Tamako Market

August 25, 2013

At first they made a group of cute girls and formed them into a rock band. After that they made them into soldiers and went to war in a post apocalyptic world. Now, they have become part of the everyday life of a shopping district and one of them is a mochi maker’s daughter! Everyone who has watched Tamako Market would clearly identify at how similar the characters in this series would resemble to those in K-ON! Why not? Both shows were made by Kyoto Animation. Heck, some even joked that Tamako Market is the reason why K-ON! is not getting a third season! A replacement for K-ON! I presume? Besides the very familiar art of the characters, the story differs. In fact, I couldn’t really say there is a definite plot in this show because it focuses on the everyday life of a mochi maker’s daughter, Tamako Kitashirakawa, her friends and those around her. Seems like the usual nothing-much-happens day-to-day in life anime. But wait. There is a talking bird! Say what? Yes, a fat talking bird! How is that to spice things up? K-ON! never did have a talking anime, right? And no, Azunyan is not an animal to begin with! There are happy moments, funny moments and moments that touch the heart as they go about in life. You can find it all here under this anime. Well, most of it.

Episode 1
Tamako makes her round through Usagiyama Shopping District. As she is at the florist, a peculiar flower caught her eye. More precisely, there is a bird wedged between the flowers! She got the scare of the life when the bird jumps out and hugs her face! She sneezes it away. The odd part… The bird is talking! He thinks Tamako is falling for him! Dream on! And so the bird continues to ride on Tamako’s head. Is this some sort of hat? Everyone sure thought she had bought a bird. She returns to her shop and meets her childhood friend, Mochizou Ooji. Seems their dads who are both mochi makers are in yet another petty argument. Mochizou’s dad has just changed his shop’s name and signboard to a more westernized one. While they’re at it, they accidentally knock out the bird. They take him in to treat him and of course they are shock that he can talk. How often do you get to hear a bird talk? No, not parrots. This bird introduces himself as Dera Mochimazui and has crossed oceans, leaving his country to search a bride for his prince. If a bird can talk, what are the chances this tall tale is true too? Dera seems to take a liking for Tamako because in his country, sneezing at somebody shows deep affection. So this so called educated bird is in a dilemma to accept her love or not. Why don’t we throw him out when we’ve still got the chance? However her father is more concerned with Dera’s name because Mochimazui means “yucky mochi”! That night Tamako brings her little sister Anko to the public bath. They meet Mochizou on his way out and Tamako reminds him not to forget to give a present for her birthday this time. Mochizou spots Dera wandering around in the cold and is forced to bring him inside the public bath. Despites his pleas not to talk, Dera isn’t shy in hiding his identity. Yeah, the old bath house owner is impressed with the talking bird. Dera loves the warmth and loves it even more when he sees the women’s section. He flies over but Tamako throws him back. Ouch. And so Dera ends up sleeping with Mochizou in his bed…

Tamako heads off for her club activities and talks to her friends, Midori Tokiwa and Kanna Makino. They discuss what Tamako wants for her birthday and she hints a signboard. Tamako is then slammed in the forehead by something feathery. It’s a shuttlecock. As the other shop owners plan to give Tamako her birthday present, Tamako then visits the records store after that and continues to find the song her mom used to sing to her when she was young. Wouldn’t it be easier to ask her mom? Sure. If she was alive. Dera thinks it’s such a sad tale and wants to comfort Tamako by crying in his chest! His feathers will absorb her tears! Tamako adds her mom loved their store’s mochi so much that she wants everyone in the world to taste it. She is a mochi maker’s daughter after all. New Year’s Eve is the busiest year for the mochi makers but this is also Tamako’s birthday. Her father still continues to pester Dera to change his name to Mochiumai (yummy mochi). Dera has eaten lots of mochi that he is now a fat round bird!!! I wonder if Tamako’s head will break if he rides on it. He needs to fly back home but he’s so heavy, he can’t even lift off! But still, he announces his departure so Tamako feeds him a fresh mochi before he goes. He starts choking. The shop owners and Mochizou are on their way to give Tamako their presents when they hear the commotion. They thought it was Tamako who was choking. Tamako’s father shakes Dera upside down to loosen the mochi. Dera swallows it and finds it delicious! All is well, ends well. Till everyone realizes they forgot to give Tamako her birthday present. Forgotten once more. Try again next year. Tamako receives birthday wishes from her friends. Dera feels he will stay around in this shopping district a little longer. Mmm… He tastes Tamako’s soba noodles and finds it delicious. Perverted bird and now glutton bird…

Episode 2
Dera narrates and thinks it is Tamako who had fallen for him! Valentine’s Day is looming so Tamako comes up with an idea for Valentine’s mochi but her father is against the idea. Old fashioned is the best says he. So how does the bird learn more about this lovely day? Watch TV. In class, Kanna decides to make a chocolate house (she is from a carpenter family to begin with). They tease Midori she gets chocolates from both guys and girls and yet she is still single. Midori asks Tamako who she is going to give her chocolates to. She couldn’t answer after that deep thought. As Tamako makes her rounds through the shopping district, she realizes that the place is void of any Valentine promotions. So she calls Mochizou about her intentions to liven up the shopping district. All the shop owners meet to discuss what they’ll be doing for that day but Tamako’s father won’t participate and leaves. He suddenly realizes he is the only one left behind when the district suddenly pops up with all sorts of promotions. Culture shock, eh? Tamako, Kanna, Midori and Mochizou are helping to film an advertisement for the district’s Valentine promotions. They meet Midori’s grandpa who asks their opinion of his Valentine setup for his toy store. His line of “Everybody loves somebody” catches Midori’s attention. Is there someone she likes? Looking at Mochizou’s way… Dera hogs the camera hoping to do his own advertising to look for a bride. Kanna, who is allergic to birds, sneezes at him. Don’t take it the wrong way, pal. Dera notices Midori’s troubled heart and has her accompany him over a cup of coffee. He knows she is in love with somebody: Him! Dream on! When Tamako reaches home, she is surprised her dad made heart shapes mochi. She can’t help but laugh at how cute it is but has to hold it in if she wants him to continue making these. Once Mochizou is done with the editing, everyone gathers to view the advertisement. The projector is so old that it’s not working. Suddenly Dera hooks himself up to it and wahlah! The film is rolling through the bird’s eyes!!! WHAT THE HECK IS THIS BIRD???!!! It also has additional footage. The one whereby it shows some tanned islanders greeting Dera. So it’s true he is from a faraway country of a prince? On Valentine’s Day, Tamako tells Midori that she gave her chocolates to her dad. Again. As she wonders if she’ll give them to someone she loves, Midori teases her she won’t because she never will! Haha. Tamako and Mochizou’s dads continue to argue that they stole their idea for heart shaped mochis while Dera is devastated nobody gave him chocolates! Who would want to give chocolates to this bird?!

