Early Impressions: Tamako Market
In every new season of anime, you always have to check out what Kyoto Animation (KyoAni) is doing. For the Winter 2013 lineup, their new show is Tamako Market. It follows the daily life of Tamako Kitashirakawa, a high-school girl whose family runs a mochi shop in the Usagi-yama shopping district. The scenes mostly take place in the shops and homes of the business owners, and at Tamako’s school.
The unique twist in Tamako Market is Dera, an exotic talking bird that accidentally arrives in the neighborhood, and immediately gets involved in everyone’s life. When I say “talking”, I mean full conversations, playing the role of a persnickity avian that makes himself comfortable, even after it’s revealed that he has been tasked with finding a bride for his homeland’s prince (by projecting a broadcast through his eyes). So “slice of life” anime might not be the best descriptor, as there’s definitely some otherworldly magic going on.
Tamako Market is light-hearted, following high school girls around while they get into zany adventures. The “heaviest” conflicts consist of things like whether the shop will or won’t sell heart-shaped mochi. Whoa, that’s some serious shit.
But that’s not to say it has the curse (or blessing depending on who you talk to…) of being as laid back as K-On! I think that K-On would often go waaaay too chill, and it feels like you were just watching girls trying to react cutely to girls doing cute things. There were times I’d watch it and be on the brink of yelling “JESUS WHY DON’T YOU LAZY F*#KS PICK UP YOUR INSTRUMENTS?” I still enjoyed the series (and loved the movie), but the grind was a bit…grinding to say the least. On a side note, it seems that KyoAni gets some hate any time they’re new release isn’t “NEXT SEASON OF K-ON”…which is depressing. If you want a company to plug away at the same thing over and over again, don’t be surprised when they end up bankrupt and out of business.
Tamako Market has random shop owners with their own quirky personalities. You’ve got the record-shop/coffee house hipster that says something deep and then spins an old tune. The flower shop owner with the creepy dude voice. The old grampa with zany ball-in-a-cup tricks. KyoAni has made a unique cast of characters. Let’s hope they continue to flesh them out.
I’m three episodes into TM, and will be sticking around. I’m not a full-on KyoAni fanboy, but I do love many of their works. I’ll always give them a chance, as I love their art style and the way they take every day conversations and make a 26-episode series out of them.
At this point I’m not sure how “serious” this show will get. There’s a dead parent (of course…it wouldn’t be anime without one). There’s a boy crushing on Tamako. And then there are Tamako’s friends, who have the whole growing pains of life thing going on. But when you juxtapose this with a rotund talking bird and the island of misfit shop owners, you can assume it won’t go too “dark”.
Tamako Market is one to watch this anime season. KyoAni consistently makes enjoyable shows with personable characters. This one looks to be no different. I don’t think you have to worry about being bored watching girls drink tea and eat cake, or watching an Endless Eight style arc of madness. Light-hearted, funny, and heart-warming adventures ahoy!