tamako love story

“Breast-mochi? Something like this?”

With a name like Tamako Love Story, you know the genre of the show isn’t the same as the original TV series. It goes in a different direction, instead of being a low calorie shoujo slice-of-life with comedy elements (or a Dera-based harem depending on your point of view), it turns into a straight up coming of age romance story. While the budding romance between Mochizou and Tamako was a backstory for Tamako Market, it is now the focus of Tamako Love Story as Mochizou and Tamako come to terms with their feelings before they graduate high school. To further hit that point home, the whole South Island storyline and Dera from the TV series are relegated to brief cameos rather than supporting or main actors. If you did not like Dera, then this movie is for you. The story is told really well, with a lot of simplicity and nostalgia. It felt like a modern take on I Can Hear the Wind, and the relationship between Tamako and Mochizou seems a lot more genuine and endearing than, let’s say, From Up on Poppy Hill. And unlike a movie like Summer Wars, there isn’t anything else going on in the movie except for Tamako’s and Mochizou’s relationship.

The movie is told from mostly Mochizou’s perspective for the first half, and then it switches to Tamako’s perspective for the second half. I’ll just spoil it for you: the first half is Mochizou grappling with wanting to confess to Tamako. He makes up a lame excuse of having to tell her that he is going to Tokyo for University, but he is 100% focused on confessing to Tamako. Then unlike every other male lead, he does. He doesn’t waver, tells Tamako straight up with a simple, “I love you. I always loved you,” and it sends Tamako into a confused spiral as she runs away from Mochizou. We switch to her point of view, and she’s coming to grips on the situation as well as realizing life is changing as high school ends. She tries to figure out how to respond to Mochizou. That’s the second half of the movie. I won’t spoil that for you… okay, I will. “Dozo! Have a starfish!”

I really enjoyed this movie, and I really enjoyed Tamako Market. There is a really simple nostalgic charm with the franchise, and there is just not a lot of this type of anime anymore (not that this was a very popular genre to begin with– “Hey! I want to make a shoujo slice-of-life that doesn’t involve a rapey male harem!”). There is a lot of charm watching the characters be and act like normal people, and that’s really the thing about this franchise– they’re not super magic users, there’s no earth that needs saving, there’s no giant mecha, and there’s no time-wasting club everyone is in– it’s simply an everyday story featuring fairly normal people. It’s a story that can be told without anime, yet I can’t imagine another genre for it. It’s not a romcom or Nicholas Sparks story for a live action movie. It’s not a gimmicky sitcom. It’s not a reality TV show. It’s not an epic opera or skit on Prairie Home Companion or a Korean drama featuring some sort of traffic accident. It is, in essence, a fairly boring and straightforward story about love. But, somehow, it’s made to not be boring. I think that’s a compliment to Kyoto’s storytelling as much as their already fantastic animation. Tamako Love Story nails being simple, natural, and flavorful, in stark contrast to typical overprocessed, artificially-flavored modern anime fare.

Being a little self-aware of the day and age, at one point Anko tells Mochizou to stop using their paper cup phone and use a cell phone. He has an iPhone! Maybe it’s a conceit of the innocence and nostalgia of the movie that he and Tamako still using their paper cup phones rather than Snapchat. I’m okay with this as there is a perfectly good reason for the paper cup phones, and the film acknowledges modern technology exists. Mochizou also has a MacBook Pro and a Cat On camcorder which led the Fashion Czar to wonder, “How can a simple mochi shop afford all this?” I suspect they ship and manufacture mochi for a global economy. Mochizou’s dad seems more in tune with modern tech, and they can easily use the internet to spread mochi worldwide.

(I do enjoy Kyoto’s recreation of Kyoto’s main train station. Makes me miss the train station. There’s a ramen row on top of the station, and it features some of the best ramen that I’ve ever had. There are also a lot of shops with good bentos too, as well as a conveniently placed Mister Donut.)

Really enjoyed Kanna-chan’s epic “DO YOU WANT TO SPEND YOUR YOUTH ROLLING MOCHI? YOU MOCHI-HENTAI!” speech. She’s the best. Reminds me of when Apollo Creed tells Stallone, “GET YOUR FUCKING HEAD BACK IN THE GAME!” after the Clubber Lang fight. I also like how she led a bloodless coup for control of the Baton Club. Would I watch a home renovation series starring Kanna? Yes, yes I would.

Biggest drama of the movie that isn’t about Mochizou and Tamako’s relationship? Whether or not Tamako can pull off the Baton Club routine for the Rabbit Mountain Shopping District talent competition. Her preparing for the competition is the backdrop for the movie, and it kind of parallels her relationship with Mochizou. Best part of performance was that it was done to I Look Up As I Walk, or as Americans know it, Sukiyaki. Kyoto just putting on a clinic on how to do a low calorie, sweet, simple romance story.

(Worst part of the scene? Mochizou couldn’t even go see Tamako because he has to man the mochi store. Terrible.)

Gotta love the Japanese health care system. Grandpa chokes on a mochi, they rush him to the hospital, and they keep him overnight for observations (because he might choke again?!). In the US, they would have kicked him out immediately and charged him $15,532.

Let’s just say that the song Tamako’s dad wrote also plays a part in the movie. The movie’s ending features a version sung by Tamako. Also like Guardians of the Galaxy, there may be more to the tape than previously thought. I think the movie is fine as a standalone piece, but it also has many natural callbacks to the TV series.

Do you like montages? Great! There’s a good one of everyone trying to get Tamako and Mochizou closer together, and they run through the gamut of anime harem cliches, only Tamako manages to foil them all by being Tamako. Oh Tamako. But I do like how her friends play a large role in the movie, and it’s clear that they are their own people with their own strengths, weaknesses, and dreams. I know it is a common trope to use indecisiveness to drag out a show, but here everyone has a real sense of purpose.

“Breast-mochi… maybe let’s try making it with milk?”

Probably the least (more most?) expected turn of events is bath boob hijinks in Tamako Market. It does kinda fit Tamako’s character that she is both innocent, earnest, and naive yet wants to sell mochi.

(Or maybe not so innocent as evidenced by her sexual harassment of Midori-chan. Doing research for bottom-mochi? But then again, it felt more natural moment than every, “HEY LET ME GRAB SOME HANDFULS OF BOOBS BECAUSE WE’RE NAKED IN A LOCKER ROOM!” scene in every harem anime. Except Amagi Brilliant Park. So far.)

You should watch Tamako Love Story if you enjoy low calorie romance… if you enjoy low calorie romance wonderfully animated… if you can’t get “Country roads, take me home” out of your head… if you liked Tamako Market (duh)… if you are a mochi aficionado.

5 Responses to “tamako love story”

  1. But but I really want to see a Hykouka Love Story :/

  2. Midori ;_;

  3. If you did not like Dera, then this movie is for you.

    Why thank you! I tried liking the original but that bird was too much for me. Yay, low calorie romance here I come~

  4. > If you did not like Dera, then this movie is for you.

    I’m in, I hated that bird. Even Kyoto behind it couldn’t work it for me.

  5. That was both sweet and funny :) It was good to see Mochizou and Tamako moving on, and Kana’s unique take on playing cupid – “please build me a house! ❤❤❤”. Dera made the main show for me, but the movie managed fine despite just a cameo appearance from him.

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