Tamayura: More Aggressive is a continuation of an earlier series, "Tamayura: Hitotose". The premise and story are pretty much the same this time around, but a new character is thrown into the mix. Let's see if it measures up to the wonderful first season.
We're once again introduced to Potte (Fuu), Kaoru, Maon and Norie as they spend their school days in the quiet, somewhat old-fashioned town of Takehara. Their characters have been kept intact and are consistent with the first series. Kaoru remains and tsukkomi and Norie plays the role of the boke, with Maon and Potte usually reacting their their antics. A new character is introduced, Kanae, a third year photography enthusiast like Potte. She's portrayed as insecure, timid and indecisive but over the course of the show she founds the Photography Club together with Potte and by joining her group of friends she manages to grow and become "More Aggressive". I think the character development can be inconsistent, since focus is often on Potte and Kanae, the rest acting as character that are there to react and entertain. What character development there is is very solid, especially Potte as the show explores more of her feelings about the town, herself, her friends and her family.
Being a slice-of-life, story is something that takes the sidelines in favor of episodic content that gives the viewers portion-sized bits of plot and events around Takehara. You can expect Potte and her group of friends to go on trips around the area of the town, spend random time together and holds their own events. I can see a common complaint being, "It's too slow. Nothing is happening!" I'll agree, this show is extremely show, and sometimes so much that it becomes a chore to watch. Even if you enjoyed Aria you're stepping into a totally different realm with this one. When something does happen, it's on a small scale, and its significance is more personal than anything. It's usually Potte learning a relatable life lesson, as well as learning more about her late father. More prevalent than in Hitotose, Potte's father is often brought up and used as a means to show Potte something of personal value. She slowly learns how much her dad really loved her, and the lengths he would go to for her, which makes the moments bittersweet; a mix of feeling love and acceptance as well as loss and grief.
Towards the end, Potte tries to deal with the gradual changes to her beloved town, and learns to nothing stays the same forever; no matter how much you wish for it. Tamayura: More Aggressive wants to present the viewer with a subtle, slow and human story about regular people doing regular things, but highlight the immense value of the lessons learned and their feelings of the characters. I found it to be near-tearjerking at times, because over the episodes I've gotten to know the characters and study them, as well as relate to what they're feeling. This excellent show is however marred by the sometimes slow and even dull progression.
I do expect anime to have a high standard when it comes to voice acting because that's been the case ever since I started watching, so this basically boils down to personal preference. I don't like Norie's voice when she's excited. That's... pretty much it.
Music is one of Tamayura's strong points, everything from the soundtrack to the insert songs are made with a clear purpose: to calm and to ease. You'll either hear playful tracks that play during the downtime or random chatter, or beautiful piano pieces complementing one of the more profound moments. Towards the end of each episode is an insert track, calm and sung by a female vocalist. Personally, I love those type of tracks so I'll try to find the soundtrack now that the show is over. The show's opening and ending themes follow a similar pattern of having an inviting feel. By listening to the opening you'll actually get a good feel of what the show aims to achieve, being beautiful yet carefree.
Art remains largely the same, which is no minus. The town of Takehara is drawn to appeal to us who like a rural touch to our scenery. Filled with Japanese buildings of an older variety, the entire town feels warm and welcoming, filled with friendly people and simple values. When venturing outside the town, the landscapes are all soothing and pretty to look at. The art does what it's supposed to do, but there's not much else to it. It works.
YURI RATING (3/10)
There's very little that can be scavanged here. Potte and Kanae have some great interaction and are very close. With goggles set to medium you'll get some good readings. Tomo, the owner of the local Okonomiyaki restaurant and professional photographer Shihomi Riho are seem plenty of times being close together and spending a lot of time which each other. Settling the goggles on low will enable you to interpret that the yuri way.