Episode 3
It’s spring time and Dera is already huffing and puffing after flying such a short distance. Why not? This unfit bird gobbled mochis like nobody’s business. Out of steam, he falls from the sky but Shiori Asagiri catches him with her badminton racquet. Still too heavy. Dera falls for her too. The new semester has begun. Midori is sad that she didn’t end up in the same class with Tamako and Kanna. Also in Tamako’s class is Shiori but she seems unfriendly. Even during club practice Shiori seems not to greet her. After school, Dera tries to follow Shiori but ends up getting lost. That’s how unfit he is. He lost a girl at a slow walking pace! He flies up to get a better view but once again his weight pulls his down. To his delight, Shiori catches him. Fate? He tries to persuade her to come to Tamako’s mochi shop under the pretence he doesn’t know his way home. Dera’s PR has him well known among the shop owners as he introduces Shiori to them as well. Shiori needs to go after finding Tamako’s place but Tamako has her stay to taste her sakuramochi. Dera tries to convince her to stay for dinner. So happened Shiori’s mom called that she will be late. Shiori helps out in making dinner and then follow Tamako and Anko to the public bath (since her dad called to say their bath is broken). Dera accompanies Shiori to the train station. He got poetic about wanting to meet her again but she already left. Next day in class, Shiori continues to be unfriendly with Tamako. Actually, she is nervous and went to practise her thank you lines in the toilet. She had that chance during gym but took long as Dera distracted Tamako (why is a bird doing at school?).

Dera takes advantage of Shiori’s kindness by dropping before her so she can take him back to Tamako’s place. He thinks she’s a lovely girl but she disagrees because she has not thanked Tamako for yesterday. Wondering if the bird could do it on her behalf, Dera feels it is better to do it herself. Along the way, Shiori encounters her homeroom teacher, Yagi who is making rounds for his home visits. Yagi is surprised the shop owners are very friendly with him especially thanking him for taking care of Tamako. Tamako’s dad and Yagi are nervous talking to each other when Tamako decides to go out with Shiori. Dera wants to tag along too but Tamako tells him bluntly Shiori wouldn’t want a bird stalking her. Shocking, eh? At the records store, Shiori manages to sum up her courage and thanks Tamako. She had always been watching her and noticed she always have fun with her friends. She is happy to be in the same class with her. With that, they become friends. Shiori is on her way back when Dera stumbles before her again. He feels guilty about the thought of stalking her but she thanks him because it made her closer to Tamako. I think the bird tries to push his luck so he plucks a feather and gives it to her as a sign of love. However Shiori apologizes and says she did not join the badminton club because she likes feathers. I take it as a sign of rejection. Shocking, eh? Tamako talks to Midori on the phone on how she made friends with Shiori. Midori is impressed and tells her she saw Shiori practising to say those lines in front of the toilet mirror. Tamako fully understands Shiori’s behaviour then.

Episode 4
Dera has been eating all the mochis Tamako makes that now he is one heavy fat mother bird!!! He can’t even move! You might mistake him for a fat chicken. Because of this, Anko and Dera quarrel. The bird calls her petite while the little girl calls him obese glutton. I don’t know how he’s going to fly around since the festival will soon be upon them. Tamako and Anko head to school. They meet Midori and Kanna. When Anko’s classmate, Tatsuya and Yuzuki are seen coming, she flusters and hides behind her sister. What’s this? Midori and Kanna can tell what is happening but not Tamako. She’s as dense as ever. Perhaps the same reason why she kept feeding Dera with mochis without realizing anything. In class, Anko’s friends invite her to the museum. Since Tatsuya and Yuzuki are coming with them, Anko agrees to meet them this Sunday. However Anko’s dad disagrees because he wants her to help out with the store since it will be a busy day. Daddy remains steadfast she must work. It sucks being a daughter of a mochi maker. Anko even suggested Mochizou to replace her but daddy remains suspicious he will steal his family’s secrets. Grandpa suggests she wakes up real early and once she is done she can go since her trip is at noon. So come Sunday, Anko is really eager to finish her job. Shiori also arrives to help Tamako out. Meanwhile the Usagiyama shop owners are in quandary. Their golden bird statue’s head for the shrine has chipped off. What will they do? Suddenly a familiar fat bird sits on the shrine. Ooohhh… Catch it! Surprisingly, Dera can fly fast to try and outrun them! I guess Dera has discharged his bowels. Anyway he still gets caught and is being paint gold all over. I think he likes it too. Anko realizes she had fun making mochi that she remembers about her trip. She makes her way through the shopping district only to be ring in by the florist to help put makeup on a girl for the festival. Anko couldn’t leave the girl like that so she cheers for her as the parade gets underway. In the end she couldn’t make it and returns to her store to sell the special mochis. She didn’t expect Tatsuya and Yuzuki to visit her so in her embarrassment she runs and hides inside her closet! Midori and Kanna attempt to flush her out via food. Mochi? She got tired of it. Fermented fish? The whole place stinks. Eventually Yuzuki drops in. Anko is still embarrassed but manages to come out. He passes her the souvenir they got from the museum. Midori and Kanna are surprised this is the boy she likes. No one would’ve guessed it. Tatsuya was way better looking than this specky nerd, right? And Tamako still doesn’t realize what is going on.

