“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” —Paulo Coelho
Despite being two years since its release in 2012, Tari Tari remains one of my favourite slice-of-life anime in my library. Its basic premise was quite simple: in their final year as high school students, five unique individuals, each seeking a new meaning for themselves, are brought together by music and, in the process, come to know one another better. With the thematic elements focused on creating an opus magnum before graduation, Wakana, Konatsu, Sawa, Taichi and Atsuhiro (better known as “Wien”) participate in a variety of events on the route to putting on one final musical performance as the “Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton” club before their school is closed down to make way for a development project. The anime captivated me when I first watched it, and since then, very few slice-of-life anime have had quite the same impact. There are several reasons Tari Tari stands out from other anime in this category, starting with its characters. Focus is predominantly on the female characters; Konatsu, Sawa and Wakana each have a few episodes where their individual problems are brought into the spotlight, and regardless of whether it is Sawa’s aspirations to become a jockey, Wakana’s struggle to come to terms with her mother’s passing or Konatsu’s desire to do something grand with music before leaving high school, each story emphasises that support from friends is precisely what allows everyone to overcome a problem they would not likely have rectified on their own. Even though Taichi and Wien have proportionally less time, their own struggles are presented adequately. Taichi aims to become a professional badminton player, while Wien finds himself out of place in Japan, having lived in Austria previously and wishes to fit in more with the others. Similar to the girls, Taichi and Wien learn to find themselves with everyone’s support. Ultimately, the journey everyone takes together leads them to become closer friends with one another, and their determination to end high school on a positive note results in an uplifting performance that brings the the entire school together.
- The last post was just about the architecture and refuting other talks on the architecture in Tari Tari because they had the unfortunate combination of inaccuracies and lots of views, which means a greater number of people are likely to walk away with incorrect information. The architecture passage I provided was intended to fix that, although it’s not likely to pick up steam because Tari Tari is an older anime, and because some of my posts aren’t particularly visible on search engines. Still, it was quite fun to write, and I learned a little about architecture. Returning to the present, I picked the post’s first image for its sky of most vivid azure, something that I fondly remember Tari Tari. Many anime have skies that are of an incredibly deep colour that emphasises an eternal sense of longing that is often attributed to the summertime.
- Memories from summer 2012 are still very much fresh in my mind: that summer was characterised by some of the most intense studying I’d ever done during the warmest months of the year, in preparation for the MCAT. By the time Tari Tari started in July 2012, I had already completed most of the courses, and was gearing up to do practise full-length exams.
- Readers who’ve taken the time to look over Utopia might have noted that this is the same location as that shown in the crossover short, except in the crossover, the Condor Queens occupy the seats om the brach front, rather than Hansaku Iroha‘s Minko and Ohana. It seems that the colours in Tari Tari are also more vivid than they were in Utopia.
- As Taichi, Sawa, Konatsu and Wien gear up for their first performances dying the summer, I was gearing up for the practise exams. By late July, when these episodes were airing, my MCAT course had concluded, and I spent most of my time doing individual exam sections, as well as full length exams. At the time, my newly minted broadband internet connection was ailing owing to a faulty connection, though, and as such, finishing practise full-length exams at home was a nightmare.
- I eventually did my remaining practise exams on campus at the lab, where I would be assured of a stable connection. My last practise full-length was written on a Saturday before a dinner with the extended family; it was early evening when I finished, and I walked out into the sunset with a 33.
- After some basic exposition in the first three episodes, Tari Tari directs itself towards providing some background for each character. Wakana’s story is the first to be told: she regrets having quarrelled with her mother before the latter’s passing and distances herself from music to forget. However, with support from Konatsu, Wakana rediscovers her love for music and eventually comes to terms with what happened.
- Sawa’s story is next, depicting a determined girl whose aspirations to become a jockey lead her to extreme means to fulfil requirements for a jockey institute. As with Wakana, encouragement from her friends brings her back on her feet: she turns a few heads after finding the strength to return to school and help her friends. I understand that, like most of my posts, images experience some clustering, come more from some episodes than others.
