Monday, September 24, 2012

Tari Tari –13 (End) and Series Review

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Hey – the sun rising in the East is predictable too, but it’s not like you’d want to be surprised tomorrow morning…

Let’s take a quick look back at last week’s coverage of Tari Tari:

More likely, I think, is an inspiring outlaw festival that gives everyone one last chance to sing and promise never to forget each other, followed by the school closing but not before the evil Chairman is humiliated in some way.  We could also see something last-minute with Wien’s friend Jan (could he show up for the festival?  Nah…) and we’re certain to see a big finish surrounding Nao-san and Wakana.  And what of Taichi and Sawa – will we get a little open-ended romantic finish in that rare school series that’s resolutely avoided it so far?

If you were looking for surprises, you were looking in the wrong place.  And honestly, I’m well and truly fine with that – I didn’t expect surprises from this series when it started, and I certainly wasn’t expecting them by the end.  Tari Tari knows the rules and it plays by them, no questions asked.  What we got was eerily close to what was expected, right down to the humiliation of the Chairman – though literally getting pantsed in front of the kids and his subordinates was a bit more literal than even I might have planned on.  They didn’t miss a trick with this guy, right down to having him light up a butt in front of the students as he was stepping on their dreams one last time.  Booo!  Hisssss!

Of course, if one were to nit-pick the whole business with the White Festival was really a manufactured conflict – there was really no need for the festival to be cancelled except to give the Choir and Sometimes Badminton Club one last chance to be plucky, and to really paint the Chairman and his icky band of 1%-ers as evil.  But it was still fun, and one of the reasons is that this final episode – like the ones that immediately preceded it – wasn’t overwrought with maudlin emotion and didn’t take itself too seriously.  The kids were very matter-of-fact about the whole situation, sardonically amused even, right to the end, and that confrontation at the school gate.  Probably the most dramatic moment came when Principal Ikezaki finally broke down from the shame of what he was doing and confronted the Chairman.  In terms of the club themselves, there were no tears until the departure of Sawa, and that’s hardly an overreach.

So we had our White Festival, and all the boxes were checked off.  The rain stopped, the gates were locked, we had our confrontation, and Nao-san stepped up to save the day.  Everyone showed up, even Konatsu’s brother and the kids from the hero show in the shopping district, and the play was amusingly awful (though Wakana’s song was fine).  And nothing, ultimately, was changed – the school wasn’t saved, and the club members were left with a future that meant going their own way.  The wrinkle was Sawa’s decision to go overseas to try and learn to be a jockey in a country where a few extra pounds might be more acceptable, which accelerated the schedule of farewells a little.  I quite like the way they handled the issue of Taichi and Sawa’s relationship – Tari Tari wasn’t a romance show and didn’t suddenly become one.  There was a scene at the airport as the choir sang over the dialogue, but it was apparent what was happening – and the whole thing was refreshingly low-key.  The odds are Taichi and Sawa never see each other again, but at least he said what he wanted to say.

So where do we leave things?  Poor Principal Ikezaki has presumably kissed his retirement package goodbye.  Taichi got his badminton scholarship, and Konatsu appears to have been invited to join some sort of singing club at her university.  Wien has finally gotten his letter from Jan, and gone back to Vienna where they have an uber-moe reunion.  Sawa is pursuing her dream either in the US or Britain, presumably.  And Wakana has declared to Nao-san that she’ll be pursuing her dream of music after all, and asked if she can continue to look to Nao as a mentor in the future – thus allowed Nao-san to fulfill the deathbed request Mahiru made, at long last.  All the boxes checked off, just like you’d expect.  It seems fitting that things would end with Wakana coming home to her Dad, since apart from a brief feint towards Konatsu early on it’s been clear that she was first among equals in this cast.

