You can thank my new-found passion for X-Files and rekindled love for Agents of Shield for my month of silence. This has been a period of American television series and hitting the gym, and my progress of spring anime has ground to a near halt. But if there’s one thing I was able to complete, it was the 4-episode-long Tabi Machi Late Show, which ran for the first four weeks of this anime season.
It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if this show were to drop under a good majority of people’s radars. Surface-wise, the episode count and art style leave much to be desired. If others are like me, their plates are usually overloaded with what each season has to offer, and reasons to cut shows out are always welcome. One of the easiest decisions are made based on art style; this is why it took me so long to finally try Ping Pong the Animation, as well as The Tatami Galaxy. Then there’s the combination of episode count and duration—each are extremely short. I find it hard to justify spending time on a show so inconsequential as to lack the time needed for fully rounded stories and characters. I already have a difficult time justifying including full single-cours shorts in my weekly viewing! Regardless of these obstacles, Tabi Machi Late Show vaulted cleanly towards my affections. A new story with new faces was introduced each week, but the underlying themes remained the same: “good byes and journeys.”
Episode 1: “Recipe”
Food is one of the easiest ways to hook my immediate interest. We’ve had a deluge of of food anime lately, with shows like Shokugeki no Souma, Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka?, and Koufuku Graffiti. The attitude in each of those shows are very different from one another, but none more so than here. This kitchen setting and instructional dialogue caught me before I clicked out of the episode. We see a young chef struggling to achieve the approval of his teacher over her signature dish, and her in turn reminiscing over her own experiences in an almost mirror image of circumstance.
Episode 2: “Transistor Smartphone”
The brief encounter between the two girls in this episode felt repulsive in its aggression, but also wistful. The older I get, the more accustomed I become to the never ending greetings and good byes. It’s how life is, with everyone following their own adventures.
When I was younger, accepting the realities of relationships was a lot harder. There was that middle school friend I considered my BFF whose interests I watched fly apart from my own after entering high school. Then there were the kids who were a bit strange and solitary–kids I actually found interesting, but was too much of a coward to befriend when my social circle was already carefully established. Maybe we could’ve been sisters at heart, and maybe those friendships could’ve lasted longer than the others to the present day. Now I’ll never know.
Episode 3: “Natsu Matsuri”
With all the eerie television shows I’ve been watching lately, I’m surprised I didn’t catch on to the truth until exactly when the episode wanted me to. I’m curious if other viewers figured it out earlier, or if they, too, let out a “What?!” when the house disappeared into wreckage. The misdirection was extremely effective on me and I want to re-watch the story to see if I overlooked the obvious signs.
Episode 4: “Clover”
My favorite story of the bunch, “Clover” follows a teacher from her beginning career to retirement several decades later. She devoted herself to the elementary school students and the school, paying no mind to her own single-hood. Other women married and had their own children; she was paired with the school and “mothered” a constant stream of students. She gave her heart to them, watching them learn and grow and have kids of their own who would continue the cycle.
Some of my favorite teachers are still working, saying that each year is “the last.” I wonder if it’s love that keeps them going, or fear of solitude in the unknown. In this woman’s case, happiness followed even after she left the teacher’s podium.
For as short as these stories are, they exhibit a surprising amount of relatability. I really wish I could’ve seen a more elaborate art style implemented. The paper drama approach certainly has its own appeal, but I find it more effective in shows like Yami Shibai. Tabi Machi Late Show’s characters are more complex than the design and animation could properly convey. I suggest you give this series a try if your palate desires experimental offerings that still focus on depth of character.