This is review number two hundred and thirty seven. This anime is part of the Summer 2013 lineup. I figured I’d end the month of October squeezing out last review. The Summer lineup still have a lot more anime in it that I haven’t reviewed yet. I am also finding no time for 24 plus episode anime so it’s really hard for me right now. I just hope I can finish the lineup before Fall 2013 ends but that sounds like an impossible task right now. Anyways, the anime I’ll be reviewing is Tamayura: More Aggressive. This is a twelve episode anime about a girl that loves to take pictures directed by a pretty amazing guy. It’s an awesome second season for a great anime. I remember the first season as my forty seventh review. The second season will now be my 137th review. That’s pretty special. Let’s read on.
The anime continues the story of the first season. Fuu has moved on and accepted her dad’s death. She now lives the rest of her days as a resident of this wonderful laidback place of the Seto Inland Sea. Fuu has decided to become more aggressive and she wants to make her second year of high school full of excitement. She wants to create a club and talk to people that shares her passion. This is something Fuu wants to do by herself. Accepting her dad’s death is hard but it also marks a new change for her as she meets new people that want to tell her wonderful stories about her father.
Taking the Pants Off
I remember Tamayura as being the spiritual successor for Junichi Sato’s Aria. It was another healing anime from the dude that truly knows how to make laidback shows. Like the rest of the people, I was also weirded out by the title for the second season. “More Aggressive” sounds like a joke coming from the director and only a handful of people will laugh at it. The idea of a second season sounds pretty promising though. After all, I get to see that cute cat that’s shape like a ball once more. Apparently, the theme of the second season is about the characters getting aggressive. It’s in a sense that they will no longer hesitate on doing what they want and they will achieve their very best as they try to be aggressive. That sounds cute. I am honestly filled with nostalgia as I was watching this show because you don’t see a lot of these kinds of anime nowadays. The whole “healing” approach isn’t really an easy thing to do, anyways. It’s also not for everyone. I am telling you right now that if you don’t like slow pace, overly cute and non-episodic format anime then this show isn’t for you. Tamayura has always stuck to a simplistic approach to presenting its content and it’s not really something that can appeal to anyone. If you enjoyed the beauty and the laidback style of the first season then you will truly love seeing the same characters become more aggressive.
The first season is all blurry to me now but let me talk about it first. The story is about a girl moving back to her hometown. Her father died not so long ago and she had a hard time adjusting to it. Going back to her hometown is a sign that she plans to move on though and it’s something her family approves of. She abandoned the urban life she is accustomed to and went to a more rural setting. She now lives in an island that is very laidback and very friendly. The first season is mostly about the girl, Fuu Sawatari, slowly accepting her father’s death with her passion for taking pictures being reignited. The bulk of the episodes though are about Fuu reconnecting with her childhood friends and meeting new people along the way that shares her passion. Most of the episodes are about Fuu and her three friends doing things together and having a fun time bonding with each other. From slumber parties to hikes in the mountains, there are a lot of things the girls did in the span of one year (up until New Year’s or something). At the end of the series, Fuu is happy she made a decision to move back and can’t wait to take more pictures of her new life.
The second season pretty much has the same setup. It’s still about cute girls doing cute things with scenic backgrounds to move about. It’s still a laidback anime founded on friendship and togetherness. Let me draw this review out though by talking about the three main plot points of the story. The story is still has a non-episodic format but there are certain things to focus on that helps in fully appreciating the show. The first plot point, that is something truly shocking, is about Fuu creating a club. She decided that she wants to be more aggressive this year. She wants to fully achieve her potential and no longer hold back because she feels uncertain. The biggest goal for her is founding a photography club so she can talk to other people about photography. The feelings they have when they take pictures, the style they have in taking pictures and the kind of things they like to take pictures of are something Fuu wants to learn. Fuu feels that there are some people like her with a deep passion for photography and she wants them to join her club. She plans on doing this by herself with her three close friends behind her cheering her on. For a reserved girl like Fuu though, the responsibilities of running a club may surprise her.