- Sawa’s absence from a rehearsal threatens the Choir-and-sometimes-badminton club’s existence, but Wakana’s skullduggery buys Sawa enough time to arrive and perform. This seems uncharacteristic of Wakana, who is a serious and kind individual who is unlikely to pull such stunts, but the fact that her friends need the extra effort suggests the length she is willing to go to help them. While such actions might be seen as whimsical, it does act to enhance the story and provides a visual approximation of what things might be like if wishes were horses.
- I’ve deliberately chosen not to discuss Wien and the Super Sentai here, since that was already covered in my discussion at the old website, where I remarked that Tari Tari, in keeping with its theme of being about “this and that”, presented its characters as participating in a variety of events, ranging from choral performances in a more formal setting, to a more casual beach-side performance, and even performing as Super Sentai for the local market.
- After Wakana, Sawa, Taichi and Wien’s individual issues (each of varying severity and scope) are solved, the characters begin to prepare for their school’s cultural festival in earnest. In the background, a contracting company has set its sights on the school grounds and are adamant about closing off the school to expedite construction, even going so far as to suggest that students on school grounds should be threatened with suspension. The construction company here seems to represent the rigid, unyielding nature of the workforce, one that only focuses on objectives without regard for others.
- Wien demonstrates an exceptional ability in creating crafts for the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton club’s performance. Through some accident, the props are discarded in the landfill; everyone sets out to recover them, denoting their commitment to both one another and their aims of performing one final time before graduation.
- I originally stated that Sawa was my favourite character, I never really explained why that was. I think I’ve got a firmer grasp on why that is now, though: Sawa is a determined character who doesn’t compromise or back down from her goals. Moreover, she’s got a pleasant singing voice and is also presented as competent as an equestrian and archer.
- One might say that there is no single central protagonist in Tari Tari: instead, all of the characters play a pivotal role in the plot. Admittedly, the male characters seem to have roles of lesser significance, but do have a noticeable presence compared to other anime, where practically all of the characters are female. Compare and contrast this trend with most Western media, where male protagonists outnumber the female protagonists.
- Wakana’s smile is radiant: after she opens her heart to everyone, she stops being a cold, distant character and contributes the musical score to the club’s performance. Titled “Radiant Melody”, the song is inspired by her mother’s original song, and has refreshed lyrics for their club, reflecting on how Wakana has not only accepted what has happened, but has also forgiven herself and fulfilled her promise to her mother to write a song together.
- Those smiles are quite dazzling, contrasting Taichi’s serious expression. For the remainder of the post, images will predominantly from the final two episodes, simply because most of my remaining thoughts congregate around what happens as Tari Tari draws to a close.
Despite the name Tari Tari translating roughly to “This and That” in English, and episodes being about a variety of topics, there are two central themes in Tari Tari. The first theme is the notion that high school students desire to leave their secondary education with a more solid sense of self; understanding that being an adult means to take up more responsibility for themselves, students may view high school as a period of freedom to explore and have fun. Thus, when graduation from high school approaches, individuals would like to both have an idea of what their futures entail. Tari Tari explores this element in great detail, taking the care to illustrate how each character has their own difficulties, and how friendship is ultimately the key to helping everyone find their paths again. For instance, Wakana is very aloof and does not open up to Sawa, Konatsu and the others until nearly half the season has passed. Through some prodding from Konatsu, Wakana becomes more open about how she feels, and learns to both accept her mother’s passing, rediscovering her passion for music in the process. Similarly, Sawa’s dreams of becoming a jockey are persistent, and despite discouragement from her parents, her determination leads her to put her own body at risk (as a result of dieting without professional guidance, she faints while on horseback during training). The lengths Sawa is willing to go to for the sake of her dreams finally reach her parents and her friends, who decide to give her their full support. However, in Tari Tari, there are five disparate characters, with five different goals. These individuals would not likely have met were it not for music, which forms the second theme. Through drawing characters together, music is presented as a unifying force, being a non-verbal form of communication that transcends linguistic and cultural barriers. Konatsu loves the Condor Queens, the band who piqued her interests in music; their music is in Spanish, but she nonetheless loves their music’s composition and energy. Similarly, despite feeling out of place with Wien’s strong interest in Super Sentais, everyone fits into their roles just fine, singing to promote the community market. Music is something that conveys emotions and tenor far more effectively than words alone, and ultimately, Wakana, Konatsu, Sawa, Taichi and Wien rally the entire school to help perform a finale, a swan song, just before their school closes. The term “swan song” is especially fitting for Tari Tari: originating from an ancient belief that swans give their best performance just before passing on (in life, they are typically quiet). Although the zoological aspects of this belief have no firm grounding, in Tari Tari, despite having never performed in such manner previously, efforts from Wakana, Konatsu, Sawa, Taichi and Wien ultimately rallies the entire school together and perform a concert for the community before their school is closed, conveying their hope for the future. The lyrics in the song, “Radiant Melody”, promises that difficulties now will clear up for a better tomorrow, and when Tari Tari ends, a bright new future is exactly what every character is stepping into, having spent the anime working their hardest to earn such an opportunity
- Sawa captures Taichi’s heart while dancing in the music room; one of Taichi’s classmates later requests that he obtains a photo of Sawa in exchange for helping with the art set, and while Taichi is able to get a rather nice image, he later snaps a more conventional one. While it’s clear that Taichi holds feelings for Sawa, subtle signs indicate that Sawa may also reciprocate his feelings. This direction is never explored in the anime, although the absence of a love story means Tari Tari is able to focus fully on the characters’ ambitions and struggles without introducing another layer of complexity.
