As a little girl, Fuu Sawatari’s father taught her to love photography. They took pictures everywhere they went. But after he passed away, seeing those photographs only served as a reminder of her loss, so she locked them away to be forgotten. Years later, her brother Kou finds their father’s picture album, and as he flips through its pages, the pictures remind Fuu of all the happy memories of her father that she will carry with her forever.
Now, as the shy Fuu enters her first year of high school, she once again takes up her father’s old camera, determined to take wonderful pictures that will bring joy and happiness to others.
Dreams. Small or big, simple or far-fetched, related to hobbies, future job or just dreams of making friends. Almost everyone have dreamt of something at least once. Tamayura is an anime about chasing these dreams. And no, not about huge triumphs. It's about achieving small successes and enjoying them.
First of all, if you:
a) automatically mark every anime similar to K-On! as moeblob crap, without even bothering about things like story or characters;
b) don't like slow-paced shows that, unlike mentioned above K-On!, mainly focus on drama than on comedy;
just give up already. You will not like Tamayura either.
Tamayura ~Hitotose~ is a sequel to OVAs (which take
place in between 1st and 2nd Hitotose episodes on the timeline, however) and should be watched after them. Otherwise you'll not recognise some gags, and start without knowing most of main cast.
Story - 8/10
Tamayura is, just as the MAL description for OVAs says, some kind of "healing anime". It makes viewers be able to unwind a bit. The main plot is very simple. It resolves around a girl, Fu, who's interested in photography. It's somehow similar to Aria in many aspects (not to mention they share the same director).
However, unlike Aria, which shows an idealised vision of future, Tamayura takes place in our times. It doesn't show how the world could be beautiful, but how it actually is.
Also, in contrast to other shows focusing on everyday life of groups of friends (eg. A-Channel, Yuru Yuri, Lucky Star, Kimi to Boku or mentioned above: K-On! and Aria) Tamayura: Hitotose doesn't contain any completely filler episodes, which don't advance the story at all. Almost every single one either develop characters a bit or shows some of the backstory, which explains their current behaviours. The OVAs didn't have so well-thought story, so it's already the first thing, that shows that Hitotose is better.
Nevertheless, even through everything seem to form a coherent whole, the show is still episodic and not really ambitious in comparison to more complex stories we can see in other series.
Characters - 9/10
Characters are definitely strong point of Tamayura ~Hitotose~. Like I've already stated before, they are somehow developed in almost every single episode. Their backstories are very well-presented, too. As the characters develop, we can also see that they have more depth than it was shown in OVAs.
Every girl has a bit different personality and different interests as well. Yes, different hobbies. You won't see anything like light music clubs or gondola companies here. Photography could be the core of story here, like mahjong in Saki or drawing in Hidamari Sketch. However, not focusing on only one thing makes Tamayura somewhat more universal.
These two things also makes them seem more realistic. Probably no one wonders why Azusa Nakano started to play guitar, or why Akari Mizunashi decided to become undine in Neo Venezia, leaving her family behind on another planet. Such information usually aren't considered as important, but in fact they are essential for the most of the story to take place. And they are provided in Tamayura.
Art & Sound - 10/10
As far as I'm concerned, only average thing here is design of characters. Sceneries are really wonderful, they just make you want to take a photo of them (oh, well, you can still take a screenshot).
Taking into account, that the production hasn't very high budget and its studio is almost unknown, backgrounds in urban areas have really many details such as irregular bricks in the old pavement. So do many objects such as Fu's camera.
The animation is fine, however unlike in fantasy or shounen shows, in slice of life anime it isn't something you pay much attention to.
Music fits very well, at least if you don't find singing in BGM annoying. The opening and ending both fit in climate of the series, whereas the second one is quite meaningful, especially if you connect lyrics, story of Tamayura and photos shown in it.
Enjoyment and Other Aspects - 7/10
The sole purpose of this series is to relax viewers, allow them to chill out after rough day and forget about the shadows of everyday life. In this aspect, Tamayura is almost perfect - it has calm slow-paced story, sympathetic characters and pretty sceneries, it also has some kind of 'warm feeling'. OVAs, with duration of only 2 regular anime episodes couldn't do that better than TV series, cause there wasn't enough of them and viewer, who happened to like it, was left with deficiency, wanting for more.
It also has an ability to show how beautiful the world is. For me, who lives in industrial region, chimneys of factories, power plants or ironworks don't seem to beautify the surroundings. Nah, it even makes everything uglier. Therefore, it was quite shocking for me, when Noire and Maon looked at a red-and-white-painted factory chimney and said that it was... beautiful. It made me come to conclusion, that maybe they really aren't that bad as I always thought. It forces to think, if it is Tamayura's reality being idealized, or is it just our view of the real world as something vile, foul.
