“Impressive! You’ve upgraded your armour! I’VE MADE SOME UPGRADES OF MY OWN!”
“Sir, it appears that his suit can fly.”
–Obadiah Stane, JARVIS and Tony Stark, Iron Man
On the commute to work, Ai explains to the salaryman that she’s got two buttons to give him this Monday because she and her sister had been imitating a scene out of Laputa: Castle in The Sky and totalled their shirts, before mentioning that her younger sister is beginning high school, too. Later, while the salaryman leaves home, he’s envious of a neighbour who has a loving wife; it turns out that he’s a teacher, and when one of his students fell in love with him, did what he could to conceal the fact that he returned her feelings. After she graduates, the pair are no longer teacher and student, and the teacher finally agrees to go out with her. During a business trip, the well-endowed junior employee makes no end of trouble for the senior employee, but the two manage to succeed in their trip’s aims and end up buying some sake to celebrate on return, although returning through the airport, the junior’s forgetfullness means that she leaves some keys in her pocket, setting off the metal detector and embarrassing her senior. This is Tawawa on Monday 2, a continuation of the 2016 ONA that adapted Kiseki Himura’s distinct blue-monochrome illustrations, which Himura stated as being done to encourage people in the workforce and students alike at the beginning of every week. The first season had been done by Pine Jam, but Yokohama Animation Laboratory is producing this second season, which opens off in a manner that immediately brings to mind the first: the shorts are snapshots into Ai et al.’s everyday experiences. Through these gentle interactions, the unusual combination of humour and mild embarrassment creates a sense of catharsis that clears the mind and ostensibly adds a spring to one’s step, letting them face a new week with vigour. I can speak to the efficacy of what Himura proposes from personal experience, and it is clear, from both the fact that Himura has continued drawing Tawawa on Monday to the present, as well as the fact that there is a second animated series, others also concur with this sentiment.
While Tawawa on Monday primarily deals with those inevitable moments of embarrassment that are simultaneously tender and heartwarming, there are some stories that are particularly well done (especially considering the short length of each episode). In Tawawa on Monday 2, the second episode serves as this example: a student’s feelings for her teacher lingered for the full three years she was in high school, and this teacher managed to maintain his sense of professionalism about him, doing his best to keep that distance and stopping his own feelings from getting the better of him despite how forward this student is. In the end, once the two are no longer teacher and student, the teacher is able to be truthful about how he feels, and indeed, the two end up getting married. There has always been something about this kind of love that I’ve always found immeasurably touching; while people might know one another for long periods of time, they may not always interact with and learn more about one another, or are otherwise constrained by circumstance. Tawawa on Monday had a similar story, where a salary man encounters a girl from his old high school years later; she now works at the local convenience store, and while she had a crush on him back then, he never really noticed. The feelings of yearning for what could have been permeate these stories, and really creates this feeling of emptiness about the characters who never noticed those around them. I particularly relate to this; hindsight is flawless, after all, and looking back, I may (or may not) have left a small pile of broken hearts in my wake as I strove to pursue my career and professional development without stopping to consider the feelings of those around me. If and when I’m asked about what I’d do provided a second chance, I would not be so foolish and take things up this time around; my circumstances now are rather different, and I now have the time (and resources) to do the sorts of things I couldn’t previously.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Since I opened with Ai’s smile when I first wrote about Tawawa on Monday, I’ll do the same for this introductory post to Tawawa on Monday 2. I remember that when I first heard of Kiseki Himura’s illustrations, I struggled to understand what たわわ meant. It turns out this is a bit of slang for someone who’s got a lot out front. I’ll also get this off my chest before delving further into discussions of Tawawa on Monday 2: Tawawa reminds me a great deal of Wawanesa Insurance, a Winnipeg-based mutual insurance firm named after an unincorporated community in Manitoba with a population of 594 as if 2016.
- Because of how I process information, I sometimes mistakenly refer to Wawanesa Insurance as Tawawa Insurance. After meeting with the salaryman on the train, Ai recounts how on the weekend, she got into a bit of a flexing contest with her younger sister, who, while pretty stacked, loses out to Ai. I’d never thought I’d see the ripped-shirt contest from Laputa: Castle in The Sky in something like Tawawa on Monday, and especially not in this format. For this post, I had originally decided to go with a quote from Steven Chow’s Forbidden City Cop, but my written Cantonese isn’t of a level where I could quote Chow’s character for the relevant scene, so I’ve fallen back on an old classic from the MCU, referring to how Ai’s bustier than she had previously been.
- Ai’s mother subsequently remarks that it’s on her to mend her own shirts after this performance. This post admittedly comes out of the blue: I hadn’t been intending to write anything today, since yesterday, I spent a nontrivial amount of time on the Battlefield 2042 open beta discussion. I slept in a little today, spent the morning reading through manga, and then sat down to a delicious homemade burger. As the afternoon progressed, however, I did notice that my old Tawawa on Monday post was rapidly climbing in views.