Looking back at Tari Tari as a whole, I think it’s relevant to ask whether an anime in under any obligation to have any sort of larger purpose.  Does a series have to have a point, or a meaning it’s trying to convey, or something new it’s intent on trying?  Or is it enough for it simply to exist, and try to be entertaining?  If you believe the latter I think this show has a lot to recommend it.  I certainly don’t think Tari Tari is an essential anime in any way, and I don’t think it changed the medium or even seems likely to have a lasting impact.  But still – it was a good show.  Nothing more or less than that, just good – fun, and self-deprecating, and pretty to look at, and well-acted with a lovely soundtrack.  It made me laugh sometimes and smile most of the time and even almost cry once (the end of the Wakana arc) and that’s a hell of a lot more than many series I’ve watched all the way to the end.  TT didn’t really do anything to make me love it, but it was pretty tough not to like it.

If there’s anything notable that Tari Tari accomplished, it was maintaining its balance for almost all of its run.  I think it perched right on the edge between a slice-of-life series and a plot-driven one, lacking a strong narrative spine but still offering traditional conflict/resolution structure and character development.  It was five or six little mini-series with the same cast, really, and given the breezy nature of the show that probably worked to its benefit.  A real opportunity was wasted by reducing Taichi and Wien to bit players for two-thirds of the series, because it was a better show when they were involved – Wien especially brought a lot of heart and good-natured humor to the final arcs. 

Faintly praising a show for not trying to do too much might seem like damning it, but I think knowing what it was – and wasn’t – was critical to making Tari Tari successful.  It wasn’t the flashiest horse in the PA Works stable but it still featured more than its share of the studio’s trademark gorgeous backgrounds.  With only a couple of missteps (mostly in the Sawa mini-arc) overdramatic moments were sensibly avoided, left to shows for whom drama is the natural habitat.  Tari Tari certainly lacked the Bohemian brilliance of Hyouka or the ambitious psychoanalytical melodrama of Kokoro Connect, but it was comfortable in its own skin, and that gave it real authenticity.  Writer/director Masakazu Hashimoto did pretty well for his first time with creative control, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing if he matures as a writer enough to reach for a little more next time. 

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33 comments:

  1. You said what I wanted to say in a much nicer way than I could. I give it a 5/10 for pretty much what you said here:

    "TT didn’t really do anything to make me love it, but it was pretty tough not to like it."

    Though I was a bit more annoyed with the treatment of Tanaka and Wien a lot more than you did, if they just got more screentime and development I'd bump it to a 6. Oh well, I guess I shouldn't expect awesome male development and characters that Tsuritama gave us. I know you wrote about the treatment of males in anime, so I'm surprised the Tanaka/Wien angle didn't bug you as much as it did me. The 'power of music' was just as cheesy and corny as I'd feared, but that doesn't mean it was inherently bad.

    Liked Tari Tari, but highly forgettable IMO. Lacks the charm of Hanasaku Iroha (and no, not just because HanaIro was x2 as long), music was good but I was expecting a lot more and while the stuff with Wakana's mom was actually pretty heartwarming, the other stuff really wasn't. All in all, TT is the very definition of average.

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    1. I find it ironic that you complain about Tari Tari’s male characters whilst completing ignoring Hanasaku Iroha’s. While I won’t defend that Tari Tari males got less development than their female counterpart, it was at least largely inoffensive. Iroha. My god. The males in that show were constantly made fun of. Jiromaru? Perveted failed ero-book writer that tried to tie Ohana up in episode 3 and stayed pretty much the same. Enishi? Constantly hit home at how much he failed at running an inn. Kou? Couldn’t forget about being lovestruck Ohana if his life depended on it not to mention he’s voiced by Yuki Kaiji (Shu, Haru …) Heck even Beanman didn’t get relief as he was found crossdressing towards the end of the episode alongside Kou in some random dream scene. And every random male teenager was seen as some desperate loser and also made fun of.

      Otherwise, ymmv. I found Tari Tari better because it was genuine, pure of heart, unpretentious and largely consistent in quality minus the Sawa arc. Iroha on the hand was all over the place. Some episodes were brilliant and some episodes were god awful and its male characters were totally unlikable. It did however, have a superior ending to Tari Tari’s, but Tari Tari’s was still solid.

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  2. I think there were two general problems with Tari Tari.

