That may very well be the first time the phrase “stylish monaka” was ever uttered.
This anime season may not be great as a whole (though it is good) but I think it is a great one when it comes to comedy. We’re blessed with a lot of very funny series, and spoiled for choice when it comes to style. Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge is a pretty distinctive show when it comes to style, but much more so in anime than manga form it reminds me quite a bit of vintage Minami-ke. I don’t know if it’s the facial expressions, the situations or the comic rhythm (both series are experts in the art of the humorous pause) – I suspect it’s a combination of all three. And to compare a comedy to Minami-ke is high praise coming from me.
Once again Tanaka-kun is in girl of the week mode, which as you know is my one quibble as a fan of the manga. These chapters do exist there but they’ve been expanded and front-loaded. However, it must be said that I’m in a much better mood today since we’ve gone from my least favorite girl (Echizen) last week to my most favorite this time. That would be Shiraishi (Koiwai Kotori) and she has the most interesting niche of any of Tanaka-kun’s female cast if you ask me.
There are a lot of really brilliant comic moments in this episode, starting with Ohta carrying Tanaka to school while the latter has a piece of toast in his mouth. This adaptation, whatever niggles I have with it, is getting an awful lot of stuff right. The direction is superb and the music some of the best of the year. It’s clear from the beginning that something is not quite right with Shiraishi – that smile is just a little bit too fixed – but the impact is undeniable. She sparkles so much it hurts Tanaka’s eyes.
The performance Shirashi puts on for Tanaka and Ohta in the copy room is a good one (it’s obvious why she was so determined not to accept their help), and this scene has Tanaka-kun on display in classic form. Stuff like using the laptop as a bulletproof vest is classic Tanaka, and I just lost it with Ono Kenshou’s delivery of that “stylish monaka” line. Another great moment comes in the lunchroom when he describes Ohta as his perfect wife, “because he can carry me”. That one surely went over well in Ikebukuro.
Once Ohta and Tanaka walk in (well, only Ohta is walking) on Shirashi in her true form, things move from the ridiculous to the sublime. This act Shiraishi puts on is mostly played for comedy, but it’s not so far off from what a lot of high school kids (especially girls) do in the desperate quest to be popular. And “desperate” is the word I’d use for Shiraishi – you can see it when she’s performing Of course she’s terrified that Ohta and Tanaka will blow her cover, but Ohta hasn’t even realized that the megane-girl he walked in on was the same person.
There’s lots to nibble on in the episode resolution. First of all we see that Tanaka knew the truth all along (which means he kept Shiraishi’s secret without being asked). He also Freudian-slips and says she’s very “ero” (seductive) when he supposedly meant to say “productive” (yeah, right). Also – Shiraishi muses that it makes her feel butterflies in her stomach to hear Tanaka-kun praise her. The moment when he reveals to Ohta how he recognized Shiraishi is a great comic reveal – not some perceptive look at her inner nature, but “a girl can’t hide her breast size”. But it’s another kind of reveal, too – there’s room in Tanaka’s listless existence for that third type of base human desire after all (the clue was in the second episode). Life at that high school (which I still say looks more like a luxury hotel or corporate campus) just got a lot more interesting…