First Impressions – Tsurezure Children

My anticipation level for Tsurezure Children was probably higher than it’s been for any short since Tonari no Seki-kun.  It’s a well-regarded manga, comes from a studio that’s often underrated in Gokumi, and featured music by the already legendary Tenmon (5 Centimeters per Second).  In addition to all that, it focuses on a theme that’s woefully underutilized in anime – middle school romance (though it’s obviously been a good few months for it lately).

This premiere is quite good, probably about on-par with what I expected (though I wish Tenmon’s score had featured more prominently).  By reputation Tsurezure Children is an odd mix of kawaii and kinkiness, and I saw nothing in this episode to dissuade me of that preconception.  I also saw nothing that convinced me that this show needed to be 12 minutes rather than 24, to be honest – even if the stories are presented as vignettes, there were four couples in focus in the premiere (and I assume that’s not all of them).

We have an intriguing mix of comic elements and personality types here, all seeming to be a general riff on the supreme awkwardness of first love fumbling in junior high.  We have a girl who attempts to have her cake and eat it too by inviting her crush to meet her only to ask “Is there anyone you have a crush on?”  We have a teasing popular girl who likes to toy with the extremely shy boy she shares class rep duties with.  There’s also a guy who blackmails a self-styled delinquent girl into kissing him (he notes that he’s “tested” whether he’s gay or not, and exposes the fact that the girl isn’t as experienced as she pretends).  And there’s the genki girl in the astronomy club who couches her real feelings for her graduating sempai in supposedly fake daily confessions.

What do these situations have in common?  Well, for one they’re all built around kids basically trying to say something without saying it – through braggadocio, or teasing, or false jocularity, or simple trickery.  Middle school (I really don’t think this series would have worked with high schoolers) is all about posturing and positioning, and middle school romance often about fear of confronting your own feelings or of rejection.  These kids are really cute, but there’s a lot of edginess to their interactions – some couples more than others, but none of these boy-girl interludes are comfortable.  I see a lot of potential here, because there’s clearly some real incisiveness and fearlessness (and wit as well) to the writing.  I wish Tsurezure Children were full length, but it may just end up packing an awful lot of entertainment into its allotted twelve minutes.

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11 comments

  1. H

    Didn’t have this on my radar initially but gave it a go. Very glad I did cuz I loved every single second of it. I pretty much had a smile on my face the whole time. In particular I thought the voice acting was absolutely fantastic (though I’m rarely disappointed with Japanese seiyuu on the whole usually ^^). I agree about there being a lot of potential here.

  2. S

    The segment with the delinquent and student council president was just not acceptable, really… Not only were all the prostitution and rape jokes just not remotely funny (not that there was a way they ever could have been), but also all of the homophobic crap (how it’s some sort of joke that he’s considered that he’s gay before, the girl’s reaction, etc.), which is made even worse by how despite the fact that the series will have dozens of couples in it, every single one will be a girl and boy (if even trash like Fuuka can manage to have a gay character in it, I see no reason why this can not, for no reason other than homophobia). And then the story ended with the blackmailing guy being all superior with the whole “I think I can fall in love with you, as long as you quit smoking,” as if he was being “nice” to give her the time of day, when he was the one who approached and started harassing her in the first place and she had never claimed to be interested in him. And, I don’t know if this will be a trend going forth or not, but with every couple, the one who was supposed to be stupid/had issues/whatever was the girl and then the “smart”/aloof one was the guy. It’s pretty clear that a guy wrote the series…

  3. u

    Nice treatise, but you forgot to cheer on girls (also applies to boys, of course) harming their health through juvenile smoking because it’s a feminist thing to do. You totally succeeded in being even more comedic than the show. Here’s hoping you’ll keep watching and commenting for our enjoyment.

