Tamako Market – Review

Having finished my K-On! run just a couple months ago, it was pretty convenient to have Yamada’s next series arrive just this January. Tamako Market is unfortunately not as strong as K-On!!, but that’s honestly a pretty high bar; as a general slice of life/drama, Tamako Market is a perfectly reasonable production. It’s annoying to have a show whose problems could be solved by taking out stuff, but that’s certainly the issue here – remove Dera and Dera’s whole “finding a bride” plot, and Tamako Market is actually a much better show. But I’ve heard that’s pretty much what the movie actually does, so hopefully that one gets a release over here soon as well.

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my episode notes below!

Tamako Market

Episode 1

The first scenes demonstrate all the strengths of Yamada’s work straight off. Incidental moments in the lives of the characters, grounded dialogue that actually makes them come across as real people enjoying their lives, filmic use of focus to create a specific tone, gorgeous backgrounds, careful character animation that immediately gives each character a distinct personality

The characters have a sense of weight to their bodies. Small bits of physical comedy

Man, the character animation is sooo goood

Strong music, too. Lots of big band stuff, in contrast to K-On!’s guitars

Lots of good faces, lots of great smears

“It’s a bird… maybe?”

The bird talks and she throws it away. Good reaction

More small jokes building on each other, using good expression work. Each jokes is a handful of small building jokes

Mochizo’s the boy next door

“Mochi is just mochi!”

The market creates a very specific sense of place

“It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid to talk to animals!”

This show is a bit more gag-heavy than K-On!, a bit more aggressive in tone

Intentionally staggered animation for Tamako throwing the bird

More easy scenes of the girls being friends

And the shot framing is great. Strong sense of depth in the frame

Trying to find her mother’s song

The bird is like a weird Ghibli character

The scale is larger in this story than K-On!, too

The bird’s really not the most compelling viewpoint character. Still feels like he doesn’t help the show

A drawer full of presents he wasn’t able to give. Aww

Yeah, the bird’s too over-the-top

Episode 2

The bird is searching for his princess

Their dad is very traditional about mochi

The notes on screen are a little awkward

Valentine’s day

Tamako even has a mochi stress ball, lol

The show very smartly uses limited animation as an intentional comic effect, like when Kanna is moving without much sleep

Midori’s the third friend, the blonde

They’ve got a good friend rapport

Tamako decides their market needs some Valentine theming. She’s a very driven lead

The bird continues to be pretty annoying

Some of the gags in general don’t always land

Tama’s father is against changing things for Valentine’s Day

“Everybody loves somebody”

Looks like Midori has a crush on Tamako

“There are some feelings that cannot be named, and they make people sorrowful”

This record shop is a great location

And now we get a great montage to music, like in the K-On! movie

Aw, this scene with her dad is so cute

Oh my god, Tamako reacting to her dad’s “Love Love Heart Mochi”

The bird is, uh, apparently a projector

“Tama’s crazy about the shopping arcade, huh.”

“People can like whoever they want.” Really nice moment

Episode 3

The perspective for the new girl is great. The bird continues to be meh

Great understated visual gag with the thumbs-up. Man, KyoAni make this look so easy, and every other studio makes it look so hard

Shiori Asagiri is the new, quiet girl

“I’m Kanna Makino. I’m good at measuring things by eye, and really like right angles.” Goddamnit Kanna

More great backgrounds, now with cherry blossoms

Seeing Tamako be as nervous as Shiori is pretty great

The shots keep using foreground objects to create this sense of an intimate space

Oh man, Shiori is so awkward

And now she’s practicing how to respond in the mirror, aghh

Dera does push the other characters forward with their own dramas. That’s his role – he’s the instigator of feelings

Shiori’s feelings being caught in her throat is very relatable

This is a very intimate story in general. Good episode

And great shot framing for this season

Taking a deep breath after they become friends

This fuckin’ bird

Episode 4

Anko getting dressed in a temple uniform for a festival. Really nice little sequence, and with Tamako’s mom

Anko dunking on Dera is pretty great

I feel like the audience is supposed to hate this bird

The bird is intentionally terrible. This show is trolling me

Anko has a crush. Love for everybody!

This show is just continuous love stories, which is pretty endearing

Aw, Shiroi showed up to help for the festival

Discussing mochi creation

Okay, the market chasing Dera is great

Oh my god, luring Anko out of the cabinet

Episode 5

First shots immediately tell us it’s summer

Mochizo regretting not going to the pool with the girls

Even in his fantasies, he’s super awkward

“People being awkward about love” is basically this show

Dera bullying Mochizo about his feelings is pretty good

“Mochi sure is profound”

Mochizo no, why are you taking advice from Dera

And now Midori is sabotaging the mission

This episode feels kinda superfluous

Nice guitar track for the end of this episode

Episode 6

Nice whitewashed scenes of the summer heat, a moment of uncertainty

So Tamako suggests the market host a haunted house. The opening tone fits the episode focus

“A moment of fear can become a suspension bridge.” This guy’s love koans

The shot framing is shifting significantly for the episode

Terror strikes the neighborhood!

