Review/discussion about: Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge
I’ve been sick lately.
A too private and too embarrassing medical issue has kept me down. Headache. Sore all over. Low energy. I’ll most likely talk about it in-depth in the future, but, for now, I will simply say that I am not at 100%.
Know what has helped? Sleeping. The other day I slept for fifteen hours. I did have a bizarre dream where any action I took compelled me to take a similar yet opposite action. (It was weird.) Other than that, though, my knockout was bliss. For my body and my mind.
Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge is like a really nice sleep session: wholly satisfying.
Some people are concerned about after-school activities, and others are worried about life’s obstacles. Tanaka of Tanaka-kun does not fret over such matters. Instead, he does his best to live without concerns and without worries. Unfortunately for this listless wonder, his friends and everyday events have a different mindset entirely.
Tanaka-kun uses a cool technique throughout the season that gets at what the anime is all about.
Sometimes, when a joke is cracked or the scene switches to a new setting, the anime lingers ever-so-slightly longer than normal. It’s most noticeable when Tanaka or one of the other characters has a reaction. His or her look of disbelief or wonder stays on-screen a smidgen more than usual.
A great example is in episode three. Myaano and Echizen just had a fight. Tanaka walks by while Echizen is still posed, reaching her hand out. Tanaka stops and looks at Echizen, but he doesn’t just do so quickly. Instead, he stares for about five seconds before continuing on (and consequently getting reeled in by Echizen).
It adds to the comedy, but, more than this, it highlights the show’s awareness of its main listless theme. In other words, the show’s content, like Tanaka himself, is slightly lethargic in delivering its material.
What does that content contain? Well, more listlessness. A surprising amount at that. Here’s just a few examples.
In episode five, Tanaka is so listless that he cannot take home anything that is heavy or perishable because he may not make it back in time.
In episode eight, Tanaka’s name is spelled wrong on the title card (Nakata), but he doesn’t really mind, saying it’s fine either way.
In episode eleven, Tanaka does not want to exert energy for the haunted-house project, so, in order to mask his presence, he turns invisible.
Of course, the show does have other types of jokes, too.
Moments like Tanaka holding onto the Earth after a discussion about English’s widespread appeal allow for imaginative scenes.
The other characters have their own brand of comedy: Myaano acts silly when she thinks the world has been overtaken by android mascots, Rino gets beyond envious that Ohta is “stealing” her beloved brother, and so on.
Even the in-between scenes. From Ohta dressed up as mom to do some supplies shopping to Myaano shooting around the screen as a bullet, these quicker jokes are silly while still retaining the charm of the anime.
Besides the listlessness and the comedy, Tanaka-kun also loves its cuteness. Shirashi champions this notion. Her moments, like when she is incredibly happy when Tanaka praises her in her yukata or when she is giddy to be using the same umbrella as him, are simple. But it’s their simplicity that makes them so cute.
Echizen and Myaano are cute too. Echizen misunderstanding Tanaka’s surname suggestion and Myaano radiating confidence and happiness during her introduction are a couple of the ways in which the girls get cute right.
Tanaka-kun does not strive for any grander ideals. Nothing on the effects of listlessness or what being active provides. In other words, it’s (expectedly) not a serious show.
And, in a way, that continues to fit with the anime’s motif. It has no desire to do anything else besides what it is already doing – something that Tanaka would agree with wholeheartedly.
However, it does try. The final episode in particular pushes the idea that putting off effort does not mean one has failed, for life is long and filled with many chances at success. But because the message comes so late and without any other backing, and the show even goes so far as to make Shiraishi’s efforts seem futile, it’s a weak sentiment at best.
Even so, as a slice-of-life story, Tanaka-kun nails its theme, its comedy, and its cuteness. So, while its narrative does not have that much weight, its other parts more than make up for it.
To maximize its listless motif, Tanaka-kun includes a lot of nuances in its visuals.
Take its artistry.
Rather than using loud colors, it uses calm colors to relax the audience. Lots of light yellows, tinted greens, and soft pinks create a relaxing atmosphere that suit the show well.
Smaller details, such as sunset lighting and background-snail-like objects, also continue with the relaxation in their own, sometimes avant-garde manner.
Yet the best is something that’s technically not there at all.
