi Kitta, Tomoko's VA, is herself a huge proponent of the yuri genre and has even written her own yuri manga.
  • Ho Yay: Lovingly crafted here. It's a lot of Les Yay.
  • Hollywood Homely:
    • Tomoko, though less so than most examples, especially by anime standards. For an anti-social shut-in, she actually looks the part, with dull, baggy eyes and regularly making some rather unflattering facial expressions. Later on, several characters remark that Tomoko actually can look attractive when she bothers to make an effort.
    • Discussed in chapter 132. While reading a shoujo manga, Tomoko observes how the protagonist looks beautiful and attracts a lot of male admirers even though she's supposed to be plain, and goes on to speculate that a live-action adaptation would most likely cast her with a model. Tomoko notes how the use of this trope in manga is what largely instilled in her the hope that a real plain girl like her could have a similar high school experience.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Tomoko responds to her social isolation by becoming really embittered and mean spirited. It's a regrettably accurate depiction of the way a lot of people do react to social isolation, especially adolescents who are usually a bit self centered and immature to begin with. Viewers can recognize this as a counterproductive personal flaw, but it's also a very relatable one. Of course, Tomoko's jerkass tendencies are somewhat softened by the fact that she's too introverted and inept to do any real harm, and nobody is sufficiently invested in their relationship with her for her to have much of an impact one way or the other.
    • Minami is not a nice person. If she's not laughing at other people's misfortunes, she's talking smack about them behind their backs, and is just a smug Alpha Bitch all around. However, it's hard not to feel at least a little sorry for her during her third year. She was separated from her usual clique, and her personality leaves her incapable of connecting with anyone in her new class, which has left her lonely and isolated in a way that's Not So Different from Tomoko.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Pick a named character. Any named character. Chances are good someone is shipping them with Tomoko. Yuu, Yuri, Nemo, Asuka, Shizuku, Ucchi? All valid picks.
  • Memetic Bystander: Futaki (Fan Nickname'd "Potential-san" based on this omake), the recurring student with a completely blank dot-eyed expression and later an equally-fixed triangle-mouth. She's immediately memorable just for looking really, really weird, and fans have been coming up with theories as to who she might be despite having only a few background appearances and two short lines before the authors gave her a more prominent role starting with chapter 147.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • SERVES YOU RIGHT!
    • Mako being a terrible sexual degenerate.note 
    • Harem Genre.note 
    • Asuka looking depressed due to Tomoko's suspension gained memetic status almost as soon as the chapter was released. Many pieces of fanart and comics were made in the immediate aftermath depicting her as at best sullen and at worst completely unable to function or slowly losing her mind due to Tomoko's absence.
  • Memetic Psychopath: Fans like to jokingly paint Kii in a sinister light thanks to her often unsettling expressions and her uncanny ability to put Tomoko in her place, usually likening her to a Yandere who is absolutely obsessed with taking absolute control of her cousin. It helps that even in-universe, Tomoko is intimidated by Kii and thinks she's become psychotic.
  • Mexicans Love Speedy Gonzales: This manga about an unflatteringly stereotypical geek owes its success to the very type of geek Tomoko herself is. This is primarily because, as at least one has said, it hits too close to home.
  • Misaimed Fandom: Despite Tomoko's dysfunctional nature, not to mention her more unpleasant traits (which show up more as the manga progresses), some readers and viewers are proud to claim they're just like her without an ounce of Self-Deprecation - though she's usually not very admirable to start with. Relatable, pitiable, even sympathetic, yes - but admirable?
  • Moe:
    • Yuu fits well in this trope. Except when it comes to innocence in regard to sex.
    • Also, Tomoko's younger cousin Kii-chan.
    • Arguably Tomoko in the original sense, though it's offset by her less savory traits.
    • The Author Avatars of Nico Tanigawa as little mammals in omakes, the avatar of the female artist in particular. When foreign fans sent them pictures of their penises, she claimed never to have seen one before. She was also bothered by the male writer perving over Tomoko's voice actress recording her lines, and by the conditions of workers in the animation studio.
  • Narm Charm: The anime opening is so incredibly unfitting that it circles back to being awesome and makes you want to cheer for Tomoko.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Some of Tomoko's expressions are unsettling, to say the least.
    • For example: the first episode, where she threatens Tomoki that she would kill herself if he didn't talk to her. With the aforementioned expressions and dark atmosphere, it makes it seem like she would seriously kill herself.