Episode 5
Tamako and her friends head to the pool. That’s because she can’t swim so she needs Midori to teach her before their school trip to the beach. No improvement… Mochizou is bumming around in his house. Probably thinking about Tamako… Dera thought the wind chimes were an invitation for him to feast. Apparently he was ‘misled’. Anyway Dera can tell Mochizou is in love. It’s written all over his face. He tries to deny but the bird won’t give up. How ironic. A bird telling him about love. Dera wants to assist him. I don’t know how much he lied about Tamako falling for him but rejected her. So you want his help or not? On the day the students leave for their trip, Mochizou stuffs Dera in his bag. How can a fat bird fit inside there? So obviously when they reach their destination, he got car sick. Do birds get car sick? Birds are meant to fly in the open, silly! Dera has Mochizou practice his letter of confession (I guess the weird dance of attraction won’t do) when Midori stumbles upon what he is doing. Mochizou then forces Dera to take the letter to Tamako since guys are not allowed in the girls’ area. Since Dera is fat and slow, Midori beats him and slams shut the window before Dera could deliver the letter to unsuspecting Tamako. That night when a cat confronts Dera (yummy…), Midori and Mochizou confront each other. Midori wants him to quit stalking Tamako because she doesn’t see him that way. Besides, he won’t get anywhere even if he confesses because of her density. He denies all that and they descend into a petty argument of who knows Tamako more. Dera is seen running for his life from the cat! I nearly thought it would be a Sylvester and Tweety moment. Mochizou ‘saves’ him. The bird can sense the same ‘scent’ between them. Trying to hint something? Midori wants Mochizou to stop using Dera for his confession. With Tamako arriving, Dera goes with her since he is hungry. So fat and still hungry? After all that running… Next morning, Dera is confronted with a seagull. The seagull looks hungry. Here we go again. Tamako and her friends swim out to sea. Despite all the floating devices, she is still struggling. Resting at the halfway mark, Midori asks Tamako her opinion of Mochizou. Her childhood friend. Her mochi making buddy. The conversation is interrupted when Dera is seen flying away from the seagull. It’s mind boggling that after all the running, the bird is still fat. Besides, how can he fly faster than a seagull?! When your life is at stake… That night as everyone watches the fireworks, Midori tells Mochizou if he has something to tell Tamako, just tell her. He assures her he won’t confess to Tamako. He wasn’t planning to. Dera is nicely watching the fireworks too but… This bird must be real popular because now a dog wants a piece of him. Run Dera, run!

Episode 6
Dera learns more weird customaries. The guardian statue and curses. Tamako realizes nobody is around the shopping district and took the liberty to count how many people passed! Her point is, she wants more people to visit and suggests a haunted house. I thought her flyer looked cute rather than scary. With her friends, they discuss what to do for the haunted house. Since Shiori isn’t around (away for her badminton camp), Dera doesn’t seem enthusiastic. He also learns about this haunted house thingy. Scary is fun? He fears Tamako swings that way. Obviously the bird is a chicken when the girls gradually discuss about missing kids. See how hard Dera is shaking his cup? The girls are given an empty lot for their haunted house. When Tamako’s dad left the public bath, he thought he saw 2 disembodied souls. He tells the other shop owners about it and though some of them don’t believe, another one mentions about the bloodied salaryman she saw. The start panicking their peaceful shopping district is cursed. However they don’t have the heart to tell Tamako about it since she is running a haunted house. They vow to protect her their own way. Don’t worry about her figuring it out. She’s dense, remember? So while Tamako and friends setup their haunted house, the shop owners come by and do some ‘great acting’ to ‘purify’ the place. They become paranoid. Anybody mentioning about the haunted house will send them into gloomsville. Then mysterious ‘haunted’ happenings start to occur. Soon word spreads that this place is haunted.

Shiori visits Tamako at the haunted house and Dera is delighted. Learning that the haunted house is a place one ‘gets closer to the other’, Dera volunteers to partner with Shiori to test the haunted house. He is bloody confident his love will not waver. But… We hear his panicky scream and the first one to run out of the haunted house! Shiori is cool. Though she was scared, the scarier fact was Dera’s scream! Haha! Because of that, the passers-by became curious and are interested to take a look. Seeing this, the shop owners decide to tell Tamako the truth before anything bad happens. However Shiori dismisses those mysterious happenings with common sense and logic. All that is left are the disembodied souls and bloodied salaryman. There is a long queue waiting to enter the haunted house. Yagi has brought his wife too. He is also confident he will protect her but the moment he steps in, it’s fear factor all the way. Even though everything and the ghosts like Tamako seem cute, Yagi’s fear overwrites them all. In the end he is the first one out while his wife is just cool. Good job on this haunted house. Everyone celebrates the huge success of the haunted house. Kanna explains that she was the one responsible for the disembodied souls and bloodied salaryman rumour. When everyone left after finishing the haunted house, Kanna had Dera take the paint back to the storeroom for her. She also told him about the haunted house jinx of getting closer to someone and knows he is gunning for Shiori. Dera became so happy that he starts swirling in his flight so fast that it seemed like disembodied souls. The bloodied salaryman stemmed from the broken paint. Dera accidentally dripped it all over and a salaryman thought it was rain. Dera becomes upset he has been used (despite the fact he got to be with Shiori). In his tantrum, a bottle knocks him out and his eyes become a projector to replay those islander scenes. A tanned girl arrives at Usagiyama and recognizes this familiar scent.

