Tamako Market (Kyoto Animation) – Genre: Comedy, Slice-of-Life
Episode 01 – “She’s the Cute Daughter from the Mochi Shop”
Over the last several years, KyoAni seems to have entrenched themselves in an unchanging style for the works that they produce. Of course, you need not fix what isn’t broken, and they prove this point in their latest original series Tamako Market. The show mixes in a lot of elements from similar titles and has built up the potential for something really great.
Our heroine is the always cheerful Tamako Kitashirakawa, the daughter of a mochi maker, and in this first episode she has a chance encounter with a flamboyant talking bird by the name of Dera Mochimazzi (sounds like “Mochiyucky”). He assaults her face in a state of shock, to which Tamako understandably responds with a hearty sneeze. Dera later reveals to Tamako that he is an emissary from his homeland sent to search for a proper bride for his prince and believes that he has found a candidate in her. Unfortunately for Dera, he’s unable to fly back to his home island due to eating too much mochi!
The main setting for the series is the vibrant shopping district that Tamako’s mochi shop is located in, and I must say that I love this place already. Every corner of the marketplace is filled with color, and everyone seems to know each other. We only get brief interactions with most them in the first episode, including an effeminate florist and a mysterious coffee shop owner, but the close-knit community creates a sense of family. This is particularly important because Tamako actually has a broken family (surprise, surprise). She lost her mother in the fifth grade and is continually searching for a recording of the song her mother used to sing to her. The only problem is she doesn’t know the title and makes periodic trips to the coffee shop to listen to records in hopes of stumbling upon it.
We get a quick scene at school where we see Tamako playing with a baton and scarfing down mochi with her friends Kanna and Midori. The baton leads me to believe that she may be a part of some sort of color guard, though she clearly seems to need more practice. She also accidentally gets nailed in the head by a badminton birdie (technically her second assault by bird this episode) thanks to a less-than-friendly Shiori Asagiri. It’s always nice to see badminton get more anime screen time.
Tamako’s birthday happens to fall right on New Year’s Eve, which is also the busiest day for mochi makers. This makes it almost impossible for her to ever properly celebrate her birthday, but that doesn’t stop the fellow shop owners from trying. They, along with a boy named Mochizou (who seems to have feelings for Tamako), attempt to give gifts to Tamako, but are inevitably distracted by a choking Dera.
The standard for animation is quite high when dealing with KyoAni, and Tamako Market meets the mark nicely. Character designs are done by the same artist as K-ON, which is obviously apparent. But hey, now we know they can make male characters look nice too! There are a lot of shots detailing the mochi making process as well, and all the movements look pretty realistic. Everything in this show is just so super cute. I’ll say it again, I love the use of colors within the shopping district, and it creates an interesting contrast with the not so colorful outside world. It’s almost like the division between fantasy and reality.
The music is cheery, upbeat, and lively, which fits the overall mood of the show like a glove. Nothing about the BGM really pops out at me though, probably because I was so distracted by the pretty colors. The opening and ending songs are both quite nice and are sung by Tamako’s seiyuu, Aya Suzaki. I personally really enjoy the ending song a lot, and the dancing produce in the opening is priceless.
Like Chuunibyou, KyoAni decided to give the main roles to up-and-coming seiyuu, while allowing big names to act as support in the smaller roles. Some interesting cast choices include Keiji Fujiwara (Ladd from Baccano!) as Tamako’s father, Daisuke Ono (Shizuo from Durarara!!) as the florist, and Hiro Shimono (Keima from The World God Only Knows) as the mysterious prince. Though, I suppose Keiji Fujiwara is a good choice as the father, seeing as how he voices Maes Hughes from Fullmetal Alchemist, but Daisuke Ono as the effeminate florist is pretty hilarious. I have mixed feelings about Dera’s seiyuu, Takumi Yamazaki (Kayneth from Fate/Zero), because he honestly sounds kind of creepy. I’m sure as the series progresses I’ll warm up to his voice though…hopefully.
Being an original anime series, Tamako Market has proven that the anime industry still has some interesting ideas up its sleeve. Already in the first episode, we’ve been introduced to a mountain of material. A feeling I get is a mixture of the over-the-top absurdity from Chuunibyou with the rural calm of Tamayura: Hitotose. While the characters don’t seem to be anything special at this point (though Tamako is like the cutest thing ever), the hilarious scenarios, the charming setting, and hints of possible drama leave me eagerly awaiting the next episode.
Definitely count on weekly impressions for this one.