Tari Tari Episodes 9 and 10

Rating: 5 of 5

Impressions:

In episodes 9 and 10 of Tari Tari, the character of Wien gets his turn in the spotlight of sadness. Over several previous episodes, we have been introduced to Wien’s situation mostly through his letters to Jan, a young boy that he met in Austria. He writes to Jan about the antics of his friends, frequently passing on Konatsu’s trollish teasing in a completely clueless manner. He also shares his deep personal doubts about his direction in life and the fact that he really has none. While his friends all seem to be striving for future, Wien is just sort of going along for the ride, unsure of what comes next. The two were tied together by their love of a “Power Rangers” type show that Wien’s grandfather sent videos of to Wien. The boy seemed to be rather frail and perhaps was living in a hospital or children’s home of some sort, but the details of his situation are never fully explained. As Wien’s arc begins in earnest, he receives news about Jan that disturbs him greatly.

The club has problems of its own. They have decided to do a musical for the White Festival, their school’s cultural fair, but they have practically no budget from the school and can’t afford costumes, props, and backgrounds. Konatsu suggests that they brainstorm about ways to raise money for the festival. As the episode goes on, Taichi notices that Wien is not acting like his normal self, he isn’t taking notes about what the others are saying and seems to be out of it in general. It seems that, without his desire to tell Jan about his life, his lack of direction manifests itself with a powerful level of apathy. With the whole group heading out after school, Wakana, still having trouble with her mother’s song, asks if she can talk to Sawa’s mother about how her mother composed music. Sawa’s mother surprisingly asks Sawa to bring the whole gang over for some cake. She has a favor to ask of them. The shopping district is planning a promotional campaign to try to increase business. The campaign needs five people to cosplay in Power Ranger type suits, act out mock battles against villains, and hand out flyers for discounts in the local shops. This is a perfect fund raising opportunity, and the super hero aspect seems to reinvigorate Wien, who takes a leadership role in designing their skits and personas as the “WestShopRangers”, protecting the valued patrons of the Western Shopping District from spoiled produce and inferior products!

The Choir and Sometimes Badminton Club performs as the “WestShopRangers!”

Several other monkey wrenches get thrown into the mix, including some build up for the final three episodes and some much needed character development for the hard to love Vice Principle of their school. As with the majority of the other characters, Wien is back to acting like himself by the end of his arc, with the help of his friends.

The ending of the arc has some of the cheesiest moments of the show, rivaling Wien and Konatsu’s cheers and songs at Taichi’s badminton tournament and the cell phone serenade by the other four members to Sawa, followed by Sawa’s wild ride, in the previous arc. However, these cheesy moments are far from a distraction or a detriment to Tari Tari. In fact, those are some of the shining moments of this wonderfully uplifting and emotional series.

For the most part, Tari Tari plays it straight, when it comes to the characters and their personalities. They are all very believable and easy to relate to, with some minor eccentricities to make them more salient than your average high school senior. (For instance, Wien’s wonderful fish-out-of-water gullibility, Konatsu’s energetic nature and tendency to prey on said gullibility, Wakana’s initial brooding nature and sharp tongue, and Sawa’s wickedly sarcastic sense of humor and quick temper, and Taichi’s ever present calisthenics, single-minded fixation on his sport, and a very endearing compassion for his friends that frequently paints him in a different light.) These little moments of cheesy goodness lift the characters out of their ordinary, slice-of-life character personae and push them into a more emotionally satisfying mold. These moments of “I don’t believe they just did that!” are a large part of what make the characters memorable, even more so for how real they feel when they are going about their daily routines.

