Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tamako Market - 02

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KyoAni, to thine own self be true.


It’s interesting that the trend in the early reaction to Tamako Market seems to be that two camps have emerged – “I like the series because I love the bird” or “I hate the bird but everything else was cute”.  Well, you can put me in the former camp – Dera is certainly the most entertaining element of the show after two episodes for me. But there’s no denying that the people behind this series are very good at what they do – the only question for me as a viewer is whether I like what they do enough to stay with the show to the end.

The comparisons to a certain Kyoto Animation show are self-apparent – especially given the character designs – but after two eps I’d say TamaKet reminds me quite a bit of a different show from last year, Tari Tari.  That was a show, of course, that many people said reminded them of that KyoAni show so I guess there’s an Ouroboros quality to the whole thing which isn’t coincidental (studios certainly know how to read Blu-ray sales charts).  There was a certain something to Tari Tari that made me like it quite a bit – perhaps more than anything a determined refusal to take itself too seriously and an earnest sincerity that made the kawaii tolerable.  So far Tamako seems to have enough of the first quality, but the jury is still out on the second.

Kyoto Animation is obviously very, very good at selling discs, and that’s why I confess I find it difficult sometimes to give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the nature of just how calculated their artistic choices are.  They really do seem to cover all the bases here: we have the adorable heroine who everyone fawns over because of how moe she is.  We have the uber-moe imouto.  We have the possible yuri subplot with the school friend, and the cute girls being cute grouping at the school.  In this fantasy world, where high-schoolers look like grade schoolers, have bedrooms that look like this and talk to each other on tin-can (actually ramen cup) telephones, all that seems perfectly normal.  But it’s a fantasy world, undeniably – albeit one that KyoAni can create better than anyone else in the business, and one that holds tremendous commercial appeal.

Probably – in addition to Yamazaki Takumi’s hilarious performance – that’s why I find Dera to be the most interesting element so far, because he’s the one part of TamaKet that doesn’t seem to have been inserted specifically for commercial reasons.  Dera doesn’t have too much to do this week, though, as the focus shifts to Tamako and her school group.  I don’t think there’s much here we haven’t seen before – we have Midori (Kaneko Yuki), who stands to be the most important as she’s in love with Tamako, and Kanna (Nagatsuma Juri), who fulfills the requirement for the lidded-eyed, soft-spoken oddball genius (the preview shows us the 4th member of Tamako’s band, the “cool girl” to be introduced next week).   Nothing here is too fresh, but it’s not offensive by any means – Midori’s feelings aren’t played for laughs, though there’s no indication Tamako reciprocates them.  The school scenes inevitably drag a bit, though, as there’s the feeling of watching a rerun even having never seen the show before.

As for plot, I think it’s almost a moot point with Tamako Market – but there is one, and it surrounds Tamako’s desire to see the market do something for Valentine’s Day.  This paves the way for a lot of “hare” jokes, some schoolgirl antics as Mochizou films a commercial featuring Tamako in a bunny suit, and the introduction of more of the market oddballs.  The most interesting element here is that Tamako seems more in-line with the thinking of Mochizou’s Dad in terms of innovation, with the potential for some conflict – though everything here is so soft-pedaled that I’m sure it’ll never get too serious.  There are some possibilities here that intrigue – the aforementioned conflict over tradition vs. innovation (though that’s admittedly old hat in anime), Mochizou (he at least is somewhat unusual for the genre in that he wears an earring) and Midori competing over Tamako, and of course Dera’s sub-plot with the Prince – but it’s very much an open question whether any of them will be pursued with enough intensity to really matter.  My gut feeling is that plot is going to be less important here than in Tari Tari, which was willing to go to a dark place with Wakana’s arc and gave us a fairly involved conflict for the finale.  That’s no certainty of course but if that’s the case it’s going to come down to two things – how much the focus stays on Dera and his antics, and how much appeal watching Tamako and her friends being cute holds for you.

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27 comments:

  1. I'm in your camp as well. Would have just dismissed this as a moe-blob slice-of-dull-life if not for the bird.

    I didn't realize that otaku pandering involved bedroom interiors as well. Nice find.

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  2. Oh c'mon. You can never drop this show now, Enzo; the bird is too fabulous and you know it. Look at those bloody poses, LOL!

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  3. To told the truth, I'm tired of complaints about moe-blob including you Enzo...., although I'm also kinda agree with you that the shows has to focus more on Dera
    Plus point for the show for me is how enjoyable, unique and lighthearted this series is, also maybe for some people how cute it is...

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    1. well to be fair, Enzo has to inhale a megaton full of moe-blob from LB every week ("subconsciously" since he enjoys that show and give a pass to that outwardly) and that absorbed stuff has to be dumped somewhere. A man can take so much. Then voila, KyoAni show. A perfect candidate.

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    2. To each his own. At there's an underlying theme with LB, and I find the moe somewhat less self-aware than KyoAni an its most K-ON. We'll see if TamaKet gets to that level of posing.

