Tamayura ~more aggressive~ OVA

September 26, 2014

Ah yes. After all that ‘toxic’ animes of mindless violence, slapstick comedies and shameless fanservice. It’s that time again to ‘heal’ myself with a ‘healing’ anime before the vicious cycle repeats itself. That is why Tamayura ~more aggressive~ OVA couldn’t have come at a more timely manner. Heck, even if it was a few months late I suppose it would still work out. So what is new for this second season’s OVA that takes place between episode 8 and 9 (thus sometimes being dubbed as episode 8.5)? Well, the usual. But something interesting I note. It isn’t Fuu going around taking snapshots with her camera. In fact, I don’t think she has her camera brought along.

A One Day Field Trip, That Is
Fuu and friends are having their school field trip at Okinawa. They had lots of fun but their fun is a little dampened because Maon is not with them. She is back home as she is sick. Sick enough to have this dream that her friends are leaving her. Gosh. That won’t happen, right? Her friends return when she is well and they show her the clay lions they made during their trip. When Norie is going to make some tea, she spots a memories sketchbook from Maon. It is empty simply because she didn’t go on the trip. Now everybody starts feeling sad. Oh Norie, don’t ruin the sketchbook with your tears! See, you are infecting Maon too. Fuu suggests that Maon too can go on a trip. A trip that encompasses of only 5 of them. They can plan their trip and do fun things. Since they have school, they can only stay for one night the most and needs to be somewhere close. And so Onomichi is chosen. Fuu has designed their itinerary and included some pictures of the places she visited with Harumi. It would make it feel like a proper field trip. During their train ride, Maon takes out her sketchbook and fills in the first page with her sketch. The more places they go and have fun, the more pages Maon draws. There is this rock that Norie suggests climbing although it is a little bit ‘dangerous’. Maon seems she is struggling a lot but eventually reaches the top. They have a great view of the town below when Maon realizes she is down to her last page. Didn’t bring any spare? Then they talk about the fun things they did and they hope to discover more things together. Before Maon realizes, this sketchbook has become so much more important to her. She thanks Norie for being very thoughtful for her on that day. This will be an unforgettable trip. When everyone returns to their inn and fall sound asleep, Maon looks through her sketches. Her last page notes that she wants to make many more memories with them. When they return home, Sayomi is not happy. She is not pleased she has been left out of this trip and thus will definitely be there in part 3 of their trip. They can’t refuse her this time. Thing is, there is no part 3. Phew. Thank goodness…

Memories Are Made Of These…
I am… Cleansed! Okay, maybe not entirely since this is just a single episode. But it is better than nothing. For this OVA, Maon takes most of the spotlight but that doesn’t mean the rest are pretty much left out. Only Sayomi… There isn’t anything new or any shocking twist that will blow your mind because that would have defeated the purpose of this being a calming anime. Another memory making trip for the quintet that would soothe your heart or make you fall asleep in no time. Now that I’m done with this, let me go back to my ecchi high school romance comedy animes! Wohoo! Geez, it’s like I learnt nothing…

Suddenly! Picture snapping sounds are heard while someone is enjoying soaking in the bath! Suddenly! A faint click is heard in the girls’ changing room! Suddenly! You hear somebody clicking away outside in your front lawn yard as you just get up from bed with your hair still messy and your unkempt face enough to scare away monsters! What???!!! You mean, Fuu has not become an aggressive camera monster?! Then what in the world is the word ‘aggressive’ for anyway?! My first impressions of Tamayura ~more aggressive~ was somewhat like this. For a slow and calming anime, I thought there was going to be a real makeover that would shock us all. It didn’t. Good thing indeed. YOU CAN NEVER EVER TAINT OR CORRUPT THIS ANIME, PLEASE!

And so here I am again with another season of this ‘healing’ anime. As usual, after being corrupted with all the ecchi fanservice, nonsensical jokes and bloody violence, once in a while it is good to see a ‘boring’ anime just to detoxify all that stuff before repeating it again. Yeah. Why bother watching it if I am going to be corrupted again? Well, I didn’t think this was a bad anime despite the slow and calming nature and detoxifying is just an excuse for me to watch and put a tick to my ‘have watched’ anime list. Hah. Given the nature of this anime, you must be thinking what kind of aggressiveness Fuu and her friends would be for this season. Don’t worry. There is nothing shocking that will make you lose your sleep. Aggressiveness just like the flow of this anime is something in its mildest form.

Episode 1
We hear Fuu narrate how she bid farewell to her house in Tokyo and moved to the sleepy countryside town of Takehara after her father’s demise. There were lots of memories and she believes her dad is smiling on her in Heaven. That’s why she wants to photograph more aggressively than before. Her friends noticing her spacing out and when she snaps out of it, they discuss the eventful year when Fuu returned to Takehara a year ago. She felt the people and town never changed and was welcoming her back. Kaoru also notes she was nervous because she was worried if Fuu hated this place as it reminded her of her father. She was even worried how to greet her. When Fuu stepped out of that station, she did change. She’s talking about her camera. She is happy to see her using her dad’s camera and it’s a sign she has gotten over her father’s passing and made the decision to come here herself. They also talk about the exhibition about themselves that was a hit. That night Kaoru calls Chihiro to ask about her spacing out syndrome. She calls it the Potte-nyon Syndrome because you can’t snap her out for a really long time. There’s nothing to worry about. Next morning, Fuu gets an encouraging message from Chihiro. Fuu takes a walk and starts early so she could take pictures along the way. Was she trying to capture Momoneko? She couldn’t by the way. Her friends are worried if there is something on her mind. She was thinking of the exhibition and the people who came to see. She can’t wait to do it again as many people felt warmth in their heart after seeing it. Fuu also mentions when she becomes a second year, she wants to start a photography club. At Hoboro, they discuss with Sayomi on how to form a club. She had a torrid experience. A lot of paperwork but it was rejected. So shocked she never told anyone. Yeah, I can see why they rejected her Paranormal Investigation Club. Don’t worry about her. They talk about the need to recruit members and Kaoru adds it is because of Fuu that the exhibition happened. They cheered her on and will continue to do so. If she can’t recruit any members, they’ll join. Fuu then gets a call from Chihiro who heard about her intention to form a photography call. She lets Tomo speak and she’s quite talkative. They are working on a project to send to Fuu. When Fuu goes home, she tells her mom about her photography club creation. Thanks to dad’s camera, she met so many people dear to her and will give this club everything she has. Mommy supports her decision. Soon, Fuu soon receives a fabric collage by Chihiro and Tomo to encourage and congratulate her efforts.

