Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge | Yes.
The story is but a simple and modest one. It follows the life of teenage highschooler Tanaka, denoting his attempts at merely existing each day, and his interactions – or lack thereof – with those around him. Not much is ventured here; it is a barebones premise that, most surprisingly, ends up being highly entertaining because it leaves a lot of room for imagination and creativity. At first glance, it might seem somewhat uninteresting – after all, what enjoyment can be derived from a series where the main character can’t be bothered to do anything? The answer to this rhetoric is a positive one – despite his unethused self, Tanaka manages to find himself in many a comedic situation brought about by his nature, in no small part thanks to his friends and compatriots.
It is these very friends – and Tanaka included, of course – that enable this series to stand tall and blast away any doubts one might have about its apparent lacklustre premise. This series is a comedic one, mixing humour with a relaxing air to itself. It is like a constant, slow-burning candle; each episode moves along at its own pace, drawing you in, bringing many a chuckle and smile on the way. Not much happens in each episode, and yet not once does it feel like the 20 allocated minutes are being dragged out. They all centre around the highschool they go to, and so the accompanying events are naturally school-themed, such as participating in the culture festival, or having mishaps with misunderstanding classmates. However, unlike other school-themed comedy series such as Seitokai Yakuindomo or Nichijou, Tanaka-kun does not rely on sexual content and fanservice, or exaggerated ridiculousness. It is mundane to its core, but with a highly positive spin. Cast away your negative connotations of mundane events, because it brings these down-to-earth events to life in a most refreshing manner.
For our main character Tanaka, listlessness is a perpetuity. For his own reasons, it is a state he cannot fight. It dominates his being, and is reflected in his every manner. He doesn’t struggle against it – for that would contradict his very nature – but simply approaches life in the most easy and effortless way possible. Much to his chagrin, however, his days of school life are far from easy and effortless. He alleviates this by relying on his best friend Ohta, a man who can only be described as being the broest bro that ever broed. He is – in an almost literal sense – the backbone for Tanaka. He’s there by Tanaka’s side to help him through whatever each day throws at Tanaka, to the point where he even physically carries Tanaka to and fro wherever he needs to go. Yet not once does Ohta admonish Tanaka; he merely offers encouragement as he stoically goes about his duties. He’s the ideal friend, one who accepts Tanaka for who he is and stays by him nonetheless. His abiltiies are such that even when shopping with Tanaka, Ohta attracts the attention of the ladies, resulting in their cries of “I want an Ohta too!”
The dynamic duo aside, there are a handful of other characters who make up the main cast, each filtered into the story episode by episode. Miyano – affectionally dubbed Myaano by her senpai Echizen – is a go-getter who finds herself mesmerised by Tanaka. In an ironically contradictory and humorous manner, she tries her utmost to emulate Tanaka’s actions, wanting to be carefree and listless in the same way he is. She’s bright, enthusiastic and well-meaning, but also naive, evidenced by her ignorance towards her efforts to be effortless.
The aforementioned Echizen is a girl from another class, who has a fierce and imposing exterior but is actually a kind maiden at heart; this juxtaposition serves as another point of comedy because she tries to act as a punk but can’t truly deny her kind side. One can’t help but smile when the terrifying senpai berates Tanaka and Ohta but then goes googly-eyed as she gushes over Myaano, the affectatious nickname she gifted upon Miyano.
Shiraishi makes up for the 3rd main supporting character. She’s the class-rep, who, unbeknownst to everyone else, has an identity crisis. At school, she’s a bishoujo who has top grades, flawless looks and graces everyone else with her presence. Such is her stature that she has a group of followers akin to groupies who dog her around and accost any who would dare converse with their Queen.
These 5 make up for the main cast, and it is their hijinks which are the source of the great entertainment Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge has to offer. They all interact with one another in different ways, bringing their own uniqueness to the table. The persiflage between Echizen and the rest keeps them on their toes; Myaano’s adorableness mixes well with her go-getter mindset. Shiraishi finds solace in the group since they accept her for who she really is – even if that itself is based on a highly comedic misunderstanding. All three of them would appear as oil to Tanaka’s water on the surface, but they flow together surprisingly well, and Tanaka is better off for them; he does occasionally try and make an effort for their sake.
Where the art is concerned, it fits very well for the series’ tone. The character designs are all fairly simple, without overly much detail to them, yet they still manage to capture each character and their personality, from Tanaka’s large eyes which look dull and tired to Echizen’s imposing and intimidating features which make her look like someone you shouldn’t mess with. They all look distinct, and the colours are all light and cheery. It is a colourful series, one filled with brightness that lifts your spirits. The listlessness of the series is perfectly encapsulated with simple designs and bright colours.
I can safely say that Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruga is a series that subverted all of my initial expectations. It is entirely a character driven show, and it is those very same characters where this series shines. The cast is varied and all bring something different to the table. This is an anime to be put on after having a bad day, something where you can really relax and have a laugh all the way through. Stress is relieved by the smile that will inexorably find itself on your face.
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