The day before New Year’s Eve, the girls set up their second annual “We” Exhibition. They fall behind, but finish strong with help from Shimokamiyama, Dougou, and Yakusa. Kanae is sad about the fact that come next year she’ll have to focus on exams, and that she’ll have to leave the photography club. The next day, a large crowd awaits when the doors are open, and the exhibition is a resounding success. After ringing in the new year, Sayomi picks everyone up before dawn to see the sunrise by the seaside, where everyone yells out their hopes for the new year.
There were times during this episode when we were worried that Kanae was going to disappear in a wisp of vapor on the stroke of midnight, so apprehensive she was of the coming new year. Part of us wanted to jump into the tv screen, give her a shake and say “Honey…everything will be fine!” She’ll always remember the past year as the year she broke out of her shell, inspired and supported by Fuu and her friends. As Maestro says, Kanae and Fuu shaped each other in that year, and they also enriched each other’s love for photography, and life in general. We like how their year is documented in photos and exhibited in chronological order, so that anyone who cares to can see the progression of their friendship along with their growth as photographers.
When the bells chimed midnight, the new year began, Kanae was still there in one piece, albeit having closed the lens cap on her camera. The series pulls out all the stops for the tearful, heartwarming final scenes that take stock of the past year and all it meant to everyone. We especially liked the sweet “parent meeting” in which Potte’s mom and grandma and Maon’s folks marvel at how far their kids have come since deciding to move to Takehara. Sayomi shows up to make sure the girls don’t miss the first dawn. Kanae makes sure to savor her last moments with Potte as her president: when the sun rises, she’s aggressive and pulls her in for a big ol’ hug, thanking her for a wonderful year. Potte tears up and reciprocates, which makes everyone else tear up…including us. A bit.
Rating: 8 (Great)
After sorting through their photos for the coming exhibition, Kanae suggests Potte and the group go on a photography tour. Maon suggests her home island of Oosakishimo, where her parents run an inn, and Kaoru suggests they all use the trip to get inspired for a second We Exhibition down the road. While on the trip, Kanae worries about not having a direction after graduation or a turning point to tell her which way to go and when, but after interacting with the girls and talking with Maon’s folks, she realizes her turning point was joining the photography club, and that she, like everyone else, will “cast off” to their future when the tides are right.
This week the upperclassman Kanae was the focus, as for the majority of the episode she is consumed with feelings of nostalgia and of remaining static and empty as everyone else whisks past her into the future. Of course, she’s worrying needlessly; she’s far too young to be worried about such things, but this is Kanae we’re talking about, who’s no stranger to overthinking things into oblivion. As fate would have it, the very name of the island she and the others visit to get their creative juices flowing provides her with the metaphor she’s wrestling with. She’s worried that the tide will never come for her, but it will; just not necessarily the same time as the others.
Each of the girls is into a craft that locks the past in a form we’ll always be able to sense, whether it’s Norie’s tastes, Kaoru’s smells, Maon’s sounds or Potte and Kanae’s pictures. But those things are only echos of a past we can’t go back to, and we can choose to regard them with fondness or remorse – or heck, both at the same time. Kanae was considering not graduating because it’s easier, safer, and less scary to rewind one’s life, and jump back into those pictures. But she knows that’s not the right way to go. Her tide will come, and the seas may not be calm, but as sure as the sun rises, they’ll take her where she needs to go.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
As the town prepares bamboo lanterns for the annual Walk of Longing, a high school friend of Potte’s father, Natsume Nozomu, pays a long put-off visit. He doesn’t mince words while criticizing Potte’s work. When she and Kanae bump into Shihomi while snapping pictures, she tells them she’s also endured her share of criticism, and encourages her to keep cultivating her love for photography. Potte, Kanae and the others have okonomiyaki at Hoboro’s with Nozomu. Later he tells Potte a little about what her dad was like in high school, and is glad he visited, and lets her take a parting photo of him.
This week is an interesting new exercise in subjecting Potte to perhaps the prickliest person she’s had to deal with all season, someone immune to her charms and seems determined to pop her pleasant little bubble, and Kanae’s along with it. He says what some of us may have been thinking all along: all she does is impulsively point and shoot at things, keeping her subjects right in the center, just like her dad. As a guy who has no qualms about dispensing with pleasantries and picking on his dead mate’s daughter, having missed his wedding, her birth, and his funeral. He also stopped taking photos, even though he was the one who inspired her dad in the first place.
