Tamako Market Review

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You can easily call me a fan of Kyoto Animation’s work.  Their character art and animation is always the best and rivals that of even Ghibli Studios in some aspects.  So when I came across Tamako Market, I truly did wonder why I hadn’t watched it yet.  Make no mistake, I’m pleased that I did.  However there are certain aspects of it that do manage to keep it from being a gem in my book.

Story
tamako9Tamako Market centers around a girl named Tamako that lives in a mochi shop in the middle of a small market street.  Its citizens are lively and always welcoming to any person that walks its grounds.  Tamako is a young spirited girl who manages to bring a smile to most people’s faces while struggling to help her friends.  Being that she was raised in the market street where she lives, it would be no stretch to call each and every shop owner family in her book.

One day Tamako stumbles upon a bird taking a nap within a bouquet of flowers, it lunges at her causing her to sneeze.  It’s at this point that the bird claims that she is trying to court her due to traditions from his homeland.  Apparently sneezing at someone is a sign of affection.  That aside, the bird can indeed talk and it immediately latches on to Tamako.  Back at home Dera, the talking bird, explains that he’s on a trip across many countries looking for the bride of his prince back home.  After enjoying some mochi, he seems to get attached to Tamako and her family very quickly.

After a very quick introduction, the characters quickly become the center point of Tamako Market.  While the underlining story is indeed Dera’s presence and his goal to find the fated bride for his prince, it quickly takes a back seat to Tamako and the colorful cast of characters.  Similarly to Director Naoko Yamada’s previous work, it follows the same vein as shows like K-On where the story doesn’t involve depth but rather the characters drive the narrative.

That said, the characters in this show are great.  Tamako is lively and lovable.  Her sister Anko is cute but cold at times.  Her friends involve a cherishing childhood friend, a silly and random carpenter fanatic, and a girl who struggles with meeting people.  Then there’s the lively and colorful cast of store owners that are full of heart and their own personalities.

tamako6Each of these characters create a welcoming atmosphere while also creating moments of pure entertainment.  I found myself smiling and chuckling through almost every moment of the show.  The chemistry especially provided by the inclusion of Dera (the bird) makes for some laugh out loud moments that I thoroughly enjoyed.  The humor doesn’t try too hard, nor does it focus on it.  It just happens.  Which makes for great humor in my book in that it catches you off guard and you’re unable to predict it.

The only point in which Tamako Market falls short is in providing anything besides moment to moment entertainment and laughs.  Granted a show can definitely excel in that and only that while being successful.  K-On is proof of that in as it delivered laughs, cute characters, and moment to moment entertainment.  Which Tamako Market definitely does as well.  However it’s outside of that realm that I felt empty.  It’s that there’s nothing memorable that stays with you after watching it.

I believe this is partly due to its lack of delivering on certain elements.  For example, it becomes obvious from the beginning that Tamako is without a mother.  At multiple points in the show it attempts to address the loss, however it’s quickly shut down by a quick gag or an abrupt interruption.  I began to long for a character to burst in tears but instead I found it falling short every single time.  It’s almost as if the writer and director wanted emotion of this sort to not exist in the show.  It’s never addressed, and when it seems as if they would, they throw in comedy or quick cheer-ups.  Which is surprising seeing as the Director worked on Air TV.

Animation
tamako2This goes without saying, but Kyoto Animation hasn’t lost their touch at all.  Their character design is definitely my favorite of any studio around.  Featuring colorful and absolutely adorable characters that I quickly fall in love with.  It even goes down to the added element of imperfection that makes the characters feel warm and relatable.  Things such as loose strands of hair and moles.

It also helps that their animation itself is top-notch.  Making each character move lively and without stiff animations give a sense of love that they truly have for their work.  It’s hard to describe, but it’s those subtle movements and cute gestures that characters make that always hooks me to them.  While there were a few moments of still scenery, it’s always brief and just creates an atmosphere to be involved with.

Conclusion
Tamako Market is definitely a must see for anyone that is a fan of Kyoto Animation’s work.  It’s a familiar feel to shows like K-On that provides a moment to moment entertainment that won’t leave you bored but rather chuckling and smiling.  That said, I’d put Tamako Market on a level above K-On as it managed to put into play more emotion and character connection that K-On failed to put into play.  While it did fail to provide memorable moments and seemed to stray from deep emotion, that didn’t stop it from having my heart warmed and jerking a few tears.

VERDICT: 4 / 5

Pros:

  • Great cast of lovable characters
  • Tons of laughs and entertainment
  • Fantastic animation and character design

Cons:

  • Many emotional moments are cut short
  • Entertaining but not memorable

As of the date for this review, Tamako Market is available from TheAnimeNetwork in North America.

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Co-Founder of OtakuSpirit.com and Co-Host of the OtakuSpirit Animecast. A huge fan of anime since the early 1990s, consuming over 800 shows. While he's late to the collecting scene, he's found a lot of joy in filling his DVD/Blu-ray collection as well as collecting figures. Once a week, he posts unboxing and feature videos on anime goods to YouTube.