Kyoani seems adamant to continue it’s “one-character one-episode” approach to this anime with Tamako’s sister getting some screen-time this week. What’s that you say? The little sister character of a Kyoani anime getting an entire episode devoted to her? Expectedly, this episode is going to be cute, and cute it was. Was it much more? The answer some might give you would be that Tamako Market encapsulates the essence of realistic prepubescent romance and awkwardness in this episode whilst maintaining the usual hyperbolic sense of humour. The answer I’m prepared to give you is a much simpler, “no.”.
To be fair, the focal character of this episode is by no means simple and two-dimensional. Carrying a surprising amount of life-likeness and realism to boot, Anko is no mere moe-blob. She’s derisive and sardonic but remains loveable all the while; it doesn’t take much effort to imagine Anko as a real person, the sister of some friend or classmate you’ve yet to meet. Kyoani’s commitment to realism with this character is laudable, but quite lugubriously, forgettable. I think what makes some anime characters so memorable, is not so much their designs or the situations they’re put through, but rather because of how unworldly their character is. This, of course, is not necessarily the case, your ability to sympathise with a realistic character in similar straits or the admiration that you’d find for another would quite imaginably produce a similar mnemonic result. It is, however, incredibly hard to empathise or admire a 9 year old.
With a just a little allusion to Tamako’s mother, thrown in here and there, the focus of the anime shifts inevitably the Anko and the festival. (So they’re throwing in a new event every episode as well) Although, unlike previous episodes, the camera doesn’t capture Tamako’s relationship with Anko as much, and instead pans to concentrate almost entirely on Anko’s characterisation. The anime does devote some time into making sure that the developments of previous of episodes are at least heard of: Tamako’s father has shaken off some of the intransigence for the traditional since episode 2, and Shiori’s friendship with Tamako shows. It’s welcomed that there is at least some continuity from one episode to the next, albeit only given a cursory glance.
There is a slight mini-arc that this episode delves into, that is Anko and her prospective relationship with her classmate. It’s depiction of the self-consciousness thats rife with romance is realistic to say the least. The paradoxical nature of being attracted to, and repulsed by, a person at the same time. It’s the type of thing that makes Anko go out of her way to go to the museum to be with a boy she likes, but run away the moment she sees him on the street. Or to use a more personal example, to the type of thing that turns a Japanophile into a Japanophobe the moment he steps into that glorious country. Ideas of insignificance and unworthiness are bound to arise with perceptions of another party’s seeming perfection. The sensation of nervousness and embarrassment so natural to the satisfaction’s of one infatuation, is very intelligently conveyed here.
Taking into account the rough blend of reality and fantasy that goes down one’s throat with each serving of this show, the series seems rather conflicted in the sense that some level of realism is maintained throughout, where characters behave and act as you’d expect them to, meanwhile there’s the constant interjection of Dera’s flamboyancy. And to be perfectly honest, it really isn’t hard to find the bird annoying. He’s the Jar Jar Binks of the series- a crude attempt to fashion some sort of comic relief from the unused material of a cancelled TV show for kids. He certainly stands out, I’d give him that much, and if there’s one character that anyone would remember from this show ten years down the line, it’s certainly him. The question thus posed for this character, “will we remember him fondly?” And I shall give the same answer as the word I chose to end the first paragraph with.