Who knew that seeing one of the seven deadly sins incarnate, could be so enjoyable?
Tanaka-kun was one of the series that we weren’t able to cover this season, but that many of us enjoyed, and I just couldn’t let the season close without giving this series my full recommendation.
I’m not usually the SoL or even the comedy girl, I usually leave that kind of series for some of my fellow writing mates, and stick to action, mecha, or sci-fi. In all honesty, I had no intention of even giving this series another glance when going over the series for the Spring season. And yet, as the season was about to begin, more PVs and key visuals came out and Nozomi Uda’s unique and simplistic character designs piqued my interest. Watching the PV got me to check out at least the first episode, and the rest is history…
Our two main characters
Has anyone ever experience a real lazy summer Sunday afternoon? One preferably out in the country without any sounds of traffic or sirens, or city life, only the sounds of the gentle breezes blowing through the branches of a weeping willow, while the cicadas play their song, and there is just enough lazy cloud cover that you can enjoy the sun without being blinded by her. You sit on your screened off porch in a rocking chair sipping lemonade, while the birds continue their melody and the wind ruffles your hair. Nice idealistic portrait, right? That’s basically the way I feel every time I watched this series. A series to watch that can simply take a step back from the rush of life (especially if you’re like me and are constantly immersed in an urban metropolis), and allow you to unwind and relax, from the first bar of the whimsical OP to the last rest of the charming ED.
So what’s the series about? Well, it’s title kind of spells it out for you. “Tanaka-kun is Always Listless”. And so, we sit back and watch the day to day life of a high school boy named Tanaka, who is basically Sloth in human form. You probably have met many lazy people in your lifetimes, and yet, somehow, someway, Tanaka is able to go above and beyond and turn it into an art form.
Tanaka-kun being Tanaka-kun
Now, in real life and to most, being lazy is mostly a huge turnoff to family, friends, coworkers, and would lead to you pissing quite a few people off and being majorly disliked. And yet, for some reason, the way that Tanaka goes about it, really seems to make it more charming and cute than annoying. Now, to be sure, I don’t think that at the level of lazy that Tanaka dwells at, he would even be able to function in regular society after graduation. But even yet, I like how Tanaka knows what he is, and actually works tirelessly in order to stay that way. How’s that for a contradiction?
The personality of the two in a nutshell
But of course if it was just Tanaka alone, the series would have probably gotten pretty boring after awhile, despite all the ridiculous and hilarious ways in which Tanaka attempts to maintain his listless lifestyle. Comedy usually needs someone or something to bounce off of, a straight man to bounce off of such antics. And despite the fact that Tanaka barely has the energy to walk, he actually has a rather large set of friends that fulfill that purpose.
From his trustworthy best friend/nursemaid/caretaker/mother, the always dependable Ohta, his adorable, pint-sized, (unwanted) disciple, the insatiable Miyano, to lovely class president with the heart of a nerd (that happens to belong to a unknowing Tanaka himself), darling Shiraishi, and of course, the Yankee with a heart of gold hidden behind her flimsy bravado, Echizen. Stereotypical background boy characters Shimura and Katou, round it all out. Other than his classmates, we also have Tanaka and Ohta’s little sisters Rino and Saya, who join the group, of course both being the opposite of their respective big brothers. Along with Tanaka our class of characters are all wonderful and compliment each other well.
So many girls in Tanaka’s life…what’s a man to do?
There’s little to no drama in this series, it’s mostly all comedy with your usual slice of life classroom antics, and it doesn’t seem to come off as cliche or tiresome in any way. Somehow, Tanaka’s “unique” thought process and subsequent actions (and of course all of his friends reactions), make the same-old, same-old usual anime school experiences, delightful and funny. Kensho Ono and Yoshimasa Hosoya were very good in the roles of the main characters of Tanaka and Ohta, and you look forward to them just doing mundane tasks like going to the dentist and to the supermarket. There’s even a little romance that sparks here and there, with Shiraishi and her discovery of her romantic attraction to Tanaka, and Echizen’s possible interest in her childhood friend and neighbor, Ohta. It’s nothing too much, just a small spark that you can imagine with slowing grow as the future unfolds.
It’s okay Shiraishi, it’s not the end of the world.
Some of my favorite scenarios include Tanaka being so lazy that he tries to think of every way possible that he doesn’t have to open his umbrella in the rain, even to the point of trying to evolve like a Pokemon, or avoid raindrops ninja style. The day that Ohta gets injured and is unable to care for Tanaka like he usually does is also one that I love, as you see Tanaka try to come out of his comfort zone to help his friend, only to find himself lost in his own high school of all places. It gives you just enough of a hint of the reality that if a person was truly as messed up as Tanaka is, they would be in very real danger out in the world, but it’s only a hint before it’s gone and we all just smile and shake our heads. And episode to episode, we simply just relax and giggle at similar antics, loving every moment of Tanaka continuing to try to find the easiest path to finding his rest, even if he has to work his hardest to do it. Oh, Tanaka-kun, what will we do with you…
Yes, that was indeed a girl shaped bullet speeding over their heads.
I cannot recommend this series enough. While it does seem very slow at first, and you wonder if the series might have worked better as a set of vignettes, if you give it time and allow it to breathe it’s soft sun-filled breeze over you, you begin to adjust to the leisurely pace and the very laid back plot. The simple piano soundtrack gets the mood just right and compliments the openings and endings very well. A well done job by the animators, the voice acting crew, the writers, and everyone else on the staff and crew. If you are in need of a series that will help you unwind after watch heart-pumping mech battles and spine-chilling thrillers, then Tanaka-kun will show you the best way to sit back, loosen up, and find some well-earned repose.