    1) I felt like it wasn't ambitious enough. Slice of life is fine and all, but it all seemed so completely average, it felt like the series never wanted to take any risks.

    2) There wasn't really a central character that the "plot" revolved around. Like you mentioned, it felt like Konatsu would be our main, but it just veered off into Wakana.

    Though the one thing that it probably did better than most slice of life shows was that Tari's characters weren't just moe stereotypes, particularly when you compare to Manabi Straight (though I think Manabi was better overall). They interacted with each other really well, although it was a bit overdone when the drama kicked in.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Wakana is the central character,the anime begins with a scene of a young Wakana playing with her mom and closes with and adult Wakana coming back home.
      Konatsu was used early as a catalyst to get her involved again,but that's all she ever was.Every episode involves Wakana somehow and shows her evolution from wanting to join a choir club "in name only" to being the one that leads it against adversity in the end.

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  3. Only really notable thing in TT for me is Wakana's dad being one of the most realistic parents I have seen in anime in a long long time.

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    1. I agree here, a very cool and realistic pops.

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    2. Probably beating a deceased equine (Sabure, nooooo!), but while Wakana's dad was cool and great, I don't know how "realistic" I'd call him. I think he ranged a little more toward the 'idealistic'. I still think that Sawa's dad was more "realistic", at least in the context of having a disagreement with his daughter, and being stubborn, yet supportive. I know he's not the popular guy around here, but Sawa's conflict with her dad just felt like an extremely accurate rendering of a father-daughter disagreement to me. Some impetuousness, some shouting, some stubbornness, but underlaid with love and affection and truly the best of intentions.

      Which father would I like to have? Wakana's for sure. But having a dad like Sawa's wouldn't be bad at all.

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  4. I really enjoyed this show, and wouldn't mind more shows like it: pretty to look at, pretty to listen to, and entertaining from front to back. The finaly made me laugh a bit, cry a bit, and happy to have watched it, like the whole show did. I sincerely hope there's a vocal album release with all those songs on it.

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    1. the vocal album is coming out this week?

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    2. lol that was supposed to be a "!" not a "?"

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  5. PA Works produces a very glossy product from what I've seen so far: True Tears, Canaan, Hanasaku Iroha, Another, and now Tari Tari. They were all uneven which isn't all that bad if there are moments of greatness. I don't think that's the case. Still all likable.

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    1. We'll have to agree to disagree on True Tears, as that series has many, many moments of greatness IMHO.

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    2. In my eyes, Canaan, Iroha and Another all had moments of greatness combined with moments of epic fail with decent for the rest of the episodes. So it turns out to be above-average, but for whatever reason I still really liked Iroha.

      True Tears and Tari Tari though were largely consistent with only a one or two mishaps on the way, but really even masterpieces have mishaps.

      So I guess I'll have to disagree as well.

      P.S. Forgot my obligatory Angel Beats bashing. That show was consistently bad and is by far PA's worst series imo :p

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    3. When I think back, what I remember about True Tears is a quality of wistfulness — and this was done fairly well. Perhaps that means something, or rather that should be enough on its own? For some reason, since I can't remember more than that, I feel it isn't.

      With Canaan it seemed as if I had watched 13 episodes just to see the photos of Canaan and Alphard on the gallery wall. There's impact there, but a solitary moment like that needed more from what led up to it.

      Angel Beats hit some right notes every now and then, but that's only if you can ignore the absurd conceit of guns, dirt, high schoolers, and the Haruhi doppelgänger.

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  6. You do want to question to purpose of shows like these. Why was it made? Was it memorable? Should it have to be memorable? I think to a degree, it should. In any medium of entertainment (whether it was Television of Movies), there's generally 2 important things shows set out to do: One is to entertain, the other is to leave a lasting impression, one that becomes a part of us or a part of our culture. Shows like TT are pretty entertaining, but we won't be remembering it about 2 months from now, which is a real shame. Being an original series, it could have taken more risks. In fact, going into this series 3 months ago, I was expecting an original story. Sad to say, they took the path of least resistance.