- I thus decided to shoot through the first three episodes to gain a measure of what they were about and write about the series; it is clear that there is interest in Tawawa on Monday 2, and I’d figured that this was likely what people are popping in to read about: for the most part, I write according to my own schedule, but if the metrics suggest a demand for something, I have no problems obliging and providing readers with what they seek. Formerly a first year, Ai is now a second year, and is seen looking over the classroom assignments before her friend shows up and cops a feel, causing all of the people in the surroundings to blush and stare.
- The character designs are noticeably different now that Yokohama Animation Laboratory has taken over from Pine Lab: while the contents and atmosphere remain the same, it does feel like that Yokohama Animation Laboratory is still finding their feet with respect to how the characters look. At the time of writing, I prefer the designs from the first season more, but I imagine that as this series continues, I’ll acclimatise all the same.
- The precise relationship between the salaryman and Ai is never explicitly defined, and in fact, the salaryman’s eyes are never shown, either. This was a deliberate choice, so viewers could imagine themselves in the salaryman’s place, and is a decision that brings to mind the reason why most first-person shooter protagonists (e.g. Half-Life 2, Halo and DOOM) are unspeaking: it’s so the player can better immerse themselves in the world. In Tawawa on Monday, the salaryman is a stand-in for us viewers whenever it’s Ai’s turn for a story, but there are other stories featuring different characters.
- The second episode is such a story, following a high school girl’s determined one-sided crush on a male teacher. This sort of thing is more common than I imagined, and I certainly wasn’t immune to this, either, having developed a bit of a crush on my first-year science instructor and yearbook club advisor. Before readers go off and imagine anything, nothing happened. I did go out of my way to put in extra effort and do well in those classes, but that’s about it. While the ceaseless flow of events in life meant I probably would’ve forgotten these things, I still have the awards for that science class and yearbook hanging around to remind me.
- The time for dealing out or receiving a kokuhaku in a classroom as the sunset is long past now, and I suppose the only way to have such an experience will be in my dreams or respawns. With this being said, realising one were in love with someone else all along isn’t bad, either. I’ve not experienced love in the sense that poets, writers and singers have expressed, but compared to the me who wrote about Tawawa on Monday five years earlier, I think I’ve got a better measure of what I’d like out of a relationship. Besides the trust, faithfulness, openness and cooperation, one thing I greatly value is someone who can be full of pleasant surprises.
- One of my favourite songs, Escape (The Piña Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes, speaks precisely to the sort of love I seek. In this song, Holmes speaks of a man who’d grown to find his lady unremarkable and dull, so he ends up writing an ad in the paper’s classified section describing what he’s looking for next. To his surprise, the man ends up getting a hit, and with a twinge of guilt, goes off to meet the woman who answered his ad. When he gets to the café, he is blown away by the fact that the lady meeting him happens to be his current partner.
- Although the song sounds like it could be encouraging infidelity, the actual point of the song is to show that the people we fall in love with can find a way to surprise us even years later. The man and woman in the song have their love rekindled, surprised that there had been a side of their partner they never knew about. Whenever this song comes on the radio, I always have a smile on my face, and as a bonus, this song featured in The Guardians of the Galaxy. Having done what I’ve done, and seen what I’ve seen, nothing brings me more joy than falling in love with something all over again, and it is such an encouraging thought that all it takes is a change of perspective to experience this anew.
- Robert F. Young’s short story, The Dandelion Girl, is another example of such love. With a bit of help from time travel, the married protagonist falls in love with a younger girl who turns out to be his current wife. Discovering new things about the familiar is something I am very much fond of: whether it be finding a new footpath in a park I’ve visited since childhood, or learning that an old game of mine has AI bots, thus allowing it to be played now even though the servers are offline, it’s always a thrill to rediscover things as though it were my first time. This part of me has carried over to what I look for in a relationship, although it’s not a must-have.
- For the high school girl, there is a melancholy as the episode indicates how her feelings for her teacher never waver throughout all of high school: she had promised to conquer his heart before graduating, and despite her efforts, which range from trying to seduce him the same way Sayu had tried in Higehiro, to suggesting that she wants to go out with someone else in order to elicit a reaction, nothing seems to be effective. Even after the graduation ceremony, the teacher appears to have steeled his heart and walk a future without her, despite signs that he has come to reciprocate her feelings.
- It’s a bit of a tearful moment for both the teacher and former student after the latter learns that he had indeed reciprocated her feelings, but otherwise never exhibited any sign of interest out of professionalism. Fiction oftentimes speaks to the idea that miracles can happen, even against established rules, so it is refreshing whenever something like Tawawa on Monday shows how happy endings can be found without violating any laws (although I imagine folks who are sticklers about things adhering to reality are left disappointed because this deprives them of something they can complain about).