Episode 7
When Choi blows her whistle, Dera instantly scrambles to her. He starts apologizing profusely but Choi is not amused he has grown fat! Scathing verbal attack! The bird now cannot be his cheeky self and is made to put on his best behaviour. At first Tamako’s dad is sceptical of her seeing that her surname too is Mochimazui and that is the royal name of her family who has ruled the southern island for many generations. That guy we saw in the projection is the prince. Choi explains she is a fortune teller but she can’t divine anything when the bird is fat! Bird abuse! Choi continues to berate he turned into something like this and wonders if his communication device is broken. She and the prince got so worried since he never replied their calls. What calls? Choi messes with him and the projection starts up. It is then she realizes he is not conscious when this happens. As for why he is loafing in this town, Dera tries to cover his ass by pinpointing Tamako as the source of threatening and tricking him to stay here while putting him to labour slavery. Why is he so fat then? Because of that, Choi becomes suspicious and does not want to be tricked and refuses to accept anything from Tamako. Especially the mochi. Tamako then brings her around the shopping district to meet the owners. They welcome her but she has her reservations and won’t be tricked (Dera sweating in his pants, or feathers). They think she had a rough childhood and assure her they will not judge her. She is forced to demonstrate her fortune telling ability. When it turns out to be true, everyone is impressed. Dera himself is shocked that it actually worked! After that, Choi is brought to the public bath. Dera has to behave himself and not peep (but that doesn’t stop him from eavesdropping). To his horror, Choi accidentally went to the men’s section and passed out after staying too long in the water. Her floating butt looked like a peach? Because of that, Choi blows her top at Dera for this humiliation. The bird is reduced to an apologizing machine. Tamako leaves her dinner at the doorstep and Choi continues to be wary.

Choi puts up a little fortune telling stall outside the mochi shop as repayment for food and lodging. Plus, this is to get Dera back into shape. The shop owners have their go at the fortunes and when it comes to Sayuri’s turn (daughter of the public bath owner), she asks about her fortune of getting married. Everyone is shocked she has decided to settle down. Not as shocked as one of the shop owner afro guy because he has a secret crush on her. His dreams crushed when Choi reads out a good fortune for her. Mochizou wants to hint to Tamako about marriage too but she ignores him. Try harder next time. That night, the public bath is closed and they think the owner is reeling from the shock since Sayuri is his only child. The afro guy thanks Choi for the fortune because it made Sayuri happy. Choi dips into the bathtub and dreams of her prince. She passes out after staying in for too long. She develops a fever as Tamako nurses her. She notices Choi crying and talking in her sleep that she can’t hear the waves. She plays a soothing music she borrowed from the record shop that has the sound of waves. Dera chides Tamako this isn’t their country’s music but the bird becomes a chicken when Choi blows her top at him about being tricked. She scolds him that he got fat himself because everyone here is so nice. In his panic, Dera admits the mochi was too delicious that he couldn’t resist them… So it’s his fault, eh? Choi thanks Tamako for everything as she notices the family making red and white mochi for Sayuri’s wedding. She finally relents and decides to try one and finds it delicious. This makes Dera to go wild in devouring as much free samples he can. Mochi FTW! Everything is out of the bag, right? No more mochi for him! Choi will continue to stay here till she finds a way to fix Dera’s communication function as they need it to search for the prince’s bride. Speaking of which, Choi then smells that familiar scent in Tamako. Is she the one?

Episode 8
Kanna wants to meet Dera. No, she has not fallen for the bird, mind you. She has made a bird house for him. However he is too fat that he can’t fit in! What does this funny scene of his butt sticking out of the hole looks like? They have a hard time taking him out too. Kanna is dismayed that her carpentry skills had gone wrong for wrongly measuring his size but Choi says it is not her fault but Dera for getting fat. Yeah, he ate 2 mochi chestnuts this morning. Dera tries to worm his way out by saying it is not he who loves mochi but the mochi who loves him! How to solve this problem? Diet. Better still. Don’t feed him! And Dera quips… What is worse than a bird that can’t fly? A bird that can’t eat! Choi shuts him up and orders him to do it. No buts about it. We see Dera experiencing mochi withdrawal symptoms and the shopping district owners too are told not to feed the bird. Starving hell… But grandpa sympathizes for it and secretly feeds him because feeling hungry is the most painful thing in the world. Knowing they can’t leave Dera alone, they suggest he follows Tamako to school. Choi will come along too but Dera tries to give excuse she needs to take a test and wear uniform to enter school. Choi doesn’t think the test will be a problem because she’s smart. As for the uniform, she can borrow it. No reprieve for you, birdy. Dera is made to fly all the way to school. Must be feeling the gravity as the real enemy, eh? Choi temporarily becomes the foreign exchange student and Dera is made to become a doll for the entire class duration because Kanna ‘introduced’ the bird to Shiori as Choi’s doll.

During gym class, Dera is going to exercise more. They’re going to throw sticks at him! For real?! Batons actually. Spartan training! Dera must dodge all the sticks they throw and though he is screaming harassment and bully, he seems to be doing fine evading all the easy sticks by a mile. Not even Shiori’s presence could save his grace. Because of him getting tired easily, Choi promises to go even harder on him tomorrow. After school, the girls go out shopping with Choi to pick autumn clothes for her since she comes from a tropical island. Though she tries some out, she didn’t manage to buy one. That night, Dera gets into some serious training on his own. Is this true? That bird finally has the resolve? Suddenly he is stopped dead in his tracks when he gets a projection call from the prince checking up on them. Soon, Dera flies into the shopping district with ease and flaunts his new body shape! Looks like an upside down pear. If you ask me (and everyone else), it looks kinda gross. Yeah, we prefer him when he is all round and fat. The owners think he is somewhat sick and give him foods that are known for sick people. Kanna and Midori arrive to give Choi her first autumn clothes.

