The Infinite Zenith

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Masterpiece Anime Showcase: Tari Tari, The Sound of Compassion, Supporting Aspirations Through Music and A Graduate’s Swan Song

“But for me, just having fun wasn’t enough. The support of my friends was equally important; they encouraged me through my struggles. They’re all so different from me, but they’re honest and determined. We fought, but we also worked together. I know you had a friend like that, too. Someone to have fun with, someone to share her worries. Mom, I have finished the song we promised to write. Sorry it took so long. I’m glad I could create this song with you and my friends. I’ll treasure it always for bringing us together.” –Wakana Sakai

Wakana Sakai once aspired to be a musician, as her mother Mahiru, once was, but after Mahiru died, Wakana began distancing herself from music to dull the pain of her loss. Konatsu Miyamoto is an optimistic and cheerful girl with a great love for music, and seeks to redeem herself after an incident in her previous year that led to her being removed from the lineup of active singers. Sawa Okita holds aspirations to become a jockey in the future, despite her father’s wishes. Taichi Tanaka strives to be a professional badminton player, and Atsuhiro Maeda is a transfer student with a love of the sentai genre. Five disparate students, each with their own goals and troubles, are united when Konatsu seeks to form her own choral club, with the aim of being able to sing again and do something big before graduation. Brought together by music to form the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club, these individuals come to learn about one another, their strengths and weaknesses, and come to support one another on their goals while working hard to put on a performance ahead of their school’s closure. This is Tari Tari, an anime from P.A. Works dating back to 2012 that portrays the life of five high school students who are on the edge of one milestone as they prepare to finish their final year of high school. Through its thirteen episode run, Tari Tari demonstrates the power of music to bring people together, to motivate and encourage one another; each of Wakana, Konatsu, Sawa, Taichi and Atsuhiro each have their own aspirations, but unified by music, realise an opportunity to contribute back to their school and put on a performance that allows them to properly express thanks to those around them. When it is revealed their school is to close, Konatsu’s initial determination to sing again transforms into a performance that represent a swansong of gratitude and appreciation for the teachers and students, as well. The road to this performance also helps each of the club’s members in a tangible way: Wakana opens up to the others and comes to peace with her mother’s passing, Sawa places more trust in her friends and allow them to support her ambition to become a jockey, Taichi continues pushing forwards on his dream of playing badminton professionally, and Atsuhiro does his best to help everyone. With Sawa, Taichi and Atsuhiro’s support, as well as Wakana’s experience, the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club are able to send their graduating year off in style, creating a cherished memory that marks the end of one journey and the beginning of the next.

With its focus on music, Tari Tari‘s central theme speaks to the power of music, and how it is able to motivate, inspire and encourage people from different backgrounds, experiences and creed, bringing them together for a common purpose. At scale, Tari Tari‘s theme is a positive one: that music transcends cultural, linguistic and ethnographic boundaries, being able to convey emotions that are universally understood. Through music, a diverse group of individuals gather together, and working towards a shared goal of doing one final swan song before graduation, also come to find camaraderie and support in one another. Sawa comes to voice her worries about the road to being a jockey instead of keeping it to herself, and the girls encourage Taichi to do his best in badminton. Konatsu comes to understand why Wakana approaches music with a serious mindset, but Wakana herself opens up to the others, realising that her mother’s vision of music was something to be shared. Tari Tari‘s single greatest strength therefore lies in its ability to bring in people from different walks of life, set them with a common objective that unifies them, and create something compelling: the series could’ve easily been about any one of Wakana, Sawa, Konatsu, Taichi or Atsuhiro and comfortably occupied a full thirteen episodes for each arc had everyone faced down their problems independently, but together, with support from one another, solutions are reached more swiftly. Tari Tari excels at tying together so many different elements because it is able to show how music impacts everyone, and ultimately, how music is something that sets in motion the events that bring people together and set them on a trajectory towards their futures. The use of a simple, yet powerful theme allows Tari Tari to cover everyone’s stories in a compelling and satisfactory manner, resulting in an anime that is earnest and sincere in its messages.

Taken together with P.A. Works’ visually impressive presentation, a phenomenal soundtrack and strong voice acting, Tari Tari quickly became a favourite of mine: the sum of its meaningful themes and a technically excellent audio and visual component made it an anime I looked forwards to every week. Tari Tari seamlessly transitions between each of Konatsu, Wakana, Sawa, Taichi and Atsuhiro’s stories, weaving them together in a concise and focused manner. While this could’ve ended up meandering, unfocused, Tari Tari ended up captivating me. During its run, I became invested in the characters and rooted for their success. Every episode left me in anticipation of what would happen next, and this ultimately ended up being an asset of immeasurable value: that summer, I had been studying for the MCAT, and it was an immensely stressful experience. By July, I had concluded CLANNAD and ~After Story~, and Tari Tari ended up being the show that filled in the void. By giving me something to look forwards to each week, Tari Tari helped me relax: the series had had just reached the halfway point, when Wakana becomes consumed with remorse at having okayed her father to dispose of their piano, which meant discarding the one remaining link she had with her mother. However, Wakana’s father explains that her mother had decided to keep quiet about her illness so their final memory of songwriting together would be a happy one. He reveals that he still has her old music, and never threw the piano away. Wakana realises an opportunity to finish something she had started with her mother, and her love of music is rekindled. She agrees to help Konatsu and the others, marking a turning point in Tari Tari when it is shown that support can come from anywhere. This was an encouraging course of events: I thus resolved to survive the MCAT so that I could see Wakana’s journey continue. When the MCAT concluded, Tari Tari delved into Sawa’s story, and by this point in my summer, I had the remainder of the month to myself. Watching Sawa overcome her problems, and Atsuhiro taking the lead in a local performance for the shopping district motivated me to pick up the journal publication that my lab had shelved amidst the academic term. I dusted the project off and coordinated with a few of my colleagues into helping us finish. My supervisor was pleasantly surprised the paper was revived, and agreed to proof-read it. By the end of the summer, we had a submission-ready publication, and the journal accepted it, leading this to be my first-ever journal article. For having helped give me the resolve and strength to stare down the MCAT in the days leading up to the exam and ultimately leading me to see a journal publication through to the end, Tari Tari had a nontrivial impact on me, that, in conjunction with everything that the series excels at doing, results in my counting Tari Tari to be a masterpiece.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Tari Tari began airing early in July 2012, a time when I had just wrapped up my summer course on physics and could afford to focus my entire effort into reviewing for the MCAT. I had been curious to check out Tari Tari after watching one of the trailers, which played an instrumental version of Melody of the Heart, the series’ main theme. The song had a warm, inviting sound, and my curiosity was piqued. At the time, no one knew what Tari Tari would be about: the preamble only indicated that it would be about a group of students looking to do something big for their final year of high school.