Tamayura: More Aggressive is a show that truly sticks to what it knows. It'll be a calm, predictable ride through Takehara, exploring further and revealing more about the main characters. It'll leave a Tamayura fan very satisfied and teary-eyed at times. While it's not for everyone, it certainly shows that anime can be ridicuously over-the-top as well as the most down-to-earth form of entertainment possible today.read more
I can’t believe I even considered skipping this before the season started.
Recommended to pick up after watching the prequel (Tamayura: HItotose), Tamayura: More Aggressive picks off a year after the start of its predecessor, and Sawatari Fuu (Potte) is still in Takehara with the group of friends she had reacquainted herself with the year before. School is starting and Potte is resolving to become “More Aggressive” this coming school year by forming a photography club. After much wavering and thought, she finally forms the club with an equally shy senior, Kanae Mitani.
This is where Tamayura’s storytelling shifts a bit from the first season.
While still remaining episodic and involving much of the same cast from the previous season, the second season focuses more on Potte learning about her deceased father and coming in terms with this loss while dealing with the position of “president of the photography club.” While the languid pacing of the previous season is still present, one can feel an ever so subtle push in terms of direction that the story provides the viewer. Even though it doesn’t seem like the “story” itself has much more to offer than following these girls’ daily lives, each episode, telling a different little story or showcasing a certain festival, event, or field trip, always finds a way to hit home in a very cathartic manner. Though on paper the show is about photography, that isn’t the thematic focus. Much like the Aria series, Tamayura’s tales relates photography to meaningful and touching events or happenings that occur naturally in life. Whether it’s taking photos for the school yearbook or talking with her dad’s old friend, the series uses photography as a medium to convey the emotions behind these wonderful memories.
Additionally, with Kanae’s addition as a senior who is on the verge of graduating, the story gains by adding a subtle pressure to more pressing themes like uncertainty or separation. These thoughts slowly transfer from Kanae to Potte as both begin to think about their futures. What’s great about how the series handled the more serious episodes was that it didn’t rely on sudden melodrama to perpetuate the story’s direction. With subjects as heavy as losing a loved one or uncertainty of the future in this season, Tamayura approaches these in the most reassuring of manners. It would’ve been the easier route to simply fill these thoughts with angst and hatred like most other anime do, but to be able to make light of such subjects without diluting the impact of these experiences showcases Satou Junichi’s trademark storytelling skill.
Overall, the stories Tamayura: More Aggressive has to offer are definitely more memorable than those of its predecessor. With the focus on character development already accounted for through the first season (which is the reason why I recommend watching that first), the story is able to focus on more emotional and serious subjects without feeling too forced. Nonetheless, the experience was still very similar to the first season, calming and relaxed, but never aimless.
If there was a noticeable downside to Tamayura, it would probably be its animation quality. TYO animations, which is essentially what was once Hal Film Makers, has had its fair share of good looking and well-detailed shows; however, Tamayura is only about halfway there. Character motions and animation fluidity is a bit choppy for 2013 standards, and details like character figures and features when not zoomed in are inconsistent at times. Fortunately, Tamayura makes up for this with its setting and atmosphere. Although Takehara is no Neo-Venezia, the series does a great job of providing the viewer with some nice views of the coastal city and its several self-discovered wonders. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, and the photos that are often taken to commemorate such a view often augment the experience. Although there are few truly breathtaking images, there is still a steady consistency in these photos.
Speaking of photography, as a healing-type anime with photography as its subject, the actual photos are very simple. Even being addressed in an episode itself, the calming simplicity of many photographs speak to the themes and messages of the show. Sure it’d be awesome to see more grandiose and awe-inspiring photographs, but simply seeing pictures of happy memories is always nice too.
It wouldn’t be a Satou Junichi anime without great music, and Tamayura is no different from his other directed or created works. From listening alone, it doesn’t seem that there were too many tracks in the OST; however, there were definitely many memorable ones to listen to. Most of the tracks are calming piano ballads that subtly accompany the languid pacing of the series and help the viewer relax and enjoy the experience. Bringing back a piano arrangement of the season’s first opening, Okaerinasai, was also a nice addition that is used sparingly, but effectively. The opening sequence, Hajimari no Uta, is a very catchy opening that has a slightly jazzy twist to it, and the ending, Arigatou, is a simple and calming ballad accompanied by an adorable animation sequence that reminisces Potte’s early memories of his deceased father. There are a few insert songs that play throughout the series, most notably Kazeiro no Film at the end of episode 11. Songs like these are also ballad-like in nature and fit the tone of the series perfectly.