The first plot is mostly about the new characters that has the same love for photography as Fuu. It’s a pretty straight forward plot. Fuu and her members also do a lot of club activities like participating in contests, finding ways to promote her club and setting up galleries for their pictures. There were a lot of events the girls took part in and you always see them with their camera happily capturing the moment. It’s a lovely concept because photography is finally being talked about in a more technical manner. It’s not too deep that it ruins the laidback appeal of the show though. There’s just enough for the viewers to may be enticed to fuel their passion for taking pictures as well. Of course, Fuu finding different reasons on why she loves photography is also heavily tackled in this plot point. She has passion but that thing can’t be measured. It can only be shown to other people and the show gave a lot of time for that to come through.
The second plot point is about Fuu’s father and the things he loves the most. In the first season, Fuu tiptoed around the subject of her father but this time, almost every episode features him. The second plot point features Fuu finding out more things about her dad. From his passion for taking pictures, his spur of the moment attitude in life, his deep love for his children to the life he lived in general, the anime really painted a pretty picture of a really wonderful person. Here’s the interesting part. He is dead. Wait, I mean, the anime doesn’t do flashbacks of him talking about the things he love. There are no voice lines given to the father. All the stories about him are told by people he loved. Fuu often meets people that are closely acquainted to her father and they tell her stories of who he was. These are stories Fuu doesn’t know about her father. From a close childhood friend to a co-worker, there are a lot of people that wanted to meet Fuu because of how much of an impression her dad left on them. The thing I loved about this plot point the most is how sentimental it was. Junichi Sato’s directorial magic is that he can establish mood. In the episodes concerning Fuu’s father, there were enough scenes to make you cry yet also a lot of them to make you smile as well. The lovely idea of a passionate man with a deep love for her daughter can touch anyone’s heart with the way Sato approached the idea. This was a lovely plot point and even I wanted to meet Fuu’s dad with the way he was described in the show.
The third plot point is the ever so familiar theme of “cute girls doing cute things” that you’d come to expect from the show. Fuu has close friends she spends a lot of time with. Majority of the episodes are about their time bonding some more. The first season took some time establishing the girls, and with that being out of the way, you can really feel the love this time around. The wonderful and infectious interaction of the girls is really the main highlight of this plot point. Like I said, there were a lot of events that the girls attend in this anime. From firework displays to nighttime festivals, the girls are always together having a fun time. I am personally sick of the cute girls doing cute things angle. I’ve seen more than fifteen of them in the long time I’ve been TPAB and the third plot point certainly tested my patience. I’m not against cute girls. The stuff in the anime is actually pretty great because of how well rounded the group is. Every character added a lot to make the third plot point not a tasking affair. I’m just personally tired of them. There are a lot of things to love about this part of the anime though because every activity is unique. There are new activities the girls do that were some sort of continuation from the last season. In the first season, they promised to visit Fuu’s friend from the urban city and they did so in the second season. In the first season as well, they greeted New Year’s next to a rundown vehicle on the way to the mountains. This time around, avoiding the same incident from happening, they greeted New Year’s elsewhere. The girls never run out of things to do and that makes the cute girls doing cute things angle pretty damn entertaining.
Of course, familiarity and nostalgia is another part of the anime and a focus of this plot point as well. While the girls are out doing new things, they are also falling on their usual routine. The various activities they did in the first season are revisited in the second season. Repetitive? No, it’s not. Like I said, the girls have achieved a balance of interaction that’ll entertain you so doing the familiar activities again but with more developed characters is pretty fun to watch. Do you remember the events of the first season? Fuu was a bit reserved and the anime was featuring episodes of the girls slowly liking each other some more. The goal of the second season is to feature that friendship that was developed even more this time around. It’s also a bit exciting seeing the same wonderful events revisited. It really gives me a dash of nostalgia. I reviewed the first season back when I was developing a review style that suited me. Majority of my reviews were awkward and short (take your mind off the gutter!) but I was really doing my best to pick up details of a show so I can talk about them in my reviews. This resulted in me truly loving the show and the characters. So a show that I truly fell in love with going back and doing the things that made me like it is something that fills me with some nostalgia. “Oh, I remember this” is what my usual reaction would be towards the familiar episodes. The different feeling about them though is what truly makes the anime pretty special. From the New Year’s Eve trip to visiting her friend’s home again, the anime really know how to create a relaxing mood and a wonderful feeling of familiarity as you watch it.
