Tamako Market Review

This is review number one hundred and ninety seven. This is part of the Winter 2013 lineup. The anime I’ll be reviewing is the KyoAni entry to the lineup. It’s Tamako Market. It’s a twelve episode anime about the girls of K-on and a cock. Wait, that’s not right. It’s actually an anime about a bird and a bunch of girls. Yeah, that’s better. Let’s read on.

Story

The anime is about a girl named Tamako Kitashirakawa. She is an ordinary girl that goes to school, enjoys her time with her friends and participating in the baton club. She also helps out in her family’s mochi store and very much gets involve in her local shopping district. While visiting the local flower shop, she discovers a bird tucked between a bouquet of her favorite flowers. She was surprised that the bird can talk and was actually on a journey to find his prince a bride. Tamako decided to take the bird in, named Dera Mochimazzwi. Dera stayed for a few days and got incredibly fat. Unable to leave Tamako’s house, he decided to stay indefinitely.

Taking the Pants Off

tamakom6

This is an anime by Kyoto Animation. There’s the review. Do you seriously need someone to tell you to watch a KyoAni anime? I actually planned this to be my last review of the Winter 2013 lineup because it’s pretty well known. I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy it so I’ll watch the other anime of the lineup first. If you know KyoAni then you know what to expect from their anime. It’s definitely, without a doubt, undisputedly a School/Slice of Life anime. It’ll have cute girls for sure. It’d be about real places so fans can do a pilgrimage later on. There’s bound to be a club because c’mon. It’ll have some Comedy but you’ll be surprised how the studio spins a genre. KyoAni is a one note bastard if there ever was one BUT they are masters of their craft. They may seem to rely on certain elements again and again but it’s always a guarantee that they will not let you down. All the things I mentioned though are just rough guesses when it came to Tamako Market. They’re all here though. Yes, it’s a brand new original anime from Kyoto Animation *sarcasm*. The main hook of this show is simple. It has a mascot. It’s not an ordinary mascot though. It’s a cute bird that is fat and talks. Yeah, you should watch this.

I really liked the premise of the anime. It’s a show about a talking arrogant bird living with a young girl and they go through the normal everyday life within the Usagiyama Shopping District. There’s a bunch of colorful characters and some misadventures here and there so the show seriously had a lot of promise. The only problem with the anime is that it doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. Does it want to be a serious story about a bird and a girl and their personal journey? Does it want to be a slice of life anime focusing on the fluff life of the girl and her friends? Does it plan to focus on the romantic build up it so subtly hints at? Does it want to be a cute coming of age story involving a girl and her family? These are actually different KyoAni shows if you recognize them. Well, the anime wanted to be different yet true to the KyoAni spirit. It decided to take a lot of ideas from its popular shows and cram them together. Let the clichés sort themselves out and see how the audience will react. I was personally confused and a bit insulted that KyoAni thinks it can make an anime crammed with tropes hopefully giving off the illusion of a good show. See, this anime is the perfect example why KyoAni needs to do that BL “Free” anime and experiment outside their comfort zone.

Anyways, the anime is a mish mash of a lot of things. Let’s just focus on them one by one. Please realize that these are all fully established in the anime yet they did not get the proper build up they deserve. Yeah, let’s call them plot points to better identify them. The first plot point is about the talking bird, Dera. He is on a quest to find his “prince” a bride. I think it’s an actual prince from a tropical place but the anime was never keen on details. He was on his journey when he accidentally slept on a field of flowers, got shipped to Japan and taken in by Tamako. He binged on a lot of mochi and got very fat. Here’s a GIF because he is just adorable.

TM3

Anyways, his mission is put on hold while he finds a way to get back in shape and leave Tamako’s house. He is constantly distracted by new experiences around him though. He gets to eat a lot of new food. He gets to experience new customs and festivals foreign to him. He also enjoys the company of the people around him like the friendly people of Usagiyama Shopping District and Tamako’s friends. No one seem to mind him free loading on Tamako’s house though and he soon gets involved with the people around him on a more personal level.