- Konatsu sits in on a student council meeting and strives to convince them to resume the culture festival even in light of the construction company’s stipulation that the festival be cancelled. Despite her best efforts, Konatsu’s requests are declined.
- Compared to Wakana’s mother, Mahiru, Naoko was more serious about music and treats Konatsu coldly because she sees traces of Mahiru’s spirit. Having found it difficult to accept Mahiru’s passing, Naoko opens up to Wakana and consents to help the latter’s pursuits in music. While Naoko might’ve been seen as an antagonist, opposing the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton club’s activities, she also has a story of her own, making it much easier to empathise with her situation once this story is covered.
- Even after the student council states that the culture festival will not proceed, the Choir-and-sometimes-Badmonton club resume their practises for opening day. Compared to Hanasaku Iroha, Tari Tari appears to exhibit sightly improved graphics in the form of reflections in the environment and more vivid lighting; Hanasaku Iroha did not disappoint, and the impressive level of detail seen in the environment was partially what contributed to the anime being excellent.
- One of the things that stood out about Tari Tari, however subtle it was, was the fact that much attention was paid to the lighting effects whenever it rained. Reflections of objects can be seen on the ground, and surfaces are darkened in some places to give the impression of wetness. While the details are nowhere near the level of those of a Makoto Shinkai animated feature, P.A. Works nonetheless is able to strike a fine balance between detail and simplicity to give each scene a realistic feeling.
- Against the contracting firm’s wishes, the principle allows the students to return into the school to host their final performance, even if it means costing him a portion of his retirement funding. After the efforts that went into their preparations, the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton are adamant about making things count and through the sheer determination and will, things manage to work out.
- By the time Tari Tari‘s finale aired, the MCAT had long ended, and my results had come back. I was three weeks into my final undergraduate year and had begun my honours thesis project. After installing the in-house simulation software, I began my literature search for the renal system and also began drafting my research proposal. The project aimed to build a 3D, visual model of the renal system that was robust enough to have biological relevance, while simultaneously maintain a high degree of user-friendliness. The end product yielded a system that could carry out rudimentary renal behaviours and moreover, was modular enough to be expanded and improved upon.
- Konatsu and Wakana playfully give Sawa a slap to the lower backside to motivate her in the same vein as Sawa’s mother, Shiho, is fond of doing. This post was predominantly about the youth, so I do not have any screenshots of many adults here. I also find it interesting that Sawa’s mother is named Shiho. The name itself means to preserve an intent or ideal, and is quite befitting of Sawa’s mother, who enjoys surfing and is quite easy-going. Shiho, of course, fits even better with Shiho Nishizumi, the current head of the Nishizumi School.
- Naoko and Wakana reminisce about Mahiru; Wakana decides to continue her musical studies and asks Naoko if she would be interested in providing her with advice in the future. This interaction was particularly heartwarming to see, given that both characters had a cold, distant air to them. One of the things I enjoy most about hearing a character’s background allows one to empathise with them to a much greater extent, even if one cannot agree on their actions later. In Tari Tari, what the characters do as a result of their experiences is reasonable, but in Madoka Magica, Homura’s actions remain open to interpretation (and I personally find that her actions transcends all reason).