Episode 9
A short flashback reveals when Hinako (Tamako’s late mom) entered to store to confess how much she loves this store’s daifuku, Dai (Tamako’s dad) got embarrassed from the misunderstanding (since his full name – Mamedai – is closely similar) and also confessed back. Looks like Dera is back to his fat self. All for nothing. And he’s munching away the mochis. Tamako wants to have a mochi pounding event on Mochi Day. When she starts humming that song, her dad tells her to be quiet as his face starts to blush. Mochizou is worried if Tamako remembers his birthday. On his way he meets Anko. She tells him straight Tamako totally forgot about it because all she has in her head is Mochi Day (apparently that’s Mochizou’s birthday too). However something is bugging Anko. She doesn’t seem her happy self. Not even big sister can cheer her up. Then when Yuzuki visits the shop to get his ordered mochi, Anko doesn’t come down to greet him. On a side note, it was funny how Dera was drooling at Yuzuki’s mochi served by Choi. The kid was willing to share half with him but Choi threw an origami crane into his forehead! He’s bleeding! That night, Tamako talks to Mochizou hoping he could find out what is wrong with Anko. Next day, Mochizou does so and after guessing all the wrong answers, annoyed Anko tells him that Yuzuki is moving away on Mochi Day. Oh. On Mochi Day, the rival mochi guys start pounding away. This act reminds Choi of their earth blessing ceremony and starts dancing away. Anko continues to be gloomy so Mochizou tells her to go see him. What will she say? How about “I love you”. He’s kidding, right? Tamako then has Anko do an errand for her to send some fresh mochi to Yuzuki. Anko takes on the job and rushes her way despite tripping and bruising her knee, she won’t slow down. Yuzuki thanks her and gives her hope that they will see each other again. At the end of the day, Tamako’s dad feeling nostalgic takes out his guitar and starts singing that song. Tamako instantly recognizes it (daddy must have got a heart attack when she barged in like that) and takes him to the records store (with all their friends tagging along in the commotion). The owner easily knows that song. The reason he never recognized it was because Tamako hummed it wrongly! She is tone deaf! Apparently this is the song Dai wrote for Hinako. They were in a band when they were in high school. He even has a video of it and plays it much to Dai’s embarrassment. He remembers those wonderful moments and his younger days with Hinako. Lastly, Tamako didn’t forget Mochizou’s birthday and brought him a little mochi cake. So happy that he cried! “Everybody loves somebody”.

Episode 10
For the cultural festival, lady luck is shinning on Midori as the captain of the Baton Club (which Tamako and Kanna are also part of) as she picks the best stage time for their club’s performance. Everyone is excited to work their part and Midori is confident she’ll come up with the choreography. However with the club members having almost finished their part, Midori is starting to sweat because she cannot come up with any ideas. She had to lie that she is almost done too. Choi learns about this so Tamako shows an album of their performance last year. Since the dress is already picked out, Choi helps in sewing and she is quite good at this. She says it calms her heart. Midori wanders around the shopping district for ideas, even stopping by her grandpa’s toy store and the records store but drew no inspiration. Of course Midori’s actions become more and more suspicious to her friends. At the toilet, she continues to struggle for an idea but Shiori caught her talking to her ownself. Shiori visits Tamako (Dera is one happy bird) and tells her what happened. Next day Midori is missing from class due to fever so they decide to pay her a visit. Midori scrambles to tidy up her place so her friends won’t suspect anything. But she can’t fool Kanna who asks her straight about the toilet incident. She picks out several crumpled papers from the trash supposedly Midori’s ideas. Midori becomes distraught and starts crying. She apologizes she couldn’t come up with an idea. As her friends console her, Dera decides to show off his dance because it’s supposed to be a sign of your thanks and joy to god. However Dera’s dance looks so comical that it causes them to laugh! Fat bird dancing… Funny, no?! At least it made Midori feel better. Everyone will help come up with the choreography. On the festival day, Choi visits the Baton Club at the backstage. But she sees a mole on Tamako’s lower neck and is a little stunned. The Baton Club’s performance went well, even having Dera as the finale (can they toss a fat bird up in the air?). While the girls are happy with their overall performance, suddenly Choi bows down before Tamako and claims she is their prince’s bride. Want to repeat that again?

Episode 11
Before Dera left for his journey to find a bride for his prince as part of their custom, he talked with Dera and Metcha (the prince) for one last time. After a long journey, he stops by a flower field to rest seeing it had the same smell as his prince. Probably that’s how he got harvested and brought to the flower shop. Word gets around the shopping district about Tamako. Dera is bombarded with the same questions though Tamako is just a bride candidate. Tamako of course feels it is all a big mistake but Choi doesn’t think so due to the mole and her deep connection with mochi. The family can’t take this as it is too sudden. I mean Tamako will become part of the royal family and change her name. Remember what their surname was? Ironic, right? The most affected one must be Mochizou as the right or wrong respond can swing his mood high and low. Then Tamako’s princess status also spreads among her friends. Kanna has got the ‘best’ theory. The royal family plans to make mochi a new product on the island. Her friends are so focused on this that they almost ignore Tamako and her intention to get a few more stamps on her shopping district card. Collect 100 and she’ll get a medal. Her friends accompany her around the shopping district as she finally completes her card. The public bath owner gives Tamako the medal (humming his own dramatic medal presentation ceremony). I guess this excites Tamako more than marrying the prince. Choi finally gets instructions to fix the communication device in Dera. I don’t know what she did but Dera’s scream doesn’t sound that horrifying but funny. Like he was enjoying it? Tamako then converses with Metcha but the device shortly breaks down. Choi describes the good qualities of her prince despite still being a child. Tamako feels she isn’t ready to be a bride and apologizes to everyone for this ruckus. Her friends are still reeling from the shock and fantasy of the possibility Tamako is going away but as Midori notes, it is Tamako who is the one who is most scared.

