“The present will always be different from the past. That’s what makes life good and at the same time sad. That sadness in turn gives our everyday life some flavor. Just like coffee.” -Yaobi Kunio
“How bitter! Milk, please!” -Kitashirakawa Tamako
As much as I adored the television series, Tamako Market, I could not deny the many flaws the show maintained to the end: Dera and the royals, the stagnant relationship between Tamako and Mochizou, and the death of Tamako’s mother. The main attraction of the show was the daily life of Tamako and her friends in and around her neighborhood market, yet the other three factors kept popping up fighting for attention. The most out of place of them all was Dera, the single supernatural addition to TM. Tamako Love Story removes the magic and focuses in on the two aspects I care most about–the love, and the future.
First, the love. We know from the very beginning that Tamako and Mochizou have known each other since birth. Their families are rivals in mochi making, and they live and work right across the street from one another. Mochizou has seen Tamako through the laughter and tears, and now the future looms, threatening to pull them apart without anything ever changing. As the title states, this is a love story. But not the over-the-top unbelievable type I see in Hollywood. It’s the slow-growing kind of emotion that buries its roots deep and weathers time and tear. Mochizou’s confession and announcement of university in the city occurs fairly early on in the film, and we are witness to his and Tamako’s individual terrors–Mochizou at Tamako’s response, and Tamako at the prospect of change.
The future is something that Tamako is never shown deeply contemplating in the tv series, and she spends much of this film avoiding the topic. When her friendship with Mochizou threatens to topple over in the face of his confession, it’s quickly apparent to both her family and to us that Tamako is much more affected that she would like to admit. Nothing ever gets in the way of Tamako’s mochi obsession–nothing, that is, except the distraction of love. Re-living the moment by the river and imagining her possible answers prevent Tamako from concentrating on mochi, school, and baton club. For the first time, she considers what it is that she wants for her future and the people in it.
KyoAni brings together its skills in visuals and music to maximize the myriad of emotions in TLS. Here is where I first see their use of focus and blur, which I had thought first appeared in Hibike! Euphonium. We sit in on a couple of reflective moments in Kunio’s record shop drinking coffee and listening to well chosen jazz pieces, as well as repeatedly dance with her father’s tape recording from his old rock band days. The scenes draw you in and the music entrances–this is as much a tale of love as it is one of self-discovery for both the show’s characters and the audience.
Thank you, Secret Santa, for recommending not only one, but two films! I know it’s not required to watch all three entries, but I couldn’t resist when I saw two of them were movies I already had wanted to watch.