- Rather like real life, things do not conclude as they would with a play after the performance is over. A large portion of this post does deal with the epilogue, which I did not discuss in too great of detail when I drafted the old Tari Tari post back in September 2012. However, with a larger number of images allocated to this post (and time, before this graduate program beats me senseless), I’ll go into the epilogue and discuss a few things.
- Because Sawa had completed all of her program requirements, she is allowed to graduate even though she is absent, having gone overseas to study at an equestrian school. In her stead, her stuffed horse sits in for her. It’s been a year since I graduated from my undergraduate program, and even though I’m on a more steady track now, having decided to study computer science (specifically, the implementation of biological software and usability in large displays) over going to medical school, the road ahead will be challenging. Then again, things are worth doing precisely because it is challenging.
- If things go as scheduled, I anticipate graduating in 2016. After that comes doing software development work for an engineering firm, or a software company (I’ll apply to everything and see what sticks), and after a few years of having some industry experience, I’ll go back and get a certificate in project management. This stuff is for the distant future; in the near future, I aim to finish the literature review for my current project, survive all my classes and stay on top of the game as a TA. Memories of when I was an undergraduate are still fresh in my mind, and I think that in a TA, I valued punctuality, honesty and the ability to give assignments back on time.
- Whereas others consider the visuals in Tari Tari to be average, I find that the aesthetic brought about by a good balance of detail and colour is very eye-pleasing. I might just begin comparing Tari Tari to Glasslip the same way one might compare Battlefield 3 to Battlefield 4; in both cases, the successor has better graphics, especially regarding lighting effects, but the predecessor was superior for having more polish and finesse.
- After watching Tari Tari a second time, Wakana also grows on me. Contrary to my initial impressions of her, she’s nothing like Hanasaku Iroha‘s Minko, and is kind to everyone, but is also capable of pulling off some tricks of her own (such as calling Naoko to buy the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton club enough time to perform or giving her father a package of unprepared bread for breakfast at one point).
- Thus ends a second reflection of Tari Tari, which I vaguely recall saying in an earlier post I would get around to doing. While my schedule is only going to get busier from here on out between my coursework, research and TA’ing another course, I’ll make an effort to blog every so often. In the near future, I have a talk on Puella Magi Madoka Magica‘s Sayaka Miki. Upcoming posts for the future include final reflections for Glasslip, Futsū no Joshikōsei ga Locodol Yattemita, Rail Wars! and Sabagebu! once their respective series draw to a close. Those should be ready to roll by the Thanksgiving Long Weekend.
Tari Tari, ultimately titled for being about everything and nothing, presents to viewers a story that will evoke memories of their high school days. From a technical perspective, Tari Tari had superb animation and artwork, with details paid to every scene to ensure it fit with the moods. The background music does a likewise job of evoking a specific emotion for a scene. Between a solid execution from this end, Tari Tari‘s composition allows it to proceed at a purposeful pace, with every character gaining exposition to give their role additional relevance to the viewer. After seeing everyone’s individual story, every character feels alive, consistent with what one might expect a high school student to be like. Viewers will find themselves relating to the characters, recalling their own experiences in high school. For me, in my final year of high school, I was just admitted to the university’s Bachelor of Health Sciences honour program, and my swan songs included preparing a slideshow for the graduation party, as well as the yearbook. It’s been many years since then, but the concepts of friendship and doing grand things have remained with me: these are the sort of life lessons that endure regardless of where one is in life, and Tari Tari is able to capture all of these genuine, heartfelt emotions about life as a student, showcasing the desire to do something spectacular, and how powerful music can be. These messages are timeless, and although Tari Tari might be two years old now, it remains one of P.A. Works’ more solid slice-of-life anime. Now, my original talk at the old website discussed themes of friendship in a similar vein, but I never did get around to speculating about the future, as I am wont to do now. Given that two years have passed, and P.A. Works have not made a single announcement about Tari Tari beyond a seven-minute short, I imagine that a continuation, either in the form of a second season or movie, probably will not be a reality. While I would have liked to see the characters get back together a year after their graduation during the summer to explore more about themselves and their friendship (especially the growing romance between Sawa and Taichi), Tari Tari ended on a superb note, and a continuation might not be viable or necessary.