  4. S

    Nice bait, but whatever, I’ll respond anyway. The problem is not generally the inclusion of problematic elements in a story, but how they are actually presented and portrayed. For example, smoking is bad, the girl being a smoker is presented as a negative in the story, and it even points out in the text directly that she should stop smoking. However, the student council president blackmails the girl, propositions sex for money, and unzips his his pants and approaches her as if he’s going to attempt sexual assault, yet none of it is not presented as negative. If you’re going to include stuff like that in fiction, you have to portray it in a negative light, not reward the character for it, like what happened in this show. It also didn’t help that the delinquent girl hadn’t shown any sort of signs that she was attracted to him before the whole thing happened, so it was pretty weird when he was just told her that he would date her, when she had never said anything about liking him also beforehand. The girl wasn’t given any options to not kiss him, since it was either that or he would report her, so adding a romantic atmosphere to it just doesn’t really sit right. But yeah, maybe if you had actually read what I wrote and not just gone into “LOL a feminist!!111!” mode, you would realize that I was not saying that the girl should be smoking and everything I mentioned was right there in the show. Anyway, thanks for reminding me why it’s always a bad idea to comment on anime stuff online, as it calls all of the Mar-a-Lago trolls out.

    On another note, I have no idea if my original comment came off as a bit argumentative to Enzo or anyone else, haha, I was mostly just pointing the stuff out because I was bored and disappointed, because I thought this show was going to be more like those skits at the end of Tsuki ga Kirei or something. I did find a few of the stories to be pretty cute (the first one was probably the best one, the rest eh), it’s just that the student council president one was pretty eyeroll-worthy. So if it did bother anyone other than this person, my apologies. I wasn’t saying anyone was wrong for liking the show or anything, haha, as I’m sure most people just ignored the weird sexual predator vibes in that one segment.

  5. u

    the girl being a smoker is presented as a negative in the story, and it even points out in the text directly that she should stop smoking
    I can’t believe someone with such a comprehensive understanding of patriarchy actually bought that piece of male chauvinist propaganda… Didn’t you observe that if an underage girl smoked, this could afford her at least some form of protection by putting off male authority figures looking to assault her? She’d have most likely been violated on the spot if she hadn’t taken control of her own body and preventively poisoned it.

  6. “how it’s some sort of joke that he’s considered that he’s gay before”

    Because obviously the fact that representing hetero male teenagers as obsessed with their developing sexuality and asserting their masculinity is a sign of the author being homophobic and not actually simply stating the obvious. No one said that this is supposed to be how you should *aspire* to be. They’re kids. And kids sometimes are fucking stupid.

  7. We’re (not you, Simone) slipping close to pissing contest territory with this debate – so please keep it respectful.

    FTR, I didn’t consider that sequence to be homophobic. It was a joke. A joke that concerns homosexuality is not inherently homophobic. A lack of gay couples in a romance series doesn’t make that series anti-gay. I’m a big proponent of more balance in anime romance, as my record shows. But I don’t believe any given series is obligated to follow any rule for who loves who – whatever the theme is, that’s the theme.

    That said, the sexual harassment side of that encounter was borderline for me. It tells me the Prez is a guy to keep tabs on – he may be a genuince scumbag, or he may just be a guy with no decorum and a bad sense of humor. We’ll see.

    Again – don’t turn this into a flame war or I’ll cut it off. Argue all you want but don’t get personal.

  8. u

    I apologize if you think I was being excessive, but I find it ridiculous when people approach a 4-koma based gag show in a deadly serious blowhard manner. It’s like getting all worked up over how punching/kicking someone so hard that they disappear in the blue sky is not treated in a sufficiently negative light despite it technically being extreme violence. I don’t know if you saw the religious war that suddenly erupted over at AS on the topic of why the ‘demon’ girl in isekai Shokudou isn’t depicted as evil even though the Bible says demons are evil. Good grief… I don’t particularly have a problem with poster S’s views, but I do think people need to learn to relax a bit and learn to consider the context.

  9. “I don’t know if you saw the religious war that suddenly erupted over at AS on the topic of why the ‘demon’ girl in isekai Shokudou isn’t depicted as evil even though the Bible says demons are evil.”

    Well, that sort of religious fanaticism is another whole can of worms. At least we have all good reason to know rape is a real issue, whether we think or not that this kind of joke makes light of it. With that the disconnect comes from many people considering demons either outright fantasy or at least some sort of metaphor, and some people actually considering them a serious threat, more serious than anything in fact. Reminds me of the ridiculous levels of denials surrounding the fact that Drifters obviously hints at its main villain being Jesus – even though admitting that only says something at best about the author, not about the person who recognises the many blatant signs.

  10. r

    I really needed something to fill my craving for first love adorableness after Tsuki ga Kirei ended. Thank the Lord for this show. That was as funny as it was endearing.

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