Tamako Market – 11

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Word spreads around the district that Tamako is a “princess”, but she’s more excited about winning a medal for filling 100 order cards throughout the years. Her dad is sour about the entire idea, and Mochizou isn’t altogether ecstatic either, especially, when Tamako gets to chat briefly with the prince via Dera. After Mochizou tells her if she’s happy, he’s happy, and Anko sleeps with her, Tamako wakes up to find the medal gone. In the street, it is handed to her by none other than the prince.

As one of the shopkeepers says to her dejected dad, Tamako is very good around the house and with the mochi shop. But that doesn’t mean that everything’s going to stay the same forever. Even if she herself doesn’t want to leave yet, one day she may. No one, not even Choi, knows exactly what the future holds. We certainly don’t, after an episode that’s all about how everyone reacts to the biggest change yet: Tamako moving away to marry some weird prince. And to be fair, no one – not her dad, Anko, Midori, Kanna, Shiori, or Mochizou, saw that coming.

Of course, a lot of smaller changes have already taken place in the course of the series: When Dera arrived, that was certainly change; but it didn’t really shake anything up, because he was the one sticking around, in a new life. For everyone else, it was the same old life. In fact, now that he’s a fixture of the household. But Tamako leaving? That’s a change that scares everyone close to her, and her most of all, especially because she doesn’t know exactly how she feels or should feel about this, and no one has satisfactory answers, because it’s her life.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Tamako Market – 10

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RABUJOI apologies for the delay of this review.

The Usagiyama High Cultural Festival approches, and the Baton Club gets a primo spot in the schedule, when they’re assured the largest audience. Captain Midori designs the uniforms and volunteers to come up with the choreography. However, she can’t think of anything, and hides her creative block from the others. When she misses a day of school with a fever, Tamako, Kanna, and Shiori visit her, and she admits she has nothing. They decide to come up with choreography as a team, and perform splendidly. When the festival concludes, Choi, having noticed a mark on Tamako’s neck, declares her the Prince’s Bride.

Virtually every school-themed slice-of-life series is going to have a Festival episode or two that gives the characters defined goals and challenges them to rise to the occasion and meet them, and Tamako Market is no different. What’s admirable about the series is that the core characters are in a club (the baton club), but it hasn’t been a particularly integral part of the series. The show hasn’t lived and died by their…er...batoning; which is nice, because far too often it seems like series are dominated by club activities. And far more important than the actual performance (which was pretty good), was how the Baton Club arrived there.

Midori, the Fearless Leader, turns out to have quite a bit of fear after all. She cannot come up with choreography she promised, but maintains a  false facade of control and confidence as long as she possibly can. Ultimately breaks down when presented with all of the evidence she’s failing. She’s afraid of looking bad, even for a moment, but her team don’t want her to cry or hold anything in. There’s no shame in asking for help, or crying, for that matter. This episode is a feast for the eyes, with a plethora of nice little gestures, close-ups, hair-falling, leg-twisting, and eye-glazing. The characters really feel alive. We also liked the generous use of jump-cutting. Very, very nicely directed and animated.


Rating: 8 (Great)

P.S. Choi finally confronts Tamako with her belief she’s the one who must marry her Prince. Whether this goes anywhere at all, we’ll have to see.

Tamako Market – 09

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October 10th is Mochi day, and also Mochizou’s birthday, but he’s afraid Tamako forgot it. Anko is upset about something, and he learns that her friend Yuzuki is moving away on the 10th. On that day, Tamako sends An to his house to deliver fresh mochi, and give him a proper goodbye. Tamako catches her dad Dai singing the song she’s had stuck in her head; it turns out to be a love song he wrote for their mother, to convince her to go out with him. Before calling it a night, Tamako surprises Mochizou with birthday mochi.

