Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge – 05

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After expertly establishing Shiraishi as a rounded, rootable, easily-to-empathize-with character, this week’s Tanaka-kun begins with a supermarket mystery: what did Tanaka’s sister want him to buy?

This initial segment accomplishes and reiterates so much with such a simple premise. Ohta is the kind of dependable all-rounder every woman in the store wants in their family or for their daughter’s (or their) husband…and he’s all Tanaka’s. 

Thanks to the process of elimination and a clue in the form of a single letter Past Tanaka sent as a reminder, they narrow the mystery items down to things starting with “P”, including pancakes. Ohta glows with maternal pride as Tanaka shuffles off into the sunset, shopping mission accomplished.

Unfortunately, Tanaka’s choices were wrong on all counts: his sister wanted pipe (i.e. drain) cleaner, and if he was going to get her pancakes, she wanted the ones from the specific place in the TV ad. Nevertheless, she made him dinner out of all of the (strong-smelling) ingredients he brought home.

We’ve yet to meet Tanaka or Ohta’s sisters, but there’s much that can be gleaned from just this indirect contact with her: she tries to push Tanaka beyond his boundaries of listlessness and uselessness.

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With that segment to open, I expected to finally meet a sister or two, but again the show demonstrated its penchant for restraint: why not spend more time with Shiraishi, since she’s fresh in our minds from last week?

Now that she’s more comfortable in her own skin, Shiraishi is coming to notice other things beyond what people think of her. Specifically, she’s pretty sure she’s fallen for Tanaka, as the lovely watercolor prologue to her segment aptly shows (Ohta showing up just when she’s about to place her hand on Tanaka’s sleeping shoulder).

Mind you, she’s still Shiraishi, and considers a “former dweeb” and loner such as herself falling in love to be the height of arrogance. We spend most of the balance of the episode in her churning head space, and are thus treated to the best kind of rom-com inner mon.

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Shiraishi wants to carry Tanaka on piggyback, but knows she can’t do that without getting a little closer to him. But how? She informs her two best girlfriends of her predicament, and they throw their moral support behind her.

Her initial idea is to learn more about Tanaka through Ohta’s interactions with him, since Tanaka hardly has interactions with anyone else (and no one is closer). At first I thought this was a classic recipe for Ohta mistaking her crush as for him, but the show wisely avoids that kind of trouble.

Instead, Ohta proves useful to her, clearing the path for her that much more by asserting that it’s unlikely Tanaka has a girlfriend or someone he likes at the moment.

But then Shiraishi hits an apparent roadblock when she enters the classroom to find Miyano is already there by Tanaka’s desk (where she wants to be) having a spirited conversation about…something (a conversation she doesn’t think she’d ever be able to have with him.)

It’s a scene with few important words (Miyano is just rambling as Tanaka nods) but so much runs across Shiraishi’s face as the camera draws in closer to it, and her and Miyano’s eyes meet.

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Of course, Shiraishi has the wrong idea: Miyano isn’t Tanaka’s girlfriend or anything like that. After retreating, Miyano pulls her back, seemingly knowing what’s up, and presents her to Tanaka as another new apprentice (one she can call kohai).

This is a misunderstanding, and it could have easily stayed that way, but again, Tanaka-kun isn’t a show that always goes the easy or predictable route. Shiraishi recognizes this opportunity for what it is, and pulls the trigger: She wants to be Tanaka’s friend, not an apprentice.

After Tanaka’s response—sure…and anyway, we already are friends—you can feel all the stress and worry melt away for Shiraishi, replaced by relief and joy. She didn’t take the first step—that was already taken—but now she recognizes that she took it, and the pressure is off, for now.

Miyano tells Shiraishi they’re friends too, and when the three exchange emails, covertly offers her support in what she now knows Shiraishi’s goal to be.

There’s no competition or rivalry here: Shiraishi wants to be Tanaka’s, she can be. She just has to keep taking things one step at a time, while believing in her own worth.