As Choi helps Tamako to make dinner, seems Dera loses his comical relief role and feels like he has matured. When Dai leaves for the shopping district owners meeting, Tamako didn’t know there was one tonight and asks about his favourite dinner she is making now. He claims he never liked it and only ate it because she kept making it. Tamako ‘threatens’ she might just go off and get married. Dera follows Dai to the meeting and tells him this marriage thingy is just the spur of the moment. Everyone at the meeting discuss about Tamako’s future. They want her to be happy and hope Dai will understand that sooner or later he must let her go. But looks like he is not ready yet. He asserts Tamako is his daughter. He drowns his sorrows at the records store. He plays a song that inspired Dai to write a song for Hinako. He comes back drunk and murmurs Tamako will be happy but she didn’t catch that quite right. Tamako even gets a call from Mochizou that he will be happy for her no matter where she goes or who she will be with. Perhaps this is the last straw. Tamako throws a little tantrum herself that everybody keeps acting like this. She calms down when Anko invites her to sleep together. Next morning, Tamako becomes frantic when she realizes her medal is gone. She searches high and low but to no avail. She’s really panicking. Yes, it’s that precious to her. Just then, a guy holds up the medal to her. Is this what she is looking for? Hey wait a minute? Isn’t this guy the prince?! My lord it’s him!

Episode 12
Metcha found the medal lying around. He is glad to see Choi doing well but couldn’t recognize this fat bird! That’s how much you’ve physically change, Dera! The prince is taken back to Tamako’s household, introduced to the family and gets a taste of the mochi. Tamako is visibly annoyed when Mochizou tries to tell her to go with her heart. Cut it out already. More so, her friends are doing the same. Metcha is given the VIP treatment by the other shopping district owners. They also bombard him with questions. Tamako couldn’t concentrate that her baton skills are obviously affected. It is clear her mind is somewhere else. Tamako panics when she sees all the shops in Usagiyama closed. She apologizes to her friends for causing them to worry because it’s that same time of the year that they close. Dera beats Midori in hugging Tamako in her face. Dera then wants to hear her opinion on everything. But first, he recalls that Tamako is in love with him! Can you imagine this kind of love triangle? Not possible. And so Tamako really starts talking about what she thinks. She was born and has been living at this place all her life. Some of the important things that she remembered (even to a point of how the paper cup phone came about) and the good people of the shopping district. Everyone is so lively that’s why she never once felt lonely. This has Dera rush all the way to Metcha. He needs to talk to him to clear this misunderstanding. Although Tamako’s head is nothing but mochi, she is energetic, smart and so trusting that she practically forced him and Choi to live with her. So kind that it made him stay longer than usual. He begs his prince to give up on the girl as she is not worthy of being his bride. Tamako also has a thing to say but she accidentally sneezes so Dera makes it look like she is in love with him. Choi stands up and apologizes for everything. She thought Tamako would be his ideal bride and has not done any fortune telling yet. Metcha knows Tamako cannot be his bride candidate. Because when the florist gave him this flower as gift, there is this scent that they smelled from her. So it’s all a big misunderstanding? A big relief to some. Metcha wants Dera and Choi to come home as it is lonely without them around.

Choi says her goodbye to Tamako and the rest. Although Dera wants to stay till New Year’s Day to help with the mochi, Choi orders him that is a no. Choi and the rest can come back anytime to visit because they are like family now. They give Choi farewell gifts and Tamako is reluctant to give her medal. Choi won’t accept it because it’s her treasure. Instead, Choi gives Tamako her paper crane. When they’re halfway to the airport, Metcha realizes Dera isn’t around. Oh… Sneaky bird didn’t tag along with them back… And so Dera continues to hang around as the days to the end of the year dwindle. Yeah, it causes Kanna to devilishly think how good a crunchy fried chicken full of spices would taste! Life continues as always back in Usagiyama and on New Year’s Day, Dera talks to Dai for one last time. It’s not his policy to make girls cry and will leave without telling them. Unlike his homeland where there are days that will chill you to the bone, this place will always be warm at heart. And in the blink of an eye, Dera’s gone. Tamako could sense something and goes around looking for Dera. That bird goes to the florist and buries himself in the midst of the bouquet of flowers. The florist may not have been looking buy shouldn’t she have felt how awfully heavy the flowers she picked up and packed into the box? That box is given to Mochizou who vows to give his present to Tamako this year. So he didn’t just remember them. He remembered it all along. Tamako opens the box and everyone is surprise to find Dera lying in it. Not as surprised as the bird himself wondering what is going on. Is this some happy reunion? Dera’s communication device activates and Choi is not happy the fat bird isn’t back. When is he going to get his ass back?

