A review of the Tamako Market and Tamako Love Story anime
Tamako Market was always a bit of a mongrel when put up against other Kyoto Animation productions. Coming after the first season of otaku targeted Chuunibyou and before the first season of the, one presumes predominantly female targeted, Free!, Tamako Market certainly didn’t set the world on fire like K-On! did, Naoko Yamada’s previous directorial role, and it seemed to sink without a trace after airing early 2013. So the series sat forlornly in my “Watched” folder, awaiting some kind of spark that would elicit more than a disinterested shrug whenever I considered writing about it.
this is an endless summer with deep ocean skies and flesh pink sunsets
That spark came with the movie, Tamako Love Story, set after the series and deals with… well… Wait, rewind. Tamako Market is about a girl called Tamako: daughter of a family of mochi makers and the much loved teen of a Kyoto municipal shopping arcade. A talking bird named Dera arrives from an unspecified distant land, apparently searching for a bride for his country’s prince, and proceeds to ingratiate himself with Tamako’s family. However, he becomes fat and complacent from eating so much of the mochi they make, until it becomes increasingly imperative he complete his original mission.
Intrinsically I understand that anime has to make money, and that collaborations and product placement are just one way of doing that. Even in its native Japan anime home video sales vary wildly between franchises and advertisements and sponsorships only go so far. One Off feels a little different though with its very prominent Honda partnership.
the familiar sense of personal discovery and heart swelling Sunday matinee ethos
Of course there is the classic story of the original Gundam being produced solely to sell toys, while Pizza Hut has been in everything from Code Geass to Nanoha to Darker than Black; even critically loved shows like Kara no Kyoukai or Steins;Gate have Häagen-Dazs and Dr Pepper respectively. There’s something different about Honda being at the heart of One Off though that isn’t so much product placement as core marketing message.
“Ugh, nothing happens!” is one of the oft uttered arguments against contemporary, character-led light comedies or, more colloquially, “slice of life” series. In a sense it is largely true; nothing burns, dies, transforms, flies, barrel rolls, crashes, magically disappears, is chased or otherwise suddenly explodes in slice of life series. It’s an argument that’s largely missing the point though, for as mercurial as the definition of “slice of life” is, the focus is largely on presenting an exaggerated take on the mundanity of everyday life. This is to say nothing of the contentiousness of the phrase and its taxonomic convention, carrying as it does agingvolumes of discussion, regardless of the term’s demotic usage.
just a peaceful amble [...] with copious hair brushing and peculiar banter
Three recent (ish) anime which typify the spirit, if not the minutiae, of the term include Acchi Kocchi (Place to Place), GJ-bu (GJ club) - both of which peer into the lives of middle/high-school students - and Servant × Service (or to give it its full title Servant × Service ☑) which deals with the rarely seen world of an entry level Japanese government employee. It is perhaps fair to say though that the success of such a series largely relies upon the personalities of the characters and the ability to keep either the comedy or the drama fresh enough across its run.
The brief question and answer session after the screening of the K-On movie yesterday was preceded by the announcement that a further, dedicated event would take place the next day. Free but ticketed, it was an unmissable opportunity to get an insight into what K-On was like to develop as well as working for one of the premier animation studios, Kyoto Animation.
Starting off with a message from Andrew Partridge, the festival organiser, that there should be no recording of any kind: video, audio or photographic. This reinforced yesterdays message passed down from the production company and with news that it would be enforced this time around, the message was loud and clear. (This means except for authorised stills if they are ever released, no photos on this post)
Continuing the "What the devil am I watching?" theme, day two of the Glasgow leg of Scotland Loves Animation started with After School Midnighters which had more than a touch of Pixar envy to it. Continuing his introductions, Jonathan Clements revealed that this was originally a short by the production staff in order to bolster support for their abilities.
At one point it looked like the short wouldn't go anywhere until it found its way onto French TV which catapulted it into a film. Originally featuring the animation of previously inanimate objects - a vampire, Jesus Christ and an anatomical model - only the latter made it to the final film. Produced by T-Joy who also own numerous theme parks around the globe and who are also set to distribute the Evangelion 3.0 movie, this was obviously an opening salvo in a wider push for global recognition.