What They Say:
Tanaka-kun can’t help it. Put him someplace nice and warm, and he’ll start nodding off, even in class or on the way to school. You would think that this would eat into Tanaka’s social life, but, fortunately, our consciousness-challenged protagonist has a guardian angel in the form of his best friend Ota, a gentle giant who (literally) carries Tanaka from place to place. Then there’s class-rep Shiraishi, who’s convinced that Tanaka’s unique perspective lets him see past her beautiful appearance; Miyano, their hyper pint-sized classmate who somehow becomes Tanaka’s unwanted apprentice in listlessness; and Echizen, a self-proclaimed delinquent who’s determined to fight him. As for Tanaka, being the center of attention is the last place he wants to be, but the world just won’t leave him alone.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the English language dub, both of which are encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show is one that’s very mellow like its title character but it does have some moments where it stands out and plays a bit bigger. While Tanaka is fairly mellow there are other characters here that are more outgoing and they pop off the screen well with their actions, such as Miyano and her hyperactivity. There are a few moments of physical action along the way that adds to it nicely as well but these really are few and far between when you get down to it. That combined with the music that gives it a little more warmth, especially in the opening and closing sequences, results in a solid pair of mixes that fits the show right and is free of problems such as dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2016, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second, which is also where all the extras reside. Animated by Silver Link, the look of the show is one that feels like it belongs to something with a bigger or more important story as it’s beautifully animated. With low-motion characters for the most part that factors into the story, a lot of what we get are really detailed and fantastic backgrounds that brings the places to life in a wonderful way. The character animation is really good as well with some detailed and fluid moments but also a lot of attention to detail with facial expressions. It’s not a series that’s constantly on the move but every frame looks fantastic and it’s something that’s easy to get lost in with all that they put into the backgrounds and architectural designs.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the two discs against the interior walls. The front cover is a good one as we get the key visual from before the show came out with Tanaka in the foreground looking into the distance while the squares behind him with the white framing reveals the rest of the cast and some widgets to tie it all together. It’s light with all the white and the colors are definitely nicely done to not be too vibrant. The back cover goes for a white background with some illustration material for Tanaka along the left. The top has a nice tagline for the show and a series of decent shots from the episodes but nothing that really sells it in a big way. The summary of the premise is well-handled without being too much and we get a clean listing of the extras. The rest is the usual production credits and technical grid that’s clean and accurate as well as easy to read. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menus for this release are fairly simple and a little underwhelming when there could have been some fun listlessness clips to mix into things. The first disc goes for a blue background while the second goes for pink as we get some illustration artwork of the characters along the right half. The left side breaks down the episodes by number and title in a clean and easy to read format as it works the blues, pinks, and whites in all the right ways. It’s not a deep or expansive menu design and there’s not a lot on the disc in general but everything is quick and easy to access both as the main menu and as the pop-up menu during playback.
The extras for this release are definitely fun as we get the original Japanese promos as well as the clean opening and closing sequences. We also get a series of seven shorts that were done for the Japanese release that are bilingual here. They’re on average about four minutes each and overall brings out essentially one more episode of the series spread out in this form. They’re not chibi episodes but shorter little movements from the show and it’s definitely a fun way to close out the show.
Based on the manga Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge by Nozomi Uda, Tanaka-kun is Always Listless is a twelve episode anime series that aired in the spring 2016 season. Animated by Silver Link with some really fantastic design work to it, the show is the kind of property where it’s definitely a lot of fun even if you think it might fall apart quickly without much to hold it together. I was kind of wary going into it as you can imagine the gag getting tiring easily, or that it would change radically after a few few episodes and lose its charm, that I wasn’t keen on watching it at first. It’s a show that I do think works better in smaller chunks than marathoning it in full but there’s so much to enjoy here with the cast that slowly expands that it all comes together right.
The central idea is a fun one as we’re introduced to Tanaka, a high school student who basically excels at lazing about. He dreams of the simple things and low exertion is his mantra. That’s not easy when so much is expected of everyone and the push toward it keeps everyone hopping. But Tanaka has learned how to work the system, including getting to a point where the teachers kind of accept this to a degree while nudging him where they can with the bare minimums. What helps is that his best friend Ohta is there to smooth out a lot of things as he’s almost like a servant in a way by always being prepared to ensure that Tanaka doesn’t get into real trouble for anything or get behind on certain class elements. He’s not a servant as the two are definitely really good friends and there’s a definite bond between them, especially with the way that Ohta carries Tanaka around and feels empty when he doesn’t.
Tanaka’s ability to do as little as possible is certainly fun to watch as he almost slithers at times in various situations or just falls apart in the way he does nothing, kind of like a cat that just accepts that it’s the way to exist. While he doesn’t have the burst of energy that most cats do he’s otherwise very analogous to a cat. His dreams of sleeping or doing nothing, spending his time just existing and enjoying the quiet moments without the pressure or presence of others, that’s totally his thing. And it’s enjoyable to watch him navigate these kinds of waters because there are a lot of challenges along the way as the world does not cater to people whose natural state is this way. Tanaka lucks out in that Ohta understands what he’s like and actually likes that since he’s a low-pressure kind of friend, which is important since he’s tall and attractive and gets a lot of unwanted attention.
The show doesn’t spend its time with just these two but build a nice cast as it progresses and we end up with the obvious situation where by the end Tanaka realizes he likes having friends. The initial one is a tough one for him with the pint sized and hyper Miyano who wants to become his apprentice to learn his ways, but she’s nowhere near ideally suited for this and it’s a real struggle. She’s doing some of this to try and get along better with her friend Echizen, a tall delinquent-like girl who is actually Ohta’s neighbor and you can see the kind of chemistry that can exist there from time to time. Echizen’s a rough character but I really liked her because you don’t see this type too often stay the way they are consistently throughout the series. Similarly, I liked the introduction of the proper class president with Shirashi as she’s an all-star type that really wants to just let some of her hair down and enjoy things instead of having to be on top of everything and looking flawless all the time. That she has a curious crush and interest in Tanaka isn’t too much of a surprise but it’s played in an understated and slow way where it’s not a constant and that’s a huge plus.
One of my favorites, however, is the character of Rino as Tanaka’s younger sister. She’s like a shorter Tanaka that’s a bit darker in general and as we discover has her best friend in Saya, who turns out tobe Ohta’s younger sister. That doesn’t factor into things much but it’s just a whole lot of fun to watch how Rino and Tanaka handle their sibling relationship outside where she’s concerned about him in a monotone kind of way but really impressed with how he’s changing in ways that he can’t see just yet. But she also has her cutting moments from time to time that totally fit her personality. My favorite moments are their home life just in getting to see two people who really know who they are be themselves around each other and function. The home life is minimal and the parental side not dealt with but that’s not a problem because these two definitely look out for each other in their own way.
I had a mix of minimal expectations and a wariness toward this series when it landed because it felt like a one-note gag that would just be overplayed. It does drain a bit in marathon form but there are so many fun little quirks and the episodes keep from being all about one thing for each episode that it plays the slice of life routine exceptionally well. Tanaka’s a really endearing character in a lot of ways and while he has that look and series of actions that gets you to want to protect him, that comes from understanding him. I enjoyed the cast as a whole a lot more than I expected and the situations were a lot more enjoyable than I expected because they do go for that low-key approach. Sentai’s release is definitely a strong one here, and fans can get a premium edition for it if they really love it, and the fact that it got dubbed just makes it all the more excellent. Definitely recommended.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Japanese Promo Videos, Tanaka-kun Dubbed Shorts, Clean Opening Animation, and Clean Closing Animation
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: January 30th, 2018
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.