    • The anime's opening provides a good example during the sequence where Tomoko is posing like a prison inmate. After a couple frames, Tomoko flashes a Slasher Smile. A half-second later, she lunges forwards and claws the camera with a crazed expression on her face. The semi-stop motion way the sequence is animated, plus Tomoko's stringy black hair, bring The Ring to mind. Tomoko's actual character is hardly intimidating, but still...
  • Self-Fanservice:
    • Tomoko was never meant to be an attractive character, but that didn't stop fan artists from drawing her in more flattering lights, making her more conventionally attractive even with her perpetual Exhausted Eye Bags. It seems that after a while, Nico Tanigawa got the hint and started giving Tomoko more genuine instances where She Cleans Up Nicely, as well as putting her into some real fanservice moments.
    • Any depiction of Uchi with normal features will inevitably show her... rather pretty actually. This is likely due to her Informed Attractiveness, which only tends to really shine through during her more emotional moments.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Social anxiety is not "cute" or charming, it's a serious mental illness. Human beings are a naturally social species, so being incapable of socializing is psychological and emotional torture.
  • Squick: Tomoko sure is bent on getting her little brother to be attracted to her. Though when he gets up close to her during such a moment (just to show her out) she freaks out a bit.
  • Stoic Woobie: Yuri. While she puts up a convincing front of indifference throughout, she too is prone to feelings of loneliness and has trouble coping whenever she gets separated from the few friends she has.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: You'd think Tomoko's parents would have a bigger role and maybe help Tomoko deal with her problems. They're heavily ignored, which is most likely due to Values Dissonance (since in Japan many people look down on those who seek therapy; even the most compassionate parents would rather ignore the problem and hope their child just "grows out of this phase" rather than face the shame of seeking out a licensed professional).
  • Ugly Cute: Tomoko. It's certainly easy to see why she isn't considered attractive, but there's definitely a charm to her goofy appearance.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: Guess who?
  • Values Dissonance:
    • One of the bigger western gripes with the plot is the overall lack of input from Tomoko's parents, or adults in general, to get her help with her glaring antisocial tendencies. In context, this isn't that surprising: Japan's take on social therapy/counselling is nowhere near as common or acknowledged as the West's.
      • Strangely enough, Tomoko's 2nd year homeroom teacher doesn't seem to have gotten that memo and butts in, trying to get her to open up in very blunt ways, with Tomoko's expressions definitely looking of the "Unwanted Assistance" variety.
    • During their third year, Tomoko and Yuri go through some extensive hemming and hawing over when and how they should start referring to each other by their given names, and tend to find doing so very embarrassing. This typically isn't an issue in the west, where peers refer to each other by their first names all the time, but in the very formal Japan, only people who are especially close to each other are expected to do that.
    • In Chapter 156 and 157, many Western readers might be confused at how Tomoko and Yoshida managed to get in-school suspension riding a motor scooter completely outside school grounds. Both were wearing their school uniforms, and Japan that means they're considered to reflect on the school's reputation regardless of where they are. If they somehow get into an accident, it would reflect badly on the school. This type of "suspension"note  also isn't considered a very harsh punishment in Japan, contrast in the US where it's considered just a few steps short of being expelled.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: One of Tomoko's classmates, a boy named Wada, is often mistaken for a girl by some readers for his short stature and wide facial expressions. In chapters where he has a bigger speaking role, he's often seen from the waist up as well, making the confusion greater. It's more of a problem in the 3rd year chapters, and less in the earlier parts of the manga.
  • The Woobie:
    • Tomoko. Her social anxiety is literally crippling her, to the point that she can't even order food at a restaurant without averting her gaze and mumbling and is desperate enough try to get sexually harassed on the train on purpose just so she can feel like someone is paying attention to her. Worse is that her inability to read other people's basic emotions, at one point mistaking an innocent crush as perverse lust (see her incident with Komiyama), which makes her few efforts to get better at socializing self-defeating. She only comes off as cruel or rude because that's literally the best she can do.
    • Kotomi has problems expressing her feelings for Tomoki, and each time she turns to his sister for help, Tomoko always humiliates her publicly purely out of spite. Later chapters show she's just as hopeless without Tomoko's meddling, as all Kotomi's efforts to connect with him end up just making her look like a pervy stalker that honestly creeps Tomoki out.

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