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.
It’s relatively common knowledge that the second season of Birdy the Mighty: Decode is better than the first. When I’d finished the first season I found that claim odd because although I echoed the sentiment of many people that it was good but not outstanding, I wondered how the second season could improve on the formula.
sees Birdy fight in a ruined city, bursting through crumbling buildings and trickling water mains with destructive abandon
Boy meets girl, boy ends up cohabiting girl’s body. It certainly feels familiar in the same way that any gender-bending situation is - Kokoro Connect, Ranma ½, Kämpfer et. al. - but here there is the quirk of the girl being an absurdly strong intergalactic investigator on the hunt for dangerous criminals on the “backwater” planet Earth. I thought I knew what to expect from that sort of introduction which perhaps explains why I stopped watching it when it first aired in 2008. It’s fair to say then that my expectations were challenged in the first season, then totally surpassed by the second.
Everything you need to know about the Photo Kano anime series is in the image above. You might not think so, but what if I said the source material was a dating sim? Seven girls (“routes”), sure, but take note of the legwear sported by each of them. This is a series that is predicated not only on choosing a girl, but on that girl’s personality being defined by their tights, stockings or socks. Guess which of the girls in the picture is the childish gymnast? Sporty tomboy? Bit more difficult: childhood friend?
No ideas? What if all the girls were instead represented by potted plants?
Yeah I’m not really sure why either. Language of flowers anyone?
The majority of Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren (lit. Even With Eighth Grader Syndrome I Want To Be In Love, alt. Love, Chuunibyou and Other Delusions -Heart Throb-) is forgettable fluff. The core relationship between recovering chuunibyou Yuuta and incurably afflicted Rikka that came to a head in the first series is the focus this time around and instead of the clear split between light humour and super heavy drama, this second series is almost one hundred percent affable comedy. There are diversions such as a competitive napping contest and a school trip but otherwise this is a by the numbers campus love comedy.
would a second offering be more light-hearted after the first’s rather conclusive ending?
In an attempt to inject some drama into an otherwise undramatic and glacially moving relationship, a friend from Yuuta’s past makes an appearance: the similarly ex-chuunibyou Satone who sports a mane of pink hair and shrill, borderline hysterical laugh that becomes somewhat of a warning siren throughout. She is the only notable addition to a series that was already heavily weighted towards females and the story is content to shed Yuuta’s only other male friend, Makoto, who becomes a lot like YuruYuri’s Akari in being invisible most of the time. When he isn’t wearing the anime equivalent of blackface and being preyed upon by a predatory male classmate of course.
Like many recent two-season anime series, Nagi no Asukara (lit. From The Calm Tomorrow, alt. A Lull in the Sea) is bifurcated neatly at the thirteen episode mark. You could, in theory, leave the series at that point and be content with a competent if unresolved story story of early teenage angst. It would be a huge disservice to how spectacular the series is a whole though, and though you can spend the former half playing “count how many times girls cry” each episode, the latter half exceeds an already beautiful production with a thematically rich and emotionally charged tale of adolescent love in all its forms.
Your eyes are so blue, and your tears look like waves
It’s an unlikely recommendation for a series whose director’s previous productions have included the Inuyasha movies and the woefully unremarkable Gunparade Orchestra. Perhaps not so unlikely though for the writer who is right at home after penning The Pet Girl of Sakurasou and the similarly P.A. Works produced Hanasaku Iroha. It’s also odd to hear myself recommending it when the pseudo-contemporary setting and laser focus on romance and juvenile relationships isn’t my usual fare. But rare is a series that is afforded such startling production values that match a capable story and confident delivery.
Please note: the remainder of this review contains spoilers from throughout the anime series.