Under the big umbrella of the third plot point covers the picturesque beauty of the Seto Inland. Fuu and the girls would do activities in a lot of scenic places, much like the first season, and this is where the healing approach of the anime really comes through. I’ll explain that later on in the section below but majority of the time spent on the anime was about the girls exploring the place and many other different places. It captured the slow paced lifestyle of the people living in it, the silent yet inviting presence of the rural area and the friendly people that enjoys their life there. The girls would often explore places, meet new people and talk about things in such a laidback way that you’re often caught up in it. Despite the lack of an interesting story or any sign of conflicts, the anime was able to stay interesting simply because it knows how to feature scenic places. Not a lot of studio outside KyoAni (or PA Works) establish mood through scenic settings anymore so it’s nice to appreciate something so rare. It does get a bit boring though. I won’t deny that. It’s all a matter of how long your patience is and how you like your style of anime because this show is really slow. It’s like that because life in the Seto inland Sea is slow and laidback.
The characters are pretty much the same. There was a significant development among them though. Fuu is an obvious standout. In the first season, the focus was about her slowly accepting her father’s death and growing as a person. In the second season, there was a deep focus on her father’s life and the bonds that connects them. She is still the shy and a reserved girl though but she is truly being aggressive in the second season. She is willing to try and to experience new things. It’s a big change up from the girl that she once was in the first season. Her friends didn’t change much, but like I said, there was a wonderful interaction established among them. Kaoru would be the serious straight laced girl of the group. She would act all serious but also plays along with the mischiefs of her friends. Norie Okazaki would be the loud mouth of the group that goes overly hyper at times. She knows how to make people laugh though and she makes the interaction lively because of her energetic attitude. Maon Sakurada is the girl that chirps. I mean, she whistles. She also talks but she often serves as the cute character watching the other two girls do a comedy act. I hated her in the first season. I don’t really know why because she balances the other characters out in a nice way. The three girls have very little role in the show though. Fuu and her dad took up most of the space. Sadly, the girls were more of a side character in the second season. It’s all good though because they were still able to deliver some great moments in the time they were given. The four girls actually have good chemistry together that I honestly think can rival the four girls of that certain light music club.
The rest of the cast is also the same. The adult characters had the same cute personality that makes them interesting. They also had short time in the show as well but they were made each moment special. From the energetic male teacher to the passionate pro-photographer, all the old characters are here. I’m actually amazed at how the anime was able to balance the ever growing large cast. The old and new characters were aplenty but the anime was able to give all of them some decent time. It’s enough time to truly make them stand out and become memorable characters. It’s pretty great considering how the anime doesn’t really have much in terms of a story. The new characters are also pretty decent. They made the whole interaction among the character interesting, for sure. There aren’t a lot of them but the show introduced them in such a nice way that they were able to blend with the old characters pretty easily. They have pretty simple personalities though but they did provide some new ideas in the show. The ever so familiar theme of friendship being used again but in a different manner is a nice touch with the way the new characters are introduced.
I really love this anime. The wonderful feeling I had when I was starting out as TPAB all came rushing back when I watched this anime. I am a huge fan of Junichi Sato and he should really do more original works like this. The industry is always ever changing but seeing his style of direction is really refreshing. The way he approached Tamayura is pretty incredible that I’m sure not a lot of directors can replicate it. He relies of simple themes yet uses them heavy handedly in such a sophisticated way. While his works may not appeal to everyone, I’m sure the people that realize his talents truly know how amazing this director is. TYO Animations is such a quiet studio. I bet they’re still just finding a niche. They do some decent anime though and it’s really all about consistency in the anime industry. I’m sure they’ll be able to make some big waves in the near future. With a show as lovely as Tamayura, one can only hope they can make it big.
