Being a typical Canadian kid growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, my cartoon fix was always sated through a plentiful menu of "Peanuts" and Warner Bros. fare. Of course, some of the more compelling tropes within those cartoons were the never-ending battles between the main characters. There was Wile E. Coyote versus the Roadrunner and then nasty Lucy Van Pelt going after hapless Charlie Brown via a football.
The Roadrunner and Lucille were definitely trolls even before trolls got their current meaning. The former may have played innocent but the latter could barely contain her glee at whacking Chuck again and again.
Now just imagine a similar scene in a small Japanese town where the troll is actually not doing this out of malice (well, not completely anyways) but in some strange way, doing this out of love. There might have been some conspiracy theories about Lucy doing all that she does against Charlie to hide an actual crush on the round-headed kid but I will leave that be.
To get back on track, I am referring to a show that just finished its run in the Winter 2018 anime season, "Karakai Jouzu na Takagi-san"（からかい上手の高木さん...Skilled Teaser Takagi-san）. It's a mellow slice-of-life show whose basic premise is the titular schoolgirl Takagi-san teasing the heck out of Nishikata-kun in all directions and in all situations. Based on the manga of the same name, after seeing the first episode, I kinda wondered how in the world the show would be able to carry this premise through the usual 12-episode season. Well, crazily enough, it actually entertained me quite well, and a lot of it is due to the voice work of Rie Takahashi（高橋李依）as Takagi-san and Yuji Kaji（梶裕貴）as Nishikata-kun. Plus, along with the main arc of Nishikata eternally trying and failing spectacularly to outwit his so-called rival, I also enjoyed the more subtle part of Takagi trying to get some inkling that her target can actually return her feelings.
What I'm going to say next is gonna positively age me to Victorian times but I couldn't help think of a couple of actors from 60s American sitcoms while I was watching Takagi and Nishikata doing their schtick, and that is Donna Douglas from "The Beverly Hillbillies" and the neurotic Don Knotts from "The Andy Griffith Show". Witnessing those two becoming a lovey-dovey couple would have given us nerds so much to dream for.
The opening theme for "Karakai Jouzu na Takagi-san" has started to grow on me as well. It is "Iwanai kedo ne" (But I Won't Ever Say It) which was written and composed and sung by Yuiko Ohara（大原ゆい子）. I remember her from doing a couple of the theme songs from one of the big anime from last year "Little Witch Academia"（リトルウィッチアカデミア）, and I even wrote about one of her efforts, "Hoshi wo Tadoreba"（星を辿れば）from the series.
Although "Hoshi wo Tadoreba" had a bit of an old-fashioned urban contemporary feeling to it, "Iwanai kedo ne" is a pretty pop song for the countryside which obviously fits the setting for the show. Ohara's lyrics also seem to lay out Takagi-san's inner feelings for the lad and her melody matches the scenes of Takagi riding her bike on the various laneways of the town.
"Iwanai kedo ne" is Ohara's 5th single released on Valentine's Day and it has gone up to No. 43 on Oricon, so far her best-ranking song.
This time last year, a number of us anime fans including myself and my friend were satisfied with someone named Kobayashi-san. Well, it looks like Takagi-san is now representing some of us in early 2018.