  • After the first episode aired, I was thoroughly impressed: out of the gates, Tari Tari introduced all of its main characters and gave viewers a solid idea of their personalities entering the series. Because Tari Tari deals with transitions from one part of life into the next, viewers are dropped into a bit of a chaotic time in the story: Konatsu and Sawa’s homeroom instructor, Tomoko Takahashi, is set to go on maternity leave, and everyone is wishing her the best.

  • However, this also happens to be the day that Atsuhiro transfers into their class. Tomoko tasks Taichi to look after him and give him a tour of campus. Tari Tari covers a lot of ground during a very short time, and the first episode also establishes that Konatsu is intent on having a singing role in the choral club after an accident the previous year causes her to be removed from singing. For Konatsu, singing is a form of expression and represents liberty: her love of singing comes from a childhood admiration of the Condor Queens, a band known for their Spanish performances, and when her appeal to music instructor Naoko Takakura fails, she resolves to start her own club.

  • Wakana starts out her journey cold and detached, removed from the others. Serious and dedicated, she sports a no-nonsense personality; when Konatsu approaches her to start a new choral club, Wakana rebukes her, remarking that music isn’t a game. However, Konatsu’s opinion of music, that it’s more than just an art form to perfect, does cause Wakana to pause for a moment – Mahiru had a similarly optimistic and cheerful outlook on music, seeing it as something that could bring people together and otherwise convey intangible concepts.

  • Tari Tari is full of nuance: the first few episodes have both Wakana and Naoko as being unsympathetic to Konatsu’s desire to perform. While it is not immediately apparent, Wakana and Naoko have their own reasons for having such a rigid mindset on music: subtle details such as these really give life to the characters of Tari Tari, and as more about everyone is shown, viewers come to empathise with what they’re going through. When Wakana reluctantly agree to be the pianist for Sawa and Konatsu during their first concert, a hint of her true personality is shown – underneath her stoic personality is someone with the same warmth and kindness as Mahiru.

  • P.A. Works’ series are not known for their fanservice components, so it was a bit of a surprise to see Taichi’s older sister chilling in his room when Atsuhiro arrives at his place. My history with Tari Tari is a bit of an interesting one: I followed it weekly when it was airing, and then wrote a brief piece about it at my old website. Two years later, I returned to write about it again as I transitioned away from my old site to the current blog. Reading through my old review led me to rewatch Tari Tari, and on this third revisit, I found that Tari Tari, besides being excellent from a story and technical point of view, also did two important things: it contributed to me getting through a trickier time and also influenced some of P.A. Works’ later works to a nontrivial extent.

  • Tari Tari‘s soundtrack is composed by Shirō Hamaguchi, who had previously worked on the music to Ah! My GoddessGirls und PanzerHanasaku IrohaHaruchika and The Magnificent Kotobuki. Of these, Ah! My Goddess stands out: while the 2004 TV series had more ordinary music, his work on the 2000 film resulted in a soundtrack of sublime quality, and in Girls und Panzer, the superb range of music, from militaristic combat themes to the everyday slice of life pieces and marching songs, really highlights how versatile Hamaguchi is. It is therefore unsurprising that the music of Tari Tari is of such a high standard.

  • Tari Tari marks the first time I’d seen a series breaking so many established conventions: in most anime, a club on the brink of dissolution would receive its members in the first few episodes, and then spend the remainder of the series exploring their chosen specialisation. In Tari Tari, Konatsu managed to assemble an entire choir and performs, but loses these members almost immediately, forcing her to seek creative means of keeping her club together. She eventually builds the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club in the aftermath, unfairly defeating Taichi and Atsuhiro in a three-on-two badminton match that certainly wouldn’t be regulation. Tari Tari also pioneered the idea of a club being able to have more than one focus to keep enough members to stay afloat, something that would be revisited in Iroduku and Koisuru Asteroid.

  • With the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to see why Naoko is so adamant that Konatsu not form the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club; after Konatsu finds Mahiru’s old song, Melody of the Heart, Naoko acts out of respect for Mahiru’s memory, feeling Konatsu to be desecrating things. However, as Wakana begins to open up, Naoko realises that Wakana desires to carry on in her mother’s footsteps. The principal is able to spot this earlier on, and when Konatsu appeals to him directly, he allows their club to carry on, knowing what it means to Wakana, as well.

  • A secondary theme in Tari Tari is that small groups of devoted, dedicated people are capable of achieving great things together. Despite having lost all of their previous members who had musical background, the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club’s remaining members are committed despite not possessing the same level of training and skill. That Sawa and Konatsu were able to perform earlier on hinted at this, and so, it is with five members that the club moves ahead with its activities, although at this point, Wakana is still only a member in name, being occupied with her own challenges.

  • Konatsu decides to sign the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club up for a local music festival, but when the Condor Queens show up, she begins wavering. This causes a rift between Sawa and Konatsu, but the two reconcile after Wakana helps the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club to secure a stage. In the end, despite performing only for three children and their parents, the club still manages to put on a decent showing that impresses their audience. It is from humble beginnings that the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club start from, but their tenacity and determination to be more is what drives Tari Tari. Along this journey, past hurts are healed and dreams are realised.

  • Tari Tari is one of those anime that I could have written about in an episodic fashion, since each and every episode has so much worth talking about, and I actually had considered revisiting the anime episode by episode, pointing out all of the bits of foreshadowing and each episode’s contributions to the series. In Tari Tari, each and every detail is relevant to the big picture. However, it became clear that, while Tari Tari deserved an episodic review, my schedule wouldn’t allow for it, so I’ve chosen to instead talk about it at a much higher level.

  • At the local badminton tournament, Taichi is unable to advance, but despite his disappointment, he vows to work harder. It is here that Taichi begins developing a crush on Sawa; she starts the party by trying to connect with him and shares more about her interest in being a jockey, which in turn drives Taichi’s desire to know more about her. A ways back, I wrote a post on why the feelings were mutual: besides the body language in the scene, it is Sawa, and not Konatsu, who decides to go back and see how Taichi is doing after his loss. Sawa’s also got a bit more of a playful side to her, buying Konatsu a hot drink on a hot day.