The other major strength of the writing for Tari Tari, is the way the character’s problems are “resolved”. I put the word in quotes because they are not, in reality, resolved the majority of the time. For each character’s issues, from Konatsu’s desire to sing, Taichi’s and Sawa’s badminton and horse riding dreams, Wakana’s sorrow and regret, or Wien’s fish-out-of-water aimlessness, the end of their personal arc finds them back to functioning as they usually do, if not better, as in Wakana’s case. Their problems, one the other hand, are still there. In each case, the problems or repercussions of them, linger. Just like in real life, your problems are not solved by a song from your friends and a hug. They are still there, just easier to manage because you realize you are not alone and that, with the help of people who truly care for you. This “life-goes-on” style of problem resolution adds tremendously to the realism of the story.

While not an earthshaking series by any stretch of the imagination, Tari Tari is still a wonderful show to watch. Consistently entertaining, with very good balance between humor and emotion, the show is sweet without cloying, emotional without being manipulative, funny without disrespecting its characters, and able to inject just the right amount of cheesy, feel good charm to keep the mood light, without becoming silly. Add to that some wonderful music and amazing artwork and you have  a show that could very well stand the test of time.

Next, the school cultural fair is in full preparation mode, with the choir, and sometimes badminton, club preparing to do a musical play that they are writing themselves. Can they pull it off, or will the strange issues between the vice principle, principle, and the chairman of the school’s board that have been hinted at for the past few episodes cause problems for our plucky group of young singers? I can’t wait to find out!

Tari Tari Episodes 7 – 8

This review is mostly of episodes 7 – 8, but I do include some discussion of the overall style of storytelling which refers to the previous episodes that I explicitly reviewed earlier.

Rating: 5 of 5

Impressions:

Tari Tari continues to impress! The basic pattern of the show does everything in two episode mini-arcs, with the first two dealing primarily with Konatsu and her issues, followed by Taichi (though his arc is kind of episodes 3 and 5, and much less each episode is dedicated to his issues) then Wakana gets her turn in episodes 4 through 6, which is a bit longer, but also a weightier topic. The pacing of the show is very good, with none of the sense of dragging that frequently plague slice of life stories, but also avoiding the disjointed feel that many in the genre suffer from. One reviewer commented that Tari Tari only marginally qualifies as slice of life, due to its use of rather conventional dramatic story structure and I concur. I also have felt that the narrative structure makes far greater use of time jumps than your average slice of life show. However, the nature of the story telling style still conforms to the general slice of life pattern.

One of the biggest strengths of the show is the understated and realistic way it presents and resolves the character’s problems. Instead of having things spelled out clearly, we learn of each character’s issues over a series of episodes, with most of the details coming through behavioral cues as opposed to direct exposition. When the character’s problems finally come to a head, the audience is well aware of what is going on and hearing the character talk with their friends or family about their problems feels cathartic, as we have been allowed to feel their pain grow over the course of several episodes. It is partially due to this story telling structure that there is a general feeling that the character of Taichi was “short changed” on his “arc”. Since it happened early in the season, there was less build up to his story, but also his was an easier fix than most of the other characters. I would also argue that Konatsu’s arc was treated in a similar manner, with the caveat that, in a sense, her arc is the entire series, since the choir and sometimes badminton club exists because of her issues of wanting to overcome her stage fright that caused her trouble in the past and that the entire season involves her continuing quest to be able prove to the vice principle that music does “love her”*, even if it is only when she is making music with her friends, and to answer the question that Wakana asked her early in the series: “What do you sing for?”

In addition to the gradual presentation of the issues a character faces, the show also has a very “life goes on” style of resolving each character’s problems. Every character still has some lingering issues after the set of episodes dedicated to the details of their problems have past. There is no magic trick that makes the problem that was causing the character to be depressed, cranky, or close to the edge simply go away, never to bother them again. Instead, with the support of their friends, they can deal with their problems with much more ease. However, each character still must continue to deal with aspects of their personal crisis in the remaining episodes. This incomplete problem resolution style lends an air of authenticity to the issues the characters face.