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    1. only a gut feeling but while I see people going around saying this show will soon be forgotten and that seems to be the fashionable thing to say,I'm willing to believe that it actually won't be forgotten.We'll see

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    2. "What show is that?"
      I must admit, lol'd.

      I seem to recall similar sentiments surrounding the other TT (True Tears) proclaiming it eminently forgettable and whatnot. To this day, though, I find True Tears a real gem among romantic dramas. I suppose it's just up to this latest TT to withstand the largest TT of them all, the Test of Time.

      There is a notably Disney-esque feeling imparted by Tari Tari's denouement. This is not a bad thing in my book. Segments of drama, bits of humor, and a decent helping of heart combine to place Tari Tari right where it belongs -- alongside other endearing slice-of-life series, if not slightly above many of them.

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    3. I won't swear my memory is 100% accurate, but I certainly don't remember a lot of people dismissing True Tears as a forgettable series. I recall a lot of fanrage, but not that!

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  7. chorei chorei no ultimo ep veio q tristeza do caralhio T-T

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  8. "and we’re certain to see a big fish surrounding Konatsu."

    Fixed it.

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  9. Liked it better than HanaIro for it's drama elements. Wakana's arc were the best episodes. Forgettable or not, I never felt like I was wasting my time while watching Tari Tari. It certainly didn't blow anyone's mind but I will recommend this series to anyone who's looking for Music-themed anime.

    The thing that I liked most about Tari Tari is how it never forgot what it was about: Music.

    Something I was disappointed about a certain Slice-of-Life anime that pretended to be about music and got extremely popular for reasons I have yet to understand.

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    1. Really? There was hardly any music in this show. The girls go on and on about singing and how they love music, and yet it seems the guys are the only ones ever practicing.

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  10. I thought they'd do it, but it still gets me that at the end, Kokoro no Senritsu, radiant melody, and whatever the heck the Condor Queens' song was called are all using the same basic melody.

    That's probably the only point of dissatisfaction, though. The show's greatest strength, at the end, was that it felt real. Nothing was overstated, interactions felt natural, progression wasn't (overly) forced. In that, it was everything slice-of-life usually tries to be and fails at.

    At the end of it, I liked it. I probably won't go to the trouble of watching it again - it's no Madoka Magica - and it's pretty far from being intellectual fare, but it definitely did what it did well.

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    1. But that's definitely on purpose. The callback from Radiant Melody to Kokoro no Senritsu was deliberate and justified, and it's certainly not out of the ordinary for the same composer to use the same basic melodies and even the same cues. Since all of those songs were partially written by Mahiru (and are as far as we know, her 'greatest hits'), there should be some continuity amongst them.

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    2. I'm aware it's on purpose. I just think they took it a bit too far. It's true that composers tend to use similar tonal patterns and melodies - look at any criticism of ALI Project ever, and Kajiura is pretty unmistakable most of the time - but when all three sound like remixes of each other, it might be just a little too similar. ALI Project criticisms aren't unjustified, after all.

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  11. I think Tari Tari is actually the one show that went out on its limb and defied all kinds of genre conventions and did things differently. It takes risks. I'm not sure why that would not be considered as ambitious but out of all the anime this season, save for maybe Jintai, Tari Tari is really the only show bringing to us something remarkably different. Perhaps it isn't ambitious because it didn't seek to achieve something different, but it is in other ways.

    BTW I find it ironic that someone would call Hyouka "Bohemian brilliance" but okay I can live with this lol.

    Oh, nice write-up. I think you identified some of the key issues I also had with the show, like the part with Sawa's parents.

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  12. Tari Tari is the chicken noodle soup of anime - there is nothing flashy or adventurous, but it's good, easy to digest, and leaves a warm feeling inside afterwards.

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  13. The purpose of Tari Tari was to be adorable. And it succeeded. Loved the acappella song at the end.

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  14. I'm new here. And Tari-Tari give me a goosebumps for realistic anime for a long time i awaited. This is so good, seek for another anime like Tari-Tari but don't know. If say Glasslip, its just a trash. Ano Hana is good too, but that is not realistic because of the ghost thing.

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