This was a lovely, moving episode, with the overarching theme of “everybody loves somebody.” Anko is in love with her friend Yuzuki; Mochizou is in love with Tamako; Dera is in love with whatever maiden sneezes on him; and Tamako’s dad is still in love with his dearly departed wife. This has always a show not of big revelations, but of slow, quiet, incremental change. But things are definitely changing, especially after the events of this week.

Take Tamako’s dad: he was able to open up and allow the secret of his songwriting to come to the surface, showing Tamako a whole side of him she (and we) never knew or suspected; we just thought he was a traditionalist stick-in-the-mud, but he’s a true romantic who didn’t let a couple awkward encounters with his future wife discourage him. Mochizou could definitely learn a thing or two from him, and while his progress with Tamako remains slow, in the end his birthday wasn’t forgotten. We just hope Tamako remembered, and didn’t have to be reminded by An!


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Tamako Market – 05

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Summer arrives, and Mochizou grows so troubled by his lack of progress with Tamako, he enlists the aid of Dera, whom he takes along to a class trip to the beach. Midori finds out what he’s planning and tries to stop him, warning him she’ll protect her. The next day, while swimming, Midori learns from Tamako what she and Mochizou are to her, and she softens her stance on Mochizou.

Tamako’s utter cluelessness with regards to romance and Mochizou’s complete lack of guts and initiative conspire to form a perfect storm of uselessness. In fact, the futility he senses due to Tamako’s denseness fuels his inaction in a vicious cycle. Tamako boils their relationship down to a couple of labels: “childhood friend” and “mochi-making buddy”, which, while technically true, are not the whole story. The trouble is, she may never hear that story; she’s just not emotionally available enough.

Meanwhile, Midori gets super-defensive when she learns Mochizou is trying to court Tamako. They quarrel, leading the ever-perceptive Dera to conclude they both love “the Musume”. Tamako tells Midori “I love you”, but Midori knows Tamako’s feelings for her aren’t anything like the ones she’s feeling for Tamako. Though Midori sorta makes up with Mochizou, their rivalry for Tamako’s heart should continue – even if neither of them has a chance against her thick skull.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

P.S. The comic relief was ably handled by Dera, who was chased by a cat, a gull, and a dog, all while looking out to (a very beautiful) sea and thinking of his prince.

Tamako Market – 02

Valentines Day is near, and at the shopping district meeting, Tamako (with Mochizou backing her up) suggests the district do a Valentines theme. Her father refuses to participate. Mochizou films a shopping district commercial with Tamako and Rika dressed as bunnies. Midori is preoccupied, and has coffee with Mochimazzi, who notices she has a “burdened heart”. In the end, Tamako’s dad makes “Lovey-dovey Heart Mochi” for the occasion. On Valentines Day, Tamako gives chocolate to her dad, Rikka builds a giant chocolate house, and Midori gets chocolate from a guy.

Everyone has a feeling they can’t give a name to…and it makes all of us hurt inside.

This whole episode had a lovely flow to it, bouncing from one little storyline to another while holding everything together under the theme of love; specifically, that quote above by the hippie record store guy. In most cases, that feeling is give the name “love”, but love is at once specific and vague, a catch-all term that isn’t always the most useful way to express feelings. Were that it were simpler for some of the denizens of Bunny Mountain; if simply sneezing on a potential mate indicated your desire to…mate. Mochimazzi still confuses girls’ sneezes thus. We don’t begrudge the bird sticking around this place; it’s so…lively.

It’s a tight-knit, warm, loving community. Sure, Tamako’s dad can be a grouch sometimes, and he and Mochizou’s dad are always near blows, but their rivalry is one of the hundreds of little threads that make up the tapestry of life in the shopping district. In the heart of it all we have Tamako, who takes her Valentines idea and realizes it, despite talking about romance as a kind of far-off thing in the future (and outwardly oblivious of Mochizou’s feelings). From Tamako and Mochizou flubbing their presentation at the meeting (and the chairperson catching their stage fright), to when Rikka is just killing time playing with Tamako’s hair, everyone is who they are, and the modern world is what it is.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)