This well executed story telling style most likely comes straight from the top: director Masakazu Hashimoto. This relatively untested director, who’s CV contains many more references to positions such as Storyboard, Episode Director, Assistant Director, and Production Coordinator than it does Director, is creating an extremely well thought out and deftly executed story that has captured the hearts of people on both sides of the pacific, with Tari Tari consistently showing up near the top of “best shows of the Summer 2012 season” in Japan and the US. Hashimoto deserves even more credit than your average director, since his name also appears behind several other jobs when the credits roll, such as Series Composition and Screenplay for episodes 1-8 and 11. That much involvement in story development and actual writing of the series in addition to direction makes Tari Tari practically his personal project, in many ways. That level of involvement in a show is rather rare these days.

On to the episodes at hand!

Sawa’s horse racing academy admissions guideline packet

In episodes 7 and 8, Sawa gets her turn at the “wheel of pathos” as her 2 episode mini-arc comes around. Her problems revolve around an envelope she received in the mail and the issues she has with her father not supporting her desire to make a career out of riding horses. In order to avoid spoilers, I will use only discuss the issues briefly, but suffice it to say that there are certain factors that limit Sawa’s ability to achieve her dreams that are literally beyond her control. The lack of support from her father doesn’t help much and her already fiery temper flares at her friends in the process of discussing the issues. The way that Sawa’s character had been built up to this point, with several instances of her quick temper and tendency toward sarcastic humor, along with her playful teasing of her friends meshed seamlessly into a sharp tongued, short fused, and rather brutally abrupt person when Sawa’s stress level increased due to the events of these two episodes. If she hadn’t had that wicked sense of humor or had never snapped at Konatsu earlier in the story, it would have seemed out of character and forced. As it was, it seemed like the logical progression of how a Sawa that was failing to deal with the pressure in her life would behave. When you consider that the general niche that people placed Sawa in at the beginning of the series was the “anime perfect girl”, complete with looks, brains, talent, and an impressive bust line, it is rather impressive to see her in a decidedly imperfect light. Of course, the way she was written, it was clear that that initial classification was very far from correct. “Perfect girls” don’t generally slap their friends on the backside to get them to snap out of a funk or tease their friend who just had a major personal failure by asking “are you crying?” Sawa, on the other hand, does those things, with a smile, and sometimes a shy glance and a blush, when Taichi happens to be the target of her teasing. (The “shipping” of Taichi and Sawa was not strongly hinted at in these episodes, but there was some indication of a certain amount of attraction between them. It still remains to be seen if romance is in the offing for any of the Tari Tari characters, but if it is, these two seem the best candidates.)

Konatsu sings a song of encouragement to Sawa’s voice-mail.

In the end, Sawa comes to grips with the inevitable and learns to deal with things that cannot be changed, in addition to learning a bit about her father’s dedication to her. (We also find out that Sawa’s fiery temper isn’t entirely inherited from her mother!) The fact that a moment of crisis for the choir (and sometimes badminton) club arises at the same time as Sawa’s personal crisis doesn’t help things, but it is the support of her friends, in a unique, enormously cute, totally appropriate (considering the type of club they are), and slightly cheesy fashion that pushes her to her feet in order to make sure she doesn’t let her friends down.

The next character to have his life put through the wringer will be the fish-out-of-water transfer student from Austria, Wien. Several interesting hints were laid out in these episodes, as well as those that came before, to give us hints at what Wien’s crisis might entail. It is a certainty that the power-ranger like heroes he seems to idolize will figure strongly in his story. The previews do not diminish that impression.

* This concept of not being able to please an audience unless music “loves you” is one I have seen used in more than one anime series about musicians, which leads me to believe that it is a common way that Japanese musicians think about that intangible quality that separates the great musicians from people who are merely competent, but have no flair or, as US musicians might call it, no soul or heart in their music. I have no proof of this, but it seems to be the way the concept is used.

Kokoro Connect Episodes 1-5

Kokoro Connect

Episodes 1 through 5 (First Arc – Hito Random)

Availability: Licensed by Sentai Filmworks for digital distribution and eventual home video release. Currently simulcasting on Crunchyroll.