So this guy’s just a pompous dick, right? Well, fortunately, the more we see him interact with Takehara and Potte, the more he softens and becomes (slightly) more likable. His other mate Hinomaru knows the sourpuss is just a front. Kanae talks a lot about how Potte’s heart races when taking photos, which leads to the hearts of the people who see them also racing, as if catching a wave. Nozomu admits that while Potte’s dad’s (and her) photos aren’t the most technically adventurous, he admits that they’re all “overflowing with love.” Enough that they, along with a nostalgic taste of okonomiyaki and a wistful tour of the Walk of Longing, touch his heart.
Rating: 8 (Great)
Chihiro visits Takehara for the upcoming fireworks festival, which she and Potte promised to watch in yukatas from their secret base years ago. Chihiro meets Kanae and sees the photography club in action. Riho invites Potte and Kanae to participate in a museum exhibition with her. Potte tentatively agrees, wanting to take pictures specifically for the show. Sayomi takes everyone to a hilltop with a fine view of the fireworks, but everyone leaves Potte and Chihiro alone in the isolated spot, which they liken to a secret base. From there Potte snaps photos of the fireworks using a tripod.
It’s a rare and precious thing to be able to fulfill a deferred but not forgotten dream, even if it was a silly little idea cooked up between you and your childhood friend when you were just little pipsqueaks. But Potte (AKA Fuunyan) and Chihiro share a deep bond of friendship, and both wanted to see that shared dream come true. As it happens, the dream was fulfilled by happenstance: Kaoru’s adventurous sister happened to run into them and lure them into another deathmarch, which led them to the “base” they dreamed of. And it’s a lovely spot.
Potte may only be president of herself and Kanae, a painfully shy upperclassman, but Chihiro is still impressed by her presiding skills, and when she musters up the aggressive enough to accept Riho’s offer. We wouldn’t be surprised if the entire season runs by without another person joining the photography club, but that exhibition could be a very big deal for both Potte and Kanae. The show is a goal that could inspire them to create their best work yet, will give them exposure in that world, and boost their confidence. With old dreams fulfilled, it’s time to fulfill new ones.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
Sayomi, Kaoru, Norie, Maon and Potte take a road trip to Shioiri in Yokozuka, where Potte grew up. They meet up with her childhood friend Miyoshi Chihiro, who introduces them to her friend Tomo. They tour the city along the way to a festival to watch fireworks. Potte enters a sparkler contest, and remembers doing the same thing when she was younger as her dad watched. Just like then, she reaches the quarterfinals. When the fireworks start, she snaps a picture of her friends admiring them, starting a new page in her book of Shioiri memories.
An overarching theme of Tamayura’s OVAs and two TV series has been Potte’s healing process after the loss of someone irreplaceable in her life, both through photography and through making and having fun with her friends. This week, that process finally takes her back to the place where everything began; Shioiri. Getting there is no mean feat: roughly 500 miles and over nine hours of driving with Sayomi at the wheel of her recently-repaired Mazda Premacy (Kanae can’t come because let’s face it, that would be way too many characters in one place). Such a trek would’ve been an adventure in and of itself, but in a bold but ultimately logical move, Potte and the others sleep through most of it. For once, this was about the destination, not the journey.
Once they reach Yokozuka and Shioiri (and Sayomi nearly runs poor Chihiro over and drives into a wall), there’s this nice sense, that Potte has come home, and that it is indeed quite possible to have more than one home (she’s young, so she’s just realizing this). Then there’s Chihiro’s friend Tomo who everyone’s been waiting to meet. She’s terribly shy and quiet at first, but it doesn’t take long for Potte to trigger her obsessive “interrogation mode” (Touyama Nao is up to the task of expressing Tomo’s bubbly exuberance). Tomo and Chihiro owe their friendship to Potte & Co, who encouraged Chihiro last season, so this episode was a nice follow-up to that, as well as another link in Potte’s chain of healing.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
Fuu’s photographer friend Shihomi Riho introduces her to her father’s kohai, Kawai Harumi, who worked with him (and still works) as a travel planner. She takes Fuu and Riho on a Seto Inland “Where The Wind Takes You” tour, where she revisits places she’d been to with Fuu’s dad, plus some places they never made it to, telling her about her father along the way. They end up at a home of Akio and Yuuko, a couple who took Fuu’s father’s advice to open a simple bed & breakfast.