  • Wakana’s relationship with her mother had not been the best in recent years, and her biggest regret is not being more understanding prior to Mahiru’s death. Seeing the old piano brings back memories of this pain and guilt, which is why she initially wanted to get rid of it. The episode is characterised by an incoming typhoon, which casts the whole of Enoshima in a moody, grim light, mirroring Wakana’s feelings. However, the next morning, the storm has gone, and Wakana’s developed cold. Seeing a despondent Wakana leads Konatsu to believe the worst, and she falls into a tide pool when attempting to “save” Wakana.

  • For Wakana, talking it out is how she comes to terms with what had happened: hearing the impact Mahiru had on those around her, whether it be Shiho (Sawa’s mother) or the Condor Queens helps Wakana to appreciate the carefree and spirited attitude. Being able to listen to Shiho and the Condor Queens share their stories really makes Mahiru’s contributions tangible, far more than listening to old recordings and reading letters alone could accomplish. The sum of these memories, in conjunction with a conversation with her father, finally allows Wakana to accept what happened, and also turn over a new leaf, to fulfil her promise to Mahiru and write a song together.

  • In a few weeks, the leaves will start turning yellow as summer fully gives way to autumn. Throughout Tari Tari, Mahiru is presented as being warm, spirited and understanding. She touched countless people with her carefree and accepting beliefs on music, believing the first and foremost aspect was to have fun. This belied an incredible talent and skill in composition, and Wakana initially did not understand this about Mahiru. The flashbacks in Tari Tari, in conjunction with frequent mention of Mahiru’s impact, shows that she’s left a lasting legacy, and even though she might be gone, Wakana will always have the happy memories to guide and inspire her.

  • With the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club’s activities in full-swing now that Wakana is on board, Konatsu sets about trying to determine what their presentation for the culture festival will be. However, the other choral club members doubt Konatsu, and moreover, Naoko will need to okay any use of the main stage. In spite of this, Wakana decides to press forward, studying composition to see how to best finish her mother’s song, which she plans on using for the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club’s performance. Here, the reflection of the room’s windows can be seen on the whiteboard: Tari Tari makes extensive use of reflective surfaces to create a well-lit feeling in its environments.

  • Once Wakana’s story is concluded, Tari Tari switches over to Sawa: Konatsu and Taichi’s stories were a bit shorter, but Sawa’s story is a bit more fully-fleshed. It turns out that her aspiration to become a jockey is met with opposition: her father disapproves, and moreover, Sawa’s physique does not appear to be suited for the occupation. She begins an aggressive diet in a bid to lose weight and make the requirements, but this results in fatigue and lethargy. After falling off her horse during archery practise from fatigue and lack of food energy, Sawa is taken to the local hospital to be examined for any injuries, and her father implores her to stand down.

  • Like Wakana, Sawa feels that her problems are hers alone to bear, that no one else would understand what she’s going through, and for this, her mannerisms take a noticeable shift: Tari Tari had presented Sawa as outgoing and playful, so to see a dramatic change was to show how heavily the future weighs on her mind. Sawa and Wakana’s stories are the top of Tari Tari, and the fact that they were so clearly presented indicates that even with a time constraint, shorter anime can still succeed in telling a compelling, full-fledged story that viewers can connect with.

  • While practising at Atsuhiro’s place, Sawa finally comes forwards with her troubles to the others. However, when Wakana suggests taking a step back to regroup, Sawa goes ballistic. She lashes out, suggesting that Wakana’s already got a background in music and that for her, it’s different. Indeed, Wakana’s love for music and Sawa’s determination to become a jockey are rooted by different motivations, but it does bring about one important point: the future is always uncertain, and the things people end up falling in love with doing might not always be what they’s sought out. When I revisited Tari Tari two years after the MCAT, my desire to go into medicine had been displaced by a newfound love for software development, for instance.

  • It’s easy to get caught up in the gravity of the moment, but Wakana’s suggestion was never to give up being a jockey, and instead, look at the problem from a different perspective. Sawa subsequently spends the remainder of the episode in poor spirits and takes a sick day, even as the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club sets off to prove their worth to Naoko, who reluctantly allows them to perform if they can make the audition. In order for the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club to stand a chance, they need Sawa, and ultimately, it is Wakana who takes the initiative to call her. Realising that she’s still needed, Sawa understands what Wakana and the others are doing for her, and immediately sets off for school on her horse, barely making it ahead of their slot.

  • In the aftermath, Sawa’s father sees the scope of her determination, and while still reluctant to allow her to pursue a career, realises that her daughter is hardworking and determined. He is later seen yelling at the admissions staff, saying he’ll personally curse them if they don’t relax the admission’s requirements for physique. It’s a rather touching moment that shows how, despite his outward appearance, Sawa’s father does care greatly for her. With Sawa’s story in the books, and the audition securing them a spot, Konatsu decides to go big on their performance for the culture festival, adding a play on top of their singing.

  • When the local shōtengai reports a decline in revenue from the previous year, Shiho suggests a radical new event: a live-action performance featuring sentai, the equivalent of Marvel or DC’s superheroes. This interpretation of superheroes has become iconic in Japan, and the Power Ranges are a particularly famous series. While outwardly different from something like the MCU sentai heroes fight in teams and strive to uphold justice the same way the Avengers do. Atsuhiro is very keen about this genre, seeing it as representative of the idea that good can prevail over evil, and the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club take on the job to help raise money for their performance.

  • Despite her experience with music, Wakana struggles with the composition of the song that Mahiru had left her. Shiho ends up pointing her in the right direction: Naoko had once studied music as well, being Mahiru’s classmate, and as such, should have some suggestions up her sleeve. Like Wakana, she is very unsympathetic to Konatsu’s attempts to run her own choral club because Mahiru’s death hit her hard. While viewers may find it difficult to accept Naoko’s character, Tari Tari does an excellent job of giving credence to why individuals act the way they do.

  • In Atsuhiro’s arc, he becomes distracted upon learning that all of the letters he’d written to Jan, a friend back home in Austria, were never delivered because he’d changed addresses. When the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club discover this, Atsuhiro comes into the open and, having now voiced his concerns, remarks that he’s confident Jan is going to be fine, and that he can also focus on his goals. Like Sawa, Wakana and Taichi, expressing his worries helps him to see an out. Owing to his love for sentai, Atsuhiro is the most enthusiastic and coaches the others in their roles.

