Like many anime fans, I am no stranger to Kyoto Animation’s lovable works throughout the years. From the fun everyday shenanigans showed in anime like K-On and Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon to the more dramatic and tear-jerking stories in Koe no Katachi or Clannad, KyoAni certainly does a good job in creating an enjoyable narrative to watch.
I, for one, am more of a fan of the fun, slice-of-life side of Kyoto Animation and I think most would agree with me when I say that KyoAni is one of the best studios when it comes to slice-of-life anime. Everything about how they make the everyday lifestyles of different characters entertaining, whether that be with the personalities and relationships of the characters themselves or how they express comedy, is just something that makes KyoAni special.
Today, I wanted to talk about an overall nice slice-of-life anime that is actually originally made by Kyoto Animation themselves. Let’s jump right in!
In the small yet lively Usagiyama Shopping District, an area full of unique shops and friendly business owners, lives an adorable and clumsy girl named Kitashirakawa Tamako. Her alongside her father, sister, and grandfather run Tama-ya; the family’s small mochi shop, where they make an honest living and happily share their delicious sweets to others.
One day, a strange, talking bird who comes from the Mochimazzi (literally meaning “bad tasting mochi”) royalty of a land far away from Japan, arrives at the shopping district in search of a potential bride for his home country’s prince. Named Dera Mochimazzi, the bird meets Tamako and ends up staying at her family’s residence whilst on his mission, where over time he develops affection and addiction for the Tama-ya mochi.
Tamako Market essentially follows the everyday life of Tamako, her friends, family, Dera, and the shopping district as a whole.
Let’s just begin with the obvious stuff: this is a pretty standard slice-of-life anime. As I said in the synopsis, we basically just follow the daily lives of Tamako, her friends and family, and sometimes the hard-working residents of the Usagiyama Shopping District. Sometimes shenanigans or ordinary problems needing solving may happen within Tamako’s family, sometimes within the shopping district community, and so on and so on. While some of what goes on within Tamako’s area is very mundane and nothing new such as a group of friends going to the swimming pool, there are certain moments and scenes where it can be considered interesting/intriguing to watch.
Seeing the whole shopping district community plan and decorate for a special event on Valentine’s Day or watching Tamako and her friends create a haunted house from scratch in order to help people cool off in the sweltering summer, I personally had fun with a lot of the daily life moments in this anime. Plus, when you have a studio like Kyoto Animation and especially a director like Yamada Naoko, who has done a great job in the past showing an entertaining and/or meaningful expression of daily life, creating a show like this, you know that you’re in pretty good and qualified hands.
There were a couple significant subplots within this show that were introduced towards the beginning, yet didn’t exactly get a ton of attention throughout the story and almost made them seem pointless in the end. One side story I’d like to mention, mainly because the other one is a pretty big spoiler, is the whole thing with Tamako’s childhood friend Ooji Mochizo, having a huge crush on Tamako and him wanting to express it once and for all.
I am a big fan of first-time romance experiences, as seen in my other reviews like Tsuki ga Kirei and Kimi ni Todoke, so this relationship between Mochizo and Tamako was something I was looking forward to. However, there were only a few instances or episodes where it expressed that sub-story and even then, it wasn’t much to go off of.
While I do say that these subplots end up being pointless, now that the whole story has been completed since KyoAni did release a follow-up film in 2014 called Tamako Love Story which presumably is solely about the romantic relationship between Tamako and Mochizo, it does make sense when you look at the whole picture. However, I can imagine someone watching this in real-time back in 2013, being confused and unsatisfied with how these subplots were handled. I mean, even I was questioning why this and that part of the story ended like how it did, without having any knowledge of what Tamako Love Story was about —I still haven’t seen that movie.
And I think that one of Tamako Market’s big flaws is development. Whether it be regarding certain storylines or characters —which I’ll get it in the next section— it just doesn’t do it justice and the daily life shenanigans just overpower it significantly. There’s nothing wrong with those daily life shenanigans, it’s just that when you finish the show, that’s pretty much the only thing that matters, narrative-wise while everything else seemed to like it was unfinished, absent, or meaningless.
Lastly, I personally thought the comedy was pretty enjoyable. A lot of it came from the bossy and pretentious personality of Dera and the things he said to other characters. Other people say Dera was annoying but his dialogue and behavior honestly made me chuckle quite a bit.
Well, there’s some good and some bad within this aspect of Tamako Market.
Let’s start off with Tamako. She is your average happy-go-lucky, clumsy, and especially dense teenage girl who lives a normal life … and that’s literally it. I honestly can’t say much else to make her sound more interesting because that’s all I can really say. I think the only reason why Tamako is memorable to people was simply because of her cuteness and appearance. It’s pretty much the same with some of the other characters such as Tamako’s friends, who were definitely enjoyable and sometimes funny to watch but being Tamako’s friends was kind of all they did despite the big amount of screen time they had.
There isn’t much character development in this show, and if there was any, it wasn’t very significant or interesting to watch. I would’ve liked to see an interesting backstory or conflict involving Tamako or one of her friends but that didn’t really happen. Hell, there were some characters who did have an interesting backstory or conflict involving them such as Tamako’s father and how he met Tamako’s mother or that episode where Tamako’s little sister, Anko, had a difficult time being around a boy she had a crush on … but it’s kind of a shame that those were so short-lived.
