Thursday, January 24, 2013

Weekly Digest: 1/24/12 – Amnesia, Tamako Market

[Commie] AMNESIA - 03 [021D0791].mkv_snapshot_14.27_[2013.01.24_11.52.50] [Commie] AMNESIA - 03 [021D0791].mkv_snapshot_19.02_[2013.01.24_11.57.26] [Mazui]_Tamako_Market_-_03_[4CD0E3A9].mkv_snapshot_07.21_[2013.01.24_20.44.37] [Mazui]_Tamako_Market_-_03_[4CD0E3A9].mkv_snapshot_12.55_[2013.01.24_20.55.34]

The three-episode rule is going to be a tough call with these two.
Amnesia - 03

[Commie] AMNESIA - 03 [021D0791].mkv_snapshot_09.47_[2013.01.24_11.47.50] [Commie] AMNESIA - 03 [021D0791].mkv_snapshot_11.25_[2013.01.24_11.49.28] [Commie] AMNESIA - 03 [021D0791].mkv_snapshot_14.51_[2013.01.24_11.53.14]
[Commie] AMNESIA - 03 [021D0791].mkv_snapshot_14.51_[2013.01.24_11.53.21] [Commie] AMNESIA - 03 [021D0791].mkv_snapshot_15.26_[2013.01.24_11.53.49] [Commie] AMNESIA - 03 [021D0791].mkv_snapshot_17.10_[2013.01.24_11.55.33]
[Commie] AMNESIA - 03 [021D0791].mkv_snapshot_18.19_[2013.01.24_11.56.42] [Commie] AMNESIA - 03 [021D0791].mkv_snapshot_19.21_[2013.01.24_11.58.15] [Commie] AMNESIA - 03 [021D0791].mkv_snapshot_20.09_[2013.01.24_11.59.02]

Amnesia is definitely a series that’s holding its secrets close to its flamboyant vest.  That applies both to the mysteries surrounding the main character and her memories, and to just what sort of show it wants to be.  I don’t mind mysteries – I rather like them when done well, and this one seems pretty decent – but everything is being held in reserve to the point where I’m not as engaged with what’s happening as I probably should be.  And the heroine’s complete blank-slate persona, while wholly intentional and part of the plot, makes her a fairly uninteresting person to watch for me.

We certainly seem to have awoken to a different world this time around.  Shin and Touma don’t seem to work at the café, Waka has an entirely different personality – to say the least – and Heroine and Shin have been dating for three months.  There are other obvious differences, starting with the absence of Orion this time around – was this why he warned her not to go to the hospital?  The one person who seems to have a notion that time isn’t behaving normally is Ukyou – who was presumably the photographer who mysteriously joined the main cast at the mountain villa.  What his connection to Heroine’s lost memories is certainly isn’t clear (given his “this time” remark it’s clear he has one) but he seems to have a split personality or else have an evil twin, since sometimes when we see him he looked like a lunatic and sometimes as docile as a lamb.  And I don’t think Shin’s comment about the news saying experts were “worried” about the strange weather is coincidental, though it could certainly be a misdirection.

All of that is interesting enough in an abstract way, and I continue to enjoy the backgrounds and cinematography a lot.  But right now I’m having a hard time finding anything to really grab onto here, beyond a mild intellectual engagement with the mystery.  Heroine isn’t going to offer much for a while, it’s likely, and the males in the cast are so over-the-top fabulous that it’s impossible to forget for a second what the source material for this series is.  Orion seems to be poised to make a return and perhaps that will help, as he seemed to be the one character that didn’t fit in with the very distinct sensibility of the rest of the cast, but I’m going to need more if I’m to stick with this beyond another episode or so.

Tamako Market – 03
[Mazui]_Tamako_Market_-_03_[4CD0E3A9].mkv_snapshot_00.18_[2013.01.24_20.38.20] [Mazui]_Tamako_Market_-_03_[4CD0E3A9].mkv_snapshot_01.18_[2013.01.24_20.39.28] [Mazui]_Tamako_Market_-_03_[4CD0E3A9].mkv_snapshot_03.35_[2013.01.24_20.40.48]
[Mazui]_Tamako_Market_-_03_[4CD0E3A9].mkv_snapshot_05.19_[2013.01.24_20.42.28] [Mazui]_Tamako_Market_-_03_[4CD0E3A9].mkv_snapshot_05.31_[2013.01.24_20.42.40] [Mazui]_Tamako_Market_-_03_[4CD0E3A9].mkv_snapshot_05.48_[2013.01.24_20.42.59]
[Mazui]_Tamako_Market_-_03_[4CD0E3A9].mkv_snapshot_06.53_[2013.01.24_20.44.05] [Mazui]_Tamako_Market_-_03_[4CD0E3A9].mkv_snapshot_08.35_[2013.01.24_20.45.50] [Mazui]_Tamako_Market_-_03_[4CD0E3A9].mkv_snapshot_08.48_[2013.01.24_20.46.03]
[Mazui]_Tamako_Market_-_03_[4CD0E3A9].mkv_snapshot_10.53_[2013.01.24_20.53.33] [Mazui]_Tamako_Market_-_03_[4CD0E3A9].mkv_snapshot_15.22_[2013.01.24_20.58.09] [Mazui]_Tamako_Market_-_03_[4CD0E3A9].mkv_snapshot_20.55_[2013.01.24_21.04.24]