Potte takes a day off from the two-person photo club (and she and Kanae are fine with it being just them) to go on a grand adventure at the behest of her photog friend, who introduces her to someone else whose life her dad touched and enriched when he was alive; lives she was connected to without even knowing it. Thus the tour isn’t just of some truly beautiful and cozy spots around the Seto Inland Sea, it’s also a tour of a side of her dad she didn’t know, and of those new bonds. It’s also an opportunity for Harumi to spend time with Fuu, something planned but never happened, due to her senpai’s passing. Harumi seems pleased to see a lot of her senpai in Fuu.
Like her dad, Fuu has “the mindset to enjoy anything and everything.” Fuu is wide-eyed full of questions the whole time. Not every place Harumi takes her was a place her father had been; she’s not just rehashing old times with an old friend, but creating new memories with a new one. We’ll admit to nearly tearing up when Harumi and the B&B couple talked about Fuu and her dad, making this the first episode since the first to elicit that response in us. It was also a particularly gorgeous episode that really made us want to travel, particularly to the Inland Sea region.
Rating: 8 (Great)
Shimokamiyama-sensei informs Potte and Mitani of a sakura photography contest. They agree to enter and set out to snap photos, but all of the cherry trees they encounter have already shed most of their blossoms. They run into Kaoru’s sister Sayomi, who gathers everyone together for a trek up Mt. Asahi, home to a grand 250-year-old cherry tree in full bloom. Potte and Mitani snap up tons of photos, and even though Shimokamiyama got the deadline of the contest wrong, they still had fun.
Potte and Mitani Kanae may lack confidence in their photographic abilities while simultaneously revering one another. Mitani even credits Potte’s presence in her photo for winning the contest for her; she’s always been too nervous to take portraits of anyone, but something about Potte in that time and place affected Mitani so powerfully, she forgot to be shy or worry about failure and just snapped up a damn good picture.
As it turns out, there are many ways of being aggressive; perhaps no one is more aggressive than Sayomi, who wrangles everyone up for another one of her patented “death marches” that always pay off in the end. Not only does everyone end of having fun, but Mitani gets back that feeling she got when she snapped Potte; the ability to stop over-thinking everything, live in the moment, and not be afraid to document it. She’s even able to halt her tendency to delete photos that don’t come out perfectly. Part of being aggressive is not fearing failure and trusting in the world, and Mitani’s on her way.
Rating: 8 (Great)
Potte and Kanae snap pictures all over school and town, but still haven’t decided on what to perform at the Cherry Blossom Festival. Dougou suggests they perform a dance as he plays the guitar, with the photos as a backdrop. They then visit the stage in the middle of the park, which contains one thousand cherry trees, each one planted in honor of someone. Potte and Kou’s mom tells them they have trees too, but they were planted somewhere secret. On the day of the festival Dougou is injured, but Potte and Kanae improvise, singing and dancing to a folk tune, and the crowd responds favorably. After the performance, Kou and Komachi show Potte and the others their trees, which Momoneko helped him locate.
In Bleach, Senbonzakura is the name for Kuchiki Byakuya’s bankai, a devastating cloud composed of millions of tiny petal-like blades. But here, it’s just the name of a cultivation project in Takehara’s public park. (Go figure.) One thousand trees were planted, each in honor of people the planters loved. In the case of Kaoru, Potte, and Kou, they were planted when they were born, and have grown larger and stronger as they did. Those trees are one more discovery that brings Potte closer to her dad, to the point where she even gets to “see through his eyes” by taking a photo of the tree from the same angle he did. The tree changed from photo to photo, but the sky and mountains remained the same.
