“Don’t knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change once in a while.” –Kin Hubbard
During the summer break, Ai, her sister, mother and best friend hit Koshigoe Beach in the coastal town of Enoshima. While they relax, a television crew appears and films them enjoying the summer weather, to Ai’s friends’ chagrin. Meanwhile, a languid day for Maegami and the teacher turns into one of excitement when she teases him, and the junior coworker struggles to find a suitable swimsuit for visiting a place so she can try their Blue Hawaiian cocktails. As the day draws to a close, Ai sends a photo to the salaryman, who laments the fact that his summer is filled to the brim with work. When Ai extends him an invitation to visit the beach with her before the summer ends, the salaryman accepts with gusto. With this, Tawawa on Monday 2‘s special is in the books, and for the present, I find myself completely caught up with what is a frivolous and amusing series about how fleeting moments can provide one with the motivation and drive to get through a week. This particular special released with Tawawa on Monday 2‘s BD and runs for a total of seven minutes, acting as a bit of an encore for an animated adaptation of Kiseki Himura’s weekly manga drawings, which were originally served to give readers a bit of encouragement for the week ahead. In this OVA, a small encore set after Tawawa on Monday 2‘s finale, the characters are given a chance to relax under the summer weather, albeit in the presence of the usual antics that Tawawa on Monday is known for. In Tawawa on Monday 2, summer is presented from four different perspectives, showing different facets of summer that people may experience. From the idyllic enjoyment of a beach, to sleeping in and taking it easy, anticipating enjoying a drink associated with the summer, or, in the salaryman’s case, wishing to be doing anything other than working, Tawawa on Monday 2 manages to show that the breadth of summer is such that, even for folks like the salaryman, there is enough time for one to enjoy themselves even if they are swamped in the moment.
The salaryman’s situation brings to mind my summer from ten years earlier, when I’d foolishly registered for the MCAT and signed up for a preparation course in the months after my term ended, leading up to the MCAT. While my friends spent their summer doing research, hitting pubs around town and even travel, I spent that time indoors with a stack of books around me. As the days lengthened, I found myself wondering if this endeavour would be worthwhile: I gave up watching the fireworks show of a century and advancing my research project further for an exam that was only but one part of what was a potential career path. However, while the MCAT was tough, it wasn’t invincible, and thanks to selfless effort from one of my best friends in the health sciences program, as well as the techniques I picked up from the MCAT preparation course, I ended up learning the secrets of survival. In conjunction with ceaseless encouragement and support from both family and friends, as well as inspiration from watching both Les Stroud’s Survivorman and Adam Richman’s Man v. Food, I found the strength to take, and excel in, the exam. By the time the exam finished, I had three weeks of summer left to me. Instead of seeing the remains of summer as what was taken away, I saw an opportunity to relax and unwind as I hadn’t done for months, and with my newfound free time, I rallied my colleagues from my research lab to finish a journal publication we’d previously abandoned. Summer had been long enough such that, even with an MCAT consuming three-quarters of my break, I had time to spare. I ended up spending a weekend exploring small towns in the province, enjoyed a wonderful steak in the process, watched The Dark Knight Rises, and with some colleagues, successfully published what would become our first-ever journal article. Despite its short runtime, Tawawa on Monday 2‘s special shows how every moment of summer is worth enjoying, even if one’s time is short.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Tawawa on Monday 2 isn’t the first anime, nor will it be the last, to visit Enoshima. 2012’s Tari Tari featured this coastal town prominently, but numerous other series, including Hanayamata, Kimi no Koe wo Todoketai and Seishun Buta Yarō also are set here. In fact, Enoshima is popular enough of a spot such that their official travel website documents the anime that have utilised their town as a background reference, and even provide a handy map for would-be visitors.
- Of course, Enoshima is just the backdrop in Tawawa on Monday 2, and the focus of the episode is on the characters. For this excursion, Ai’s best friend, a volleyball player, her sister and mother join her for the day’s activities. Ai’s best friend is someone who tends to ruffle feathers among viewers because of her boisterous nature and a strong fondness for Ai, which manifests as behaviour that is quite inappropriate at times.
- Supplementary materials suggest Ai’s best friend happens to be the salaryman’s niece, and here, I will note again that the lack of names in Tawawa on Monday does make it tricky to talk about things on occasion. Tawawa on Monday is, by definition, a trickier series to write about: episodes are short, there isn’t an overarching theme, and the very nature of the material means that unlike something like Yuru Camp△, I don’t have a surplus of additional topics to bring to the discussion.
- With this being said, Tawawa on Monday does offer light humour through situational irony: watching Ai’s best friend’s antics in a vacuum is amusing because her attempts to mess with Ai always backfire on her. Because Tawawa on Monday was always only meant to be illustrations for lifting spirits, Himura’s characters are not going to be written with any depth or experience things that speak to the human condition. This is one of those aspects of Tawawa on Monday‘s viewers have long accepted: in its original form, the drawings have proven to be moderately well-received.
