The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Tamayura OVA

Title: Tamayura OVA
Genre: Drama
Company: Hal Film Maker
Format: 4 OVA
Dates: 26 Nov 2010 – 23 Dec 2010

Synopsis: Sawatari Fu, a high school student with an avid interest in photography has returned to the town of Takehara where she once lived as a child. Through her hobby, she seeks to rekindle the old memories she spent with her father while he was alive, while forming new memories with her friends Kaoru, Norie, Maon, and Riho, a photographer who Fu greatly admires.

The Highlights
Erino Hazuki: Her performance here shows she merits more seiyuu work.
Sato Junichi: Does what he does best by bringing out the sentimentality of each scene.
Soundtrack: Peaceful and idyllic; a perfect fit for Tamayura‘s setting.
Resolution: Hastily done, partly as a result of the episode count.

They drink tea. They eat cake. Had these mundane scenes showed up in any other anime, the show would be instantly written off as yet another entry in the fluffy, but pointlessly insubstantial moe slice of life genre. Such a characterization would be far off the mark though in Tamayura, when you consider that Sato Junichi’s deft hand is there to guide the anime along and elevate the seemingly ordinary scenes into something extraordinary.

Given Sato’s directorial accomplishments, it’s not surprising to see bits and pieces of his past works show up in Tamayura. For instance, the buildup to the sentimental resolution at the end of each episode bears traces of the wonder and awe found in each of ARIA’s episodes. Knowing this, Tamayura’s meanderings neither irritate nor feel bothersome, as they all contribute to Fu’s growth while radiating the heartwarming experiences and the charm that are characteristic of Sato’s anime.

Fu’s growth through her discoveries as she wanders from one experience to the next serves as the linchpin that drives much of the narrative. As expected, she gets the most development out of all the characters as her goal of forging the connection with her father through photography brings about new experiences and new cherished friendships. Though her clumsiness may initially be irksome, the earnestness she exhibits is positively heartwarming and endearing to the audience, making up for any annoyances inflicted.

The other character worth mentioning is the photographer, Shihomi Riho, who serves as Fu’s unofficial mentor. Her character, voiced by the talented Hazuki Erino, radiates dignity and wisdom in all the scenes in which she appears. The earnestness Riho exhibits helps to bridge the age gap between her and Fu, thereby building up a high degree of rapport which makes their interactions my favorite part of Tamayura. It’s rewarding to see how one person’s passion begets the other’s, creating a synergistic engine that allows each to encourage the other to greater heights.

Aside from those two, none of the other side characters are explored in nearly as much depth and, as a result, they come off as being too two-dimensional. But that’s not the only issue stemming from the four 15-minute episode format. The OVA makes an effort at resolving Fu’s search, and while it does, the execution surrounding that scene felt a bit ham-handed in its suddenness, which detracts from the scene’s emotional content. It didn’t help that the explanation given was difficult to swallow, unfortunate, because that’s the final impression the anime left me with.

Still, Tamayura does well given its constraints. The simple premise, which combines a girl’s love of photography and the wonderful memories she derives from that pursuit, exudes charm and wonder from the warm feelings that bubble forth. Though there are depths left to be plumbed, I do hope that once the TV series premieres, it can address these issues at a slow, steady pace so as to make for a satisfying overarching resolution where all loose threads are tied up.

The Rating: 7

Reviewed by: zzeroparticle

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