Tanaka-kun’s eyecatches would be one of the best shows of the season.
We’re getting to the point now where I start saying that the only bad thing about Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge’s latest episode is that it brings us one step closer to the series ending. One-cour adaptations are one of the curses of the modern anime era, no question about it, and that curse is especially cruel when it’s an adaptation of a manga you love. This isn’t the sort of series that gets sequels either (neither is Shounen Maid) so we’re definitely in “enjoy it while it lasts” territory here.
Enjoying it I most certainly am – Tanaka-kun is proving itself to be one of the most thoroughly delightful anime comedies in years. It’s always gratifying when a great manga gets such a good treatment that the anime is even better – full credit to Silver Link here, because they’ve pulled that rare feat off twice in the last couple of years. Western fast-food joints are thoroughly fertile ground for anime, of course – and to be blunt I’ve always found something comedically absurd about them myself, especially when placed in the Japanese landscape. But as usual, Tanaka-kun does a wonderful job deconstructing their essence in practical terms.
Why does Ohta-kun love WcDonalds? For their special desserts, of course (in Japan I’m generally more interested in their 100 Yen soft-serve cone). Why does Tanaka-kun dislike it? Effectively, because it has the word “fast” in the description. The fact of the matter is, of course Tanaka is absolutely right – part of the business model of places like that is to hurry the customer in and out as quickly as possible. Tanaka is kind of a languorous savant – he’s already shown himself to be very perceptive, perhaps because he’s generally keeping his mouth shut and observing things around him.
What draws Tanaka into joining Ohta inside WcDonald’s is toy #4 in their happy meal set – a mini-version of a Roomba (heck, it’s so cute I want one myself). When you think about it that’s a perfect toy for Tanaka-kun – he can idle and watch it toodle around the room – but disaster strikes when the store runs out of that particular toy, forcing Tanaka to order just a strawberry shake. I’ve been that employee, believe me – worrying that the customer would hold up the line, imagining them spilling their drink. And when Tanaka finds himself unable to triumph over a congealed shake, that employee gets in into her head that the two boys are a couple of banchou just waiting for the chance to exact their revenge on her once her shift is over. But in fact Ohta of course only looks scary, and Tanaka has actually become an admirer of WcDonald’s (a place where you can buy a drink and melt into the booth) and even of said employee for being able to pass an interview and get hired. The best part of this sequence comes when Ohta instinctively agrees with Tanaka when he says he could never get a part-time job, before catching himself and trying to stay positive….
The B-part brings us the last major player in the Tanaka-kun ensemble, Ohta’s sister Saya. She’s played by Touyama Nao, who will forever hold a special place in my heart for having played Yune in Ikoku Meiro no Croisee, and she’s great here. I can’t imagine too many of you didn’t guess that Ohta’s little sister would turn out to be the friend Rino talked about, and she immediately adds another fun element to the chemistry. She’s as different from her brother as Rino (not facially, obviously) is from hers – painfully she and reserved. The staredown between Saya and Tanaka is interesting, given that despite being quiet himself Tanaka is anything but shy. Saya says (Rino interprets) that Tanaka “looks like a prince”. And it gets even better when Rino goes to order a drink, which forces Saya to try and survive along with Tanaka and gives him a chance to confess – in a rather serious moment – that he’s remorseful about not being able to be a better protector to his sister. When Saya tells Tanaka just how much Rino talks about him, Tanaka is genuinely pleased and relieved.
Perceptive or no, psychic Tanaka isn’t, and he doesn’t guess that the “third-level gorilla” Saya refers to is in fact Ohta-kun. When he returns from retrieving his phone at school surprised looks are passed all around, though Rino’s is soon replaced with something quite a bit more pointed than surprise. I don’t think the fact that Ohta is her best friend’s brother changes the equation much for Rino one way or the other (he’s still the enemy) but as the episode closes we’re left with a reminder of the special bond between brothers and sister – one which comes in many different forms.