Since that is apparently now a genre… or maybe its just a subgenre of slice-of-life. Well, who the hell knows, either way this stuff usually isn’t my thing. However, I did enjoy the Tamayura OVA quite a bit, although the first episode bored me fairly thoroughly. Thankfully, the final three episodes surpassed the set-up episode by a long-shot, so it didn’t prove to be a total loss.
So, I came into the first episode being a previous fan, although I had serious reservations since it never seemed to me that there was enough to Tamayura to justify a twelve episode TV series of it. I do remain leery, but the first episode of Tamayura~Hitotose~ stands out as my favorite first episode of the season so far, and with only Un-Go, Ben-to, and Guilty Crown remaining on my planned watch list, I don’t see that changing. In case you are wondering, here’s how I’ve ranked my watched shows so far:
- Future Diary
- Persona 4: The Animation
- Kimi to Boku
Pure Shite SymphonyPure White Symphony
- Phi Brain
- Horizon on the Middle of Nowhere
For a show in which allegedly nothing happens, a lot of things happen in the first episode here, as Fu, our lead, works out her remaining issues regarding her father’s death, take high school entrance exams, moves, and starts at a new school. While certainly subsequent episodes will probably tackle less, it does not detract from the fact that the first episode was great. In a genre stuffed to the brim with dead parents, its actually quite rare to watch a character engaging with the death of a parent, even rarer to see it done well, so it was a pleasant surprise to see it handled so deftly here.
Actually, of relation, in general the familial interactions here are a cut above the usual fare. Although it is clear that Fu’s mother works long hours, the anime doesn’t use this as an excuse to elide her from the narrative altogether. And Fu’s younger brother isn’t a plot device to be worried over and protected like so many other siblings in anime; while he acts as the springboard ultimately for Fu’s return to her former hobby of photography, one she’d avoided after her father’s death because of his association with it, it doesn’t come across as a contrived. Nor does Fu’s return to her childhood hometown come across as such; no, her parents weren’t suddenly transferred overseas, no, she didn’t just up and move out one day. Instead, her mother opts to quit the fast-life and return home to work with her own mother, and while she does consult with her daughter about it, the decision is clearly in her own hands.
I suppose put most simply: the family in Tamayura~Hitotose~ feels like just that – a family, not an arbitrarily assembled collection of character types. It feels as if they live, breathe, eat, laugh, and mourn together, that when they come home at the end of the day it is a home they come to, not a space with some folks selected purely for the sake of the appearance of a family.
It seems that, overall, I’m on the contrary on this front versus other viewers, who have derided the show as dull and uninteresting. I clearly disagree, but doubt that I could persuade anyone who hasn’t liked it yet to give it another shot, as it’ll be more of the same for the rest of its run, bar something ridiculous like Yoshiyuki Tomino showing up (although, hey, I’ve always been a fan of the idea of Tomino re-doing all sorts of shows outside his customary genre but while channeling his Victory Gundam-era self, so I might be ok with this). If you don’t like the slice-of-life genre, this won’t change your opinion, although you may still like it even if you’re not into ~healing~ junk (I did).
For those wondering, the start of the TV series takes place mainly before the OVA and in flashback form, with the present-day portion occurring after the events from the OVA. Its a good way to integrate the storyline while also giving a better idea as to Fu’s backstory.
On the technical front, it looks nice, although the budget is certainly not what it was for the OVA’s. Characters are still a bit moe-er in appearance than I’d like, but don’t dive to the blob depths of So ra no wo to (or however the fuck its supposed to be rendered). Background music was fitting, but nothing you would ever buy a CD over.
Here’s hoping it can keep itself together.