Monday, August 29, 2016

Anime Review: Tanaka-kun is Always Listless

Before the spring season, Tanaka-kun was a maybe on my list, then it went off my list, and then it went back on my list after I saw people still talking about it a few episodes in. The three episode rule is a great guideline guys, if you still see other people talking about a show after three episodes then by golly, then you gotta check it out at that point!

Tanaka-kun is Always Listless (Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge)

Tanaka-kun is determined to get through as much of his life with as little effort as possible, his is the path of least resistance. And with his group of friends, ranging from the cheerful to the tense to his best friend Ohta-kun who is perfectly willing to carry a sleeping Tanaka around, it's working out pretty well for him so far!

I had been told beforehand to try and give the show two episodes to charm me, not one, since the first episode is a bit, well, dull. Tanaka-kun has exactly one joke which is that he is as lazy as possible whenever possible. The entire show manages to milk this out rather well given how creative Tanaka can be about his laziness, but the show picks up once other characters are introduced and the dynamics become a little more fluid. They might also be only two or three note characters but gosh darnit, put enough of them together and then things get funny!

Largely I didn't have any problems with the show, some episodes are slower or more funny than others, but a lot of the potential romances rubbed me the wrong way. There's the "I misinterpreted events and think they have a crush on me!" skit, the "sister admires and feels a bit too possessive of her brother" character, but the moment that viewers of the show probably thought of first is from the very second episode. There we have the cute Miyano who aspires to be more listless (she thinks it'll make her look more mature) to impress her friend, who the show implies to be a romantic crush. The show reveals that this is another girl in their grade, the yanki Echizen, and Miyano has a rather comedic scene where she declares that she loves Echizen more than anything in the world, possibly the universe. 

And then the story does nothing with it. Part of this may sound like overthinking but hear me out, with the way that scene played out, if this had been a guy and a girl and absolutely nothing happened afterwards it would've felt like the story completely backpedaled on a romance. I've heard some folks say that this is an event that happened later in the manga than the anime, which could sort of explain things, but my thought during the show was, is this queerbaiting? I doubt it was intentional, but I also believe that you can have unintentional queerbaiting. Part of me wants to say "well there are many kinds of relationships, including like romantic friendships" but to be blunt, I pretty rarely encounter anything like that (even in queer works!) that I don't want to say it's the case here. It's an odd choice to make overall and I do know some folks who were so frustrated by how it played out that they dropped the show, they do spend an entire episode building up to an event which is forgotten in the very next episode after all.

Overall it's a rather cute show and the relaxed, but often still weird, tone made me almost consider it a "healing" anime. It was a nice show to wind down to in the evenings! I'm not sure I would seek out more of the manga to read, with the rate that I binge magna it might become too repetitive for me, but I certainly wouldn't mind a second season of the anime.