There have been a lot of yuri-ish shows this year, and one that kind of slipped under the radar was definitely Tanaka-kun is Always Listless. Tanaka may get all of the attention, but it’s a pseudo delinquent and a tiny ball of furious energy that made this review possible. Let’s see how it all turned out~
Tanaka-kun leads a simple and peaceful life. If it were up to him, every day would be uneventful and require little to no effort to be put forth. Alongside his best friend, Oota, Tanaka sleeps the days away and enjoys living the lazy life. This is his story.
If Seinfeld is “a show about nothing”, then Tanaka-kun is an anime about nothing. All right, while that’s not exactly true, the pacing of this anime is as slow as molasses, which might turn some people off. I know slice of life anime are generally uneventful, but it’s even more so with this one. You can probably give a succinct description of each episode in no more than two sentences, so it’s kind of surprising that after the first episode, things never became boring for me. I think the humor is a little bit dryer than you’d find in anime of this genre, and given how the main character is, that’s actually quite fitting.
I don’t think this is one of those laugh out loud comedies, yet even simple conversations are often pretty amusing and entertaining. It’s probably not for everyone—and I could see some people not liking this show at all—but this simple and eccentric little story ends up being a fertile playground for the characters to do their thing.
There isn’t all that much to the story, but it’s the characters that come to the rescue and make this a show worth watching. The description kind of makes it sound like Tanaka wouldn’t be that great of a character, yet he’s somehow oddly mesmerizing in his listlessness. I guess he kind of reminds me of a cat that just lays around and would rather be left alone, so I think he’s a pretty good protagonist. I think that state of mind is kind of relatable at times, which is why it’s understandable to me why viewers would take a liking to him. He’s just incredibly quirky, and for the majority of the anime-watching crowd, that’s really going to be the draw here.
Aside from Tanaka, there are a few more characters that this anime focuses on, starting with the guy who’s essentially his caretaker, Oota. By all accounts, Oota is an all-around great guy who looks after his lackadaisical pal like a mother looking after their child. Given how unique Tanaka’s take on life is, Oota’s like the voice of reason who’s so dramatically different that it makes you wonder how they could be best friends. For me, it’s the juxtaposition of these two characters that makes Tanaka an even more standout character.
Before I get to the two characters that are the reason why this anime is getting a review here on YuriReviews, let’s get this next bit out of the way already. It can’t go unsaid that there are definitely BL vibes between Tanaka and Oota. Tanaka even refers to Oota as his ideal wife, since Oota has no problem carrying him around. The show itself makes no secret of it, and it’s kind of neat that there three variants of “romance” in this one anime. But enough about that. Let’s move on to the main attraction… .
As much as I like Tanaka, it’s Miyano that really won me over. I think most people would either find her (a) cute as hell or (b) annoying as hell. For me, it’s the former, and I haven’t even mentioned that she’s in love with Echizen. Echizen is the former delinquent who’s neighbors with Oota—not to mention being childhood friends with him as well—and she’s not a fan of Miyano’s apprenticeship under Tanaka. She fills the tough girl role quite nicely, and just like Tanaka and Oota, her and Miyano seem like complete opposites that, nevertheless, have attracted each other. I loved how Ecchan’s demeanor would drastically change whenever Myaano was around, and she’d go from an intimidating presence to an absolute softie in the blink of an eye.
Admittedly, their relationship seems kind of shallow, mostly because Echizen loves cute things—and surprise surprise—Miyano is super cute. Though, to her credit, Miyano’s feelings appear to be the more serious of the two, so it’s not all trivial, but there’s one major caveat that puts a damper on everything. Like most yuri-ish couples you’ll find in anime, they don’t get enough screen time together, so if you’re watching solely for that reason, you might be a little disappointed. At the end of the day, they’re still a really cute couple, yet I can’t help but wish we could’ve seen more of them~
Rounding out the important characters is Shiraishi, who is probably my favorite character in the show (other than Miyano, of course). The nerdy class rep who’s actually masquerading as a popular and sociable girl is as sweet as can be, and she gives Miyano a run for her money in the cuteness department as well. She eventually comes to have a crush on Tanaka-kun, and perhaps the best thing about her? She wears glasses. Woot woot!
In short, this group of characters is definitely the strength of this anime, and any shortcomings of the story were neglible to me, since they made me forget all about it.
Visually speaking, Tanaka-kun is rather ho-hum. In particular, it’s the character designs that are on the simplistic side and lack a lot of the shading and other intricate details you’d expect in a modern anime. That said, this style kind of works, and some of the backgrounds look somewhat better, so I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. Besides, I get a bit of a dreamy vibe while looking at it, so maybe that’s exactly what they were going for. All in all, Tanaka-kun has its own unique style, and for the most part, it pulls it off.
Moving on to the audio, just like Tanaka-kun himself, the music is rather easygoing and whimsical. That seems to be a running theme in this anime, and apparently, that even applies to the music. Then there’s that OP, which is a feel-good track that’s pretty nice itself. More often that not, I usually skip the OP after seeing it once or twice, but I watched it almost every single time with this show. Voice acting-wise, the casting was spot-on, and even though everyone was very good, Miyano was particularly great. There might not have been anything that great about the audio, but that’s okay, since it played its role well enough.
On paper, this anime doesn’t seem like it should be all that entertaining, but in execution, Tanaka-kun is Always Listless turned out to be a diamond in the rough. From what I can gather, it didn’t sell that well, but I’d very gladly welcome another season of this odd little slice of life anime (but more Ecchan x Myaano plz)~