Tamayura: Hitotose Review

Hello there. This is review number forty seven as I dash my way to my 50th goal. It’s the most attainable goal at the moment. Still though, it took me three months to do fifty reviews. Geez. I can already see the harsh road ahead me if I try to go for one thousand. It’ll be pretty awesome though.

I’ll be reviewing another anime in the Fall 2011 lineup. It’s a Slice of Lice anime called Tamayura Hitotose. It’s a twelve episodes anime about four girls and their everyday lives. I actually had a hard time looking for a decent download with this one because it was hard to track down. No regrets though. Let’s read on.

Story

The anime is about a girl named Fu Sawatari who moves back to her hometown after leaving the place for quite some time. Her dad’s death was the reason she moves but after seeing the photos his dad used to make as his hobby, she was enchanted and decided to move back. There she meets her three childhood friends and spends the day with them in this relaxing little place.

Taking the Pants Off

Tamayura Hitotose is actually an expanded version of a four part OVA titled “Tamayura” that was directed by Junichi Sato. The guy is known for directing Sailormoon, Princess Tutu and Aria which are pretty awesome anime in their own right. MAL had a very brief description to it that got me intrigued. It’s about a girl who moves to an island who loves taking pictures. That’s it? That can’t be all the anime is about, right? I had that doubt in my mind so I decided to pick up the anime.

Tamayura, by the way, is the speck of dust that appears when you take a picture. Some people call it ghost particles or life energy and it appears that the japanese has a name for it. The anime say that Tamayuras only appear when they are happy and because they are elusive playful little critters, Fu’s dad would always try to capture them in camera.

I’m not going to oversell this one like what I stupidly did with one of my reviews awhile back. The anime is simply about four girls spending their average lives bonding and being cute together. They live in a small town and they meet some interesting residents as they discover all the traditions, festivals and wonder the town has to offer. Bring the whole anime together is Fu Sawatari’s deep connection with his dad through photography.

The anime has a nice theme of photography to it. It wasn’t the general theme but fans of photography don’t need an explanation to understand the beautiful theme of the anime. Taking pictures connects people, captures moments and exposes a different side of a person. Her dad uses an old Rollei 35S and there is also a nice appreciation for a dying art in the anime. Everything is digital these days and a roll of film are almost never used nowadays. The anime decided to equip Fu with an old camera as homage to old school. Waiting for days to get a film developed, it’s an almost extinct thing but something truly nostalgic.

The anime isn’t about photography though. No technical terms about taking pictures and stuff. It’s really just about four girls bonding and spending time together. The anime is a great Slice of Life (SOL) and it has a nice laid back approach to it. It’s all about friendship and the audience discovers just how close the four girls are through their everyday activities. The anime also utilizes flashback to deliver some cute moments between the characters.

The characters start out flat. Seriously, they are all generic at first. There is the loud one, the quiet one, the level headed one and the main character. The anime made the four characters more likeable by using the supporting the characters. The other characters are eccentric and their interaction with the four girls’ helps develop the girls. It was nicely done as well. The supporting characters did their role just right and elevated the girls. After that, the anime decided to dedicate some episodes to one of the girls for further development. It’s brilliant and something extremely hard to pull off given that the anime is a SOL genre.

The anime did try its best to stay fresh and exciting. That involves them walking the fine line between moe blob territory and just plain annoying territory. The anime had a handful of moe things that could have easily destroyed the anime. The anime was nicely built with solemnity and friendship then they rushed some moe in. The characters are already moe and it was fine but the anime almost overdid it. I’m just saying. It’s as if the anime couldn’t keep its great theme going until episode twelve. There was even a filler episode about the moe drawn cat. Seriously.

The anime started out with four generic girls but with great character development, they are now four charming girls. There is the girl who likes photography, the girl who likes to whistle, the girl who loves to cook and the girl who enjoys making potpourri. Their bonding moments are cute and their interaction with the other characters was great.

It’s still a SOL genre though. Some of the moments are slow like a true SOL is but the moe greatly made the anime more interesting. Moe is good sometimes when the anime needs it. Haha. The anime isn’t episodic and there is no main plot though so you can skip an episode with no risk of missing something on the previous episode. The pacing is nice though and the anime closes pretty decently.

Sight and Sound

Junichi Sato created Aria with a nice touch of fantasy and wonder. That is present here in the anime. The scenes are real places painted over and it gives off a nice laid back feel to it. The background of the anime is almost always breathtaking with its nicely painted appeal and relaxing color palette. I especially love the scenes with nature as it was wild but really captures the relaxing tone of the anime. The urban scenes are nice too with a nice isolated feel to it that comes alive when the characters appear on it.

The character design is your big headed bug eyed characters but comes alive with great animation. The facial expressions are nicely animated with different ranges to it. I especially love Chihiro who always cries. She starts out slow and her expression gradually changes.

The soundtrack ties the whole anime together. It nicely reflects the anime in so many ways. It captures its relaxing tone, its happy vibe and it subtle melancholic appeal. I especially love when the ending song would roll in as the anime enters on of its sweet moments and it just makes the scene more memorable.

Overall Score

7/10 “A nice anime that can heal your heart”

Junichi Sato at his best. He is master of doing laid back, heartwarming and relaxing anime and this one is no different. The normal days spent by the four girls really become special and extraordinary. I recommend it.

Thoughts~

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