If ever a show came along I’d expect to have its cake and eat it too, it’s Atarashii Joushi wa Do Tennen. It’s grounded in something rather serious, but executed mostly in the realms of fantasy. Or wish-fulfillment, perhaps. The last few episodes were anime-original, so I have no idea if the manga will flow along a similar course. But while the material didn’t feel quite as natural as what came before it, for the most part this ending plays as pretty philosophically consistent.
Of course it’s a Christmas episode to end, and it’s four single dudes who don’t do much of anything for Christmas (which is quite natural in a country where Xmas is basically a hook-up festival and a celebration of fried chicken and shortcake and Western holiday traditions seen through the funhouse mirror of rampant Japanese capitalism). Originally it’s only Hakutou who’s going to get a present (Aoyama being elated that everyone else was as left out as him was pretty funny), but naturally it’s Kinjou who suggests a party and gift exchange. I would have thought Chief’s big empty house would have been the logical locale for such a thing, but for dramatic purposes the venue is Casa Shirosaki-Momose.
The underlying drama of course is Momose’s hunt for an apartment he clearly doesn’t want to move into. But he should move out, really – this is all good fun and all but Shirosaki is a crutch and that can’t be denied. They don’t have to live together to be friends, and Momose needs to learn to feel settled without having someone else there to hold his hand. And he does see a nice apartment, but it exemplifies the Catch-22 of the Tokyo rental market. Affordable places close in and convenient are tiny and uninteresting (or worse), and large and nice ones are in the boonies (this one is all the way out in sight of Kumatteland).
Still – Momose doesn’t want to move out, and Shirosaki (and Hakutou, who’s basically turned deredere) don’t want him to, so something has to give. There’s the party and the gifts for a distraction, though I think Hakutou made out the best (cats love those tress). Long scarves, hankies, expensive business card holders – but Aoyama trumps them all by giving himself. Needy doesn’t even begin to cover it with this guy. And do his other employees not find it odd that he spends so much time socializing with these three and none of them?
In the final analysis Momose does decide to move out, but Shirosaki gets the wrong end of the stick (as usual) about where he’s moving to. A place has opened up in the mansion next door, which is pretty much the cake thing but hey, it’s a fantasy so let them have their happy ending. And if I were going to live here again (I’m in Tokyo for the holiday) Kichijouji is probably at the top of my list for places to look for an apartment.
As I’ve noted before, I’m pretty sure the mangaka, Dan Ichikawa, has first-hand experience with a black company. Either that or a lot of empathy, because the trauma of that experience comes across very authentically. That cuts less sharply in the final arc as the anime leaves his material behind, and the extent to which Shirosaki is so fantastically nice and everything seems to work out softens the impact substantially. Still, this is an important topic and remains a huge problem, and it’s absolutely healthy that writers confront it openly in fiction. If they do so with a sense of humor there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.
Atarashii Joushi wa Do Tennen fills a familiar niche on the schedule (above and beyond being the Patron Pick). I think you know which one I mean, and a lot of shows in that niche seem to be workplace comedies. It’s nice not to have to think too hard, and it’s certainly nice when a series makes you laugh, so kudos to this one for being a comfortable and relaxing part of the fall season. Anime has always been very good at this sort of story, and I wish we got more examples of it than we do.
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