No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular! Volume 10
It’s been quite a while since I checked in on No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular! — I last reviewed volume 4, and now here we are at volume 10. I’d gotten a bit tired of the cringe factor in constantly seeing Tomoko get humiliated or embarrassed, but I thought it might be interesting to check back in to see how an episodic comedy kept itself going this long.
The strategy used by Nico Tanigawa is to create continuing plotlines or ongoing conflicts, such as the one fueling the opening chapter. Tomoko has some kind of rivalry with the library assistant, who has a crush on Tomoko’s brother. On the one hand, this provides some kind of character development. On the other, it made me feel a bit disconnected from the series, since I wasn’t aware of the various histories.
No one probably expects to jump in this late in the game, but that’s reinforced by not providing quite enough introduction to the interaction backgrounds, particularly in the chapter where several girls have misconceptions about Tomoko’s relationship with her brother or the one where a classmate, out shopping, fears her for some past reason. Some of the shorter sections — there’s a five-page chapter and even a set of one- and two-page strips — also didn’t do much for me, since they all seem to have as their punchline “see how creepy, weird, and sex-obsessed Tomoko is”, which I’ve already seen plenty of in the previous books I read.
I did like the chapter where Tomoko has to think about what she’s going to do once she graduates; that one is more stand-alone, with gags about how she’d be bad at pretty much anything combined with how exaggerated and ridiculous her aspirations can be. There’s a followup later, where a group of classmates wind up eating with her in the cafeteria that’s a nice change from the usual formula. The bonus chapter where Tomoko and two other girls go to a baseball game, where one of the girls demands they become devout fans quickly, was also amusing. (The publisher provided a review copy.)