This is another series that’s still in the grey area for me.  The hard truth is, I’ve liked each episode less than the one before it – and that isn’t a good trend.  I’m not finding Tamako Market insufferable, which was probably my worst fear, but frankly I thought this episode was profoundly boring.

Building the third episode around a character we haven’t met yet – painfully shy badminton (how ironic that TamaKet should remind me less of Tari Tari than ever on the week it introduces a badminton player) player Asagiri Shiori (Yamashita Yurie) is certainly an interesting choice.  I suppose it’s too early to say Shiori isn’t an interesting character but her storyline this week certainly wasn’t very interesting.  “Much ado about nothing” about covers it – the entire ep was pretty much the flat-lining Shiori trying to work up the nerve to thank Tamako for inviting her over for dinner and taking her to the sento.  There’s also more for Dera to do this week than last, as he’s Shiori’s entre into Tamako’s world and he’s got a crush on her (sadly for him, he’s not the sort of birdy she’s into), but the material he’s given to work with is nowhere near as funny as it was in the premiere.

It’s too early to say definitively, but the early returns suggest that KyoAni is playing it very safe with this one – going after their core audience with their most tried-and-tested formula, and least ambitious director.  For me there’s only so far I can go with smiling townsfolk falling all over themselves to pamper the Kitashirakawa girls for being so cute and the very soft-edged eccentricities of her adorable school chums.  I don’t think Dera is enough to carry Tamako Market and I don’t think he’s going to be asked to in any case, so it really comes down to whether the show offers any compelling reason to continue watching.  So far it lacks the intelligence and staggering beauty of Hyouka or the manic energy and solid raison d’etre of Chuunibyou – it just kind of sits there and begs you to love it.  Many undoubtedly will, and I’ll give it another chance or two to win me over – though given as next week looks like it’s going to focus on the moemoe imouto, I’m not exactly getting my hopes up.


16 comments:

  1. I'm with you Enzo. Amnesia is just not holding my interest. Its like they are more focused on the character designs and style then substance (plot).

    The main heroine is annoying as hell too. If it does not start getting better soon I am gonna have to drop it.

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  2. I completely agree with the statement for Tamako Market.

    "- it just kind of sits there and begs you to love it."

    I'm on the edge with it but I dropped AMNESIA fairly quick. AMNESIA is pretty easy to see that either the content is holding back or the focus is just on how great these guys are. Aaaaaaand I'm not excited for either at this point.

    Hopefully Tamako Market can make some grounds on the interesting scale. At least the main male character (Mochizou) is likable.

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    1. I expect the only place Mochizou is going to get any face time is on the side of a milk carton.

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    2. I know -_- poor Mochizou.

      Have you seen "Ishida to Asakura"? That might be something to add to your weekly digest. The humor is a bit crude at times but the humor is mad funny. It is a 3 minute series but is a good one to make a chuckle.

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    3. Haven't caught up with it yet - I might marathon 5 or 6 eps when I have time.

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  3. My sentiments are the same for both.

    Amnesia is kind of interesting but often mundane and boring as the plot, which I think is the main draw for me as I have no interest in bishies, is only being ekked out each episode. The slow pace is not keeping me on the tetherhooks but making me less immersed in the story. My favourite mysteries are those that present the mystery right at the start and provide clues to solving it each episode but not enough to actually solve it completely, like Another. Amnesia's mystery is not very unique and the build up is too slow for me to get immersed in it.

    A theory I have for it is that it follows a masked omnibus presentation, wherein each arc Heroine's mermory is reset to zero and it turns out she was dating or on the verge of doing so with a different bishie. At the end a parrallel world theory or equivalent is presented and she chooses the bishie she wants to be with. This sounds great for an otome game structure and I suspect that or something similar will be done by Brain Base.

    I'll probably take two more episodes, but without further improvement I don't think I'll continue.

    As for Tamako, I agree each episode becomes more and more boring.and annoying. Having seen a season and a half of K-ON (I was less cinical then) I am on the verge of picking an equivalent for main every character in Tamako and connecting it with one in K-ON, save Dera. I don't mind moe or cute girls doing cute things if its funny. I like Lucky Star because it often made me laugh, dumb fun but fun nonetheless. Neither K-ON nor Tamako after its premiere have done that.