They’ll be the same long after both Potte and the tree pass away, as well. But until then, Potte wants to return the love her father had for her and the town by making her mark on it as he did, through photography. When her performance hits a snag, President Potte refuses to give up, and she and Kanae put on a show not just to stir up interest in the club, but as thanks for everyone who pitched in with ideas, assistance, and emotional support. They didn’t bring the house down, nor did they perform beyond their abilities, suddenly turning into talented idols. They just hunkered down and did their honest best. We wouldn’t be surprised if they’re rewarded with more prospective members.\
Rating:7 (Very Good)
Potte hands in an application to start a photography club, but is weary of becoming its president, but Kaoru, Norie and Maon encourage her. Komachi shows them a magazine in which a photo of Potte was selected, taken by one Mitane Kanae. At school, Mr. Dougou informs her that her club was approved, and a new teacher, Ms. Shimokamiyama is her adviser. She confirms that Mitane is a third-year at the school and shows Potte to her club room, where Kaoru, Norie, and Maon present her with club-warming gifts. The photo studio owner tells her about the photographer who inspired her dad. Mitane shows up to join Potte’s club.
The new “aggressive” theme of Tamayura continues this week in its characteristically soft and fluffy way, as Potte is nudged by friends (and nudges herself) towards presidency of a photography club, which she is hopeful will help her grow as a photographer and as a person. When she’s confronted with the possibility of a superior photographer at school; someone who was “aggressive” enough to not only enter and win a contest, but do it snapping Potte of all people. How could soft, fluffy Potte possibly compete with that? Well, the answer is, it’s not a competition, and Mitane isn’t necessarily a better photographer, she’s just different.
Like her dad, Potte takes very candid and naturalistic photos that just happen to come out very lovely. But with the steps she takes in this episode, photography is becoming more than just a hobby to connect with and better understand her dad, but a means to discover the person she wants to become. She’s found her passion and she’s going to give it her all, even if the monthly club president meetings are a little scary. They’ll get less scary. When she gets her club and a fresh, empty room, it’s like a blank canvas, full of possibilities. It’s a canvas she never would have seen had she not been “aggressive.”
Rating: 8 (Great)
- Maon was on top of her game this week; first with her stories of captaining an adventure club, helming a fairy, plus her camera-camel thing. She’s an endless font of very random but sweet comedy.
- While it’s clear Komachi wanted Potte to see Mitane’s picture, she also seemed pretty proud of her photo of Potte’s brother Kou, complete with a blurry smear of Norie in the background!
- Shimokamiyama seems to be one of those stereotypical ditzy young teachers. We weren’t that impressed. At least the advisor in Free! has those obscure sayings…
- Proud of their Potte, Kaoru, Norie and Maon’s heartfelt gifts were products of their own passions: scents, sweets, and drawing, respectively.
- All we know about Mitane Kanae at this point is that she’s a third-year and she’s not a bad photographer. It will be interesting to see whether she fits in or clashes with Potte and/or the others. On this show, after so long, a new main character is a pretty big deal.
It’s been a year since Sawatari Fuu (AKA Potte) moved back to Takehara. Her friends Hanawa Kaoru, Okazaki Norie, and Sakurada Maon notice her spacing out more than usual. Fuu tells them she’s reminiscing about the last year, and repeats her goal to be “more aggressive.” She later admits that she’s been thinking a lot about starting a photography club at school. after the success of the “We” exhibition. Her friends, including Miyoshi Chihiro from afar – and her family all support her in this, and she decides she’s going to give it her all.
The Tamayura slice-of-life saga picks up pretty much where it left off, with Potte and her friends hanging around town, being very open with their feelings to the point of making each other tear up with emotion. The show remains just as lovely, warm, calm, breezy, and welcoming as before, and plenty of flashbacks are provided to refresh our memories. As for the rather surprising sub-title “More Aggressive”, no, Fuu is not starting MMA club! Back in the very first episode of ~hitotose~, when Potte and Chihiro parted ways, they both vowed to become more “aggressive”, finding their passions and applying maximum effort and energy to them.
“Aggressive” is a far more nuanced adjective than its typical use to denote anger or hostility. The “target” Potte aims to “attack” is her passivity, indecision, longing, and melancholy from loss. She chooses to stay positive while carrying her father’s camera about, the object, even totem by which she’s made friends and found her passion. To that end, she’s starting a photography club, which will be tough, like the exhibition, but ultimately will allow her to explore and share her love of photography while meeting more people.
Rating: 8 (Great)
- It was nice to hear about Potte’s return to Takehara from the perspective of Kaoru, who was worried that Potte might hate the town and still be depressed about her father. To her relief and joy, Potte is just fine, thanks in part to her camera, which is almost a character in and of itself at this point.
- A random classmate who happens to be passing by catches word of the photography club. We checked the cast list ahead and found out this is probably Mitane Kanae (voiced by Kayano Ai), one of this season’s new characters.