- Tawawa on Monday‘s first special came out over five years ago, focusing on both the junior coworker and Ai herself. It is always surprising to learn that a great deal of time has passed between different instalments of a series; back in January five years earlier, I wrote about the Tawawa on Monday special and found it to be a welcome addition to the series, although I’d expressed my doubts that we’d see any more of Tawawa on Monday in an animated form. Five years later, I’m eating my words: the series is evidently popular enough to have received a second season and a corresponding special.
- A ways into the episode, Maegami and the teacher are shown as sharing a quieter moment together: when Maegami teases him after taking a shower, he takes her in a bridal carry. Although the pair aren’t seen again for the remainder of the special, their inclusion was presumably so that the special could give everyone a bit of screentime. Tawawa on Monday 2 had featured the pair in prominence, to the point where Maegami and the teacher had more screen-time and development than Ai and the others.
- Tawawa on Monday had originally cycled between glimpses into a range of characters’ experiences, beyond that of the salaryman and Ai, but its first animated season presented vignettes that were largely unrelated. By Tawawa on Monday 2, the characters’ worlds became increasingly intertwined: Maegami and the teacher end up moving in to a unit besides Ai’s, and the progression of time became more apparent.
- While Ai, her best friend and younger sister frolic in the water, her mother is content to lie down and take it easy. In order for her to rest comfortably, Ai’s mother has excavated some of the sand away so it’s not uncomfortable for her, and when Ai’s best friend spots this, her imagination goes into overdrive as she becomes flustered thinking about Ai’s mother. Moments like these mean that Tawawa on Monday is, generally speaking, not a series suitable for everyone: the series itself has only a minimal amount of character growth (in a literary sense), and the themes don’t extend further than reminding viewers to take things on step at a time.
- As such, it shouldn’t be too surprising that Tawawa on Monday recently found itself amidst yet another controversy: when the Japanese newspaper, The Nikkei, ran a full-page ad with Himura’s Ai, captioned “I hope this week will be wonderful”, Huffington Post Japan ran a story with interviews from academics about how such an ad can promote unsafe thinking. However, a quick look around found that, besides Anime News Network providing an English translation of things, the issue has not been as prevalent a topic as I initially thought: it’s not trending on Twitter, and even Anime News Network’s discussion only has about fifty or so replies. Coincidentally, distributors ended up making Tawawa on Monday‘s first volume free to download for a limited time.
- I’ve never found it necessary to pay much attention to controversies of this sort; instead, I prefer to simply watch what I like (and skip what I do not). Bill Watterson puts it best in Calvin and Hobbes: in a conversation between Calvin and his father, Calvin asks, given that freedom of expression entails opposing censorship to ideas one found distasteful, then it should be okay for him to be exposed to shocking and offensive art forms. Calvin’s father begins to explain to Calvin that people also have a responsibility to be culturally educated and make critical distinctions between what a work is conveying and reality, only for Calvin to complain that his father is stalling for an answer.
- The complete answer from Calvin’s father would have been that, if people have the maturity to handle offensive and shocking content, then exposure to it wouldn’t be a problem in and of itself. The implication here is that Calvin is not yet ready to handle such content, but in reality, as people mature, they gain the experience needed to assess things with a critical eye. Allowing organisations (or individuals) to make this decision on our behalf, then, would stand contrary to freedom of expression. That Bill Watterson had spoken of these topics decades earlier speaks both to the insightfulness and maturity of his thinking: through Calvin and Hobbes, Watterson suggests that at the end of the day, it’s up to the individual to take responsibility for how they approach what’s out there.
- As such, I have no qualms about the existence of content that is counted as shocking or objectionable, nor would I have any problems with people enjoying things that I personally would not. This way of thinking, unfortunately, is not always observed: I had found out about the controversy only when one of AnimeSuki’s members made a post praising Anime News Network for “writing objectively about a noteworthy topic”. In reality, Anime News Network had only done the work of translating Huffington Post Japan’s article into English.
- If memory serves, Tawawa on Monday 2‘s special accompanied the BD when it released back on Christmas Day. At that time, I would’ve finished watching Tawawa on Monday 2, found it an amusing but unremarkable series, and began focusing on my to-do list for 2022. Tawawa on Monday 2 largely remained forgotten until this recent controversy, and I was reminded of the fact that I had been intending to write about the special. In a bit of irony, then, one could say that sometimes, controversies do impact what I do watch.
- With Tawawa on Monday 2‘s special in the books, I contend that there are worse ways to spend seven minutes than watching everyone make the most of a beautiful summer’s day. The weather stands in stark contrast with the pleasant weather of Tawawa on Monday 2: yesterday, a massive snowstorm swept into the area and left behind a mess of slush. Sunny skies and warmer temperatures today have allowed most of the slush to melt; jarring it may be to watch Ai et al. chill on a beach, watching the special here in April creates less of a disconnect than were I to have watched things back in December, when the daily temperatures did not exceed -20°C.