  • The end result is an impressive performance, and when Atsuhiro stops a would-be thief with Taichi, Sawa, Wakana and Konatsu despite being physically outmatched, it really demonstrates the strength of his character. This was a fun arc in Tari Tari that gives viewers a better measure of Atsihiro’s character, and I remark here that while Konatsu and the others affectionately refer to Atsuhiro as “Wein” (after Austria’s capital, Vienna), I prefer calling Atsuhiro by his given name because this is the way to properly address the characters and furthermore, avoids confusion.

  • Once the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club secure the funds for their costumes and props, it’s full steam ahead as they prepare for the culture festival. Tari Tari has one final curveball to throw at them: it turns out their school is closing down because the area has been zoned for new development. The timing is such that it would cause the cancellation of the cultural festival, but Wakana ends up finishing her song, and she pushes to have their own festival anyways, since this song represents not just her, but the sum of the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club’s efforts, a product of self-discovery that each of Konatsu, Taichi, Sawa and Atsuhiro have experienced since they met.

  • During the preparations, Taichi and Sawa spend more time together, and Taichi eventually develops a crush on Sawa. This shouldn’t be terribly surprising, since Tari Tari had foreshadowed this early on: the two have been through quite a bit together as members of the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club, and when he’d failed to make the competition, Sawa had been the first to check up on him to make sure he was alright. Indeed, Taichi does attempt a kokuhaku at the series’ end, but the outcome of this is left ambiguous, and for fans of Tari Tari, this has been a bit of a sore spot, since viewers believed that Taichi and Sawa deserved a happy ending of sorts.

  • Despite being unsuccessful in convincing the student council to permit the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club to press on, Konatsu’s efforts are admirable, and she manages to convince the choral club to help her. Owing to an accident, the props that Atsuhiro had worked on are discarded. The club manages to recover them at the local landfill, and with Taichi’s help, the props and costumes inch their way to completion better than before. Meanwhile, Sawa heads off to try and enlist the shōtengai association’s help in gathering an audience.

  • While visiting Mahiru’s grave, Wakana runs into Naoko. It is here that the extent of Naoko’s friendship with Mahiru becomes apparent, and seeing Wakana finish Mahiru’s final composition convinces Naoko that Wakana is a worthy musician, someone who has the skill to continue bringing joy into the world through music. This was incredibly touching, and with her effort, Wakana demonstrates that the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club is worthy of her respect. On the day of the festival, Naoko fetches the wind instrument club and choral club to help with the performance.

  • While the principal has always been somewhat of a pushover when it came to the school’s future, he ultimately decides that sending the students off in style and leaving a positive memory matters more than a comfortable retirement bonus. He discards the developer’s proposal and allows the festival to be held. There is no time to lose as the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club press forwards with the preparations for their performance. The rainy weather gives way to sunshine, and ultimately, the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club’s performance is an unqualified success, capturing everyone’s feelings and thoughts regarding their journey and time together.

  • After lectures ended, I had spent most of the afternoon of the day before at the Telus SPARK Science Centre helping to get things set up, and the Friday night of six years ago was the opening night. Looking back, The Giant Walkthrough Brain would have been my Radiant Melody: after being tasked with testing the viability of the Unity Game Engine to provide a virtual visualisation of Jay Ingram’s show in May, I ended up taking the lead on the development of the software side of things, and over four months, I implemented, tested and improved the Giant Walkthrough Brain. Following a successful showing at the Banff Centre, the true test would come as the Giant Walkthrough Brain was presented for Beakerhead, a local science programme: I worried that at Telus SPARK, I would need to implement a different type of projection to create a 3D view for the geodesic dome.

  • Fortunately, we only needed standard projection, and having built the Unity project in a way to be extensible, I had no trouble with configuring it for the Beakerhead presentation requirements. The two performances for the Beakerhead Giant Walkthrough Brain were to sold-out crowds on both evenings and was a complete a success by all definitions. Watching the Beakerhead performance was every bit as rewarding and thrilling as seeing the culmination of Wakana, Konatsu, Sawa, Taichi and Atsuhiro’s final performance, a superb musical that combines drama with singing that acts as a swan song for both Tari Tari and the high school’s final graduating class. The weather transitions from a moody and rainy day shortly before the performance: the sunny breaks acts as a visual metaphor for the beginning of a new era, a well-lit one characterised by hope.

  • The Giant Walkthrough Brain came to represent what was possible with computer science, and set me down the path towards my graduate thesis project. Like the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club’s successful magnum opus, I count the Giant Walkthrough Brain to be one of the things I’m most proud of having done in my youth, and for my contributions, The Giant Walkthrough Brain project would earn me an city-wide award for “exceptional extra-curricular contribution of computer science skills to the community”. These are the sorts of contributions I hope that all youth have a chance to make: using their skills to tangibly and positively impact their community: there is a skill component (it takes a bit of patience to learn a system like Unity), but it should be clear that the results are well worth it.

  • Tari Tari‘s use of light is meant to evoke the idea that as light reaches even the darkest, out of the way spots, it casts these places in warmth and gives them hope. Wide windows allow light to permeate the buildings, and similarly an honest, open dynamic amongst the characters allow them to support one another and find hope where it appears all is lost. It is therefore appropriate that Wakana and Naoko share their thoughts with one another beside a window as sunlight streams into the room: while the empty classroom creates a sense of melancholy, the warmth in the scene comes from Wakana and Naoko coming to terms with Mahiru’s death together: both Naoko and Wakana can depend on one another to cherish their memories of Mahiru and continue advancing music in her memory, as well as for their own futures.

  • In the end, everyone reaches their graduation and prepares to step into their own futures. Sawa’s already taken off to attend an equestrian school overseas, having been accepted into their program, but is granted a diploma anyways for having completed all of the requirements. As Tari Tari drew to a close, I entered my honours thesis year: seeing the sort of determination spurred my intentions to complete a journal publication during the summer, after the project had fallen by the wayside during term. For our troubles, we were accepted into the publication, and this accomplishment also helped one of my colleagues make the honours thesis programme. Their GPA had just missed the minimum requirements by a small faction, but having a publication proved to the department they were qualified for the work. With this and my supervisor vouching for them, they were reinstated.