Rating: 5 of 5

Synopsis: (From Crunchyroll)

Five members of the school culture club – Taichi Yaegashi, Iori Nagase, Himeko Inaba, Yui Kiriyama, and Yoshifumi Aoki – encounter a bizarre phenomenon one day when Aoki and Yui switch personalities without warning. The same begins to happen to the other club members, throwing their daily lives into chaos. At first the five students find some amusement among the confusion, but this connection also exposes the painful scars hidden within their hearts… When their calm lives are shattered, the relationships between the five students also begin to change!

Impressions:  [I will try to use as few spoilers as possible]

When you see ‘body swapping’ or ‘personality swapping’ as part of the description of a story, you probably think immediately of something like Freaky Friday or Trading Places, or if you are of a more literary bent, The Prince and the Pauper. In any case, your mind probably gravitates to stories about two people of very different mind sets or backgrounds changing places and learning about the other person and themselves in the process, frequently laced with broad comedy. If you are of a certain sub-culture in our society, namely the one we are all members of here at this site, your mind may gravitate to more prurient content, with images of eechi moments and broad sexual humor with a man switching into a woman’s body and vice-verse. If you went into Kokoro Connect with that in mind, you would probably be surprised with what you find.

Sure, there are a few moments where the ‘guy in a girl’s body’ wonders what this weight his upper body is that… ‘OMG! They’re breasts!’ [feels them] ‘Yep, they’re breasts alright, and darn nice ones at that! Always wondered what they felt like!’

But those moments are few and pass quickly. What follows is a fairly serious story, told with care and a fantastic amount of realistic dialog, about five people who are friends by chance who get put into a seriously strange, potentially dangerous, emotional, frightening, and confusing situation and how that experience brings them closer and makes them deal with issues they would rather not have to face, especially in front of others.

Let’s go back to the beginning. How are these five ‘friends by chance’, as I called them. They go to a school that requires that everyone belong to a club. But, as Taichi Yaegashi, narrating a section early in the anime, says: “every organization is bound to have a few rogue elements.” For instance, Taichi, a diehard wrestling fan put the “pro-wrestling society” on his form. Unfortunately, that club doesn’t exist. Yui Kiriyama loves anything cute and put the “fancy club” as her choice. It had closed down. Yoshifumi Aoki fancies himself a ladies man and signed up for the “player’s club” because he was gullible enough to believe the upperclassmen who told him it existed. Himeko Inaba, an intellectual and distant girl, joined the computer club, but quit almost immediately after, due to an argument with the club president. Iori Nagase couldn’t decide which club she wanted to join, so she let her teacher pick for her. These five misfits ended up in the same club: the “Cultural Research Club”, where they, for the most part, do nothing after school, have tea, talk, and occasionally put out a student newsletter that appears to be more of a gossip rag than any actual cultural research effort. So, even though these five didn’t have anything in common to begin with, they have become friends due to the fact that they spend every afternoon together after school.

One day, Aoki and Yui come to the club room with an unbelievable story. The previous night, the two of them woke up in the other person’s body. The other club members are pretty sure they are trying to pull a fast one on them, but then, after Iori realizes she left her notebook in her classroom, Taichi finds himself looking into Iori’s desk with a rather strange heaviness to his upper body and a high pitched voice when he talks. It is true, and now it has happened to two of the others.

Things go on like this, with much of the natural humor that one expects surrounding this type of thing. People going into the wrong bathroom when in someone else’s body, the aforementioned breast groping (and offer to assist by the obviously yuri class rep) and so on. Then one of their teachers shows up at the door of the clubroom talking in a deadpan voice, explaining that he is a being referred to as Heartseed and is merely using this teacher’s body. He explains to them that he is causing these personality swaps because he thinks this is an interesting group of people to mess with and that it will continue until they no longer entertain him. It is random and they have no control over it.

