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.
There’s a point about two thirds of the way through Hal (Haru) where, during a festival, two fan-bearers are just out of sync with one another during their routine. It’s obviously intentional and though a small touch, it’s indicative of this short, one hour, film as a whole: detail orientated.
Set in the near future, Hal’s plot concerns a care robot taking on the guise of a deceased person in order to help their partner overcome their all-encompassing grief at their passing. The detail then is not only in the sumptuous backgrounds and animation work by Production I.G. but also in the very subtle portrayals of the characters. So every furtive look, every motion is crafted to be as effortless and as natural as possible and to ensure that you’re never drawn out of the delicate story being told.
Please note: the remainder of this post contains very small spoilers for the film.
There’s something to be said for actually missing a show when you’ve finished watching it. Uchouten Kazoku (The Eccentric Family) left a small, peculiarly shaped hole where it once occupied my regular viewing. There’s nothing outwardly distinguished about the show - Kyoto is very pleasantly rendered, every character is well drawn and the story is quietly unique - but something about its structure and pacing lends itself to the same familiarity that lies at the heart of the titular eccentric family.
she conceals a profound sadness behind an abundance of courtesy and muted charisma
Focusing on the triumvirate of tanuki, tengu and human society - the lead is taken by Yasaburo, a teenage tanuki layabout who splits his time between transforming into various human guises and looking after the curmudgeonly old tengu, Yakushibou. It transpires that shortly before the events of the series, the father of Yasaburo and his three other sons passed away via, what is for tanuki, natural circumstances.
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)
If ever there was a need to reiterate it: successful comedy hinges on the delivery. Seitokai Yakuindomo somehow doesn't understand this and after cramming joke after staid joke into an episode, it still comes across as bland and uninspired. All the constituent parts are there: the all-girls school recently turned co-ed, the straight-man protagonist, the overcompensating short girl; but none of them gel together. The first three episodes never break that threshold that turns a smirk into a laugh into a guffaw. Instead, predictability and tedium set in and what could have been a sterling comedy, pregnant with possibilities, falls flat and doesn't find the spark to differentiate it.
pixelated shots of sex toys and genitalia during the opening demonstrate the tawdriness the jokes aim for
Takatoshi joined Ousai Academy because it was close to his house. It is no ordinary school however, up until recently it was an all-girls school meaning the ratio of females to males is high and though Takatoshi didn't join to build a harem, other male students certainly have. On his first day he is accosted by the student council president, Shino, and forced to join the council as vice president and representative for the male student body. As well as the filthy mind of the president, he is joined by the ultra-rich Aria and the genius trapped in a child's body, Suzu in his daily duties involving an inordinate amount of paperwork as well as loafing around the council room during breaks.