  • This final year stands as my favourite undergraduate year, as we each worked on our own projects, supported one another and ultimately, defended our work the following April. I don’t think anyone in our year failed our thesis projects. For me, Tari Tari has many moments that are memorable, being attached to pivotal moments during my time as a student; this contributes to a bit of my bias as to why I found the anime so moving and enjoyable. Viewers have longed for a continuation, and while no sequel anime ever materialised, a special OVA set during the winter was released with a commemorative BD collection, and in 2018, a novel, Tari Tari ~Mebaitari Terashitari Yappari Tokidoki Utattari~ (Tari Tari ~Budding, Shining, and Sometimes Singing~) was announced.

  • This novel is set ten years after the anime’s events, and sees the characters reunite to help Yukine, a high school student who is still searching for her way. Unfortunately, I’ve not heard much at all about this project: the first chapter was originally published on August 1, 2018, and new chapters were supposed to be published bimonthly, but I’ve found nothing of the project as of yet. However, while we may not have the full story from the sequel, Tari Tari portrays Wakana walking along the same path she normally walks, sporting a longer hairstyle similar to Mahiru’s. She smiles warmly, bringing Tari Tari to a close and assuring viewers that, with everything she’s experienced, she’s in a much better place now and ready to seize the future.

Tari Tari is often overlooked where discussions of P.A. Works’ anime are concerned: this is, after all, the studio that has brought viewers the likes of Angel Beats!, Hanasaku Iroha, Nagi no Asukara and Shirobako, each of which are veritable masterpieces in their own right for excellence in capturing the viewer’s interest with their characters, setting and premise. However, Tari Tari‘s contributions to P.A. Works’ repertoire of productions cannot be understated. As the production following Hanasaku Iroha, Tari Tari inherits many elements from its predecessor, especially a cast of characters of different backgrounds that each share a common goal. However, whereas Hanasaku Iroha required a full twenty-six episodes to tell its story, Tari Tari managed to condense that experience down into half the runtime. The success in Tari Tari, then, was demonstrating that even with a reduced episode count, it was still possible to draw upon the elements that made Hanasaku Iroha so successful, and moreover, P.A. Works now had two series that were successful following a busier, more multi-faceted set of characters in a coming-of-age setting. Tari Tari‘s legacy is therefore understated; in addition to being an exceptional anime, Tari Tari confirmed that P.A. Works had a winning combination that could fit into a thirteen or twenty six episode format. confident that series with a large number of characters each working towards the same objective can captivate audiences, P.A. Works would go on to create outstanding experiences through Shirobako, Sakura Quest and Irodoku. Each of these series have proven to be immensely enjoyable in their own right, taking the concepts from Tari Tari and successfully applying them to different settings, from the anime production workplace, to a remote town and even a world with magic to create captivating series well worth one’s while.

Being cloudy, shining, singing again someday: Revisiting a review of the Tari Tari OVA

“God has given us two hands: one to receive with and the other to give with. We are not cisterns made for hoarding; we are channels made for sharing.” —Billy Graham

Released on December 17, 2015, the Tari Tari OVA has proven to be the most elusive OVA encountered in living memory. Straying out of thought and time, the OVA was alone, forgotten, without escape from the dark corners of the world. The stars wheeled overhead, but it is not the end. I will recount the OVA account, and share it for my part. In my earlier talk, I briefly summarised the OVA, where Wakana, Sawa and Konatsu wonder what to do as the winter holidays approach. While Konatsu is itching towards karaoke as the group cleans up their club room, the others feel it is prudent to study. It isn’t until later that Sawa decides to gather everyone together to sing a song that commemorates their time together. This song, titled “いつまでも輝きを” (Shining Forever) is featured as the OVA’s ending song and has a runtime of around four minutes. While it’s not a sequel that depicts the character’s fates following their graduation, it does nonetheless represent a welcome piece of Tari Tari: when it had aired back in 2012, I found Tari Tari to be a wonderful anime that depicted the thoughts and emotions of a group of friends on a cusp, as they begin the transition from one stage to the next. It was a story that numerous viewers (should be able to) relate to, and coupled with exceptional artwork, has been one of P.A. Works’ more memorable titles.

The main point of interest surrounding the OVA is where it things are chronologically set relative to the remainder of Tari Tari, if it is not a sequel. Wakana mentions that it’s December early on in the OVA, and the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton club are cleaning up their clubroom in preparation for the winter holidays. Later, while lying in bed, Sawa reminisces about the day where she and Wakana, Konatsu, Taichi and Wein performed one final time during the autumn period prior to their school’s closure (construction crews do not begin preparing the site for demolition until March of the following year, during the same time as the graduation ceremony). Therefore, it is possible to say with complete confidence that this OVA takes place during the final episode, during the eyecatch at its halfway point; the OVA depicts a brief snapshot of a period after their performance and before graduation in March. Thus, the eyecatch skips a period of around half a year, and the fact that P.A. Works chose not to depict what happened during this time suggests that Wakana and her friends were busy preparing for their entrance exams and pursuit of their post-secondary plans, although this brief moment during their winter break was meritorious of additional mention. It is interesting to note that by this point, Sawa’s parents still exhibit some doubts about her career choices, in spite of their determination to support her earlier on in the series.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Because of how difficult it’s been to find anything on the Tari Tari OVA, I’ve optimised this post to be hopefully more searchable by referring to the OVA as such, rather than by its full name (Kumottari, Kagayaitari, Mata Itsuka Utattari). To improve things further, each image here links to a 1080p full-sized copy that can be easily downloaded. I’ve updated my previous talk on the Tari Tari OVA so the images there can be viewed in full-resolution, as well. The decision to do a second post within a half-year was not lightly made, and this talk aims to provide a definitive answer as to when the events of the OVA are set, as well as provide the highest possible resolution images of this OVA.

  • Although the Tari Tari OVA does not particularly offer much in the way of anything new, it was nonetheless quite pleasant to see the characters return again. I consider Tari Tari to be one of P.A. Works’ best slice-of-life anime; it wasn’t about any one thing in particular, dealing with Wakana, Konatsu and Sawa’s aspirations as high school drew to a close. Appropriately, its title, “Tari Tari“, is used as a suffix in Japanese to indicate doing “stuff”, being quite similar to “-ing” in English whenever an action is being performed in present tense.

  • As noted in the previous discussion, there is a bit of melancholy in this OVA: besides being projected by the lighting at dialogue in-show, said melancholy can also be felt owing to the audience’s knowledge that this short OVA is very likely the last we’ll see of Tari Tari, given that P.A. Works does not do sequels. Their past records show that any continuations they’ve done depict events set in the middle of a series.