- Thanks to more pleasant weather today, I was able to head out and pick up my copies of Harukana Receive‘s ninth and tenth volumes. These two volumes wrap up the series, and after watching the anime, I had become curious to know how the series would conclude: the anime had ended with Haruka and Kanata defeating Emily and Claire in a challenging match, and in the aftermath, Haruka and Kanata make a promise to reach the finals and show Narumi that Kanata has found her way anew. I’ve been keeping up with the manga since the sixth volume released in 2020, and the journey in the second half has been solid.
- With this being said, I do not believe that it is likely for Harukana Receive to receive a second season: although a technically and thematically excellent series, Manga Time Kirara series only receive continuations if their popularity is immense. Shows like Hanayamata, Sansha San’yō and Urara Meirocho were all fantastic series, but only ever received on season to promote the manga. The choice of which series to adapt can be a challenge for fans, especially if the manga do not make their way to local bookstores, and it was fortunate Harukana Receive did receive an official English language release.
- On the other hand, Tawawa on Monday is unlikely to receive an English language release; official releases are determined based on a series’ popularity and forecasts on how well it would do amongst an English-speaking audience. Because Tawawa on Monday deals with a very niche market, as well as federal regulations, publishers would be hard-pressed to get this series translated here. I’ve always been fairly “go with the flow” about my entertainment, and my general rule is that if certain conditions preclude something from making it over, I’m not going to worry too much about it.
- The forecast calls for more snow in the next few days, after which temperatures return to seasonal. We’re still two months away from the beginning of summer, but things have been busy enough so that time is flying. We’re now two-thirds of the way through April, and I’m settling into a routine now, meaning there’s been a shade more time I’m able to turn towards blogging. Besides one final post on Project Wingman, I also have plans to write about Machikado Mazoku: 2-Chome. The second season’s proven very entertaining, continuing on from where its predecessor left off.
- Overall, I had fun watching Tawawa on Monday 2, although looking back, I definitely preferred the art style of the first season; the characters there more closely resembled their manga counterparts, and the artwork appeared to be more detailed. From a visual perspective, the second season’s quality is lessened compared to that of its predecessor. However, the stories that were presented in Tawawa on Monday 2 remain consistent with the series’ themes, and bringing the characters together do serve to create a more vivid universe.
- As the episode draws to a close, Ai smiles after the salaryman expresses an ardent interest in taking up her invitation to go to the beach together, and with this, I would imagine that this is likely the last time I will be writing about Tawawa on Monday here in the foreseeable future. Unless a third season were to be announced, this post is it for the present. One lingering thought on my mind is the question of why Himura chose to render Tawawa on Monday with its distinct blue colouring in its original form: while one can surmise the choice of colour arises from the fact that blue is supposed to be tranquil and calming, I’ve heard neither Himura or viewers discuss this aspect of the manga. The anime are in full colour, which leads to the question of whether or not they can be said to be true to the original, but regardless of the aesthetic, I’ve found that the anime remains successful in its function.
Summer remains my favourite of the seasons in a given year, and anime have always portrayed the reasons why in a most visceral manner. Deeply blue skies, warm ocean waters, endless fields and the vociferous chirping of cicadas all come together to create a timeless feeling: the way anime celebrates the summer season has become the definitive way to partake in the best weather the year has to offer. From enjoying a freshly-cut watermelon or ice-cold popsicle on the hottest of days, to watching fireworks and trying to outrun an incoming downpour, the length of a summer day invites adventure and exploration, of being outside for longer before the sun sets. Summer customs vary from nation to nation, and the portrayal of Japanese summer customs in anime represents but one of many ways to relish the best weather a year has to offer. However, in having watched a nontrivial amount of anime over the past decade, the customs depicted in anime, of what a Japanese summer looks like, creates a very unusual sense of nostalgia, of longing for something I’d never experienced in person. Until a decade ago, there was no word to describe this feeling: John Koenig coined a new word, “anemoia”. Derived from the Greek words ἄνεμος (ánemos, “wind”) and νόος (nóos, “mind”), Koenig intends for this word to describe that sense of yearning for a time one has only indirectly been exposed to. The sorts of experiences portrayed in anime are a fine candidate for evoking anemoia in people. However, rather than a feeling of sadness or melancholy, longing for a Japanese summer experience has meant that I’ve simply looked in other directions to make the most of my summers, and in recent years, I’ve taken to walking the region around my neighbourhood before settling down to my favourite ice cream or watermelon. For the time being, we’re only a month into spring, and this year, the spring weather’s proven to be quite dreary (since 2022 started, there have been no weekends with pleasant weather at all): in the absence of the sort of weather one can expect from spring, I suppose that another way to enjoy the time available to me is make the most of each day, and find the small things to smile about. Tawawa on Monday 2‘s special offers a few smiles, and this counts for something.