Sight and Sound
The character design of the anime is pretty great. The characters are moe and that’s what makes them special. Haruko Iizuka (the designer) really knows how to make cute characters. The design borders a bit on KyoAni’s style but the simple little details make the characters pretty special. I love the expressive faces of the characters and their cute little built. The uniforms are also a nice touch. It’s pretty simple with a plain style but the long sleeves and the cute little sweater really made a lot of difference. I also love the various hairstyles of the characters. Again, it’s a simple design but it works great for this particular anime. The adults also have a cute design to them. While they have an aged look, they also have the same expressive faces and the same cute details like the rest of the young cast. The light color palette also made look younger.
The animation is pretty great as well. There’s not a lot to animate but every moment has nice detail to them. From the playful banter of the characters to the poses they make when some takes a picture, it’s precise and it makes the experience pretty worthwhile. The characters were able to retain their cute charming personality all throughout the anime and I really like that in this show. Even the way the cute ball of a cat moans look pretty great. There was a great amount of emphasis on the cuteness of the characters though. I’m not sure if you people would appreciate that but it adds a lot to the infectious interaction of the group. Just look at that GIF and decide for yourselves.
Junichi Sato’s healing approach also comes through nicely. He has a very distinct style. The first thing you’ll notice is the background music. Almost every scene has a piano arrangement to it. They are all different so it can properly establish the mood. The dialogue is paired up with the touching music and it then creates a soothing aura as you keep watching it. Once the mood is properly established, you are then given a visual experience. The characters then go to a lot of scenic places with a really nice painted style. I think they’re real pictures painted over. I honestly don’t have much experience differentiating the two. I suck at that. Anyways, the combination of the soothing music, the relaxing dialogue and the scenic beauty of each scene makes up the ever so “healing” approach that Sato is known for. Aside from Hayao Miyazaki, I think Junichi Sato is also the only director I know that truly masters the healing approach. This style really elevates Tamayura to a higher form and gives the audience a pretty surreal experience.
The anime’s OP is “Hajimari no Umi” by Maaya Sakamoto. This is a really nice song. It has a laidback feel to it and the acoustic style was a nice touch. Maaya’s voice is really relaxing to listen to and it fits well with the slow pacing of the song. The OP sequence really captured the anime’s wonderful appeal. It featured all the characters, new and old, and a look at the laidback everyday life they have in the island. It had the Junichi Sato touch in how the music and the sequence create a soothing vibe that really matches the tone of the anime. It’s pretty awesome.
The anime’s ED is “Arigatou” by Megumi Nakajima. This is a nice love song. It’s about someone telling another that even if you experience heart break, the other person will always be there to help make it all better. The song has a nice slow start with Negumi’s voice really capturing the beauty of the lyrics. It hits a wonderful chorus that is really heartfelt. It’s a really sincere song. This is accompanied by a lovely ED sequence as well. It features Fuu in their attic room holding her dad’s camera. She remembers a scene of how he cheered her up when she was young. She cries as she remembers it being embraces by the moon’s gentle light. It’s stunning and one of my favorite EDs for sure.
8/10 “Far better than the first season in terms of content and the overall viewing experience.”
This is a great anime. The first season handled some topics that prevented the characters to truly go wild and they were able to so in the second season. The things that made the first season great are present here and there are a few surprises that will really make the anime experience pretty awesome. If you enjoy the healing style of Junichi Sato then this anime is a must watch. If you like slice of life anime with cute girls doing cute things as a format then this show will appeal to you. If you like some light hearted drama and some comfortable comedy then this show will not disappoint. I recommend it.