  • Consequently, it is most unlikely that Wakana, Konatsu and Sawa’s fates will ever be given solid closure. One thing I would’ve most like to see was what ultimately happened to Sawa and Taichi: subtle signs were present throughout Tari Tari that the two shared unspoken, mutual feelings for one another, and while the scene at the airport was devoid of dialogue, it’s very likely that Taichi confessed his feelings to Sawa here.

  • Despite being a seven-minute long feature with a four-minute long montage using footage from the original anime, the Tari Tari OVA has lost none of its visual fidelity. Being three years old does not change my claims that Tari Tari easily has the best visuals out of any P.A. Works titles, even beating out Glasslip and Nagi no Asukara. The reason for this is the delicate balance of colour that allows the anime to depict both vivid and brooding environments to augment the atmosphere surrounding each moment: none of their other titles does this quite as well, and in fact, recent titles like Shirobako seem a little underwhelming by comparison with respect to the visual aspect.

  • I still recall the previous year in August, during which I published a talk on Sabagebu! after having a steak-and-lobster dinner at The Keg. This first weekend of August, I celebrated a year’s of aging with a dinner at Tony Roma’s: I had the wish for a good rack of ribs and ordered what is known as the “Ultimate Grill Power”, which added an eight-ounce sirloin steak and skewer of grilled shrimp with the ribs. My standard for assessing the quality of ribs is by how easily the meat falls off the bones, and their ribs pass this test nicely, being tender and tasty.

  • The eventual fate of Taichi’s feelings is left unknown, leaving a somewhat unpleasant feeling amongst the audience, most of whom wished that more time was directed towards following Sawa and Taichi’s growing relationship. However, I contend that the decision to leave this aspect in the sidelines, and merely illustrate it subtly, allowed Tari Tari to focus on the character’s futures and not devolve into an ill-executed love story.

  • I’ve been in Taichi’s shoes before, and in both instances, there were no storybook endings. With that being said, life’s too short really worry about these things. Realistically, even if Taichi’s feelings went unanswered, the possibilities in life remain limitless, and while I’ll earn some disdainful looks from some, I contend that the things that are truly worth having hardly ever come easily, so a good relationship is no exception.

  • The weather today finally decided that the time was ripe for a change from the sunshine we’ve been fortunate to enjoy, and this morning, the rain began falling in earnest, bringing a much-needed downpour and the associated cooling to the city. While it stopped briefly, it’s back now in the form of an evening thunderstorm. The past weekend was quite eventful: I paid a visit to the local bookstore to check out Tom Clancy’s Full Force and Effect before settling down to a summer evening of fried chicken, and yesterday, celebrated several birthdays with family. The weather had been quite hot, compounded by the stagnant air, making perfect weather for being out and about, and with the work week resuming, it’s nice that we’re getting rain.

  • It’s quite easy to see why Sawa’s father disapproves of her being a jockey: in the United States, the average jockey makes around 35000 USD per year owing to the fees a jockey must pay out to their agent and valet. While there are exceptional jockeys who make a substantial income, they are rare, hence her parent’s apprehension into allowing her to pursue her interests.

  • Sources out there state that the average height of a jockey ranges from 4’10 to 5’6, and an average mass of 108 to 118 pounds. Sawa is 5’6 and weighs 121 pounds, which puts her at the upper bounds for the recommended physical characteristics for a jockey: her arc in the original anime illustrates her determination to become a jockey, even going to extremes by dieting in an attempt to lower her mass. Once her friends and parents realise this, this do their part to support her to the best of their ability.

  • Doubting her plans for the future, Sawa scrolls through her phone and finds a photograph of their performance together, evoking memories of how much fun it had been to perform one final time together for a large audience. This performance acted as a swan song for the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton club, with their determination to see things through being sufficient to motivate other students to help them out, even as their school was slated for closure.

  • Of her friends, only Sawa wields a smart phone with a touch screen. In North America, smart phones are the dominant phone on the market owing to their versatility, but in Japan, flip-phones are still widely used. Despite lacking the raw processing power and hardware of a smart phone, Japanese flip phones are capable of video playback, running some mobile applications and connecting to the internet. Their dominance in Japan arises from highly expensive plans for smartphones: flip phone plans are much more affordable, suggesting that the Okita family is relatively wealthy.

  • While flip phones are making a resurgence in Japan, back over in North America, smart phones are continuing to march on, with each successive generation sporting improved hardware. The present trend seems to be that, with the lessening gap between mobile and computer operating systems, phones may eventually replace PCs and become full-fledged computing solutions in their own right. So, if one wanted to use their phone as a computer tower, they’d merely need to attach it to a dock for power, connect it to an external display and add a keyboard/mouse.

  • The Tari Tari OVA takes on a Christmas theme to tie in with the fact that the BD box set was released in December, just in time for the Christmas season. During this time, I was gearing up to go on a vacation in Taiwan and Hong Kong, marking the first time I traveled abroad during the winter season. Things like snow, eggnog and Christmas dinner was swapped for enjoying the sunshine of Southern Taiwan and watching the New Year fireworks in Hong Kong’s central district, which was, while quite different, not unwelcome.

  • This spot is likely the near the Samuel Cocking Garden, underneath the Enoshima Sea Candle. The original garden was founded in 1880 by British merchant Samuel Cocking as the Enoshima Botanical Garden, and featured a greenhouse where he collected tropical plants. The greenhouse was destroyed in an earthquake, and in 2004, a new garden was opened in the area. The Enoshima Sea Candle is a private lighthouse that was completed in 2003. Built for the 100th anniversary celebration of Enoshima Electric Railway, its observation deck can be accessed by a series of escalators. With a height of 40 meters, the observation deck provides a stunning panoramic view of the area that, by nightfall, is considered as the sxith best “Japan Heritage Night View”; the tower itself is illuminated by a solar power generation device installed on the south side during the hours of darkness.

  • On the morning of their gathering, the skies are grey and moody. However, it is still quite warm in Enoshima: the average temperature in the area is around 13°C in December, which is my city’s average temperature in June, and in December, we average -7°C. Consequently, whenever I hear any talk that it becomes “cold” in some regions of Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong, I’m quick to dismiss it, for their weak winter is no match for Real Canadian Winter.

  • When Wakana arrives, it turns out Wein and Taichi are already there, performing a Christmas variant of the Ganba Red song. One must admire Wein’s boldness, which leads Konatsu to become embarrassed, but Wakana quickly tunes in to the Christmas spirit and begins singing “Forever shining”, after which everyone else joins in. The song clocks in at four minutes, and is very soothing in tone.