- For comedy’s sake, it turns out the former student also recorded the teacher returning her feelings as a bit of a momento. Anime often poses the question of whether or not someone is worth dating even if they’ve got a few eccentricities about them, and my personal answer to this question is an old standby: “it depends”, and then, within moderation. Hensuki is such an anime, and overall, I’m a Sayuri fan first and foremost, with Mizuha taking second place. Of everyone, Sayuri and Mizuha’s respective things are not troublesome at all (especially compared to Yuika). Of course, answering the question at all gives insight into the sort of person I am, and I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader, as to whether or not one’s opinion of me changed.
- The third episode focuses on a senior salaryman and his energetic, but sometimes careless junior as they go on a business trip to pitch something for their company. I’ve not been to an airport for two-and-a-half years now; the last time would’ve been when I went to F8 2019, and passing through US Customs is probably the trickiest part of my travels. Watching people going about their business normally in things like anime is admittedly a little weird, and unfortunately, it looks like for the present, normalcy is still a ways away in reality.
- In any series where ecchi elements are present, I’d have to resort to using animated GIFs to fully portray what’s happening on screen. This is something I’ve never considered doing over the course of my blog’s run, since animated GIFs are bandwidth intensive, distracting, and quite frankly, annoying – repetition has never been witty for me. As they say, a joke is never as funny the second time one hears it, and the reason for this is because an effective joke depends on timing and context. This is why I despise memes and never use GIFs as a response to something someone might say: it’s a sign of respect to reply properly.
- After boarding their flight, a flight attendant asks if the senior and junior need any help stowing their luggage, but struggles with the latch. The ensuing hassle eventually leads the senior to step in and secure things himself. A part of the humour here comes from watching the senior worker’s expressions while things are going down: even though the men in Tawawa on Monday are presented without any eyes, they are still quite expressive, at least, enough for us viewers to pickup on what’s going on.
- Tawawa on Monday 2 appears to have improved the background art compared to its predecessor, and after a successful presentation, both junior and senior alike decide it’s time to go ahead and celebrate with a drink or two. In the event such occasions come up, I typically order whatever non-alcoholic options are available. While fiction would suggest that I’m a wet blanket, it turns out that the variety of non-alcoholic options out there is mind-boggling. There are non-alcoholic beers and wines, on top of soft drinks, juices and the like, to the point where I could grab a ginger beer and still partake without getting hammered. My personal disinclination to drink isn’t on any moral grounds: I light up like a Christmas tree and then fall asleep if I’ve had one too many.
- Unfortunately for the junior office lady, after she comes out of the shower with naught but a towel wrapped around her, the senior worker suddenly loses all inclination to go out, and the next day, he ends up buying a bottle of alcohol for her in place of things. The topic of office romances is one that poses challenges for companies, since it creates tension among coworkers, lowers productivity and in the worst case, create nightmares for human resource. In the realm of fiction, office romances are employed almost entirely for comedy. Tawawa on Monday, being fiction, falls squarely into the realm of comedy.
- Upon returning through a security checkpoint, the junior’s forgotten about her keys again, and here, I’ll pointlessly reminisce about the fact that, for the past year, I’d been wondering what one of the keys on my key ring were for. As it turns out, this “mystery” key is for my dōjō. With this post in the books, I think that folks coming here for Tawawa on Monday 2-related discussions will have finally have something to read, and now that this unexpected post is in the books, I’ll return next time with a scheduled post for The Aquatope on White Sand.
While Tawawa on Monday has never been the most world-changing or insightful series about relationships, life lessons or the human condition, their ability to endure is a consequence of speaking to people’s desires to love and be loved, to experience warmth and a sense of belonging. Tawawa on Monday‘s first season had aired in late 2016, and I wrote about the series briefly in early 2017; the fact that a second season is running now, five full years after the first, speaks to the fact that this out-of-the-way series is doing well enough to warrant a continuation. I rather enjoyed the first season, and Tawawa on Monday 2 is off to a solid start. The characters here look a little different than their 2016 counterparts, a consequence of Yokohama Animation Laboratory taking over for Pine Jam, but other than that, it does feel as though I never left: Tawawa on Monday 2 is looking quite enjoyable, and I am curious to see what sorts of experiences that the salaryman, senior employee and others will have throughout this series run. It should be clear that nothing crazy happens in Tawawa on Monday, and a part of the magic in this series is precisely because it teases what could happen, rather than outright depicting it. I will note here that I’d originally been planning to write about Tawawa on Monday 2 after the whole series had finished airing later this year, but I do pay attention to my site metrics, and it appears that there’s been a considerable uptick in interest for my old Tawawa on Monday posts. Thus, for the readers’ sake, I’ve opted to write about this series earlier than scheduled so folks have a chance to hear about what my thoughts on this continuation are.