The second plot point is about the girl named Tamako and her everyday life. This includes her busy work days in the Shopping District and her casual days in school. In the shopping district, she usually does certain things to help promote the place because she very much loves it. She goes to the meetings and think of unique ways to attract people to visit the place. She also very much enjoy the everyday smiles of the people in the district. They are friendly and very accepting so it drives Tamako to do her best for the simple folks of Usagiyama. At school, she spends time with her close friends. Guess what? They’re in a club because KyoAni has a club fetish and thinks an anime cannot function without one. A shameless set piece most studios are actually adapting. Anyways, she is in the baton club and she spends time with her close friends there. Majority of the episodes involving school also feature some of her friends and their personal conflicts that are magically resolved by the power of friendship. It’s your standard Slice of Life theme with the strong bonds of the girls greatly featured. There’s nothing complicated about the second plot point. It’s just about Tamako and her everyday life.

The third plot point is about Romance. It’s not that greatly defined but there are certain characters having a crush on another and the anime often focuses an episode around it. It’s the simple puppy dog love stories though and it stays true to the light hearted aura of the anime. There are some nice displays of rejection, hopelessness, slow blossoming romance, sweet moments and heartwarming displays of affection though. It gives the anime a nice mature aspect as oppose to the typical KyoAni trend but it’s not really something the show builds. The first two plot points take more precedence. This third one was a bit misplaced but it was very cutely executed. Some scenes involving Romance had some of the most memorable moments in the anime.

Here’s the problem with the anime though. It had a story and decent amount of episodes to slowly build it up. It decided to stick to a non-episodic format though. There is a story but majority of the episodes involve an individual event solely for that episode. The plot points co-mingle within that individual event but they aren’t fully utilized. I don’t even think you can fully utilize all of them. The first two plot points involve slice of life fluff that is very much character driven. The original premise of the show and its actual story requires a proper build up though that completely counters the slice of life approach of the first two plot points. Then there is the third one that randomly pops up from time to time. It teases a pairing then leaves it stagnant because it no longer serves a purpose on other episodes. You’ll have cute side stories about Tamako making a haunted house in one episode then an episode about the romantic adventures of a character in another and then an important event regarding the story in the next. It’s pretty messed up and the direction of the anime seems to be slowly jumping off a cliff falling into obscurity. The anime seems to be having an identity crisis.

Here’s the ultimate problem with the anime though. It’s an Original Screenplay. These are anime that aren’t adapted from a manga or light novel or video game. It’s an original story from the creative minds of KyoAni directed by the f*cking entity that did K-on. If you know KyoAni, their success stems from adapting a medium and putting their own unique brand of awesomeness on it. They can make a four panel anime completely satisfying because they understood the original material and add their spin on it. They make it their own. They can make Haruhi Suzumiya a classic without even adapting half of the original source because they know what to do with it. You can trust them with that. This maybe the first time I’ve seen the studio try to be original with the director of K-on taking the lead. You can tell that they tried because the individual episodes are pretty enjoyable. They have cute girls, the crisp animation and a decent story to work with. Overall though, the show is disjointed. It has lazy storytelling and it relied too much on cliché. It was able to entertain but it was devoid of any meaningful anime experience that most KyoAni hard hitters can give us in two episodes.

The characters are pretty decent. There is a large cast in this show and they are really the element of the anime that keeps it interesting. The main character is Tamako. She is a hardworking girl and loves what she does. She is a bit of an airhead though because she can’t tell her childhood friend has a huge crush on her. She’s a kind girl though and her life is pretty busy. Her personality is pretty flexible and it works great because she can have great chemistry with the any of the other characters in the show. The other main character is Dera. He is an arrogant bird and a bit of a comic relief. He often acts foolish and despite his arrogant front, he’s an honest creature that enjoys the simple life. He is also very fat and I love seeing him struggle to fly because of his size. Dera doesn’t have much of a personality but he stands out pretty nicely despite the large cast.