Many of the locales are vacant, free of obstructions. The best example is the school. It looks quite fancy with its wooden floors and high windows. But its most distinguishing feature is its large, open main hallway where the students often walk in and the camera regularly shows.
By reducing the claustrophobia, Tanaka-kun further adds to its relaxed feeling. And this detail can be found in many other areas: the school’s rooftop, the city streets they walk on, and so on.
The character designs, while not as involved as the artistry, are not without their own strengths.
They wear reserved colors: more pinks and yellows with a helping of white. Their designs are also playful: Ohta is tall, Myaano is short, Tanaka and his sister Rino are twins, Echizen is a tomboy with catlike eyes, and Shiraishi has both the beautiful and the uncaring looks down pat.
As for actual animation, it remains high in quality. A lot of the animated segments rely on more comical art, like reaction faces and exaggerated responses, so movement becomes easier to see. Of course, it has its downtime with the usual eye and hair movements that never look out of place. Interestingly, even when animation isn’t going on, it fits the show. After all, listlessness is the name of the game.
Overall, the visuals are a sweet snack that never overstuff and always relax the audience.
Tanaka, as one would expect, is not the most interesting of characters. That’s not bad – because it’s by design.
His call to fame is listlessness. So, he is, by nature, just sort of there. He’s the one that (directly or indirectly) causes the various situations, sure, but he is very rarely an active participant. Indeed, he’d rather sleep the day away than tend to any labor of any kind.
Not to say he is not fun. Tanaka losing his listlessness because he was making too many funny faces is no doubt funny. But, most of the time, Tanaka just-so-happens to be in the area. As a result, the anime emphasizes the rest of its cast. Namely, Ohta, Myaano, Echizen, Shiraishi, and Rino.
Ohta is as cool a friend as any guy could have. A bro among bros. He can often be found carrying Tanaka at hip level with one arm. Caring for him when he needs help, looking out for him when he needs direction. He listens to Tanaka and takes time understanding him, too. Ohta is simply a really good guy – despite his ruffian persona.
Myaano is the cute little ball of energy. She pines for maturity, wishing to fight back against her size to become a woman that others could see as dignified and refined. She’s loud and hyper, making her utter contrast with Tanaka a riot to watch.
Echizen is tough. She gets in others’ faces, and she does not like to be looked down on. But beneath her rough exterior lays a girl who cares about cute things, longs for romance, and likes to help out her friends.
Shirashi is known as the school beauty. Yet, before her high-school days, she was more of a recluse, sitting at home and keeping to herself. Come the new year came a new Shiraishi. Which in turn brought her more troubles than she could have anticipated.
Individually, they are all interesting. But when one considers their relationships with Tanaka, they become that much more fun.
Tanaka not-quite-jokingly sees Ohta as someone he could spend the rest of his life with. In his words, they’re “steady like an old couple.” In other words, they are so close and so compatible that it’s as if they are together.
Myaano treats Tanaka as her leader, as the person that will catapult her into maturity. As such, she’s constantly asking for advice and doing whatever she can to emulate her “Master.”
Echizen misreads Tanaka constantly. First, she thinks he’s some tough dude, then she thinks he’s seeking her hand in marriage. And, given that Myaano looks up to him, she can usually be found, too, making sure that Tanaka is treating her small and cute friend well.
Shiraishi obviously is in love with Tanaka. After he was the only one that still recognized her while she wore her unkempt look, she fell for the listless boy. So, she can often be found trying to get closer to him or at least thinking about him in a romantic, heartfelt manner.
Rino technically has the closest connection, for she is Tanaka’s younger sister. But she wants more; she has a thing for her brother. Crafting personal chocolates for him and enjoying the fact that she got to go on a “date” with him at a fast-food restaurant are just a couple of her infatuated examples.
And the show also connects its cast between the others. Echizen dotes on Myaano. Rino despises Ohta. Myaano knows Shiraishi’s romantic feelings.
Tanaka-kun’s most clever character setup, however, is one that’s not around for very long, but it’s oh so hysterical.
Everybody knows that Ohta looks after Tanaka. But, as it turns out, Tanaka’s sister looks after Ohta’s sister, Saya. Saya is extremely shy and has a hard time speaking loudly in front of others, so Rino repeats Saya’s words for her. There’s also how Tanaka and Rino look nearly identical, but Ohta and Saya do not. And, of course, Rino hates Ohta, but Saya sees Tanaka in a favorable light.
