“I am ordering you…TO SURRENDER THAT AI!!!” —Captain Del Rio, Halo 4
Known best for his blue monochrome illustrations published weekly to Twitter, Kiseki Himura’s Tawawa on Monday (Getsuyōbi no Tawawa) received twelve episodes of four minute long shorts that capture moments from the lives of workers and students, in particular, the interactions between Ai-chan and the salaryman, who happen to meet on the train every Monday; even amongst their hectic lives, their moments together serve to lessen the stress that they experience. Intended to serve as Monday motivation of sorts, it was quite surprising that Tawawa on Monday received its own anime adaptation, and perhaps even more surprising that the episodes could not be hosted on YouTube, who bluntly state that the videos violate their community guidelines. However, there are other means of watching these episodes — their content and short length means that they do not offer much in the way of a cohesive narrative, but nonetheless, Tawawa on Monday serves its intended purpose quite effectively. While Tawawa on Monday may seem far removed from the sort of thing I would normally watch, it has proven to be modestly effective in acting as Monday motivation.
Despite not offering much in the way of discussion, Tawawa on Monday appears to be crafting a virtual variation of the notion that there are different means of maintaining wellness even during busy and stressful times. Through Ai-chan, Tawawa on Monday reminds viewers that people are biologically hardwired to be receptive towards touch from individuals they trust; a hug or even a glancing brush releases oxytocin, which counteracts the effects of cortisol (a stress hormone) in lowering blood pressure and decreasing anxiety. Experts caution that hugging or touching random people will not have this effect and elevate stress (in more ways than just a physiological response), but in Tawawa on Monday, the salaryman and Ai-chan develop a closer bond when he resolves to protect her while they ride the train on Mondays. Their weekly chats cause the two to become friends, developing mutual trust for one another for the two to begin caring about the lives and experiences of the other. Watching their interactions thus conveys a sort of virtual experience to the viewer. While perhaps not directly decreasing stress levels, Tawawa on Monday nonetheless suggests that random chance can produce situations that confer something that individuals can look forwards to as a means of summoning the motivation to get through a week, and that well-being can come in different forms, such as lifting weights and visiting the dentist to ensure they remain healthy.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Before I delve into this post further, I have two remarks. The first is that this post might be a little less family-friendly than the content I am wont to posting, but one of my secret resolutions of 2017 is to branch out and explore different directions with this blog. The other is that a part of me watched and finished Tawawa on Monday just so I could use one of Halo 4‘s most infamous quotes (AI and Ai-chan) in an anime-related post.
- Machine translations are still limited, since Tawawa (たわわ) translates to “saw” of the variety that is used as a cutting tool. This is, of course, not the main theme in Tawawa on Monday: there are no crazed maniacs running around with power tools trying to maim people here, only anatomical attributes whose statistical frequency defies the normal distribution (in fact, feeling more like a right-skewed distribution). So, I hunted down other meanings of Tawawa, and eventually found it to mean “well-endowed”; as slang, machine translators don’t pick this up, but it feels more appropriate a translation.
- I’ve not lifted weight for around two weeks now, but I’ve just come out of a lower body day, having spent my first lifting session of the year doing chest and arms. Despite the long break, I’m still bench pressing above my body weight, although I imagine it will take another week or two before I return to the weights I were lifting prior to the winter break (where the gym is closed, or otherwise, open at hours that don’t align with my work schedule). Of course, now that I’ve done leg day, tomorrow’s going to be a little painful.
- Besides making the most of my alumni membership (which nets me access to lifting facilities at around a third of what signing up for a private gym would cost), one of the main reasons why I lift weights is because it’s a fantastic means of lessening stress: at the end of a good lift, I’m too tired to be stressed by whatever it was bothering me, and so, can return to a difficult task with a fresh mindset. Before any one asks, no, I don’t “check people out” at the gym because I’m too busy focusing on my breathing, technique or are otherwise too tired to look around me. When I lift, my world shrinks to the size of a 2 m³ cube surrounding me, the weights I have to lift, and how I feel before, during and after a lift.
