Unfortunately, due to a schedule caught in the stranglehold of Singaporean pre-university education, I’ve missed last week’s Tamako Market episodic review. With education’s grip on my throat only loosened slightly, and a need to catch up, here are two slightly more concise reviews on the last two episodes of this series. Thankfully, the subject matter for those episodes are similar enough to talk about them in the same poorly-worded paragraph: something about how a pacific islander fortune teller girl goes to Japan to retrieve her semi-robotic metrosexual cockatoo. Typing that last bit just made me lose several IQ points, and I’m about to lose more… Well, here we go:
Episode 7 starts off where episode 6 left off (the producers are trying something new here), with a pacific islander, going by Choi, coming to Japan to retrieve Dera. Choi somehow is magically fluent in the Japanese language even though she can’t use a pair of chopsticks. (Usually I’d fault an anime for being entirely unrealistic with their premise or dodgy in their explanation, but then I remembered, I’m watching an anime thats about a Japanese high school girl and her loquacious sentient avian that.) But it’s not all bad- for one, the constant teasing from kyoani of something with a remote semblance to a story arc, finally makes an appearance.
Even with the addition of a character that’s meant to push the storyline along the tracks it was predetermined to go on from the first episode though, Tamako Market is a train with a conductor with the worst case of ADHD I’ve even seen. The content of this anime is largely ‘bottled-up’, apart from a few bits of characterisation and plot development (if you want to call it that), and mainly deals with the relationship between Dera and Choi, as well as the interaction between a fluent Choi and the locals. Something to the effect of Dera tricking her to belief that he fell into a trap set by Tamako & co. as a premise for his un-productivity, while Choi displays her fortune-telling skills, etc.
The best part of the entire episode was quite unfortunately a side-plot that wasn’t given any more attention than a few minutes of screen time, where one of the side characters, heavily infatuated with another member of the supporting cast, learns that he’s crush is getting married. It’s familiar territory, but it’s familiar territory done right. For the few minutes dedicated to his plight, we see all the honesty, and subtlety that’s missing from the rest of the anime. (Perhaps this is where it went.) Brows tilt in longing sadness hide behind a smile and well-wishes as he learns about it; those few moments are as sincere as a Chopin prelude, and almost as painful as listening to one for all those who can concur his sentiments. It feels like a totally different anime just talking about it in the same post where a discussion of a sentient parrot took place. It’s genuine and even uplifting at points.
As always, the “humour” is derived in part from some combination of Dera’s antics, and the cultural disparity between Choi and her Japanese counterparts. It won’t get you to laugh, it might not even tug upwards on the two ends of your lips, but it’s lighthearted enough to keep the blank spaces between it and the development from being consumed by boredom. What’s strange though, is that this episode actually ends on a cliffhanger, which in most cases usually signals that the next episode will have direct continuity with this one and the beginning of an honest arc.
Alas, any resolution to the questions left open by the previous episode does not come to light in episode 8. But even with that glaring fault in production, altogether episode 8 seems to be the superior of the two, all for the appearance of Kanna’s character. You see, episode 8 might have even less to do with the plot progression than it’s direct predecessor, but unlike episode 7, the humour doesn’t come from an almost completely dislikable bird, but from the quirkiness of a character that’s weird while altogether remaining loveable.
The ‘conflict’ of the episode arises from Dera trying to get fit to fit into a bird house built by Kanna. The usual innocent premise that Tamako Market exemplifies. But even with the usual, Kanna’s character is so charismatic and immediately likeable that she very easily carries the entire episode with the few lines of dialogue allocated to her. She’s adorable to say the least and the extravagance that results from her uncanny personality only serves to complement this in the best possible way. She’s the anti-dera!
Episode 8 also includes a little side-plot of how the girls go shopping with Choi for clothes, and it’s sweet. But I have one Y chromosome too many, and one X chromosome too little, to give anything more than that single sentence for the sake of that part of the episode.