While trolling around on Sankaku Complex, a place I'm beginning to despise as time goes on, I was looking at the "Top 10 AT-X Anime of 2010". Whilst being completely unimpressed by the horrible anime choices, I found one I was unfamiliar with, and that was Tamayura.
So, to my curiosity, I looked it up. First impression was, "this looks like crap", "moe-trash", "stupid ova filled with cute girls making stupid faces with cute noises". Then I watched...
The opening scene in *anything* is the most important. Sets the tone, ignites the story, etc. etc. I was expecting the good ol' lazy-girl-wakes-up-late-and-runs-out-the-door opening. To your surprise you're
given a monologue about a mundane thing we all look at in our lives, and set in a peaceful tone, that explains photography in a beautiful way. Now I know that it's common knowledge about the beauty of photography, but being a person, I like to hear those kinds of things over and over, worded differently, or said in a different matter from a different perspective.
Looking at the score, it's pretty apparent that I like this OVA.
The characters are right where they should be. Nothing is "hyper-charged" about character traits, they're all pretty average. Which isn't a bad thing, sometimes. But their development all comes from one person, Sawatari Fu. All the girls are in a similar place in their lives that we've all been at.
By watching Fu go through life, develop her interests in photography, you learn something that's kind of beautiful. I also think that there's a good message for anyone that's thinking "What should I do in my life?" or "Where will I be in ten years?", or if those questions are forced upon and are causing stress in one's life. Some might say that I'm looking to deeply into this anime, and it's pretty easy to do with the central idea of the OVA.
The art is what you'd expect. Cute, gentle, and pretty, it has those moe elements. Music is "you know". It's there, it enhances scenes. Voice Actors sound as they should at the correct times.
There is one animation mistake. But it's easily forgiven.
As for story, don't be expected to have your mind blown. The story revolves around photography, and a photo and a drawing ignite a laid-back adventure in the last episodes. A adventure that has meaning, at least, and it means a lot to the characters that we're given. There's also a nice emotional connection to actually care for the story. Well, to the amount of a four episode OVA.
The show feels sort of nostalgic. It makes you want to look back on all the photo albums you might have. Or look around on your "photo albums" on Facebook.
If you're thinking about watching this show, or if you're at a similar point in your life. I'd really recommend this short and relaxing OVA. Good shows don't need to be over elaborate or something that makes your blood pressure rise. Just an emotional connection and some reassurance.
A four-episode OVA series that should soothe any weary heart.
As always, my reviews are spoiler free.
Tamayura is a slice of life that consists of only four episodes, telling the story of Fuu Sawatari and her life as an aspiring photographer. Tamayura is directed by Junichi Satou of Aria, one of the most acclaimed SOL series of all time. It is called a "healing story", and this description is quite apt considering the atmosphere presented in this too-often overlooked series. This series was created before Tamayura: Hitotose, but actually takes place inside of Hitotose's timeline. I would advise watching these
OVAs first, however.
Story - 7/10
Sawatari Fuu is an amateur photographer, trying to capture the moments of happiness around her with a camera left to her by her father. These moments of happiness, called "tamayura", appear as light orbs when the subjects of a picture are especially content. She is surrounded by her friends and family as she goes about her daily life and photography.
As a SOL series, the story is very basic. However, as anyone who has watched Aria knows, Junichi Satou is able to create a remarkably peaceful world that the viewer can fall into and relax. The story is more extensively explained in Hitotose, which has a more definite beginning; keep this in mind as you are dropped into the middle of the story already taking place. If this is something that bothers you, go ahead and watch Hitotose first.
Animation - 8/10
The style is somewhat reminiscent of Kyoto Animation titles. The character designs are very soft and cute, but still have a fair amount of detail. The backgrounds are well done, and especially diverse for a series of this type. Generally, a SOL is restricted to just a few areas like club rooms and bedrooms, limiting the amount of work that has to be done. However, Tamayura explores a much wider array of areas, and rather than the usual small town city scape Tamayura presents a traditional Japanese town with beautiful architecture. I understand that many of the locations visited in the series have real life counterparts that they are designed from.
One interesting thing the entire franchise does is show still "photographs" that have been taken, and while these are technically not animated at all, I enjoyed looking at them being interested in photography myself.
My main complaint with the animation is the character detail when not close up. This is a very common animation issue even in otherwise beautiful shows (check out the background characters in the TV and Blu-ray releases of Madoka). It's pretty easy to overlook though.
Sound - 6/10
While Tamayura has a peaceful backing soundtrack, that is all it has aside from a slightly above average OP. The tracks are commonly repeated if you listen closely. The voice acting is done well, but there is nothing of particular note to set this series apart. The soundtrack might be nice to play while going to sleep or studying, perhaps.
Character - 7/10
Like dozens of other SOL series, the main cast consists of four girls with several reoccurring side characters. What sets Tamayura apart is the focus on Fuu and her life. While the other characters are explored more in Hitotose, the theme remains that they revolve around Fuu. This is actually a refreshing change, as it sets a more defined theme for the story than others of the same kind.
The cast consists of Fuu, who is kind, softspoken, and a bit airheaded. She can occasionally get herself into a bit of trouble with her enthusiasm for photography, ending up in some compromising positions and locations. Her friends are all likable, with the very quiet Maon, the boisterous Norie (who reminds me of Usagi from Sailor Moon), and the level headed Kaoru. They don't have much time for development in these 4 short episodes, but they are better explored in Hitotose if you find this series and the characters agreeable.