Then there are Tamako’s classmates. They have the typical four girl format that pisses me off. I guess you can call them a K-on clone. You have the cute airhead, the cute sexy girl, the cute timid girl and the cute level headed girl. Some of the episodes feature some of the girls so they have a somewhat large role in the anime. The anime focused an episode on one of the girls and her inability to make friends while another is dedicated to the rather romantic tension she have with a boy. In their episodes, they work great. They have strong personalities despite the murky presentation but they lose that during the rest of the anime. Throughout the rest of the show, they are one dimensional cliché personalities that just take up space. They have impressionable cliché personalities though that gives off decent character interaction so I give points for that. They still stand out in a small way and they are cute so I’m sure you’ll enjoy that. In fact, here’s another GIF:

TM7

Then there are the adults in the shopping district. I must point this out, the anime have “moe” adults. These are characters that are undoubtedly old but they have the personality of a K-on fixture. It’s pretty interesting and remarkably lazy at the same time. They are one dimensional as well but they stand out in a small way. They are mostly eccentric and memorable characters because of the way they behave so they still leave a pleasurable impression. I don’t like the fact they move in groups though and the anime missed a great opportunity of cutting the damn School/Slice of Life aspect and shoot for a more Hanasaku Iroha approach by fleshing out these odd balls. I personally want to know what is up with the fat dude that sells tofu and his backstory. I’m a bit annoyed by their suspiciously hospitable demeanor though. Any character that enters the shopping district is given free stuff and I’m a bit amazed how the anime thought it’ll be a cute shtick they could repeat again and again. I also don’t like the fact that Tamako’s family is so accepting. They seem to don’t mind that a fat bird just suddenly become a part of their everyday expenses. It’s all minor details though. When they’re featured in an episode, these characters do wonder but most of the time they just take up space.

Another character I should point out is the childhood friend and the little sister of Tamako. They don’t quite fit with the first two groups so I’ll just describe them separately. The childhood friend pretty much represents the romance aspect of the anime and he seems to be fighting despair since the girl he likes doesn’t even know he likes her. The anime also had a chance to slowly build this aspect of the anime and I do not understand why they didn’t. It was something refreshing and cute. It’s a shame. The little sister is pretty much a loli…um….loli-er version of Azunyan and she also has her own side story. It seems to be a coming of age story but also has some romance in it but it’s all murky. She is cute though and she is a little bit complicated. Her story had potential as well if the show had the decency to build it up.

This is an entertaining show and I’m sure there is something you can enjoy in this anime. The parts are entertaining as oppose to the overall presentation of the anime, for sure. If this is how crappy KyoAni is when it comes to their Original Screenplays then I am already scared with the new BL anime. I’ll remain hopeful though because it’s been awhile since I’ve seen some good BL. This anime certain had potential but they had the bright idea to cram possibly seven individual stories that can make seven individual anime into just one convoluted show. Yeah, the idea is there but the actual value is missing.

Sight and Sound

The character design is pretty KyoAni. The girls all have the K-on design with those cute round faces coupled by some bright colorful eyes. The different hair style gives the girls some great personality though. I am very much attracted to Midori because of her short blond hair that nicely bounces and wave as she walks. Tamako is the typical cute character but I love how there are small hair popping up of her pigtails and the little mole on her neck was a nice touch. The K-on lookalike is actually a great way to connect with the characters and familiarize with them since the characters are poorly handled in the show. The uniforms are cute. I love the way it drapes and the ribbon is a cute touch.

The adults are nicely designed as well. They look generic but I love how they have a mature look but also had a hint of cuteness in them. It’s weird, I know but it’s the outfit and the bright colored hairs that make them look cute and mature at the same time. The people in the shopping district really stand out in terms of design because they often look goofy and whacky which compliments the usual lighthearted approach of KyoAni. These are actually the only adults I’ve seen in a KyoAni anime post-K-on so it’s pretty incredible.