- The salaryman’s reactions to Ai-chan pressed against him is an amusing but plausible one: she certainly doesn’t seem to mind as much as he does, and each week, gives him a button from one of her shirts as a good luck charm of sorts. Ai-chan is voiced by Sayaka Harada, who seems relatively unknown and is not the same Sayaka Harada who is a script-writer with a handful of contributions to the Tamayura franchise.
- Admittedly, I was never much of a swimmer, since I never did make it to a point where I could learn some essential techniques, such as deep water entry and the more complex strokes. With that being said, I know just enough to move through water reasonably effectively, tread in deep water and float to maximise survival; I’m no competitive swimmer, but at least I’ll have slightly better odds of survival if I ever fall out of a boat.
- Tawawa on Monday makes frequent use of panning shots to sweep across a scene in order to depict elements that would otherwise not fit into a single 16:9 scene. This results in a lot of screenshots where only some things are visible; while I’m now versed sufficiently in Adobe Photoshop to stitch the images together, I’m not here to offer images in uncommon aspect ratio. The images are merely meant to augment a post in some way and provide prompts for some of my thoughts, not all of which will fit with the main discussion.
- Ai-chan teases/flirts with the saleryman by sending him a photograph of her in a new swimsuit for the summer, partially to offset the fact that he doesn’t get summers off as students do. Now that I’m done being schooled, I will no longer get summers off. However, this is a matter of perspective, since I no longer have courses or their associated assignments and exams. From a certain point of view, it means I’m always on summer vacation, albeit one where I’m working on projects and work-related duties. Aside from being conducted at the speed of business, it’s actually not too different than being a researcher at the university.
- Visions of a girl in a lightly-coloured dress and a wide-brim hat under a sky of deepest blue has always been a quintessential image of the summer, evocative of what the season feels like, with long days where the sun is warm, and so is the comradeship. While I live quite far removed from any ocean, and I may not be in any relationship right now, I have had such encounters under the summer sun, meeting with a friend to hang out while the weather is pleasant and welcoming.
- I’m not too certain if it’s merely a part Himura’s artistic style, but he seems to have a propensity for rendering Ai-chan’s provocative facial expressions. The illustrations capture this with a greater frequency, and for the folks who are interested, Ai-chan and the salaryman do end up entering a secret sort of physical relationship, although for obvious reasons, this is never explored in the anime.
- Even if Tawawa on Monday‘s anime adaptation is little more than frivolous fun that doesn’t do anything more risqué than expose the cleft between the girls’ chests, it seems that the anime gained a bit of notoriety after it was removed from Himura’s YouTube channel allegedly for violating the community guidelines, where the anime was originally set to be presented. Having watched Tawawa on Monday to completion, it’s difficult to see how it violates the community guidelines; more than likely, an group of irate individuals with an agenda to push coordinated a plan to flag the videos, resulting in their takedown, but this ultimately proved unsuccessful — if they had succeeded, I’d not have seen this anime.
- Ai-chan is a waitress at a family restaurant in her part-time job: she invites the salaryman to visit her workplace, and he complies, ordering a parfait while there. In this post, I’ve not covered kouhai-chan or the trainer at the gym to too much detail, but they are present, interacting with a senior officer worker and sectional manager in a lighthearted fashion. Here’s something interesting: kouhai-chan is voiced by Ai Kayano (Saori Takebi of Girls und Panzer and Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka??‘s Mocha Hoto).