  • There were two major themes in Tari Tari that figured prominently: the importance of openness in friendship, and the impact of taking the initiative to do something meaningful as one journey of life draws to a close. In both Wakana and Sawa’s cases, opening up allowed the others to help them overcome their troubles, and by the end of Tari Tari, Wakana is much friendlier than she had been at the series’ beginning.

  • After “Forever Shining” comes to an end, a still of the plaza under a light dusting of snow is presented. Although rare, snow can fall here, as it did during February 2013, lending itself to a scene distinctly feeling of Christmas: it’s clear that the Tari Tari OVA issomething that is best watched during the Christmas season, and on that remark, this post comes to an end.

Though it might be brazen for me to say so, I conclude that viewers are unlikely to be missing out on much even without the Tari Tari OVA. I justify this claim by saying that, since the OVA was not a continuation or epilogue, and its keystone is the “Forever shining” song set to flashbacks of the events in Tari Tari‘s main story, rather than any new footage. Consequently, though welcomed as an opportunity to see Wakana, Konatsu, Sawa, Taichi and Wein perform together again, the OVA does not contribute anything new to Tari Tari. With that being said, it is a strange fate that audiences would be held in the dark for so long, over so short and simple an OVA. More than a half-year has now elapsed since the original slated release date, and there are still no avenues to access this OVA for viewers outside of Japan. According to sales figures, 1923 copies of the Tari Tari Complete Box were sold in Japan within four days of the BD volume’s release. With a price tag of 295 CAD, one wonders just how many of these sales were motivated by the want of a seven-minute short, and whether or not this price tag might be the explanation behind why the Tari Tari OVA continues to remain inaccessible to audiences outside of Japan.

Kumottari, Kagayaitari, Mata Itsuka Utattari (Being cloudy, shining, singing again someday): Tari Tari Special Review

“Selfish persons are incapable of loving others, but they are not capable of loving themselves either.” —Erich Fromm

The Tari Tari Special is a seven-minute special is titled Kumottari, Kagayaitari, Mata Itsuka Utattari (曇ったり、輝いたりまたい、つか歌ったり; Being cloudy, shining, singing again someday) and features a new song, “Itsumademo Kagayaki wo” (Shining Forever) sung by the members of the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club (Wakana, Konatsu, Sawa, Taichi and Wein). This special is exclusive to the complete Blu-Ray Box Set, which costs 28000 yen (295 CAD), and features a special 100-page booklet, a commentary track by the voice actors, and even the footage from the September 2012 event “Shirahamazaka Koukou Kanshasai” (Shirahamazaka High School Thanks Festival). The Tari Tari Special itself deals with Wakana, Konatsu, Sawa, Taichi and Wein as the Christmas season approaches, as they decide how to spend the Christmas holidays. Before the holidays can start, the group decides to clean out their club room and encounter some other third years in the music department. Upon returning home, Sawa shares another conversation with her parents about her future; although it doesn’t prove fruitful, she decides to do something nonetheless, and messages her friends, inviting them to caroling to commemorate their time as students at Shirahamazaka High School.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • This post was rushed out into the publishing stage, so this time around, I only have ten screenshots, and a shorter discussion. I’ll return at some point in the future to add an expanded discussion about Tari Tari Special and provide more screenshots, but for the present, this will hopefully be sufficient to illustrate what’s happening with the OVA, which, from the looks of things, have not been accessible to most English-speaking anime fans.

  • As is befitting of the winter timeframe, sunlight takes on a whiter hue. The Tari Tari Special has not lost any of the visual fidelity that its TV incarnation did, but the lighting and mood tends towards the melancholy, subtly hinting that one stage of their journey is about to end sa everyone looks back on their past year.

  • Sawa’s habit of squeezing Konatsu’s face whenever irritated with her makes a return: she’s growing frustrated that Konatsu is not helping the others clean, marking yet another hallmark from the original TV series. Truth be told, Tari Tari deserved more than just a seven-minute short as the form of a continuation; while the series ended on a decisive, satisfying note, I would’ve liked to see a movie or longer OVA that depicted what happens after graduation.

  • Here, some junior students in the Wind Ensemble club are saying farewell to their seniors. I wonder who actually shelled out the 28000 yen to purchase this special edition Blu-Ray. However, a Blu-Ray for the series had already been available for sale, and for those who’ve already purchased the other volumes, buying this special edition set would be tantamount to spending roughly three hundred dollars just for the seven-minute special (as well as the other bonus features). Thus, the question becomes: is this OVA and a few other features worth the extra money?

  • This screenshot nicely captures the beauty of the landscapes and skies of Tari Tari: the deep blue in the sky and the high-altitudes cirrus clouds convey the sense that the weather is going to become cooler and moody quite soon. Returning to the question raised by the previous bullet, the practical answer is “no”: three hundred dollars can net one a Chromebook, a pair of university textbooks, five titles at launch price, or a Cantonese Banquet for six, to name a few. Of course, the prudent thing to do is to save it, and this is the course of action I’d take.

  • However, for some anime fans in Japan, the desire to have access to the OVA overrules other counterarguments. Back in the OVA, Wakana receives a message from Sawa, inviting her out for an activity. The use of lighting in this scene suggests that Wakana sees studying as something best done alone, so one can focus. Notice the use of a space-heater: contrasting my nation, where homes have centralised heating, in Asia, most homes just have air conditioning.

  • Thus, in winter, things get a bit chilly even when the thermometer reads 12°C, although with due respect, it’s not truly cold until one experiences life at -40°C: even with centralised heating, going outside becomes quite difficult, doubly so if there’s windchill. Konatsu gets a similar message from Sawa, as well. It seems that everyone’s decided to study over their break, and while this is the proper thing to do, there’s nothing wrong with taking a break with friends every now and then.

  • Wein and Taichi bring their spirits to their song: the OVA manages to find the means of bringing everyone’s unique points out in the space of seven minutes, reminding me of every character’s contributions to Tari Tari. The one logistical fault in the OVA is the fact that everyone manages to sing a new song to the level of quality that they did, despite having never practised at all.

  • By this point in time, Wakana’s fully opened herself up to the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton club, bringing sleigh bells and reindeer ears to help their song along. This song is remarkably warm, and the use of sleigh bells means that it feels like a Christmas song. We recall the release date: the Blu-Ray Special was probably intended to be ready just in time for the Winter Holidays in Japan.