Although there are 6 specials, I only watched the first 4. Thy last around 4 minutes and come with the DVDs you buy. The first 3 is Dera’s Bar. Since it is opened to ladies only, his guests are only Tamako, Shiori, Kanna and Midori. The Special 1 sees the girls ordering food like as though they’re in a cafeteria, Dera obviously having favouritism in treating Shiori, Dera banning mochis from Tamako despite eating them all himself and Dera doing 80% of the talking despite saying his bar is a place for conversation. They also make puns on mochi and hot cakes, in a way toying around with Dera. Special 2 has Dera wanting the girls to give suggestions on how he can be even cuter. Change size? Change colour? I think that is scarier. Dera takes down notes from Shiori and realizes that what she is saying might be insulting to him. It goes something like despite all the negative traits he has, it’s because of that he is cute. Quite the insult, eh? Special 3, after that discussion of Dera being self-centred (of course he is), Dera hints he wants to renovate the place into a maid cafe. So happen he has 4 maid outfits and has the girls put them on. So the customers become the waitresses? No harm since there’s no one else around. Dera tries to be their customer and get some maid service but they each have their scary service. Till he requests Shiori for her lap pillow and she agrees. Then Shiori has decided… She likes… Dera’s feathers! Because she can make them into a shuttlecock and requires 16 of them. That’s an awful lot… Choi is now the focus in Special 4. She and the girls head over to the public bath and is confident that she has become accustomed to this town’s customs. They talk about her island and if she would like to continue to stay here forever. This has her ponder what she will do here and thinks through all the jobs that she could possible do. Doesn’t fit… In the end, she feels she prefers to be by Metcha’s side but she has soaked too long in the bath and she starts feeling dizzy.

Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da…
Life goes on… Brah! Lala how the life goes on… Just like Dera said that even though there are things that end, some things never do. You may not see them with your eyes but with your heart. And so the ending may not be much if you just look with your eyes that life continues to carry on for the people at Usagiyama and Dera continue to live with Tamako (heck, he may never want to go back!). But if you look with your heart, you’ll see and feel how fun overall this anime had been. There might not be any specific plot and the one about Dera leaving his homeland to search for his prince’s bride serves as a distraction. With episodes on Valentine’s Day, a school field trip, doing a haunted house and even having the bird go on a diet, it feels like each episode serves as a standalone that you need not crack your brains thinking if there is going to be something that affects something later on. The little bits and pieces of each episode is enough for everyone to enjoy the fun as it is.

Personally I find Dera as the most amusing character in this series. For without the bird, everything would have been tad dull. It’s ironic for a show mascot to hog a lot of screen time. Like as though he is the main star. Usagiyama may have been lively like it always have (from the perspective of the characters especially Tamako) but ever since that bird came into their lives, there is this added oomph and spice, don’t you think? Everybody here is so friendly and accepting because the first thing that anybody would do when they see a talking bird is to probably catch and sell it. Yeah, try to get that 15 minutes of fame. Whether it is the way he talks or his actions which resembles very much like a royal court attendant, there is something about this bird that makes him likeable because he is so full of himself. His rounded physique makes him even cuter and adorable. How not to get fat after getting addicted to the mochi? Try it once and you’ll not regret it! Like drugs, eh? Is it not funny trying to see a fat bird gasping for air when he tries to fly? Yes, it’s funny. A bird that hardly could fly is like a cheetah who can’t run. Okay, there are exceptions like penguins and dodo birds but that is not the point. And a bird addicted to mochi like a glutton is like a lion who loves eating vegetables. When not full of himself, Dera is level headed and would offer his view. Tamako the main heroine is also amusing because she is a simpleton. She may be dense especially when it comes to the topic of love but her airheadness is what makes Tamako, Tamako. It’s what defines who she is. It’s not necessarily a bad thing since she doesn’t need worrying about the complicated stuffs. More importantly she is a very kind and nice person at heart. This is what counts, right? One thing that keeps boggling my mind is the fact that Dera likes perching on Tamako’s head. The bird has gotten fatter, right? Shouldn’t Tamako’s head feel heavier? Unless you’re telling me that there is really nothing but mochi in her head! Haha! Just kidding. Maybe that’s why she is an airhead. So light her head that she can’t feel something heavy sitting on it.

The other side characters too are likeable in their own unique ways. They breathe a little life into this little town. Like Tamako and Mochizou’s dad who is always at each other’s throat in whatever competition concerning mochi. Anko has this tendency of wanting people to call her An instead but she herself calls herself Anko. Ironic isn’t it? How can you expect to treat others like an adult when she acts like a kid? Nobody pays heed to this except Dera. There is Mochizou who keeps trying and vowing to himself that this time would be it for him for Tamako but never gets around in doing successfully since Tamako is quite the airhead we know. The relationship between Choi and Dera is quite amusing. Fat chicken always bows down and overflow with apologies to strict girl’s admonishing. No buts about it. Well, he has his own hand in being guilty. A little thing that bugs me about Metcha and his soft speaking ways is that it makes me feel that the prince is a little sissy. I meant no disrespect and it is great to see the young prince being nice to his subjects and everyone around him including strangers. But it’s just that the way he talks is so gently that to a point I thought it was quite girly. Then you have Kanna’s deadpan humour and she is the character that has the most witty in-your-face lines. She doesn’t hold back on them and is very blunt. Other than that, her fascination on any sort of construction lights her up and this makes her funny. Speaking of conversations, the other characters that have notable lines are Dera and the records store owner. Sometimes you can hear heartfelt words from their narration especially the records store owner who seems to have this knack to say the right things to those in need even if his character is a little stoic.

The interaction between the characters is what makes the comedy part of this series funny. Dera himself is already a riot. Who can’t resist smirking seeing this fat chicken? Getting chased by hungry animals, shaking in fear or in total rejection shock. What about that strange ‘attraction’ dance? No wonder everybody loves this bird. But for the romance side, it leaves much to be desired. I know this series isn’t supposed to be romance genre but I thought it would try its luck and have something worked out. On second thought, maybe that wasn’t such a good idea too. So we have no successful couples made here. Mochizou can forever dream to make Tamako his. As long as she got mochi in her head and heart, there is no room for love anywhere. It’s pretty much one way I guess. Perhaps the same case with Anko and Yuzuki. I’m not sure if Yuzuki realizes about Anko’s feelings since he is always the cool cat and Anko the flustering one. Any hints for long distance relationship? Let’s try and be friends first okay? I’m not sure about Midori’s case. Does she like Mochizou or Tamako? I thought the initial episodes hint the former but after her attempt to stop Mochizou’s failed confession, it seems to point to Tamako. Although it may just be the friends kind of love and nothing yuri. And of course there is Dera and Shiori. Or any other girls who sneeze at him like Tamako and Kanna. Who says birds can’t fall in love too? Just too bad Dera isn’t Shiori’s type. Too bad Tamako and Kanna aren’t bird lovers. Though that doesn’t stop him from trying to get closer to Shiori. I wonder what happened to all that ever since Metcha came into the picture.