It is also really good, that they resigned from needless fanservice that appeared once in OVAs. In my book, such series shouldn't have any, really.
It seems everything is fine, but... you wonder, why I gave enjoyment only seven points of ten? Well... Despite all the relaxation and manifestation of world's beauty, the humour in this series is just average. In combination with really slow-paced story the whole thing can be really boring for everyone, who is expecting comedy, action, or just isn't in mood to watch something like that. Enough boring to quickly give up on it.
Tamayura is an anime about the world around us. However, it shows everything around in way more positive, yet gentle way. If you are in mood to spend your fabulous time on watching something peaceful and optimistic, something without overcomplicated story, deaths, sex or shocking plot twists, I can highly recommend Tamayura to you.
In Kino's Journey, it is said that the world is not beautiful, which is actually said to be a reason why the world can, in fact, be considered beautiful. Tamayura is a stunningly emotional tale of a girl finding beauty in what had been the source of her sorrow before: photography. Reminded by the loss of her father, she distances herself from his former favorite activity and struggles to cope with the situation she was suddenly forced into.
Tamayura sets off when she finally succeeded in accepting reality and regaining her vitality, which allows her to dive into the memories she has been keeping buried for
years. By deciding to pick up photography by herself, she enters a journey to discovering the background of her late father's passion towards making photographs to understand more about him and the emotional value of keeping mementos.
This short synopsis already brings me close to tears. The premise sounds perfect for a highly emotional ride, but what you get was, unfortunately, not elaborated in detail. Tamayura is a 'high slice of life' series, meaning it is almost episodic and doesn't follow a decent story. In contrast to Aria, Tamayura lacks a firmly set goal, and the episodes just float by, so to speak, which is ultimately the reason there is much unused potential in terms of storytelling.
Impressively enough that Tamayura excels in 'floating by', creating a wonderfully soothing and peaceful atmosphere that is well known from the Aria franchise. Instead of integrating plot elements with high depth that encourage the viewer to think and reflect, this show focuses on depicting peacefulness and harmony with every detail it comes with. In the same manner, emotional, mostly beautiful scenes just 'float by' and add some intensity to the entire thing, which is otherwise defined by more or less random slice of life plotlets.
Although the synopsis literally cries out for character development, only traces of it can be found in Tamayura. The character development can be summarized as the process of bonding with friends and becoming more mentally stable throughout the show while discovering happiness. And this applies to all the main characters there are, namely the heroine Fuu and her close friends. It totally makes sense, in my opinion, that an atmosphere-oriented show rarely offers in-depth characters, and I don't consider this a weakness of Tamayura at all. That, what is important in this case, is the credibility of the characters' personalities, which is absolutely present in this show. Both the main characters as well the side characters provide a very consistent personality with authentic attitudes. This luckily outshines the sometimes rather clichéd dialogues.
Those who know Aria are well aware of how much the soundtrack contributes to the peaceful atmosphere that was aimed for with Tamayura as well. The background music turned out as beautiful as the atmosphere created by the characters, thus implying a high fit between the content and the technical dimension. The opening song by Maaya Sakamoto is an excellent addition to that and gets the viewer in the right mood for what is to follow. A noticeable disappointment, however, is the considerable amount of unused potential regarding sceneries and landscapes. A show that focuses on beauty (esp. in nature) would be wise to emphasize this aspect by delivering more impressive images/drawings to enhance the emotional impact. Aria did this masterfully, but that was primarily thanks to a more creative sci-fi setting.
Once again, the director of the Aria franchise has shown his qualities in creating an immersive experience that is defined by shallowness, peacefulness, harmony, and beauty. It absolutely meets my taste, although I would have wished for a decent storyline adding to Tamayura's density of emotional substance. If you are the type for hardly demanding and calming anime, Tamayura can be highly recommended.
(A quantified evaluation can be found on my page.)
There's a few different types of anime. There's anime that's written to excite, and there's also animes that bring out laughter. And then, there's animes like Aria the Animation (and it's sequels) and Tamayura: Hitotose, where there is only one purpose behind it - to make the viewer smile, and to bring joy to their hearts. I suppose Tamayura, is an anime that you could call heartwarming, and there's no doubt that that's quite the fitting descriptor. Because it really, really is quite heartwarming indeed. Watching Tamayura, brought me so much joy and warmth that no shounen or seinen anime has ever brought me. I
can’t even begin to describe the warmth that Tamayura poured into me through it’s telling of the stories of a group of friends.
