The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Tamayura: Hitotose

Title: Tamayura: Hitotose
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Company: TYO Animations
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 3 Oct 2011 – 19 Dec 2011

Synopsis: Sawatari Fu has spent her school years in Yokosuka but the town of Takehara by the Seto Inland Sea is a special place for her, as she used to live there with her late father. It has taken her some time to get over her father’s death, but Fu decides now is the time to move back to the place of her memories and to reignite her passion for photography which was passed down to her from her father while he was alive.

The Highlights
Pace: Iyashikei slow, meaning extremely relaxed.
Characters: Generally charming, but some are occasionally grating.
Life lessons: Lacks the universality of those from ARIA, or the profoundness of those from Honey and Clover.
Music: The insert songs mark the emotional high points.
Appeal: Limited to iyashikei fans.

The groundwork for the iyashikei genre has been in place for years, and while some of its titles such as Natsume Yuujinchou and Hidamari Sketch are quite popular, it’s still very much a niche in anime. ARIA persists as one of the most celebrated entries into the genre for good reason, and its director, Satou Junichi has returned for Tamayura: Hitotose, the follow-up of the recent Tamayura OVA. Mood was one of the most important contributions Satou made to ARIA, so it’s no surprise that a similarly relaxed mood permeates Tamayura. However, while there are a lot of similarities shared between Tamayura and ARIA, it simply isn’t anywhere as good.

That’s not to say Tamayura isn’t a decent show of its own accord. It’s gentle, charming and delightful at times, and occasionally shows a very quick witted sense of humour. It’s also as concerned and loving of its characters as a doting father is of his own daughters. The issue is that it has no qualms about ambling towards its best moments, and not all of them are as remarkable as it likes to think. People who aren’t into iyashikei and aren’t familiar with its lackadaisical tendencies will have mentally switched off by the time Tamayura gets around to sharing its message, and those who are into the genre will probably find those messages, on average, a tad underwhelming. ARIA at its best was life-affirming, but Tamayura can only settle for “heartfelt” instead.

Another issue is with its characters. The things Tamayura‘s cast struggle with are distinctly teenage. Fu deals with the realization that her role model is as human as anyone else, Kaoru can’t find a path in life, while Maon’s life is occupied with too many things, and she’s still to find a set direction. These are the types of issues that, after a certain amount of growing up, most people will have generally come to terms with. In contrast, ARIA‘s life lessons tend to be relevant no matter how old one might be, capturing a time of flux in its characters’ lives that most can’t help but sympathize with. Also, some of Tamayura‘s characters aren’t always likable; the antics of Norie, Komachi and Dougou start to wear thin after a while.

The music, particularly the insert songs, is very good and sets the right tone for the anime, but the animation is merely adequate, only achieving what it needs to and not much more. Tamayura isn’t an anime with broad appeal, and it’s much less likely to convert people into fans of the iyashikei genre than the much more accessible ARIA, or the better executed Hidamari Sketch or Sketchbook ~Full Color’s~. Existing fans of iyashikei shouldn’t hold back from watching this, but any recommendation for Tamayura should be aimed squarely at them. It’s a sweet and earnest show, but also a little awkward. Better, more memorable examples of slice-of-life anime can easily be found.

The Rating: 6
6/10

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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