  • Thus ends a shorter talk for this OVA: I’ll return to regular programming next time, with a talk on Expelled from Paradise. Aside from being a pleasant addition to the Tari Tari series, the OVA also happens to be prohibitively inaccessible at present. I hope that things become more accessible in the near future, such that Tari Tari fans have a chance to check the special out and listen to “Itsumademo Kagayaki wo” in all of its glory.

It’s been almost 30 months since Tari Tari last aired, and although the OVA is only seven minutes, it was most welcoming to see everyone sing again in the present. The song is a remarkably gentle piece that has a very warm, slow pacing that simultaneously evokes a Christmas mood and recalls memories of why I enjoyed the series to the extent that I did. The OVA illustrates another facet of Sawa’s character, showing her as someone who takes the initiative to bring her friends together. In doing so, Sawa helps everyone create yet another precious memory of them having spent time together singing, suggesting that she is immensely grateful to have friends who care about her, and that she’s willing to be there for them, as well. On a superficial note, this adds to the list of justifications for why Sawa is my favourite Tari Tari character, and as far as contributions to the original anime go, this reinforces Sawa as someone who has a reasonably clear understanding of what her aspirations are.

Winter 2015 Anime

The fall season is just a few weeks from closing off, and this is probably the closest I’ve cut things as far as doing season previews are concerned. Thanks in no small part to a busy schedule and the influx of anime to watch and discuss, I’ve put off doing a preview for quite some time now, but today, I’m mostly done everything for this term, so there’s been a little bit of time to step back and see what’s happening in the Winter 2015 anime season. Owing to a shift in my logistics for this year’s winter holidays, I’ll be doing final talks for Sora no MethodSword Art Online II and Amagi Brilliant Park after the new year kicks off. Similar to last winter, there are a handful of shows I’ll be following, and below is a mostly-complete listing of the Winter 2015 offerings.

  • Even with a retina display, reading the text from this level is going to be a pipe dream. Fortunately, I’ve the presence of mind to link to the original resolution chart, which is some seven megabytes in size and optimised for 1080p displays. As per usual, my watching habits could change without notice, and I may wind up picking up extra/dropping shows before the three-episode mark has passed. With that being said, let’s do this!

A cursory glance at the chart shows that Kantai CollectionSaenai Heroine no Sodatekata and Aldnoah.Zero‘s second season have my eye. I’ve been hearing about Kantai Collection since last September, and have been looking forwards to a naval version of Strike Witches and Girls und Panzer. The game itself is wildly popular, but I’ve never really understood the appeal beyond “anthropomorphic battleships of the Imperial Japanese Navy” (I’ve always been more of a fan of the US Navy). The anime, on the other hand, looks to be something that’s meant to be enjoyed, and while discussions elsewhere turn to the technical, I’ll try to focus on enjoying the show for its character dynamics and combat choreography. Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata (How to Train the Ordinary Girl to be a Heroine) looks to be an anime about building a visual novel. I understand that Aldnoah.Zero‘s first season ended on a disappointing note, but out of my own curiosity to finish it, I’ll take this one up as the Winter season’s “serious anime”. Because the premise is already known, there’s no real need to give it its own section, and I’m personally hoping that how they reintroduce things will at least make some sense without depending on something outrageous. Beyond the shows, there’s also the Bokura Wa Minna Kawaisou and Tari Tari OVAs; the former will release later this month and be reviewed somewhere in the new year (hopefully, before mid-January has passed), latter should have released yesterday, and I’m hoping that the BD will feature a HD version of it, because Tari Tari is something that was meant to be watched in 1080p, rather than 480p.

Kantai Collection

The story is set in a world where humanity has lost control of the seas to the threat known only as the “deep sea fleet”. The only ones who can counter the “deep sea fleet” are the Kan-musume (warship girls), who possess the spirit of naval vessels harking back to an older era. Stationed at the naval base Chinjufu, many various Kan-musume have gathered to live together, working hard everyday in training and improving other aspects of their daily life. One day, a Kan-musume arrives at Chinjufu. Named Fubuki, she is a special class of destroyer, and her arrival sets in motion the story that will be told in Kantai Collection.

  • As previously noted, I am not a fan of Kantai Collection the game because of the exceptionally steep learning curve, and the fact that it takes the sort of effort that would earn people the Nobel Prize to master. Games shouldn’t require its players to have a notebook and calculator out to enjoy properly, nor should they require players spend a good 25 hours a day (that’s not a typo: from what I’ve heard, playing the game properly requires a heck of a lot of grinding and planning). On the other hand, the anime’s not going to require too much effort to watch, and from the premise, looks to be similar to Strike Witches minus the pantsu and with ships taking the place of aircraft. My über-micro also tells me that Kaga will be my favourite character. for bearing a great deal of similarity to Tari Tari‘s Sawa Okita.

Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata

Tomoya Aki is an otaku who works part-time to earn money to buy anime. One day during spring vacation, he meets a beautiful girl, and not more than a month later, he finds out that the girl is his classmate, Megumi. Tomoya is told that she is hardly noticed by the other classmates. Tomoya, who also has no special skills or abilities, decides to write a visual novel. Enlisting Eriri Spencer Sawamura, a well-known member of the Art Club to provide the art for the game and Utaha Kasumigoaka to write the game scenario, Tomoya kicks off Blessing Software, whose goal is to sell their game at the next Comiket.

  • Shirobako‘s still going to be rolling come the new year, but here’s an anime about making games. This concept was explored in brief back during OreImo, but it’s going to be fun to see some quasi-game development, and before I get lampooned for using the quantifier “quasi”, I feel that visual novels are more story-driven, depending mostly on good writing above graphics and performance to be successful. As such, I consider them to be interactive books rather than full-on games. With that said, I nonetheless look forwards to seeing how it goes for them: from the premise, their goal of publishing software is not dissimilar to the experience I had over the summer. I look most forwards to seeing what software they use for their project. For the present, though, the three new shows, plus the massive backlog I’ve got (including Psycho-Pass and Nagi no Asukara) ought to keep me busy until the Spring 2015 season arrives, and though I’ll say it again later, the Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan is something I’ve looked forwards to for a very, very long time. This might be the one anime I do weekly reflections on during the course of its run.

A Tari Tari Review: Reflections and a Full Recommendation

“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 IrohaTari 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 GlasslipFutsū no Joshikōsei ga Locodol YattemitaRail 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.