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  4. Maybe I'm just a PA fag, but Tari Tari has no where near the level of "kawaii antics" that K-on or this show has. Plus that show was more drama centric (not all dramas are melodrama heavy).

    I was frankly bored with the school elements, but everytime the bird was on screen I was interested. The focus on the various shop-owners were good too. whilst this is... well more leaning towards cute girls doing cute things with a hilarious bird on top. So yeh, I'm totally with you that I'm on the camp that it's the bird that carries this show.

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  5. Honestly I usually drop/don't watch these shows. As a result I think my tolerance towards them has gotten higher, probably enough for me to like this show all the way to the end.

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  6. I must be in the minority here in that I find the bird annoying. I would rather see him in a roasting pan except I found what happened with him at the screening of the ad to be quite interesting. I want to see where they go with this.

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  7. I'm with you on that one. The bird is soooo annoying, and so far I don't really see anything that it adds to the show other than weirdness.

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    1. Count me in...
      I want to make it into roasted bird. Why would they think that having a bird as protagonist is a good idea? For god's sake, this is not animal show such as Shirokuma Cafe.

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  8. I can already see the series moving towards less Dera and more girls. The one unique and interesting element in Tamako Market is already starting to fade and my desire to keep watching fades with it.

    I actually think he was a calculated move, because Kyoani know that the number of K-ON haters rivals the number of K-ON lovers so adding something for the haters like Dera may sell more BDs in the end.

    3-episode rule might be stretched for Tamako as far as I'm concerned, although if a band is involved may be not.

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    1. Oh gawd...

      People will actually buy he BD just because of some bird?!?

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  9. I maybe the odd one here -- I actually liked the interactions between Tamako and her father. I liked how he finally caved in to the whole Valentine's campaign, and his "lovey-dovey heart mochi" just cracked me up.

    I am not into the cute girls doing cute things, so Dera seems different -- if not giving me a breathing space from the moe -- but I haven't found myself attached to it yet. I just hope that this show isn't a slice-of-life of a bunch of moeblobs.

    ~Ronbb

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  10. '' Midori’s feelings aren’t played for laughs, though there’s no indication Tamako reciprocates them''

    This is the thing I really liked in this episode. I suppose that I might still be in a Hyouka after glow and I might be giving the show more thought than I should be a la Chuunibyou (which while interesting, was not on the same level as Hyouka) but I'm hoping to see a gender neutral take on this romantic triangle that doesn't set out to place one side over the other due to their gender, but on how the characters interact and bond with each other. So what I hope to not see here is an attempt to make Mochizou look like a blithering idiot or on the flip side making Midori the butt of jokes due to how she feels in order to make the other contender look better by comparison. It doesn't have to be played out dramatically (in fact, I very much doubt this show has a single bone in it's constitution that isn't made out of fluffy candy and sweets) but you know, a bit of fairness for the same of everyone involved.

    Realistically, I realize that its not going to play like that at all here. This show is very much a light hearted fantasy, a modern fairy tale. I wouldn't be surprised to see this sub plot end up with Tamako telling both that she loves both equally and everyone goes to eat ice cream together, with the moral being that Tamako is just so awesome that everyone just loves her. And that's fine. I don't mind some fluff, even if I like it with some intensity because it would mean, as you had mentioned in the last paragraph, that we would be more involved in the finale. And that doesn't mean the show must go to dark places to achieve that effect, but it needs to put some importance on the conflicts that are occurring here.

    Still, I'm starting to think Hyouka was a one time thing when it comes to me and KyoAni, who while I respect and occasionally like and enjoy their work, have not managed to capture me like they did with that series since.

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  11. I'm ok with the 'moe' stuff when it's not perverted (Otherwise something else has to compensate for it).

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  12. I would be beyond surprised if anyone could enjoy a show with this kind of attitude. Looking at a series as a manipulative marketing ploy before it has even finished airing is just a sad, self-fulfilling prophecy.

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  13. I don't get the love people have for Hyouka. It was boring. Much ado about nothing more or less.

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    1. To each his own. I think it's the riskiest and most intellectually engaging show KyoAni has ever done - and also the most visually stunning by far.

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    2. (Speaking of other Shakespearean plays that BONES needs to adapt ...)

      Since I was the one person to mention Hyouka here, I suppose this is directed at me (why not just mention my name?).

      I could go on and on about why I love the show and why it connects with me on multipliable levels, from the great animation to the fantastic writing and strong cast, but if you personally found it boring and it just didn't click with you that's fine. Different folk and all that.

      However, I strongly disagree with this assertion that the show was about nothing. Hyouka was about something, many things actually, all very important and very crucial and more importantly very strong messages that, in my opinion, the show had managed to excellently drive them home and make them make a strong impact.

      Just take a look at how the show first starts with Houtarou thinking about how dull he is, how much of a hassle he thinks of the noisy high school life and how he frowns at expending energy on it. His only goal at that point in time is to try and get by this noisy life by avoiding in engaging in any ''energy spending''.