Tanaka doesn’t appreciate the magnitude of his words to Shiraishi yet, but nor is he the kind of guy who’d ignorantly deny or dismiss out of hand someone liking him. I wonder what his sister would say about this development!

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One Punch Man – 04

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This action-packed, side-splitting OPM comments on the severe wealth gap, the rise of individuals with no motivation to work, the concept of what I’ll call “power relativity”, and the necessity of jumping through bureaucratic hoops in order to receive due recognition for one’s heroic efforts. Also, a bunch of people get beheaded and someone gets punched in the Gentleman’s Vegetables.

Saitama catchphrase is “I’m just a guy who’s a hero for fun.” For fun, not for fame. So why is Saitama so hurt that no one knows who he is? Well, for one thing, when an army of stolen battle suit-wearing baldies start tearing down buildings (the first one by accident) and the news warns the public to look out for bald people, then it becomes a problem!

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That army calls themselves the Paradisers, they’re led by a giant fellow Hammerhead, and they all share a kind of lazy Robin-Hood philosophy of taking from the rich and giving to, well, not just the poor; the poor who don’t feel like working.

Their chief target is the richest man in town, Zeniru, who resides in a skyscraper topped with a golden turd. Unfortunately for the Paradisers, Zeniru has a cocky, smirking ninja named Sonic under his employ.

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Battle suits or no, the Paradisers are lower on the food chain than Sonic, who has no trouble lopping the heads off of all of Hammerhead’s comrades, before dodging all of Hammy’s rock and tree-based attacks and throwing a kunai in the back of his head. While

Sonic calls his boss to report his success, Hammy disappears; turns out he has a really really thick skull. And that darned kunai stays lodged in the back that skull for the rest of the episode!

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This is not Hammerhead’s day, because he almost immediately comes afoul of Saitama, who is rather pissed off that his “look” has been stolen. Hammy powers up his suit and starts throwing dual paddlewheel attacks, but obviously nothing works against the OPM.

Here’s the thing: Hammy reminds Saitama enough about his past self that he goes easy on him, which means destroying his battle suit with a glancing blow and letting him escape without clothes or his pride, but with his life.

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Then Saitama encounters Sonic, who is stronger than Hammerhead, and believes himself the fastest, strongest sonofabitch around who has trained in ninjutsu his entire life…he’s just not as fast or strong as OPM.

Saitama doesn’t really have to exert any effort to neutralize Sonic, and he only neutralizes him accidentally, when Sonic’s junk comes down on his fist (the slow motion shot is priceless). Frankly, Sonic got off easy, as Saitama didn’t put anything into that fist. Yet he considers this encounter a motivator to train harder so that next time they meet, he’ll beat him.

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That brings us to Saitama having tea at his place with a recently-repaired Genos, where Saitama expresses his frustration that even after three years of saving various cities from evil villains, no one in either the hero community or the general public know who he is. He doesn’t have a fan club of well-dressed blushing maidens, either.

So Genos brings up Hero Registration, something Saitama didn’t know was a thing, but which he sees as his ticket to recognition. Going online, filling out forms, and showing up to morning exams: it’s the life of a professional, officially recognized hero. Doesn’t sound very fun though, does it?

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One Punch Man – 03

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As episode three plunges into a detailed backstory for Professor Genus of the House of Evolution, I was wondering “Hey, what’s with all the lame long-winded narration?”—only for Saitama to interrupt the narrator (the cyborg gorilla) and state the exact same thing, followed by Genos telling the gorilla to keep it to “20 words or less.” Nicely played, OPM—I learned about Genus and laughed.

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Anywho, as there’s a big sale at the supermarket tomorrow, Saitama wants to take care of Genus and the HoE ASAP, so he and Genos race to the site, throwing Genus and his many clones into a panic. They have every reason to be concerned, as when they arrive at the HoE’s front door, Genos incinerates the entire above-ground structure, along with the mountain it’s attached to, as a time-saving measure for his sale-hungry boss. Still, Saitama is a bit miffed; it’s not nice to not at least hear the villain out!

