Sometimes you just want to watch something pointless you know. As the world seems to grow more twisted, or the drawn curtains exposing just how little the people in power know what they are doing, what else are we to do than watch another mediocre anime. Maybe not to escape the world, but to just pass the time when you could be thinking about how fucked we are. Nevertheless, ‘Tamako Market’ is not that.
As much as I know the studio ‘Kyoto Animations’ are capable of creating art that I am compelled by, the dramatic and real ‘A Silent Voice’ being the stand-out example alongside a reluctant ‘Hyuka’, they seem to be directed at a different niche which is probably a good business choice. They have garnered an intense amount of support over the years as they’ve arguably grown more mature in their content, going from high school girls discussing which way to eat a chocolate cornet, to psychological trauma and suicide, both crafts I can appreciate, the former, maybe just from a distance.
‘Tamako Market’, from the director and writer of the mentioned ‘A Silent Voice’ and ‘K-ON!’, Naoko Yamada and Reiko Yoshida respectively, follows Tamako Kitashirakawa, the daughter of a ‘mochi’ baker and salesman who together with their family, run a shop in a shopping district that the series directs the spotlight at, the other shop-owners in the area being very prevalent as a supporting cast, along with Tamako’s friends from high school. As she walks home from school one day she finds a completely articulate exotic bird who the family keeps as one of their own, although maybe not through some of their own volition.
Similar to many other slice-of-life series, this premise is not much more than a base for the series, being much more dependent on the interactions and chemistry of its lead characters. Although this is an element that ‘Kyoto’ is often praised for, I think this was one of my earlier issues with the series. Not unlike much of the work that is made in the anime industry and is often perpetuated by ‘Kyoto’ themselves, the lead characters are painfully stale. Tamako and her classmates look, sound, and act more like pre-schoolers than young adults. While there are moments where the animation team adds some sense of comradery between the friend group, there is not an especially fun chemistry between them, as they mostly just act nicely towards each other. This sort of relationship may be charming to some, I don’t see much behind it other than the screenwriter themself.
And while the greater focus on its supporting cast relieves some of this aridity, especially since it is a much better example of character chemistry, case in point being Mamedai and Gohei having a very fun rivalry that isn’t too overdone, I do not think it is enough for me to overlook how boring I find most scenes because of the leads.
And while the Slice-of-Life genre isn’t especially fitting for grande developments, I feel this could’ve helped improve my lacking enjoyment of the series. It certainly had a lot of opportunities to do so. But while the series has moments that get comparably personal and narratively driven, they are often not given enough time to really affect the series’ course, going back to the status quo right after most episodes. And I think this is what really represents why I find the series so fruitless and forgettable in the end. It ultimately seems confused as to what it wants to be. There is a general theme of adolescence in the series, but many of the parts that make it up seem unfinished and therefore barely making an impression on you. The series might have some interesting ideas here and there, in fact I know it has, yet it can’t tell me why I should care for them.