Tamako is quite the airhead in her own way. Industrious, but dense

Nice perspective sequence for their teacher running through the haunted house

Tamako’s love so far has been for the market itself

Episode 7

Holy crap, this spinning angle shot here. That’s really something

Choi is the new girl

I relate to her scorn for Dera

“Is one of your circuits broken?”

Dera blames his fatness on Tamako

I like how this show emphasizes both the different forms love takes and how love can be good and worthwhile even if it doesn’t come true

This episode is really nicely composed. Choi’s story is solid

Episode 8

And now a Dera diet episode. Reasonably funny, that’s about it

Episode 9

Opening with twinkling piano and a girl walking through the market. The story of Tamako’s mom

Hah, Tamako gets her silly look from her mom

Jeez, what a wonderful sense of place in this show. The gentle guitar, the lighting

Welp, Tamako’s forgotten Mochizo’s birthday

Anko being nervous about love again

The rapid editing is quite strong. The love stories are getting a bit repetitive, though

Uh oh, Anko’s crush is changing schools. Again, love doesn’t work out a lot of the time

Tamako expresses some uncharacteristic subtlety here, having Anko send mochi to Yuzuki

Mochi is a pretty good vehicle for feelings!

Tamako’s song is a song her dad wrote for her mom

Oh man, they were in a band, this is great

“Even Father fell in love with someone, huh?”

This sequence is fantastic

Expressing love through a song, of course

Aw, and she did remember his birthday

Episode 10

Time for the school festival

Nice light gags about Mochizo’s group

“The life cycle of mochi” as a performance theme

Good rapid banter between the club members

Midori can’t think of her choreography. This episode is pretty beautiful

Nicely anxious strings. A fairly diverse musical score

Very strong overall episode. Probably the most emotionally biting and also well-directed one

The actual prince plot is barely a thing

Episode 11

So Tamako is chosen to be the prince’s bride, but of course we know what’s going to actually happen

This feels like a harebrained harem plot development

Tamako’s more excited about collecting 100 point cards from the market and winning a medal

This prince plot is so unreal that it’s basically impossible to get invested in it. It’s too far divorced from the grounded stuff that makes these shows good

“Perhaps simply having the things we love close by isn’t really happiness”

Good to see Tamako getting mad about everyone’s reactions

The prince arrives, and he has her medal! Was Yoshida drunk when she wrote this?

Episode 12

Mochizo is trying so hard to respect Tamako’s feelings that she feels like he’s pushing her away

Tamako explaining her love of the market. Cherishing small things is again a theme

“I’ve never once felt lonely this whole time”

Dera’s big moment

“Life is more than just saying goodbye. It’s the encounters that make up human life”

4 thoughts on “Tamako Market – Review

  1. I was really curious to read your opinion on Dera. I have a weak-spot for the kind of bullshit, over-done lines he spouts (Rudy in Log Horizon gets the same kind of reaction from me when he does that same), and at the very least his appearance and the voice actor’s delivery really sold that brand of humor in this case. If he hadn’t had brief moments of sincerity where he pushed the other characters forward (for better or for worse), I can definitely see myself disliking him more for his purpose in the plot rather than liking him for his ridiculousness.

    The coffee shop owner really killed me, too. Maybe I’m only counting Dera’s more profound lines by saying this, but they seem similar on paper – the difference that sets them apart is the delivery, with Dera being obnoxious and the coffee shop scenes all being relaxed and low-key. What did you think of those scenes? I found them hysterical, but part of me wonders if they were even supposed to be funny. I just couldn’t get enough of those profound and mysterious lines the owner delivers in monotone as he plays fitting music on his turntable.

    • Yeah, the subdued delivery of the coffee shop lines made them much more endearing to me. The show didn’t really try to sell them as jokes in the way it sold Dera’s stuff (with in-your-face camera angles, music cues, pacing beats, etc), which made them much more effective in my mind.

  2. With a character like Dera, this show felt a lot like it was just lagging behind on the kind of modern characters we know today–enough that I looked to see if it was an adaptation of something older, but it was anime original with a LN adaptation of the anime!

    Ambitious creators, no matter how successful, will look at their previous works and think of things they wanted to do better. Perhaps they were targeting a weakness they perceived in K-On! in attracting a wider audience–an easily identifiable character/mascot? No matter, he didn’t feel necessary for the type of story they told otherwise…

    • to expand on some thoughts that hit me right after deciding to submit: there was plenty of space for his role in pushing things around to go to the most traditional way: parents! Its weird to me that a show that took the time to write in parents actively avoided using them in very natural ways.

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