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Well below ground, Genus is still kicking, and unleashes his trump card, a highly violent, psychopathic superhuman experimentation gone wrong, Carnage Kabuto. Still, he’s the strongest weapon Genus has, and thus his best bet against the intruders. That strength is demonstrated when CK turns Genos into, as Saitama calls it, “modern art.” But as usual, Saitama doesn’t panic, or even flinch at the sight of his suddenly abstracted apprentice.

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Wanting more room to play, CK invites Saitama to a colossal white training room, a perfect pure, empty canvas against which to make marvelous artwork with their fists. But eager to prove himself, Genos rushes in first, blasting Kabuto with everything he’s got…and getting nothing but a cracked-up face and frightening afro for his trouble. Yet when Genos is out for the count and CK turns on Saitama, he squares up a devastating punch and…scurries into the corner like a frightened bug (indeed, his body resembles a Hercules Beetle).

Why? Well, Genus didn’t just make CK strong, but intelligent as well, and some instinct within him is shouting stay away from Saitama, which is actually a very good idea. It also makes CK ask how he got so damn strong, a question both Genos and Professor Genus also want to know. But they all come away deeply unsatified, since all Saitama can tell them is what he did: undergo a rigorous but not altogether ridiculous training regimen for three years, losing his hair in the process.

I like how the art style becomes more dramatic and intense as he talks not of some kind of super drug or divine encounter, but mere sit-ups, push-ups, squats, runs, and going without mod cons.

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Now not so sure he trusts his instincts, CK goes into “Carnage” mode, powering up into a grotesque, rippling purple and green hulk, brimming with confidence. But it’s CK’s big boasting mouth that gets him in fatal trouble. He says he’ll be in carnage mode for a whole week, and won’t stop his murderous rampage until next Saturday. Saitama takes that to mean today is Saturday, the day of the sale, and he’s missing it!

What’s wonderful about this revelation is how much it’s built up as some kind of fatal mistake Saitama made that relates to his powerful opponent in some way. And CK in Carnage Mode certainly looks like someone who might be able to take a punch. But no, he’s taken out in one punch just like all the others; a punch Saitama really puts his heart into, since he’s so frustrated about missing the sale, though Genos later tells him if they hurry back home they can still make it.

With CK’s demise, decades of Genus’ research goes up in smoke, prompting the professor to consider ending his work on evolution and instead start a personal training regimen. Great stuff.

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Ben-To – 02

You and Hana join Sen’s club, and learn many crucial rules of the game: always wait for the God of Discounts to finish; Never take more than your fill; have respect and pride. But these are the rules of wolves; there are other beasts to content with, like a boar who breaks all of the rules, or a storm of pigs who would clean the place out. With help from the Wizard, You successfully wins the Bento with the honor seal, and thus the day. But Oshiroi’s obsessive friend Ume Shiraume has taken her hostage and won’t let her befriend anyone else.

Another fantastic effort for a series that looks to be extremely strong as the fall season progresses. This week we learn supermarkets are not only arenas, they are jungles; ecosystems with well-defined hierarchies, and each member of that system has its roles, strengths and weaknesses. After essentially being swept into the club (he had to sign while Sen had him in a choke hold), You has definitely gotten into the swing of things. It’s likely up to this point his life has been dull and monotonous; this new element is just the thing, awakening and reinforcing values in him like honor, pride, and respect – things he’ll need if he wants to rise from dog to wolf. Values true wolves always put first.

I’m a little surprised what a good fighter he is; he is able to pile through a rugby team without getting knocked out requires a certain suspension of disbelief, but who cares. As for Oshiroi; she seems to have been game from the start, but in her case, it seems she wants to make new friends besides the one she has – Ume, who is naught but a clingy bully. You is yet again at the recieving end of her physical and verbal abuse. Considering the strength and endurance he exhibited winning a half-price Bento later on, one has to wonder if and when he’ll ever stand up to her. One last comment: Taku Iwasaku is in the house, lending an excellent score to the proceedings.


Rating: 4