As these personality swaps continue, we find that there may be a reason these five individuals ended up in a club for people who don’t belong anywhere else, they all have something in their past or their basic personality that has left them scarred in some way, some rather deeply scarred. Himeko seems to be fairly close to both of the other girls and identifies Taichi as the person needed to help each of them with their problems (though we are given plenty of hints by the end of the arc that he has his own issues that he could use help with), and eventually tells him hers as well. As Taichi works selflessly to help the girls, we get insight into the personalities of all of the people in the group, including Aoki, as Taichi talks with him about stuff as well.

Eventually, Heartseed decides that they are too boring and that he needs to spice things up. The method he uses to add a bit of spice to his dull existence is brutally effective and results in the 2nd best episode of anime this season, in my opinion.

The show is billed as a “love and teen pentagonal comedy” and that is a fairly accurate description, except that there is much more drama than in most comedies (but also more comedy than most dramas) and the pentagon looks, at this point, to be a triangle and two points with a dotted line between them. If you enjoy romantic comedy, very interesting character development, and slice-of-life story telling with a wry wit and a slight edge, give this a try.

In particular, I find the interaction between the kids and the nature of the problems of a couple of the characters are a breath of fresh air. They way the characters interact reminds me very much of how my son and his friends talk to each other. (Having spent an entire trip to Washington DC with him and his high school orchestra, I got a pretty good feel for the way the modern geek communicates with like minded peers.) The problem that one of the girls is dealing with is of a nature that is different from most anime, and one that personally hits pretty close to home. When that character is chosen by Heartseed to be the one he creates a crisis for in the climax of the arc, it was particularly effective for me.

Tari Tari Episodes 1 – 6

Rating: 5 of 5

Synopsis: (From Crunchyroll)

Too young to be adults, but no longer children… Wakana Sakai was involved in music, but gave it up one day. Konatsu Miyamoto loves singing and can’t be torn from it. Sawa Okita would do anything for her closest friends. They laugh, they fight, they worry, they love… Through their very ordinary lives, little by little the girls learn to move forward. Sometimes they feel as if they can’t go on alone, but as long as they have their friends, they believe they’ll make it someday. Wakana, Konatsu, Sawa, and the music they make in their ensemble weave a tiny but dazzling story of the power of music. The last summer of high school… It’s too soon to give up on dreams. The song echoing throughout Enoshima continues to give us courage today.

Impressions: 

Slice-of-life coming of age drama is not for everyone, but it is very much “up my ally”, so you can use that information in evaluating this review. As they say, your mileage may vary.

This story blends many themes familiar to shows of this genre, and many of the characters may seem to be fairly typical of the archetype, but there are some nice twists to the familiar character types. One of the really interesting story telling methods this show uses is showing images of the main characters when they were younger. This serves two purposes: 1) providing some plot driven back-story with minimal expostulation, and 2) they are sooo darn cute!

Young Konatsu dancing with her grandpa

At the beginning we are presented with the main characters. There is Konatsu, a pint-sized spitfire who used to sing in the school choir, but was removed from the choir because of some event at the previous year’s district choral festival, and now serves the music club by turning pages for the accompanist.

Konatsu eating and ice cream cone

Sawa is first seen riding a horse, has a keen fashion sense, is on the school archery team, and is obviously looked up to by her classmates. Her dreams revolve around horses, but she is happy to help her best friend Konatsu in any way. Sawa appears to be the “cheerful best friend” character, but further inspection reveals surprising depth and a fairly vicious sarcastic sense of humor that frequently keeps Konatsu and the others on their toes!

Sawa from the OP

Taichi comes early to school every day to practice his badminton skills, despite the fact that he is the only member of his club. He plans to go on to play badminton in college and perhaps even professionally if he can manage it. He has an older sister that also plays badminton.

