Coming to terms with her father's death, Sawatari Fu decides to reignite her interest in photography and sets herself up to be able to move back to the seaside town where she grew up.
Where the original OAV had been an almost unbearably brief taste of things to come, the news of a proper TV series actually had me fired up with wild anticipation. Whether this is because of Junichi Sato's clout as an anime director can (and probably should) be left up to speculation, but a welcome view it was all the same.
And Tamayura ~Hitotose~ starts even before that point. In the first episode, we meet a younger Fu, still slightly morose over her father's death, and spending time with her crybaby friend Chihiro Miyoshi, who constantly feels like she's steppng on Fu's toes with her occasionally accidental mentionings of her past. To be honest, it's a little embarrassing to watch, because it kind of sets the tone for the rest of the series. Well, mostly, anyway.
But if there's one place the show really shines, then that would be in the visual department. Artland might not be the animation company behind the TV series, but it's still a fairly lush show with nice and relatively innocent character designs and an animation quality you can be relatively proud of. The score is equally satisfying, especially as Maaya Sakamoto is once more brought in to sing the opening song, another reminder of the show's gentle tone, and this time a song completely original to the show.
And it's this atmosphere that makes it so easy to like Tamayura. I once said that the original OAV had clearly been inspired by his work on Aria, and the TV series only reaffirms that. Life in Takehara, which is actually a real-life town (one which makes me suspect Sato and his team paid a little visit), remains gentle and quiet, and everyone in it are friendly, helpful and maybe even a little bit weird. But that's all part and parcel of the Sato magic: the guy working in the photograpy shop can joke around with far younger girls without coming across as a massive creep. The male teacher can easily overreact completely with his crush on a fellow Okonomiyaki restaurant store owner without coming across as a giant tool and a complete idiot. It's a muted palate, but one that lingers pleasantly long after you've had your first bite.
It's odd, then, that my main complaint about this show is that the characters simply talk too much, and it comes with the slightly bitter realisation that Junichi Sato doesn't really handle dialogue well, at least not in Tamayura. We hear Fu say that the pictures hold a very warm and nostalgic feeling to her, but she doesn't really need to, because we see those pictures, and they easily portray that warmth all by themselves. This only goes on too; with characters who feel they need to point out how wonderful things are when reactions and music would have been enough: expressions on the girls' faces when they eat something, or see something, or just absorb the atmosphere from the beautiful settings.
And thankfully, that's more than enough for this show's shortcomings to even come close to ruining everything. Also, despite some character's habit of speaking too much; their voices are also as wonderfully realized at first. All the characters from the OAV are present, which means that Hazuki Erino returns at channeling her Akari voice as Shihomi Riho, and I swear; the sound of it makes my heart melt. Hell, we even get to hear Chiwa Saito take on a role in the TV series, and not only her, but Sato even brings in Ryou Hirohashi as Komachi Shinoda, a girl who takes a liking to Kou equal to Norie, and so the the two naturally clash verbally quite often. I'm... sure Sato would have found a role for Kawakami Tomoko too, had the possibility been there. A little sad to think about.
Well, despite my one slight misgiving with the show, it more or less lived up to my expectations. To be honest, I never really thought this show would get a TV series, but I am glad I was wrong about that.
Suffering from Aria withdrawals? Give this one a go. It's a bit more chatty, but their souls are a perfect match. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: Like with the OAV, Tamayura ~Hitotose~ isn't really unsuitable for anyone, but the truisms portrayed here will probably still bore the youngest kids.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital source
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Tamayura ~Hitotose~ © 2011 Production IG, TYO Animations.
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