Enjoyment - 8/10
This series is able to set a beautiful atmosphere and setting, just as Aria did before it. It has a theme, photography, that keeps the story flowing to some degree. This combined with an easy to love cast makes for a lovely series when just trying to relax and escape life for awhile.
Tamayura is succeeded by Tamayura: Hitotose and the currently airing Tamayura More Aggressive. They follow the same tone, but are 13 episode series that give more time to the side cast as well as explaining Fuu's life in more detail. I would strongly recommend them if you enjoyed these short OVAs.
I must say I'm a fan of slice-of-life series, since I can appreciate the slow pacing of the show and simply enjoy of atmosphere created by the series. I loved Hidamari Sketch and Aria. I even liked series like Sketchbook and Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, though they was never my favourites. But I cannot seem to enjoy what Tamayura has to offer.
First of all, the setting never really got to me. I have a bit of interest in photography, but I've never got the least interested while the cast is on the subject. Secondly, the cast is really, really boring. Fu and Kou are the only
names I recall. I can only remember the rest of the cast as the whistling girl, the twin-tail who's always on high, and the nondescript ponytail. They do not seem to have any other traits I can remember.
So in the end, I can hardly remember anything about the series, even though I've only just finished watching it. I could hardly pay attention to what little the series has to offer. I had expected more from Hal Films...
The art quality is average and the music is forgettable. I feel that the seiyuus, even Kana Asumi, isn't doing a very good job with the characters even though she's more familiar with the genre.
I really cannot recommend this to anyone since I cannot seem to find any parts of the series interesting enough to talk about.
Story Style: Meh
(Notice: This is a review for the whole series, 4-OVAs, 2 seasons, 3 specials and 4 part movie.)
(2nd Notice: If you're not a fan of Slice of Life, episodic, calm, laid-back and serene Animes? Don't watch it, just don't. . ^_^)
..How do I start...
What do we want to do in life? Is a question that we all ask ourselves at some-point, trying to seek aspiration as we go on living, well, Tamayura is the ideal Anime to get you pensive about it, "what do I want to do in life?". The Anime predominantly focuses on a girl named "Fuu" who relishes on taking photos of
anything she finds engrossing to her while desiring to make people smile upon seeing her Photos. Photography is a hobby that she adores ever since she was a child, using the camera of her father -- a "Rollei 35 S" -- later to ponder whether she wants to take up photography in college at another city and make it a life-time profession. She faces hindering thoughts to doubt the idea, worrying and agonizing throughout her high school years, facing emotional obstacles until the final school months. Join her inspiriting journey to fulfill her dream and maybe we can learn a thing or two.
Tamayura is a Slice-of-Life and we all know that SOL genres don't entirely focus on the main plot and strays off focusing on different subplots the show has. Tamayura, as like any other SOL anime, it's an episodic series, developing the secondary characters through challenges & adventures while partially progressing on the main storyline which is Fuu's life and her ambition. This is the main splendid aspect of Tamayura, the character progression / development in the Anime made it all the better; it being a long-running series making all the more room for an emotional build up on the characters.
What I favor about the story is how they present the main character (who's quite sentimental) that migrated to a rural town -- her hometown -- there-on developing her to do what she loves despite the mishaps in the past. Going through hurdles in life -- anxiety, worrisome, fear and many more in what we go through today in wanting to reach our aspiration -- while having the support of her friends & family along the way. The Anime may get "too much" of an emotional / sentimental "vibe" (or some would say) but I see that as the personality of the main character; as just like real people, it portrays of what humans generally are: sentimental beings.
As much I would I like to say about the story, there is not much, Tamayura is an episodic series about a daily life of a girl facing challenges in life experiencing the saddest to the best of moments -- as like any slice of life you come across where they progress the MC to reach their certain goal. What makes Tamayura original and distinct from the rest of the SOL titles out there -- and this is a fact -- It portrays life realistically as possible, sure it may be perceived as a "cute-girls-doing-cute-things' genre (and it's technically one) but 'generically' isn't? In what we experience mentally in life as of today -- again from the challenges that we go through to reach a certain goal, accepting that things eventually change and we have to move on, whether I should or not chase after what I really want to do in life and the many more -- is how it is portrayed in this Anime and without a doubt that is something to notice and praise as a slice of life fan; an Anime that actually portrays the common difficulties in LIFE in which the majority of the fans can definitely relate to.
You'll certainly get the feel of the calming vibe the Anime gives off with its spectacular scenes and art-style. The setting of the Anime is based on a real place in Japan, Takehara, Hiroshima. A place full of greenery and mountainous terrain, clearly being a rural area. The Anime actually started as only 4 OVAs to promote the location, showcasing a lot of tourist hot-spots and the overall eye-catching areas in Takehara -- honestly it's one amazing place to check out. Aside from the simplistic yet beautiful art-style, the music indeed adds more calmness and emotion to the show, being one of the "essence" (if I may so) in what completes the calming-emotional aura around the Anime.
Tamayura is an amazing Anime that any fan of the genre would dearly love. As a fan who consistently watches Slice of Life Animes, I still consider Tamayura as one of the greater "deep" ones that I've come across, therefore I highly recommend this Anime that deserves the recognition.
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