Taichi playing Badminton

Wein is transferring into the school a couple of months after the year began after living in Austria for the past twelve years. He has forgotten much of what he knew as a small child of Japanese language and customs and has tried to study up on them using books. (Not particularly good ones, according to Taichi, who is asked to show Wien around on his first day.) He is also a fan of a “Power Rangers” like super hero show, as seen below. (Possibly his one link to his native culture that he maintained while growing up in Austria?) Incidentally, Wien doesn’t appear to be his actual name, but the German name for the city he moved from: Vienna.

Wien and his Red Ranger

Last but certainly not least is Wakana, who is featured in the first episodes opening flashback playing with her mother. At the start of the show, she is seen making breakfast for her father and her cat, berating her father for sleeping too late and cooking too much for dinner (she gives him leftovers for breakfast), and generally doing the kinds of things that one would identify as “things mom does”. We find early on that she used to be in the school’s rather exclusive music major program, but has transferred to the general education program for some reason.

Wakana

The show does several things to make itself stand out from the crowd. One is pacing. The most common complaint about slice-of-life shows is that they drag and nothing ever happens. This show does not suffer from that problem. At the end of the first episode, the plot has been set as “Konatsu, refused re-admittance into the music club, forms her own choir club; The district choral festival is one month away; and the majority of the show will be Konatsu gathering the five friends to her to form the heart of this choir and triumphantly performing at the festival. Sound pretty standard? Well, that is not Tari Tari! Instead, by the end of the 2nd episode the choral festival is over and Konatsu is faced with new problems, the two guys were not even in the choir at festival time, and the sense of “been there, done that” that even the best slice-of-life stories exhibit has been entirely thrown out the window. In its place, we have a show that sets up an issue and tends to deal with it in two episode mini-arcs. Instead of a show about forming a choir and meeting the goal at the end, we now have a show about a group of friends doing what they need to do to help each other achieve each individual’s dreams, while they are still young enough to believe that such things are possible and old enough to actually do something with them in the event that said dreams become reality.

Another thing that makes the show stand out is the art! PA Works, the studio that brought us Hanasaku Iroha last year, has once again taken on a story based in a popular resort area in Japan, this time the Enoshima area: one of the most popular beach resort towns near Tokyo. This does several things for the show. It lends natural beauty to the background scenery that is astoundingly beautiful, gives the town that crisp clean tourist haven look, and provides for natural fan service as the girls don their bikinis to hang out or even work at the beach without it feeling out of place, forced, gratuitous, or like an obligatory beach episode. For a “scenery porn” addict like myself, shows like this are one of the main reasons I love anime! I could look at those exquisitely drawn sunsets, beach scenes, shrines in the middle of the forest, and stunningly drawn cityscapes for ever and not get tired of them.

The character designs also shine brightly here, though some may see too much of Hanasaku Iroha in them. That is natural, since many of the creative talents that brought you Hanasaku Iroha are also on board for this show. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the designs are stunning, attractive with realistic proportions, beautiful, and cute beyond any ability on my part to resist their charms.

The music also stands out as a high point for the show. Since a large portion of the plot revolves around music, it is good that the music is well done. The use of music to drive the plot in Tari Tari is fantastic! It is clear very early that Wakana’s mother and the music she was involved in when she was in high school and beyond is a driving force behind much of what happens, from Wakana’s problems to the behavior of the teachers and other adults. Music and how it impacts people’s lives is a major theme in this show and it is used to wonderful affect as well as effect.

Another strong point, which Tari Tari shares with Kokoro Connect, (another show airing this season in Japan and simulcasting on Crunchyroll) is the natural sounding, realistic dialog. The high school seniors in this show sound remarkably like real high school kids in the way they talk with each other, tease each other, etc… There is a natural sense of flow to the conversations, with some brilliant, and extremely difficult to follow with subtitles, sections where multiple conversations between multiple people flow naturally, with many people talking at once in a natural cacophony that strengthens the characterizations and sets the mood extremely well. It comes off as natural and not scripted, which is really hard to do with a scripted drama!