    One more episode like this (judging by the preview I should just drop it now) and I won't take it anymore. I hope it sells because thats the only reason I presume it was ever incarnated.

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    1. Gotta disagree on K-ON. I loved that series. It was fun to watch and had quite a few things to laugh about. To me K-ON is the pinacle of moe slice of life comedy anime series. A Channel was pretty good too in the same vein and I think they actually had more music then K-ON.

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  4. I've dropped Amnesia, mainly because the heroine is just so incredibly vacuous and dreary to watch. I guess that in the original source material that's the whole point as the player's actions form the character's persona, but without that interaction it's just dreary.

    I like Tamako Market. It's cosy fluff, pure and simple, like having a big mug of hot cocoa with some marshmallows in it just before bedtime. I don't even mind Dera, who's just some big fat McGuffin. If the whole 'finding a bride' thing pays off, I kind of suspect it'll be 'become a prince's bride in a tropical wonderland OR stay at the market' choice, and obviously 'stay at the market' will be the choice.

    I'd prefer it to stay out of the school setting and have stories concentrating on some of the other people in the market, the adult characters. Maybe less Tamako and more Market.

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  5. No comment on Amnesia, since I don't watch it, but I'm sharing your opinion and skepticism on Tamako Market. Needs more bird, less people.

    Seriously, almost every scene without Dera Mochimazui was a plain drag. Well, the few with the other shopkeepers were alright I suppose, but that's about it. Personally, the main problem for me is the main, Tamako. She's just too typical, and kind of reminds me of that (lead?) girl from N-Kon that was so annoying I dropped it after 2 or 3 eps, the one that couldn't play but still somehow violated a Gibson Les Paul. Both her and Tamako are just too typical, too bland, too squeeky, too embryo-faced.

    The supporting schoolgirls aren't that much better either. The scenes involving the lesbo last week and the cafe scene with the badmingirl this week were both reeked of that antiseptic smell you find in hospitals. You could at least take Dera to the cafe with you, I don't give a rat's arse about your sugary 'feelings' for each other, just bring the friggin bird!!

    Testament to Dera, I say, since I seem to watch it just for him.

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  6. This was my favorite episode of Tamako Market of the 3. This one felt like they took the foot off the gas pedal, and let it coast a while, not from a not-trying standpoint, but from a "here is a good place, let's stay here for a while" standpoint. The first two episodes didn't really feel 'rushed', but they felt like the show was always concentrating on the *next* thing, like it was checking scenes off on the list "Got that one done, next!"

    This episode felt like it savored the interactions a bit more, like Tamako slowed down to meet the pace Shiori needed for friendship. And to me that made it feel a lot more comfortable, a lot more inviting, and a lot more enjoyable.

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    1. I agree I actually liked this episode the best so far too. Not saying there wasn't any pandering in this episode but then I could relate to the Shiori character as well so it wasn't just fan pandering to me.

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    2. I like this metaphor of this ep. having let things coast a bit, to its credit.

      I understand Enzo's sense that Tamako Market just seems *boring*, but I very much like the sense of idealized community you get in the show. It's like seeing the world where I'd want my daughter to grow up; I know no world can really be like it, but at this point in my life, I'd much rather see this kind of fantasy world than a mecha action show. Or as Antony puts it, it's a nice big cup of hot cocoa. Good, clean fun.

      Don't get me wrong; anime is at its best when it has the sort of emotional depth one sees in Hyouka (and have not yet seen in Tamako Market), but for me, a lot of anime attempts at emotional depth and serious themes collapse under the weight of poor execution. And there is a value to seeing a world where people answer the better angels of their nature. The bird adds some comic and harmless egotism, the romantic plots focus on poignant wistfulness, and Tamako is sweet and good natured, but also ordinary enough to be not unbelievable.

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  7. I got the feeling that Tamako Market isn't necessarily KyoAni pandering to the fans, but rather doing what they think is most fun for themselves.

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  8. Well damn, I guess that I am the only person here who doesn't mind a post-traumatic amnesiac acting thoroughly confused instead of slapping a genki personality onto Heroine (that would be just as generic as her name, though). I, admittedly, threw Hiiro no Kakera under the bus for its reliance on repulsive otome conventions, but I'm willing to see this one through if the mystery/atmosphere delivers. Can't say that there's anything better on Monday through Wednesday (US time zones) other than Tamako Market's formulaic pleasant romp anime.

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  9. I guess they are both well animated?.....lol. Anyways, Amnesia just falls flat for me, while Tamako looks like another KyoAni show that I'm dropping. TBH, the only show I liked from KyoAni is Hyouka, which I think stands out from the usual offering, but damn...they really can't get themselves out of the moe hole.

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