The parallels between the characters are not as clever as this set here, but, given how each of their personalities survive on their own, and they are further amplified by Tanaka’s “boring” personality, the cast comes out on top as a more than fun and equally sweet cast.
Oddly enough, the best part of Tanaka-kun’s sound is a sound-effect.
In many instances, like when Myaano is confident or when Tanaka seems sure of himself, a small glinting noise, accompanied by a tiny star, will play. It’s a small, silly sound, but it’s strangely fun to hear. A smile-inducing twinkle.
Next would have to be the soundtrack. Its woodwind arrangements, classical pieces, and general slowness, per usual, contribute well to the listlessness and calmness that defines the show. The pieces themselves are light and fun – suitable as well for the slice-of-life style.
The voice-acting performances are strong, too. Yoshimasa Hosoya as Ohta used a leveled way of speaking that demonstrated calm and understanding. Kotori Koiwai as Shiraishi spoke in a soft yet mature manner. And Natsumi Takamori as Myaano fit the energetic, high-spirited girl well.
(A small shout-out goes to Nao Touyama as Saya. Her introduction, where she whispers and the anime puts her speaking voice down several decibels, made for a cute and fun joke.)
And not to be forgotten are the opening and ending tracks. The opening track goes for that listless feel. The soft singing, the acoustic guitar, and the meandering pace could not fit Tanaka-kun any better. The ED, by comparison to both the OP and the anime, goes the contrasting route. It’s a faster, more poppy piece. The “bon bon” lyrics, the myriad of sounds, and the ending background singers make the song fun to do a little jig to. (At least, when nobody is looking.)
A lot of people were telling me to pick this one up after I initially didn’t. I pushed back because I did not want even more anime to review, thereby putting me farther behind schedule. (I can’t be too much further behind already but still.)
After finishing the season, I’m glad that they persuaded me.
What sold it for me is the characters. Tanaka threatening the gods if he does not have an uneventful day. Ohta being such a cool bro, dealing with Tanaka’s laziness. Myaano making everything that much more cheerful. Echizen adding in a bit of roughness here and there. Shiraishi acting so gosh darn cute. Rino refusing to accept Ohta.
I found myself laughing throughout each episode, having a blast at the creative takes on listlessness and the duo calmness and silliness. I had a ton of fun – which is something that I cannot say about many of the shows from Spring 2016.
Unfortunately, I do have a gripe with the anime.
The show’s romance is adorable thanks to Shiraishi. Her joy and happiness at being with or around Tanaka made me joyful and happy in return.
What didn’t was Tanaka’s perspective. When walking under the umbrella, he’s more concerned about his shoulder getting wet. Or when he thinks about what having a girlfriend caused, he says, out loud, that it’s probably better for him to never have one.
It’s not just that the romance did not happen. That would have been okay since the possibility would still exist. It’s when the show goes so far as to tell me straight out that it may not ever happen that makes me sad to hear.
Yea, Tanaka’s (maybe) joking around. And, yea, it fits his listless personality to a tee. But, as a romance buff through and through, I cannot lie and say I approved of the anime’s decision.
(Similar musings can be had for Ohta and Echizen’s “romance”; there were one too many almost-romance happenings for my liking. No matter how funny they were.)
Still, it’s only one grip among a thoroughly entertaining experience. One that I hope gets a continuation sometime down the line.
Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge takes listlessness to heart and delivers a strong slice-of-life outing. Its content is filled with comedy and cuteness. Its art is often clever and beautiful. And its soft music supports its fun characters. Altogether, a cure for any sick day.
Story: Good, takes advantage of its listlessness, using comedy, cuteness, and a simplistic narrative to deliver a feel-good time
Animation: Great, smart artistic direction, nice backgrounds, good character designs, and nice actual animation
Characters: Good, Tanaka’s listlessness emphasizes the rest of the cast, allowing them and him to shine
Sound: Good, okay OP, good ED, okay OST, good VA performances, and an awesome little twinkling sound-effect
Enjoyment: Good, while the “romance” was disappointing, the sheer amount of laughs had is undeniable
Final Score: 8/10
Thanks for taking the time to read my review. If you want, take part in the discussion below! :3