- Chihiro seems to have gained her own “Norie” of sorts in the energetic Tomo-chan, but we don’t know who voices her yet.
- That white cat is so damned abstract and weird-looking, but we still love him/her.
- The dialogue between Potte, Kaoru, Norie and Maon continues to pop and bubble with a nice rhythm and energy. We know all of these seiyus by now and they have good chemistry.
- Along with the impending Swim Club in Free!, this is the second straight episode in which a “normal” (read, not silly, random, or useless) club is started by one of the characters.
Kaoru tries to get everyone together on a Sunday for undisclosed reasons, but they all have plans, doing what they’ve chosen to do. Kao-tan begins to falter in what she wants to do, and doesn’t want to bother her friends with her half-hearted efforts, but Norie and the the others pick up on this. At her sister Soyomi’s behest they arrange a surprise party to cheer her up, and she declares her plans: to create an grand exhibition, including Potte’s photography, Norie’s sweets, Maon’s live whistling, and her own fragrances.
We never thought I’d hear the bawdy, animated Norie saying something like “It’s not good for this chaos to persist!” or for Kaoru to be led across town at bamboo vinegar-filled gunpoint, or for her friends to stage an intervention for her. But all this happens. This is a Kaorucentric episode. We’re with her as she gloomily frets about whether she’s doing the best she can. Norie later scolds her for worrying about meeting some kind of standard; what’s important is to do your best and have fun.
It’s a pretty common theme in anime for a girl to feel like she’s “no good” or even “the worst”, and while we can hear her thoughts, Kaoru’s outward behavior is really not all that different from her normal self. Still, Norie has known her far too long, and knows something is amiss almost immediately. She, along with Potte, Maon, and Soyomi, waste no time prodding her to let out whatever it is is on her mind, which turned out to be the proposal of an exhibition, which will combine everyone’s myriad talents into a unified whole. Funny, I’ve never taken her for an exhibitionist…
Fu’s old friend Chihiro comes to Takehara to visit her and meet her new circle of friends. She finds them all warm, friendly, and energetic as they tour the town and sample the food. She’s also glad that Fu is doing so well. Kaoru’s sister invites them to an hours-long hike all the way to and up Kurotaki Hill. Chihiro comes away with many new friends and happy memories.
Everyone has their little quirk: Potte is always snapping pics; Maon is always whistling; Norie is always yelling or jumping around; Kaoru is…actually pretty normal, but she has a weird older sister. Add Chihiro – the crybaby – to the mix, and you have a veritable motley crew of quirk. But damn it all if it isn’t a charming-as-all-hell crew. The whole episode was humming with positive vibes.
Chihiro has trouble making friends, and had every reason to worry that even Fu had possibly abandoned her for new, less skittish friends. But there was no such conflict or competition to be found here. Everybody’s happy! And honestly, with all that great food and stunning scenery, how could they not be? Other nice details: Chihiro making little stuffed guys for everyone, and Potte’s mother was once in a motorcycle club – rad.
Potte, Kaoru, Norie and Kou pay a visit to the island where Pottes grandfather lives, and stay at an in owned by Maon’s family. Watching her work hard at the inn and put her customers before herself, they all come to the conclusion her parents are grooming her for inhereting the inn. When they confront them about it, Maon assures them her work at the inn is just as important to her as her musical dreams. It’s also revealed that she has a tendency to change her dreams with great frequency.
This series is like a cool, breezy day by the seaside. It’s so happy and fluffy, and yet so sincere, we can’t help but be charmed. Norie can try our patience when it comes to her energy level and rivalry with Komachi, but this week she gets serious and speaks up when it looks like her friend’s parents are pushing a very timid and reserved Maon into a future of servitude. It turns out to not be that big of a deal; as Maon is wishy-washy. As for the parents, they’re just ecstatic she has actual friends.
Ever the photorecorder, no one is safe from the crosshairs of Potte’s Rollei. She has a wealth of material, as she’s surrounded herself with warm, loving people. The gorgeous quaint island village setting is like a tall glass of fuzzy sunshine. Also notable, Potte’s grief is all but gone from this episode. She sees her father in her grandfather’s face, but doesn’t fret. She watches Maon with her father and isn’t envious or wistful, but joyful.