Tamako Market – 12 (Fin)

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Prince Mechya Mochimazzi arrives at the shopping district and everyone assumes it’s to “collect” Tamako, who still goes to school, but her mind is preoccupied. Finally, she decides to politely decline the offer, but Mechya tells her she was never a candidate; Dera confused Tamako’s smell with that of the flowers the florist stocks. The Prince and Choi return home, but Dera stays until New Years, after which he plans to leave without saying goodbye, but falls asleep in a bouquet Mochizou orders for Tamako’s birthday.

One thing this series has made abundantly clear is that the Bunny Mountain shopping district is a wonderful place to grow up, live, work, and play. There’s never a dull moment, and just about every day has a festival atmosphere. Another thing made clear is that Tamako loves this place very much, and everyone in it. She has that big medal to prove it, along with the love of everyone else right back at her. Which is why despite knowing next to nothing about the outside world, she declines the offer. It turned out to be a misunderstanding anyway, but Tamako didn’t know that at the time she made her not trivial decision.

Frankly, we couldn’t see her anywhere else but the district. Perhaps one day she’ll pick up on Mochizou’s feelings, return them, get married, and they’ll grow old running the mochi shops, training their children to do the same. Happens all the time; absolutely nothing wrong with that. One thing this series lacked was a district character who had actually been in the outside world and came back. Something tells us that while people may stop by for extended visits, like Dera and Choi, ultimately this is place you either leave or stay. And Tamako doesn’t want to leave. She’s never felt lonely or restless here. It’s where feels she belongs, and it’s more than enough world for her.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Tamako’s dramatic sneeze – and Dera’s reaction to it – we’ll miss that bird…
  • In another future scenario, perhaps it will be Midori who wins Tamako’s heart and they get married. Would suck for Mochizou, but it’s Tamako’s choice to make, and she’s not ready to make it yet.
  • We’re not sure Choi will be able to bring that hammer on the plane…

 

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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 – 08

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Kanna builds Dera a birdhouse, but he has grown too fat to fit inside. Choi orders him on a diet. Because Tamako’s father and grandfather are quick to show mercy and feed him, they must keep a constant eye on him. To this end, Choi attends school with Tamako, Kanna and Midori, and meets Shiori. They then take Choi to vintage stores to try on clothes more suitable for Japan in the Fall. Dera eventually loses weight, though only in his lower half, and Kanna and Midori present Choi with a coat.

Beyond the addition of Choi and the rough goal of getting Dera a bit slimmer (he has been letting himself go), this week is straight-up slice-of-life, seasoned by those anomalies. Choi has been walking around in a linen shift and bare feet all this time, but it’s getting colder, and if she intends to stick around, she needs to dress a bit warmer. It’s pretty funny that the girls treat her as a canvas for their own fashion ideals, and she is willing to defer to their judgement.

Meanwhile, Dera the fat-ass complains at first, and his stomach growls, but he eventually bears down and loses a few pounds. He is a proud bird, after all, and his whole raison d’être is to assist Choi with her divination, he must improve his physical condition. The end result of his labor is visually hilarious, as the top half remains haughtily broad, while his overall shape is that of an upside-down teardrop. While we interpreted Choi as picking out Tamako as her prince’s bride to be last week, we were either wrong, or that plotline was merely shelved this week.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Tamako Market – 06

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The summer heat has driven away the shopping districts customers, so at the next meeting Tamako suggests they open a haunted house. Using the bathhouse storeroom, she and her friends prepare the house while the adult shopkeepers experience strange incidents that lead them to believe the district is cursed. However, three of the five incidents were explained logically by Shiori, and the other two fabricated by Kanna. The haunted house is a big hit, attracting lots of business to the district as intended.

As soon as the cold open projected a darker, more forboding atmosphere than we’d seen in the series to date, we were a little perplexed about what was in store this week, but after Tamako’s idea is revealed, it all became clear. With business in the toilet due to the summer heat, the promise of chills brought on by sundry frights proves a surefire way to bring the people out. Meanwhile, things like guardian stones and haunted houses bemuse and intrigue Dera, for whom they are foreign concepts.

It helps that everyone in the district is so tight, they not only promptly provide all the materials Tamako and her friends need for the haunted house, but they inadvertently perpetuate the rumor of the district itself being haunted, thus creating hype for the house. The adults did act a little goofily this week, but we’ll chalk it up to the heat. Ooji is absent this week, which is probably for the best, and at the very end the princess from Dera’s homeland appears, which should defintely shake things up.


Rating: 6 (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)