That being said, because Tamayura really is, when you boil it down, a slice-of-life anime, it really isn’t for everybody. If you like your anime girls clad in armor wielding legendary swords and fighting epic assassins and overthrowing evil families, Tamayura is probably not for you. If you like animes where every single episode is a cliffhanger, and you’re absolutely dying to see what happens to the kid ninja next, this anime’s probably not for you. But, if you like to enjoy the stories of the lives of four high school girls, and like to enjoy an anime where you can relax and plaster all your worries away, then absolutely watch this anime.
Because realistically, that’s all Tamayura was meant for. It wasn’t meant to be a massive blockbuster in the anime world, it wasn’t meant to be an adaptation of some famous manga, no, not at all. In fact, I’m pretty sure (no, I’m absolutely sure) that Tamayura: Hitotose, was written for the sole purpose of helping people find good in life. It seems like the entire anime as a whole, constantly aims to show people the positive sides of life, and fill their hearts with warmth as they display possibly the most positive of emotions only to be bested by the final season of Aria.
In that sense, there really is no plot - there is no suspense, no rising action, no climax, no finale, there really is only daily life, a daily life that’s filled with the joy and happiness of four high school girls. In fact, the development of said girls, is probably the greatest achievement if Tamayura: Hitotose. The wonderfully told story of Fuu and her friends, as well as her photographic past, was not only heartwarming, but extremely motivating. Actually, I’m sure that's exactly what Junichi Sato aimed to create - an anime that fills people with joy, hope, and motivation, just like his previous creations, namely Aria the Animation and it’s sequels. Of course, having watched both, it was pretty easy to draw parallels in style. Both animes, have this incredibly peaceful feel that nothing else can replicate. It seems like I could just wash my worries away and immerse myself in the world of Fuu and her friends forever, and remove all the weight off my shoulders.
Unfortunately though, since I watched Aria, I can also see why Tamayura is not as good as Aria. The reason why I brought Aria up, even knowing that reviews should not include other animes, is because it proves my point very well. The place that's “lacking” per se, in Tamayura, is it’s setting. Obviously, a quiet town definitely fits Tamayura very well, but the problem with this is, is that it narrows the audience, as it makes the anime “less interesting” for a certain demographic. But, this goes both ways. Personally, I wouldn’t have changed a thing - while the setting may have been monotonous, and slightly boring, I found that not only did it fit the anime quite well, the way it was described painted a very peaceful and quiet atmosphere, something perfect for Tamayura. On the other hand, having such a normal setting means that the anime has to rely on it’s other aspects to make it interesting - and daily life like the one seen in Tamayura, isn’t always the best medium of choice when trying to create a great anime.
Of course, if I had to name one thing every decent anime needs, is great animation. And Tamayura has good animation. Although not as artsy and incredible as Aria, Tamayura has that modern, smooth, and flowing animation that also comes off as quite peaceful. Of course, like the setting, it’s also quite normal. Which personally, I liked.
The same goes for this series - I quite enjoyed it. It filled me with a soft, warm happiness that no other anime, save for Aria, gave me. To me, it was the anime that I would sit down and truthfully enjoy, no matter what happened to me that day, Tamayura would still have made me smile. And it did, quite often.
So, thank you, Junichi Sato, for putting a smile on my face. Thank you, for an anime that gave me a warm happiness that seems to be easily forgotten in this fast-paced, action-packed world.
I’ll definitely look forward to Tamayura: More Aggressive.
Sure, I have enjoyed and laughed during a lot of other series much more so than Tamayura: Hitotose but I've never felt compelled to write a review for any other anime. Tamayura: Hitotose is best described as "special" it was so heartwarming and pleasant without being sappy or abnormally tragic. The feelings and emotions were so relateable, even for someone much older than the characters themselves. The story progressed at a nice pace, the soundtrack matched well, and I loved the art. Each character was distinct and memorable in their own right, I changed favorites every week! Also, I want to live in that
town! It seems like such a wonderful place and the art captured the natural beauty so well, I want to see it in person. Now that I have watched the anime I definitely have to read the manga.I'm really impressed with this anime overall and it is one of the best representations of the "slice of life" genre I have ever had the pleasure of watching.
Curious if you’ve ever watched a Nozomi Entertainment release? If you own or have seen Revolutionary Girl Utena, Yakitate!! Japan, Junjo Romantica, or Martian Successor Nadesico – then you’ve seen a Nozomi Entertainment release. Check out what else they have.