Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge – 07

Tanaka-kun - 07 -18 Tanaka-kun - 07 -33 Tanaka-kun - 07 -41

Tanaka-kun - 07 -1Apologies for the short posts this weekend, but the severe back-loading of the weekly schedule this season makes such things unavoidable whenever I have to travel anywhere.  As usual, Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge was just about note-perfect this week, and it added the last of the really important characters (though not the last character overall) at last in Tanaka Rino (Aoi Yuuki).  She is, of course, Tanaka-kun’s imouto, and she’s one of the better iterations of this massively overused and generally annoying character trope.

Tanaka-kun - 07 -2It’s always a net plus when a show adds Yuuki-san, especially for a part as fraught with potential pitfalls as this one.  I give most of the credit to Uda Nozomi because Rino is a very good character as written, but Yuuki is plain and simply damn good – she can be funny and she can be serious (she’s mostly the former here).  And perhaps most importantly in this context, she can be cute without being insufferable.  She cuts the kawaii with a dose of acerbic wit, and takes her moe characters to the edge of being a bit loopy.  And that works a treat for Rino.

Tanaka-kun - 07 -3The theme here is Valentine’s Day, that monumental “X” on the calendar of adolescents all over Japan.  Someone has mysteriously placed a box of homemade chocolates in Tanaka’s bag – along with a bar of ¥98 obligation chocolate in the form of a Meiji dark chocolate bar for Ohta.  Tanaka is upset by this for the exact reason he should be – it means he has to theoretically go through the effort of returning the favor on White Day, and while he likes chocolate, that’s just too much work.  In fact he expounds on this theme a bit later in a brilliantly written passage in which he relates to Ohta-kun that he’s “naturally curious about the things a boy should be curious about”, but not so much that he’s willing to put up the effort to indulge his curiosity.  If he ever meets a girl who can convince him otherwise, he’ll know he’s in love.

Tanaka-kun - 07 -4There’s much speculation over who might be responsible.  The “I’m always watching” part of the note suggests that it might be “bullet girl” Miyano, but she doesn’t think of the boys as members of the opposite sex as much as “God and Buddha”.  Ohta thinks if might be “Miss Macaron” Shiraishi (who seems a likely suspect) but she forgot it was Valentine’s Day because she was always a loner.  Tanaka-kun is happy when he thinks it was Shiraishi (heh) but rather alarmed when he learns it wasn’t – especially when he finds a voice recorder in his bag.  That’s when Rino coincidentally shows up and asks Ohta to come back to the house for tea, which Tanaka-kun endorses under the theory that once Ohta knows where he lives he can become a human taxi (“I want to be invited over for a better reason than that.”).

Tanaka-kun - 07 -5Is a little sister with a possessive crush on her older brother played out in anime?  Of course – but Tanaka-kun’s take on it still feels fresh.  The relationship between the siblings is quite charming, and Rino’s interplay with Ohta frequently hilarious (she passive-aggressively calls him “Fuutouta”, playing on the similarity of the Kanji). In a very real sense both Ohta and Rino could be seen as enablers of Tanaka’s listlessness since, they, well- enable him to be lazy both at home and school.  But it’s still sweet rather than troubling (in both cases) somehow, and the fact is that Tanaka has an odd sort of nobility about him despite (or perhaps because of) his unique nature.  He’s clever, too, in spite of appearances – he does latch onto the fact that it was Rino that gave him the chocolates just as he figured out Shiraishi’s secret identity (though he’s not so successful at figuring out the reason why.

 

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8 comments

  1. A

    It still ruined the episode to me, kind of. This may be one of my most hated tropes in anime, more given how… unrealistic and sick/fucked up the situation is. I can only hope this kind of thing doesn’t appear often or I will have to drop the series. I’ve been really liking it so far, but this is a giant turn off for me.

  2. g

    Yeah, for me too. it would be even better and fresher, if at least once siblings of opposite sex had a normal, healthy relationship. An unusual and underused trope in anime, indeed. The last hope in Otha’s younger sister. Don’t disappoint me, Otha’s sister!

  3. F

    Another funny episode of Tanaka, and I almost lost it when Rino said ‘Hey Ohta, why don’t you step outside?’ after Ohta admitted that he ate more than half of Tanaka’s chocolate. That was like a declaration of war in quite a delinquent style, it’s just such a pity that it went way over Ohta’s head.

  4. r

    Loved also the candid way Ohta reacted to that, like ‘Eh? Is there something outside?’

  5. r

    Thanks for the review, Enzo. This was again spot on for me, almost perfect. The way Ohta angries Rino instead of reassuring her re: her brother, or Tanaka and Ohta self-decieved as to the reasons for the girl’s present at the end of the episode… Simply wonderful.

  6. T

    I don’t care much for the little sister trope, but at this point, anything that has Tanaka and Ohta together keeps me happy. The best part for me has to be Tanaka-kun explaining how he’s as curious as any other boy on the planet about ero things, but just doesn’t have the energy for it.

  7. I thought Rino was pretty cute, its nice to see a bit of edge to the comedy, although honesty who could hate Ohta?

    They’re both definitely enablers, but Tanaka is precious enough that it doesn’t matter one bit to me.

  8. I think part of the package with anime, is tropes you’d rather have nothing to do with.

    The real issue isn’t whether those wheelhouses were preexisting or cultivated, but that they’re being enabled. A person’s ability to look past that is pretty dependent on what’s going on as a whole.

    The belligerent yankee girl trope that Ecchan serves I don’t mind as it runs mostly counter/plays off of the “girls are delicate creatures” mindset, but the most of the other tropes I could really do without.

    Still, Tananka-kun is far too good overall for the imouto thing to be ruinous. Of course, this is the perspective of a stranger from a strange land.

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