When anime is brought up, the majority that are thought of, are of a violent nature. They’re about teens fighting to save the world or their friends, however this is far from all that anime is about.
Plenty of titles revolve around interesting characters living their lives, dealing with real world issues.
Today’s title, falls in the latter category.
Tamako Market is an anime series directed Naoko Yamada, written by Reiko Yoshida and produced by Kyoto Animation.
The show revolves around Tamako Kitashirakawa, a high school girl whose family owns a mochi shop in her towns shopping district.
One day while Tamako is out, she runs into a talking bird named Dera Mochimazzwi. The bird takes a liking to our main character and starts wooing her asking her to be a bride.
After having the normal reaction to chatting about your love life with a talking animal, that being running away in the other direction screaming, the two soon become friends and the bird soon starts living with Tamako and her family; younger sister Anko, grandfather Fuku and her father and story owner Mamedai.
Tamako and her new bird friend soon start interacting with the other people who work in the shopping district.
Unlike Tamaki, the rest of the story owners; Tamako’s childhood friend Mochizo, his father and owner of rival mochi shop Gohei, local florist Kaoru, bathhouse owner Choji and wise record store/coffee shop owner Kunio simply brush off the talking bird and continue their daily lives.
However, Dera has a job. The talking bird is traveling around the world looking for a bride for his prince.
Despite his quest for a princess the majority of Tamako Market is spent dealing with random nonsense. Despite this, there are a number of themes that carry over during the show’s 12 episode run.
The main two being Dera’s aforementioned search for a princess and Tamako’s remembered melody.
The melody is soon revealed over time to be one of the strong memories that Tamako has of her mother, whom died before the beginning of the series.
While the majority of the episodes don’t deal with these plot points directly, they’re all brought up during the course of the show so there still in the audience’s mind.
Much like past Naoka Yamada series K-On!, Tamako Market is a light adventure, with the majority of the episodes dealing with a new topic from one episode to the next, much like a sitcom. These can range from stores preparing for Valentines Day, Anko’s school friend moving away or the main character’s trying to make Dera lose weight.
The show also features, as you’d expect, some beautiful animation. While the show is less busy than Beyond the Boundary the show still manages to fill each frame with solid animation.
However, unlike K-On! each character has their own design and style that make them stand out from one another. These range from basic things like the characters size and stature to things that characters have in their hair (I.E. one character keeps a bird in his hair…his hair must stink).
It also helps that the majority of the characters also have their own stores. While they’re not always seen at their storefronts the audience quickly starts putting faces to stores.
Adding to the lighthearted nature of the show is its soundtrack.
Again like the K-On! series the themes are sung by the main character (or in this case voice actor Aya Suzaki). This time the songs give us an insight into her personality of Tamako and her love of the district and the stores that fill it.
The show’s opening “Dramatic Market Ride,” shows off the show’s plucky attitude and setting with the main characters marching across dreamscapes and stores fronts. The whole magic motif doesn’t really appear in the show though.
The closing theme “Neguse” is different, with the song featuring more electronic instrumentation and reflects the more personal side of the character. Additionally the visuals seem to fall more in line with the titles sequences of K-On! with lots of tight editing and thematic insert shots.
The most import musical element of the show comes from Tamoko’s remembered melody.
While the reveal would become the focus of an episode of the show, the song itself is a cute little love song meant to be played by a garage band in the late 80s or early 90s. (Here’s the link)
Tamako Market seems to capture much of what makes so many of the other Kyoto Animation titles great.
The story is light hearted and the animation is great, however when you go past that the show ends up in hot water…or whatever you cook mochi in (I love ramen and sushi, never had mochi).
One of the things TM is lacking in are strong characters. Aside from Tamako, her family, Dera and Mochizo the rest of the characters are forgettable.
While the other storeowners and Tamako’s classmates don’t get a lot of screen time, there’s little shown to make then more interesting past their obvious character traits.
For example, Kanna is one of Tamako’s friends and is the daughter of a carpenter. This translates to Kanna constantly being enamoured by shapes, building and measurements. Aside from that she’s void of development.
Strong setting and lighthearted adventures are fine however, most of the players in the events we’re watching are so uninteresting that it makes it frustrating when the plot tries to focus on them in later episodes.
Additionally, the show’s final episode “arc” or theme isn’t as strong as the unrelated events that happen during the other 9 episodes.
Anime seems to be one of those art forms where the story can take a backseat to the characters, however Tamako Market has a hard time doing that due to the paper-thin characters that sell toy, tofu and flowers in the small town market.
Despite this, it would be difficult not to enjoy the majority of the show. The adventures are fun and the animation and character designs are charming and it’ll capture the attention of many otaku.
Whether it’s the simple love triangle between Tamako and her friends or the adventures of a fat talking bird, the show has so much adorableness to spare that makes it a solid watch to say the least.
Tamako Market was produced by Kyoto Animation. The available for streaming on the Anime Network/Anime On Demand (in UK) and is licensed Sentai Filmworks. A sequel film called Tamako Love Story is planned for later in the year.