Well star me kitten, a P.A. Works show that isn’t complete crap!
After seeing several reviews of the first episode claiming that Tari Tari was basically Hanairo part two, I was quite surprised to find myself legitimately enjoying the first episode. Of course, a good bit of this is that Tari Tari actually is only like Hanairo in the most superficial of ways (y’know, like, there are three female leads, and… uh… the art style is the same, and… yeah, that’s pretty much it), so don’t go into this expecting Hanairo after all thank the fucking lord. The primary difference is that the lead characters are *actually* likeable, and not rejects from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves known as Stupid, Bitchy, and Doormat.
It also seems so far that our “moe” character is informed moe as opposed to actual moe, as our indicators for her moe-ness are that she trips in the OP, and that she apparently screwed up during the choir recital the previous year. I am hoping that these are enough to let the brainless amongst us merrily bask in her supposed moe-ness, while the rest of us can heave sighs of relief because she doesn’t act like a complete idiot. The girl, by the way, is named Konatsu, and has apparently worked her way our of stupid moe antics since her screw-up, even if those around her aren’t willing to give her a second chance. Is there a deeper theme here about whether we can change our ways, or whether we are doomed to be stuck in our ways because society won’t let us? Probably not, but I could be wrong.
I quite liked that our potential horrible person character, Sakai, isn’t actually a horrible person. Instead of her emotional issues being communicated via her being a totally rotten person to everyone except for her crush, we are given a much more rounded view; at home, she negotiates family roles with her father, at school she is fairly quiet and withdrawn. She only reacts poorly when Konatsu won’t take no for an answer, and this fuller picture does a lot more to endear the viewer to Sakai than Hanairo’s Minko’s shitty behavior ever did there. The audience isn’t left wondering why anyone would ever bother with the girl.
Of relation to Sakai, I also really enjoyed the subtlety of the dynamic between herself and the teacher. Teachers are so often a non-factor in high school shows, almost to the point that one wonders if they have any awareness of their students at all, beyond that there’s this group they teach things to every day, and then at night everyone goes home. But, here, GASP, a teacher has actually noticed that a student is having some trouble fitting in! And OH MAN cares enough to extend a helping hand! You mean they don’t just all ignore or actively condone bullying?!?!
(There’s also the fact that our sensei here is a welcome reprieve from the shrieking singleton that exists in spades in these shows, bemoaning their lack of a boyfriend or husband, and insisting that they are spinsters at the ancient age of 25+ years old. And its pretty cool to me that the teacher’s maternity leave is obviously not a terminal one; she’ll be back afterward to keep teaching, not just shuffling off into housewife-dom. Phew. Hopefully we’ll see more of her even while she is on leave.)
Our third heroine, Sawa, hasn’t had much development yet, but she seems decent enough so far. Our male leads likewise have less development, but neither appears to be standard stereotypes, at least not yet. Tanaka continues to surprising recent trend of male characters being named Taichi, and is the hardworking lone member of the badminton club (the perpetual liar of CardCaptor Sakura in one episode of said show claims that badminton was invented to replace duels as a way to duke it out for the hand of a beloved lady, a claim I merrily repeated to peers in real life). Wien has just returned from twelve years of living abroad in Austria, and is a rare example of the time away from Japan actually showing in his depiction, as he regularly overdoes Japanese etiquette, to the bemusement of classmates and their teacher. Sure, we’ve had a smattering of loud, big-boobed half-Japanese students in anime before, but its rarer to see it handled with a male student, and there haven’t even been very many of the aforementioned type in the past few years.
I’m perhaps being more generous about this episode than I should be, but I have never liked a P.A. Works show before, so I’m in a rather surprised state of mind. I am, in fact, a fairly big detractor of P.A. Works, as I quite simply think to date that their shows have been utter crap. I don’t even understand the lauding of the technical aspects of past shows, as, for example, I thought the backgrounds of Hanairo just looked muddy and dull. I think the only thing I can say I think they did decently on was the small amount of animation they did for Le Chevalier D’Eon and Darker than Black, and, well, that’s not really saying much, is it? I’m probably going to get some backlash on this opinion, but I would challenge someone to really sit back and think about the shows P.A. Works has made before leaping up to tell me that I’m wrong.
Even though I enjoyed this episode thoroughly, I remain leery given the track record here, especially as the studio’s worst works (with the exception of the atrocious Another) are all original works, and this is one as well. I sincerely hope that my misgivings are proven wrong, though; I always prefer to be wrong about a show being a stinker, and who wouldn’t feel similarly?
On a different note, for those wondering about the name: this is a grammar pattern used to say that one is doing one thing at the same time as they are doing another thing. It is used as a word ending, like so: “Watashi wa benkyou shitari, hirugohan wo tabetari.” (“I did my homework while I ate my lunch.”). Admittedly, my grammar may be slightly off on that sentence, but its been a few years since I’ve studied Japanese, so please bear with me – you get the idea on what the meaning/purpose of ‘~tari, ~tari’ is.
In closing, can we have a moratorium on characters singing in synch with the OP music? It used to kind of a cute touch, but its worn out its welcome.