The reason I chose to do a review of the first 6 episodes is that, from my perception, the show has reached a turning point. Many of the issues that were impacting our young protagonists lives up to this point have been cleared up for better or worse, and the group of five friends is truly together, with each member dedicated to the cause, despite the fact that most of them had no intention of doing what they are doing at the beginning of the school year. The first few story arcs took us through a great deal of detail about Konatsu, Taichi, and especially Wakana, who was the last to really sign on to the plan laid out by the energetic young force of nature known as Konatsu. In addition to telling a wonderful, sad, painful, sweet, and eventually uplifting and hopeful story, these six episodes display the process of these five people going from classmates to friendships close enough to be akin to family in some cases. Sawa and Konatsu were already BFFs, but as the episodes rolled along we got to see Wien becoming close to all of them, but particularly Taichi and Wakana; Sawa and Konatsu reaching out to pull the sullen and frequently abrupt Wakana out of her self imposed shell and into a blossoming friendship that could very well define who she becomes as an adult, and a budding closeness between Sawa and Taichi which looks to be the major romantic story-line, at least from what has come so far. The growth of these relationships between these five friends has been realistic, gradual, and stunning in the way the writers have shown the empathy and level of caring between the characters.

The episodes culminate with the absolute finest single episode of anime that I have seen this season, and possibly for several seasons, with the revelations and emotional catharsis that is episode 6, “Laughing and Remembering”. I spent a good deal of the episode in tears, then later that night, listening to the exquisitely beautiful ED for the episode, had a personal reaction related to Wakana’s story line that had me in tears for several minutes. It is a powerfully written story, emotional, yet not manipulative, with natural emotion dealing with issues that will resonate with many viewers.

Now to titillate and cajole you into checking the series out, with a few animated GIFs from the first few episodes:

Image from the OP

Playful teasing

Friendly banter and pillow fight

Archery!

Badminton

Group picture from the ED

Sawa as a small child

Wien in all his awesomeness!

The “Grown up” Konatsu dances the same way!

Sawa’s Dream

Taichi’s cheering section

More Cheering

Young Wakana and her mother

Tari Tari Episode 3

Rating 5 of 5

Availability: Licensed by Sentai Filmworks for digital release sometime soon and home release in 2013, currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Impressions: In this episode, we find out how our little 5 man band gets formed for real! It starts with both the badminton club and the Choir club getting their death warrants handed to them by the acting principal, the witch from vice! (Well, technically it starts with a bath scene at Konatsu’s house. I love the way she and her brother only seem to communicate with each other when someone is in the bath! It really adds to the realism of the characters.)

It seems that the principal is one huge softy and was allowing the badminton club to continue on its merry way with only one member against the school’s rules, and the choir club has a rash of defections now that the concert is over and Konatsu’s brother doesn’t feel beholden to continue on and takes his friends with him. Leaving the club “officially” at three members (though we see Sakai’s club resignation form repeatedly in the episode…) Both club presidents vow to keep their dreams alive. Taichi recruits Wien to join him in badminton, but still needs three more people. Konatsu has an idea: They will play a game of badminton, and if Taichi wins, the choir club members will join his badminton club and if he looses he will join the choir club. At first, it look like it is just Sawa and Konatsu playing against Taichi, then Sakai surprises the girls and shows up to play too, seeming to cement her as a member of the club, or maybe just as a friend… Then Wein shows up to help Taichi. Now the stakes are enough for the winner to officially form a club, conveniently filled with the five main characters…

How does it end up? If you haven’t watched, I won’t spoil it…

 

Here are some images from the episode to titillate and cajole you into checking out the series! 😉

A strange Spanish speaking guy that seems to be stalking Sakai!

Stalker? What about the pig?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first of the cake payments from the debt Konatsu rang up to Sakai in episode 2: (I later figured out that she had 3 plates, making this the full payment of 3 cakes.)