Even with the foreigner characters like the prince Mecha Mochimazzi and his escort Choi, they weren’t much either, despite them being one of the more ‘unique’ people within this cast. The prince was barely even shown and Choi was just someone who was frequently getting mad at Dera for all the indecencies he kept doing in front of Tamako and Co. There was a sense of romance with Choi having feelings for the prince but similar to Mochizo’s case, it wasn’t expressed a ton.
There is a positive thing I can say about the cast and it’s probably one of my favorite things about this show. One main theme of Tamako Market is the huge sense of ‘community’, as we can see within the Usagiyama Shopping District. Everyone who works there is super friendly towards customers or people passing by, and especially to each other.
Watching Tamako help out the small businesses in her district in any way she can, the local meat shop vendor giving Tamako and her friends a free snack to eat everyday, or even that one episode where the whole shopping district teamed up to make the area Valentines-themed for the special occasion … you can tell that this group of neighbors are very close-knit and care about each other, and they even care immensely about the shopping district itself. Plus, these owners of these small businesses seem so genuine and I’d imagine seeing a neighborhood like the Usagiyama residency in real life, having such close relationships with each other.
Other than that, Dera was probably the most interesting and entertaining character in this whole show. I genuinely thought he was funny and a good character to pair with Tamako and the people around her.
visuals and arts.
Right off the bat, you will notice that the character design of Tamako Market is very, very similar to other previous KyoAni works. Most notably these characters certainly look similar to the ones from K-On, having pretty much the same memorable eye and face shape designs from their hit 2009 series. This is most likely because of both Yamada Naoko and Horiguchi Yukiki, who both worked on the K-On! series as director and character designer respectively, were on the staff of this show. I actually was completely fine with the character designs since they’re so iconic to fans of Kyoto Animation, plus it really did remind me a lot of K-On!, a show I am very fond of. Overall all the art and animation of this show seem to be much more refined compared to their older works since there’s definitely a sense of depth-of-field in some shots, as well as the increased use of lighting in some scenes.
I loved the music in this show. The opening, “Dramatic Market Ride”, just hits you in the face with a fun, fast and upbeat song with trumpets blaring and Tamako’s cutesy vocals. The lyrics of that song certainly reflects the happy vibe it gives off, since it’s about the joy of being around the Usagiyama Shopping District. But the ending, “Neguse”, drastically changes to a more somber, electronic-style song that almost gives off an emotional atmosphere. Both opening and ending songs are superb and they were really enjoyable to listen to. Even the background music fit well with the overall style of this show, it being very laid-back and relaxing. Sort of reminded me of music from the Pixar movie Up.
The person who voices Tamako is one Suzaki Aya, who a lot of people will probably know as the voice of the extremely energetic Mankanshoku Mako from Kill la Kill. I honestly believe the casting choice of Suzaki Aya for Tamako was absolutely perfect. She does such a great job playing a high-pitched and happy-go-lucky character, plus she even depicted Tamako’s clumsiness and naïveté so well. Tamako was one of Suzaki Aya’s first major anime roles and since then, it has been shown later throughout her career that she can certainly portray cheerful and energetic characters.
Not only did I enjoy the vocal performance of Suzaki Aya but there were some other voice actors and actresses I really liked. Yamazaki Takumi doing a very fancy-sounding voice for a bird was just super entertaining and I was even surprised at Ono Daisuke’s character since he portrayed a friendly florist rather than his usual serious-sounding characters like Kujo Jotaro from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.
closing – al’s final verdict.
Naturally as a huge fan of moe slice-of-life anime, Tamako Market was a great show. I loved watching the random daily shenanigans these characters went through in this beautiful marketplace community. Tamako was a cute and lovable main heroine and the fun relationships she had with everyone around her made me smile and laugh along the way.
However, let’s say you’re not me and don’t particularly enjoy the slice-of-life genre as much as myself. Well… that’s a different story. There is no solid or intense storyline that goes alongside the daily life part of this show, the characters don’t stand out too much and have little to no development, and the end result may even leave you unsatisfied.
I think my final verdict for this show is that if you’re REALLY into pure slice-of-life anime, especially from a studio like Kyoto Animation, with cute-looking characters and just want to be in a happy mood … this is a perfect show to watch. But on the other hand, if you don’t strictly fall into that category of an anime fan, watching Tamako Market may not be something you’ll enjoy.
additional pieces of information.
- Tamako Market
- al’s review of an anime tv, 12 episodes
- first time aired in the winter, 10.01.2013 till 28.03.2013
- from the studio of Kyoto Animation
- tagged under the genre of #slice_of_life and #comedy
tagged also under the subgenre of #romance, #harmonious_neighborhood, #iyashikei, #moe, #school, #school_life, #shopkeepers, #shopping_district, and #talking_animal
- the age-rated as PG-13 – Teens 13 or older
I’ve heard that the sequel film, Tamako Love Story, is a much better viewing experience than its predecessor so I am definitely looking forward to watching that. And yes, I’ll most likely be writing a review for that soon.
I know I haven’t been on here for a while but now that school is done for me —for now— I actually have a ton more time to blog. I know I say this every time but I have a few shows I want to review so please look forward to that in the coming weeks.
Thanks for reading and make sure to follow #moe404 for more anime-related content! Keep watching anime, and until the next post~
© written by sliceofalfredo