      And throughout the show, he goes through different experiences that not only challenges his premature ideal, but also forces him to realize by the end of the show that he was completely wrong and how wonderful life, even something as short and minor as the high school period, can be still as amazing and full of moments that can change your entire world, moments of gratitude, of anger, of awareness, of love ... and that is only the tip of the chief arcs in this story, without taking into consideration the other threads going alongside Houtarou's own journey of self reflection, such as Chitanda's and her remembering what her uncle told her (which only upon rewatching the show did it dawn on me on how profound and truly emotional that moment really was) and her own set of worries for the future, and Fukube's own issues with his self esteem, and his attempts to break out of it and how it correlates to his jealousy with his best friend and the feelings of the girl pinning to him.

      I honestly loved the show, mainly because it was so deeply layered and amazingly written and animated in a way that not only complements the other elements but also gives an augmented product at the end of it's 22 episodes run.

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    3. Well put! Hyouka and Cross Game are probably my two favorite anime of all time. And I think my view of both Hyouka and KyoAni's larger body of work is close to yours, although I probably view KyoAni more positively in general.

      Anime for me is a certain type of escapism from what I do for a living, so I have a real fondness for moe, and am somewhat mystified by grumbling about "cute girls doing cute things." Like Beckett, I like KyoAni's fantasy worlds, although I understand how this is a matter of personal taste. All that being said, while gorgeous visuals and loads of moe are appealing enough to me, Hyouka had that AND an astonishing amount of emotional depth. Chitanda had all the sweetness, cuteness, and quirkiness associated with moe, but wrapped around a deep emotional core, struggling to come to terms with her uncle's tragic past and her own constrained future (and how that would affect her own prospects with Oreki). Indeed, a lot of the themes in Hyouka had an edge to them, but it never left a bitter taste in the month. The series had a light heart and positive view of life, *without* having to a device like the idealized market district Tamako Market is using.

      I will add another thing--everyone is naturally associating Tamako market with the nebulous term that is moe. But I at least see moe as being tied to some sort of cute quirkiness, and does Tamako really fit the bill? She's certainly cute, but she strikes me as more earnest and determined than quirky. Yes, there's the early scene where we see some clumsy-cute (evoking that sense of helplessness which is also linked to moe), but there's not much more beyond that. I actually find her character refreshingly *normal* in contrast to both Chitanda and Rikka, who both oozed moe at their first appearance and were so defined by it that their writers had to introduce other elements later to balance their characters--with more success for the former than the latter. Character development in anime tends to involve both unmasking hidden parts of a person's inner nature AND changes in their character--but if the point of this series is to give a heartwarming slice of life in this idealized market, do we really need that much complexity and change in Tamako's characterization?

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  14. I don't mind Dera too much the way he is now, but I see a huge risk of Supporting Character Syndrome and Flanderization with him. To me, if he gets too much screentime and attention, he'll get old really fast.

    Maybe it's cause I was watching it late, but I didn't pick up on who Midori had a crush on at all. I'll have to take another watch through the show. I just thought she was generally embarrassed about someone.

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  15. This show is perfect. thats all I can say. I mean I'm watching this smiling my face off while probs looking like a fag but I'm so happy! And the thing is I've never had anything against moe or anything because I know thats what a majority of anime is, so I never complained and just sat through moe enjoying it anyways, but this, this show, feels so right! like omg everything about is just so good! I honestly feel like apart of the shopping district. Whats even weirder is my top 10 taste and what im watching thats ongoing compared to this. Like holy crap the difference and yet it feels so good! I think, and because i love jumping the gun, that this will be the best all around kyoani show ever. Hyouka was great but it had a slow start but this has consistantly been awesome from the minute we saw 3 girls running across a bridge and dancing (aka the beginning).

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    1. You would probably feel differently about that if you were around at the time when people had never even heard of the term moe.

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  16. I don't fall into either camp. I don't love the bird, so far he seems like strictly comic relief, but I don't hate him either as his antics are usually funny. That said, it must be admitted also that if the bird was gone, I would still watch and love the show. I am a KyoAni fanboy and have absolutely no qualms with their particular brand of "cute girls doing cute things". I like their fantasy worlds.

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  17. The series itself has an interesting quality. The overall quirk is somewhat working, but the component pieces are becoming irritating: 19 century bird dandy, two headed dads with one mocchi body, all gestures are cute, market weirdos abound, etc. Not sure what I'm watching for at this point.

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  18. I'm not into moe, and my tolerance for it wavers. Yet, I'm enjoying all of the characters on this show. I'm enjoying just watching the day to day (or month to month, at this rate) moments of quite charming characters. Other shows I've watched that were slice-of-life either had characters who took too long to be interesting or compelling, or were so over the top aggressive and unbelievable I quit watching. Tamako as a lead is sweet, without being an idiot, and actually surprisingly rational. She's cute in such a successful way that it reminds me why "cute" works; it's a tricky tool that can either alienate or instantly win over people who like all things cute, but truly nice to watch when done right. This one, I'm thoroughly enjoying. The bird may be hit or miss for me; for now, there seems very little use for him. I like the show because nothing stunning or dramatic needs to happen. I just enjoy watching these characters lives develop.

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