Payment in full!

Konatsu eating in a frilly bikini:

Snack at the beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Konatsu may be small, but that doesn’t mean she is a little girl. I appreciate it when a show doesn’t make a high school senior look like an elementary school student. She just looks like a very petite young lady:

Konatsu at the beach restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those who prefer a woman to have curves above the waistline – Sawa in a bikini:

Sawa working at the beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those of you who are wondering why there is a beach episode already, expect them to be there and in swimsuits on a regular basis. They live in the resort town of Enoshima, Japan, with some of the closest beach resorts to Tokyo. (Fans have started mapping locales used in the show for future anime tourists to use on their Tari Tari pilgrimages on Google maps.)

Finally, a taste of the badminton action!

Triple serve – is that fair?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wien has great form, but no ability!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And a pig:

Why a pig?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for your time!

Arigato!

 

 

 

Tari Tari Episodes 1 & 2

Rating: 5 of 5

Availability: Licensed by Sentai Filmworks for digital release sometime soon and home release in 2013, currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

The cast of Tari Tari

Synopsis: (From the MAL Fan Club Page)

The last year of high school is always a time of both looking forward and looking back. Before you lies the future, alternately bright and scary. Behind you lie memories, both happy and sad. And somehow, in the course of one year, you have to reconcile those two and decide where your life is going to go.

For Wakana Sakai, who had started studying music, it’s time to face the tragedy that made her abandon that path. For Sawa Okita, it’s about her dreams of riding professionally. And for Konatsu Miyamoto, it’s about bringing her friends together through the magic of song. Can something as simple as the formation of a chorus club really help solve the hurts and pangs that come with growing up? Can music bring people together despite their differences?

Impressions: Two episodes in, this show has impressed me as one of the finest of the Summer season. Of course, it is a show that hits many of my personal preferences squarely on the nose, so, as they say, your mileage may vary!

However, Tari Tari is perfectly suited for people who enjoy things like slice-of-life, coming of age stories; choral music; breathtakingly beautiful background art; meticulous character animation; and attractive character designs that use realistic character features to distinguish the characters from one another (as opposed to things like brightly colored hair in unrealistic shades).

So far, the show has been very entertaining, with the first episode serving to introduce the characters and the initial plot line of the show, and the second episode totally changing what I thought was going to happen in the show, delivering some very well executed character development, and providing some absolutely beautiful music along the way. I won’t give details about why it was so surprising, but suffice it to say that I was taken off-guard. That doesn’t happen very often, especially with slice-of-life shows. Many comments on other boards mention the feeling that this episode was rushed, but I don’t really feel that. It was unexpected, and covered material that most viewers expected to be more drawn out in one episode, but that is not necessarily bad. In fact, it suggests that the show is not predictable, boring, or slow, which are the most common complaints about shows of this sort.

One of the strengths of the show is the understated manner in which it delivers the story. In introducing the characters and providing further character development, it uses character behavior, facial expressions, and mannerisms to get the point across instead of stating things outright. It trusts the viewer to “get it” when it shows us one of the characters playing with her mother when she was a small child before the OP in episode one, then opens the show after the OP with a teenage girl who looks very much like that mother doing the morning housework that one would expect a traditional Japanese housewife to be doing, chiding her father for sleeping too late among other things, and then heading off to school. It doesn’t have to tell us her mother died. We can tell that she is, at the very least, not there anymore. The natural assumption would be that she died. We can now use this information to parse the characters actions as the story progresses. Similar scenes are used throughout these two episodes, hinting at why the character behaves in a particular manner instead of saying it explicitly.

I give it a strong recommendation and so far it appears to be suitable for even preteen viewers, as there has been practically no fan service or objectionable behavior or language. (There have been a couple of bath scenes, but they have been inverted tropes instead of the expected fan-service, and fairly well done at that.)