Tari Tari – 13 (Fin)

The choir club defies the school board chairman with the support of the principal and vice principal, and hold their White Festival in the school’s central courtyard as the rainclouds part. Afterwords, Sawa announces she’s going abroad to train to be a jockey. The others graduate and send her a video, then set to work pursuing their various goals.

So in the end, the club gets its way, with the bad guy merely stepping aside and allowing the White Festival shortly after being assaulted by Principal Ikezaki and having his pants pulled down in front of five minors. For someone who has a chaffeur and designated umbrella holder, he sure gives in easily, but we suppose with the growing audience to the confrontation, he wanted to avoid bad PR. So, the club got to sing the song Wakana and her mom wrote. And while we don’t want to pooh-pooh one of the focal points of the series, we have to point out that if you’re going to make that focal point a song, it had better be a good one. So to be painfully honest, we found the song, and the dramatic performance, a bit cloying. It just didn’t do it for us.

We were always more interested in the characters, not in their songs, but everyone other than Wakana is given a bit of a short shrift. Konatsu remains unsure of what she wants to do, so she goes to college. Sawa rides horses abroad. Taichi plays badminton, and misses Sawa, whom he never asked out. Wien…goes back to Austria and meets his pen pal. All of these are kernals and jumping-off points for potentially interesting stories, but the series had no more time to delve into them. A serviceable end to a pleasant-enough series that never quite got there with the characters – something Kokoro Connect has thus far excelled at.

Rating: 6 (Good)

Tari Tari – 07

Wakana officially joins the Choir & Badminton Club, which begins brainstorming for the upcoming White Festival. Meanwhile, tensions intensify between Sawa and her father over her intention to pursue a career as a jockey. She isn’t eating and is out of sorts. Konatsu learns that the Vice Principal will have control of who is on the main gym stage for the festival. While auditioning for mounted archery, a fatigued Sawa falls from her horse.

This week was about everyone juggling their participation in the club with all the necessary requisites towards building a future for themselves, or not. Wien and Wakana (and probably Konatsu too) have no idea what they want to do yet, and while Sawa and Taichi walk confidently on specific paths, that they’ll lead to success is no sure thing. We also liked the stark contrast between Wakana’s relationship to her father and Sawa’s toward hers – which brings us to this week’s focus: after significant Wakana development, the series shifts to Okita Sawa, the least fleshed-out of the three female characters.

For someone raised on temple grounds, she’s a pretty normal modern teenage daughter. Her heart is set on something, her father disapproves, and she hates him for it. Opening her mail doesn’t help matters for Pops, while Mom tries to stay above the fray. To his credit, Dad tries to be fair and offers numerous practical alternatives, but the one thing neither will negotiate on is her making a living on horseback. And then there’s Chekhov’s Horse: we’ve waiting for her to fall off that damn thing for seven episodes now, and it finally happens. What. A Surprise.

Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Car Cameos: The Mazda MPV (we think) and the previously-seen first-gen Honda Stepwgn and Nissan March are among the vehicles that occupy the background.

Tari Tari – 01

This episode introduces five high school students with disperate talents all working hard at something: Wakana is still getting acclimated to the school, while Wien has just returned after twleve years in Austria. Taichi is the sole member of the badminton club, Sawa rides horses and practices archery, and Konatsu, who is passionate about singing, quits the choir when she’s not allowed to sing and starts her own choir club, hoping to recruit Sawa, Wakana, and others. The quintet all meet by chance in a park where Konatsu is singing.

There’s something familiar about the look and setting of Tari Tari, and we don’t mean that in a negative way. Namely, they remind us of Hanasaku Iroha; unsurprising, as both are from P.A. Works and are high schooler slice-of-life-centered. Indeed, this could very well be the nearest town, or even the same school Ohana & Co. attend, only focusing on a fresh batch of characters. We liked the way we were gradually eased into this world, with everyone in the middle of something, and we also liked the wide variety of activities they’re involved in.

Like Hanasaku Iroha, there’s definitely nothing to complain about, production values-wise; the town is gorgeous and the character designs are smooth and inoffensive without being too generic (though we had a little trouble sorting out Wakana and Sawa, as they look very similar at first glance). We definitely connected with Konatsu’s frustration with being unable to sing in the choir (her instructor has a major stick up her ass), and were amused by newcomer Wien’s culture shock and over-formal behavior. It looks like a good group so far, and this series definitely has potential.

Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Car Cameos: A BMW 1-Series coupe and Volvo 240 wagon are visible on the road beside the train tracks. Wien arrives at school in a very unusual way (for Japanese, anyway) – by car; a Honda Euro Accord/Acura TSX, to be precise. Wakana’s pregnant teacher drives a first-gen Daihatsu Move.