The art and drawing as already stated they look very close to K-ON! and have that uncanny resemblance to the cute characters in that series. Like for Tamako, I thought she was a cross between K-ON!’s Mio and Hyouka’s Eru Chitanda. And her airheadness seems to be taken from Yui. Anko and Choi have that similar look to Azusa while I thought Kanna was Yui reincarnated but her liveliness taken away. And Midori is starting to look a little like Ritsu too… Sayuri like Sawako… On a trivial note, the next episode preview is about Tamako ranting away anything about mochi. The types of mochi, how one can make them and several other little bits on it. That’s how much her love for mochi is. The family loves mochi so much that their names are even taken after them or close to it. Speaking of more mochi, you can see the different types of mochi and daifuku designs that creative Tamako comes up with and Mochizou’s family who displays theirs in their shop. It may not be that much but for a person like me who loves sweet things, I’m starting to salivate and feel envy of Dera who gets to sample and eat as much as he wants for free! Not fair!

For the voice acting part, Takumi Yamazaki fits very nicely in his role as Dera. With all the various moods this bird had undergone, he portrayed them fittingly and a reason that makes Dera likeable. His other anime roles include Kayneth in Fate/Zero and Harada in Mezzo. Is Hiro Himono changing the kind of characters he used to voice? The kind that we often here when his character goes into outburst like Tsubaki in Sket Dance or Akihisa in Baka To Test To Shoukanjuu. As Metcha, that soft speaking way reminds me of another character in another anime that I recently watched: Kyouya AKA Kyolo in GJ-Bu. Maybe this is just one off thing. Daisuke Ono sounds odd as the florist of Usagiyama. After being so stereotype of his voice suitable for gentleman roles like Sebastian in Kuroshitsuji, it is odd to see hear him take on a feminine role. This is not his first since he did voice the feminine Ushiyama in AKB0048. Other casts include Aya Suzaki as Tamako (Yumi in Little Busters), Yuri Yamaoka as Choi (Chocolat in Yumeiro Patissiere), Atsushi Tamaru as Mochizou (Shiraishi Mikage in Jewelpet Sunshine), Juri Nagatsuma as Kanna (Kozakura of Dansai Bunri No Crime Edge), Yurie Yamashita as Shiori (Yuuka in Shangri-La) and Rina Hidaka as Anko (Mei in Kono Naka Ni Hitori Imouto Ga Iru). Yuki Kaneko makes her debut as Midori.

The opening theme is Dramatic Market Ride by Aya Suzaki. The animation for this anime pop feels like, well, magical. It also feels like Tamako putting up a stage performance through the shopping district. Well, she’s from the Baton Club. Aya Suzaki also sings the ending theme, Neguse. Personally, I feel that this moderate anime pop piece sounds a little weird. I’m not sure how to put it but the best I can describe is that she sings like as though she puts a full stop in almost every syllable. It makes her sound a little like a robot and the music perhaps a little techno in that sense. But at least unlike her character she isn’t tone deaf when singing both the opening and ending songs. There are quite a number of insert songs played in this series. Mainly when the gang visit the records store. The owner would aptly put in those old vinyl LP records and suit the atmosphere. At first I thought those songs were taken from oldies but when I tried checking them over the internet, I can’t really find them and they are only mentioned in the soundtrack of this series. I’m sure that they won’t really just write a short song that sounds from the past era just for this short purpose, right? I could be wrong about this. The only insert song that I identified was Beethoven’s 5th Symphony played during Dera’s incredulous shock that he has to go on diet. The rest of the insert songs seem to be range from retro 60’s American ballad (Girl on the 94 by Cupid’s Toy), a French track (Un Lieu de Rencontre by Marilou) and orchestra symphony pieces (Devata Vlna Tanec by Vladislav Fibich Symfonietta). Unless you’re telling me these songs are the very rare type you can’t find anywhere (at least not over the internet). Koi No Uta, the song that Dai wrote for Hinako in his band Dynamite Beans, I just thought he shouldn’t be singing. He doesn’t have the voice of a rocker (or even as a singer). Well, maybe that’s why Tamako is tone deaf… But if you’re a nervous guy who loves a girl and wants to express your love so much, I guess it can’t be help. It’s the effort that counts.

I read a few comments and review over the internet and generally many felt that this show had some potential but didn’t live up to it. Especially the last few episodes with a sudden ‘twist’ in the story which then fizzles out flat. We could have guessed Tamako would be the bride candidate when Dera stated clear his mission at the beginning. But what are the chances of a girl born and bred from a closely knit community leaving everything behind to join the royal family in some southern islands? In the end, it all amounted to nothing, right? Albeit this series won’t exactly be any top masterpiece, I guess there are expectations to conform when you have a ‘spiritual predecessor’ that was regarded as highly successful. As some put it, it was something that wasn’t really memorable in the long run and doomed to fade into obscurity in the passing seasons. To me, I won’t say it is a bitter disappointment because there are sweet moments like the simple plot, simple heart tugging values-cum-lessons, the cute and simple characters (which many feel have weak characterization) still makes this worth the watch even if it is just for the short term. You can say this series is like mochi itself. Indulging too much may not kill you but may make you overweight. May not be good for your body overall but good for your soul! So remember to slow down and watch those mochi intakes. Because still, too much mochi makes you fat…

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