Dera was nicely designed as well. I’m not really sure what the hell he is but he is cute and he is fluffy. These are two words that a round bird should possess. His fat and slim versions were both pretty cool and I actually love it. He gives me great GIFs but I’m a bit annoyed the show never fully explained what he is. I think he is a robot or an offspring of a chicken and a robot….a robot chicken. Hmm.

The animation is pretty incredible. This is KyoAni so do not expect anything less, ever. They make sure that the tiniest of details is present in their anime. From the way a hair independently moves from the body to the small mannerisms, they make sure it’s fully presented. The simple actions of pouring tea or walking to school have smooth transitions and the animation is actually one of the reasons I keep watching. I wanted to see more of Dera act all freakin cute and Tamako’s father blush in embarrassment. I do notice they often fast forward some scenes. I think it’s intentional like for example, Tamako is unloading groceries but then it’ll skip forward to when she is done and having tea already. It’s like the anime itself is bored so it’s fast forwarding itself. It looks bad and I’m not a fan of it. Most scenes also have the ever so familiar eyes don’t blink problem. You’ll often see that only the mouth moves and that is a crime in terms of KyoAni’s standards. Thankfully, it’s hardly noticeable and the flashy cute eye candies still permeates in every scene so it’s all good.

The backgrounds are also impressive as well. I think KyoAni took a real place again and animated it. It’s a market in Kyoto or something. It’s amazing. The place is really alive and the scenic beauty of the places is just outstanding. The combination of the painted scenes and the digitally rendered ones are nicely presented. The bright colors and the simplistic designs were also pretty inviting. KyoAni really knows how to do scenic places.

The anime’s OP is “Dramatic Market Ride” by Tamako Kitashirakawa (Aya Suzaki). This is a cute and bubbly song. It has a decent pace and Aya’s voice is pretty lovely. It lacked a certain strong punch though that could’ve matched the stunning OP sequence. The sequence was really amazing. KyoAni is a master of making awesome OPs and this one is no different. It features Tamako dancing and being cute along the shopping district in a very broadway-like musical number way that nicely gives off a cute aura. All the characters are introduced and you can see how muddled the show actually is just by looking at the OP. The animation is outstanding though.

The anime’s ED is “Neguse” by Tamako Kitashirakawa (Aya Suzaki). It’s a simple cute song and I’m not really sure what it’s about. Records playing and hair dryers. The lyrics missed me but the song is still cute. Aya’s voice has a calmer style to it while retaining the bubbly personality of the song. The ED sequence features Tamako and her friends in some stylistic montage. It’s pretty cool but honestly pretty ordinary.

Overall Score

6/10 “It’s cute and entertaining but a muddled story and weak characters ruins the experience a lot.”

It’s a KyoAni show so no doubt you should try it. I can’t get over the fact that the anime suffers from identity crisis though and it is heavy on cliché that does give the show a needed push but not enough to actually give it a great personality. I do appreciate KyoAni trying something new but they need to work on it. Also, they should fire the director of K-on. She doesn’t deserve anymore project. K-on was a onetime phenomenon. One time. Anyways, if you enjoy watching cute girls doing cute things with an even cuter mascot then this anime is for you.

4 thoughts on “Tamako Market Review

  1. I think you pretty much nailed it when you said this show had an identity crisis. I think if it focused on just any one of the things it tried to do here, it would have done it pretty well. Instead, it was a bit of a mess.

    Still, I think the one nice memory I’ll take away from this anime is the cheesy song Tamako’s father sang on the guitar. It was really funny and kind of sweet at the same time. Yay Tamako’s dad!

    • I know right. Just one of the many subplots and the anime is instantly amazing.
      and yes! my favorite episode is the mochi day episode because of the beautiful montage of how he met Tamako’s mother. 🙂 also, that scene in the final episode where Tamako panicked seeing the shopping district empty because the last time it happened her mother died was such a strong and precise moment yet easily unrecognized.

  2. The thing I really enjoyed about this anime was the emphasis on family. In K-On! it was all about the friendship between the girls, but in Tamako Market I thought there was a great bond with not only the family members but with the shop owners as a “family”.

Thoughts~

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