The one issue I always had with Tamayura’s sound was with its voice acting. Even in the first season, Ayana Taketatsu’s Potte annoyed me a bit since she isn’t very used to performing with a more reserved and non-whiny voice. While some voices did take strides in being less squeaky than in the previous season, the cutesiness of many voices is still unfortunately apparent. This is not to say that the voice acting was not done to fit the characters well (because they did), but they could’ve toned it down a bit. I know it may be a bit hypocritical coming from someone like me who adores shows like K-On!! or Aria, where the voices are usually very cutesy, but Tamayura’s execution went a tad overboard.
While many would immediately dismiss the show as another generic moefest without even giving it a chance, the first season of Tamayura was laden with excellent characterization. Each character was given at least one episode of focus, and slowly developed throughout the span of the season. The primary difference between the first and second seasons of Tamayura is that focus of character development narrows a bit to focus on Potte and the newly introduced character, Kanae Mitani. That’s not to say that the others stop developing, but they take a step down from the spotlight in order to focus more on the aforementioned characters. This may seem like a negative at first, but what this season of Tamayura was able to do to make up for this was through the introduction of Kanae, an entirely new character. What was so surprising about plugging in Kanae into the Tamayura formula was that it was done so in such a nice way. In a slice of life series, it’s important that every character is constantly accounted for, and in shows that have a good amount of characters to focus on, some begin to feel…unnecessary (for lack of a better term). Kanae quickly finds her way to become an integral part of the Tamayura experience, and the focus given to her is plentiful, but not overdone. After only a few episodes, she seamlessly fits into the already established group of friends, whom are all very easy to sympathize with due to excellent characterization.
The other focus of Tamayura: More Aggressive lies in the name. Most of the series focuses on Potte taking a step up in order to become, well, more aggressive. As cheesy as it sounds and as cutesy as Potte says the phrase “More Aggressive,” her development as a character becomes the byproduct of such a decision. Throughout the series, she’ll make decisions and act upon her thoughts a bit more often than in the previous season, showing her steady and growing confidence. Now don’t go into the show expecting her character to completely change from the shy, wavering soul she inherently is, but what you can expect is a subtle, reassuring development that comes along with the episodic stories where she learns more and more about her deceased father. Despite the leisurely approach, the series uses this pacing to nail in the idea that growth itself needn’t be sudden. The rest of the cast is still as strong as ever, and while they’re more in the background cheering Potte on, they still have their own quirks and traits that made them lovable in the first place.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I am very biased when it comes to these types of shows. I’m a sucker for feely, slice of life shows, so I enjoyed this second season immensely. Much like Aria, Tamayura gives off a very distinct “healing” feel to its experience. In multiple episodes I found myself a bit hazy-eyed because the series is able to be so touching. Sometimes it was by the middle of the episode, but most of the time, the message hits at the end, playing out similar to an episode of Natsume Yuujinchou. It’s something that you won’t want to marathon or watch when you want fast-paced shows.
In the end, Tamayura: More Aggressive is a niche show that many will unjustifiably dismiss without even giving it a chance. This sequel has proven to be a worthy successor to the first season, providing many moving episodes to form a memorable experience. Unfortunately one of the most underwatched and underrated shows of summer 2013, I would highly recommend this season and the previous one to any fan of the slice of life genre or healing-like shows.
Average score: 8.6/10
Weighted score: 7/10 (Liked it, highly recommended for fans of the slice of life genre, healing shows. If not, still give it a try)
(if the rating confuses you, take a glimpse at my rating system on my profile for clarifications)read more