- Here’s something that the unincorporated community of Tawawa in Ohio would probably rather not associate itself with: originally known as New Palestine, the area was renamed in 1832 after the Native American for “Mosquito Creek”, and a small post office served the area between 1848 and 1905. Today, the population of the area is around 49000. I bet readers weren’t expecting that bit of information to be derived from this article 😛
- From a number displayed during Ai-chan’s annual checkup, it seems that she carries an extra five kilograms with her in the front. My inner scientist kicks in, and I ask the question: did Tawawa on Monday do their research properly to determine Ai-chan’s name? We begin on the assumption that Ai-chan’s assets’ structure can be approximated as a hemisphere such that the volume V is defined as V = (2πr³)/3 for radius r. The average density of fatty tissue in the mammary would be around 0.9 kg/l, and recalling the density formula p = m/V for mass m, we now have enough to figure things out. The actual calculations will be left as an exercise to the reader, but from the assumption of density, Ai-chan’s assets occupies a space of 2250 cm³ each; using those results returns a diameter of around 20.48 cm.
- A bit of reasoning then shows that yes, Ai-chan’s name is properly chosen, although her value for p might be a little higher than average. Here, her friend, known only in English as “Volleyball-chan” is messing with her during a school marathon where Ai-chan is complaining about difficulties in running around. However, she finds that with her friend’s help, she’s able to run the course more effectively.
- The ninth episode of Tawawa on Monday deals with a new character: Tokumori-san, a women working at a local convenience store. She’s voiced by Hisako Kanemoto (Kanata Sorami of Sora no Woto, Ika Musume of Ika Musume), and she reflects on her experiences since high school, wondering why she cannot find someone to settle down with. When she reunites with an old friend, who’s now an office worker, she wonders if he’s noticed her now after all this time has passed.
- Although not dealing with Ai-chan or the others, the simple story of reunion and hopes for a better future made the ninth episode stand out from the others. Tokumori-san’s remarks that she’s hoping for him to find a suitable partner, but their current dynamics are fine, suggest that her feelings for him have probably not changed too much, so from an optimistic point of view, it is possible that the office worker comes around.
- I watched Tawawa on Monday on Sunday evenings during the fall season, and now that fall’s over, there are some new winter shows to look forwards to. I’ve got Urara Meirochou and Schoolgirl Strikers Animation Channel on my table, along with the short Nyanko Days. As well, Tales of Zestiria the X and Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! both have second seasons that appear to be worth checking out, but I’ll need to play catch-up and watch the first seasons to both before I can start these.
- Ai-chan remarks that over the winter break, she’s experienced some “upgrades” and from here on out, would prefer to be addressed by the moniker “J-chan”. Now that I think about it, we’re almost a week into 2017 by this point, and a week ago, I was on the eve of a fantastic hockey game. This week, things are rather quieter: I’ve got the afternoon to myself, and fried chicken is on the menu tonight.
- Since I began this post with a picture of Ai-chan waving the salaryman (and the audience) off, I will end this post in the same manner. I’ve been aware of Himura’s artwork for quite some time, but hearing about an animated version of Tawawa on Monday caught my interest, and I asked myself: could I manage to find something to talk about in something as simple as an anime short based on illustrations meant as Monday motivation? That this post is a full-sized one answers that question fully, and admittedly, it was quite fun to figure out how I would be able to find topics to discuss that were interesting, (predominantly) safe for work and relevant to the anime at the same time.
Having maintained a stiff upper lip for the discussion, the question that would be fair to bring up would be whether or not I could use a Tawawa moment or two. The answer to that is, I could definitely do with some de-stressing in my life, and I think that a massage would do my shoulders and neck some good. I typically manage my stress by stopping to enjoy the subtle things in life, whether it be the play of light on the buildings downtown during a sunrise, or watching grass waving in the wind while waiting for the bus. When stressed, I tend to complain and crack bad jokes at a greater frequency; this is how I deal with challenges, to ensure that stress does not compromise whatever goals I may have. A reader may then reason that I’ve avoided the question and rephrase themselves accordingly: would I mind having someone like kouhai-chan or bump into someone like Ai-chan on the way to work every now and then? Probably not: it would lead to interesting conversations, for one, as talking to someone and listening about elements in their lives would help me gain perspective of mine. If this is still unsatisfactory an answer, then I only remark that I too, am only human, which should speak volumes about whether or not I could appreciate (or enjoy) things such as Tawawa moments.