Episode 2
Fuu and her friends are now second years. Fuu has submitted her application to form a photography club. However she isn’t confident to be the club’s president. The girls discuss their various ‘leaderships’ in odd ‘clubs’ in their early days when Komachi comes in eagerly to show a magazine photo. It is a photo with Fuu in it during the festivals last year and in this award category, it ended as the judges pick. They learn the photo was taken from a high school girl called Kanae Mitani. Komachi then shows another award winning picture. A picture of Kou! Enough to send serial Kou lover Norie into frenzy. But that turns into surprise when she learns the photographer is no other than Komachi! And isn’t that Norie spinning in the background? Why that cheeky brat! Norie tries to make a deal with Komachi to let her view some of her shots of Kou. She’ll think about it… Now for the good news. The photography club has been approved. Hooray! Mutsuko Shimokamiyama is assigned to be the club’s advisor and since she’s a new teacher, she’s also a klutz. Which means, fun? She takes Fuu to her clubroom but ends up opening the door of the drama club. Somebody got killed in the midst! Just acting! Shimokamiyama learns about Fuu’s father and her passion for photography. Fuu asks about the photo from Kanae and she can tell she is a girl of this school and a senior. Shimokamiyama prides herself in remembering all the names of this school’s students, although she doesn’t know what she looks like. After she leaves for a meeting, Fuu’s friends come in to surprise congratulate her but she was spacing out. Wasted… Fuu didn’t know there was a meeting among club presidents. She got her tongue tied and quite panicky that somebody else had to help her finish her introduction. Guess what? This meeting will be regular every month. Bummer. Not enough time to take photos, eh? While her friends try to cheer her up or find a solution to accompany Fuu to the meeting, they go talk to Maestro. This reminds him of a photography club he and Fuu’s father was in. There was another kid named Nozomu Natsume in their group. He was a fantastic photographer and used to win awards with his shots. He was probably the reason Fuu’s dad got interested in photography. But unlike Nozomu, Fuu’s dad didn’t enter any contest and just go around snapping shots as he likes. Because he enjoys it that way. Maestro comments that everyone loves Fuu’s photos too and this gives her the encouragement to do her best. Norie then gets an idea to form a Potte club to encourage her. Back in a classroom, a girl comes in asking to confirm about the newly formed photography club.

Episode 3
Fuu is a nervous wreck. Today is the day clubs go onstage to present themselves to recruit members. She is stiff and tongue tied so much so nobody could understand what she wanted to say. They even think this might be some historical drama club. Back at the clubroom (Potte club is borrowing photography club’s room for convenience), they discuss about that girl Kanae who came in but soon said goodbye and left. They wonder if she was angry Fuu went to form a photography club without her. Was there such a rule? Shimokamiyama is eager for Fuu to enter some photography contests but it seems Fuu needs to take pictures first. Duh. Also, first thing in order is to find new recruits. Potte club’s first mission is to spy on Kanae. When they meet, Kanae runs away! Don’t tell me they’re that scary. Sayomi has a surprise for Fuu. Norie is squealing with delight seeing Kou coming into the picture (and fantasizing some proposal he would say to her). But it turns into a scream of horror when Komachi pops up. Not too enthusiastic now, isn’t she? Seems the young ones have done a congratulations banner for Fuu in becoming a photography club president. Soon they discuss about Kanae and the picture she took. Fuu is worried she is angry but Sayomi tells her it is her first job as club president to find out what she was trying to say. While Fuu nervously practises talking to Kanae by herself, Dougou announces over the PA for her to come to the teacher’s room. Partly, that was some blatant advertising for the photography club too. Seems he and Shimokamiyama have come up with a plan to increase the club’s popularity. Fuu will capture the passing seasons and all the memories of high school that will be put in the year-end album. Also, for the sakura festival, there will be concerts and such, they want Fuu to go onstage to perform. After Dougo’s passionate speech and backing, Fuu will do it. She also gets the courage to talk to Kanae. When they first meet, Kanae runs away! Again? After Fuu catches up, Kanae instantly apologizes for taking a picture of her without permission. Fuu isn’t worried about that at all and shows her several photos she took in the clubroom. Kanae is amazed and relates her story how she wanted to start a photography club when she was a first year. But she didn’t have the confident to be president and lost the will when she learnt there were many other things to do like recruiting. So when Fuu formed it, she was curious to see what it’s like. She summoned her courage to take a peek but became a bundle of nerves. She was also at Fuu’s exhibition and loved all her photos. She thinks her success in the contest was pure luck and Fuu’s is much better. Of course Fuu disagrees because she too wants to learn from her. She hopes Kanae will join the club and she gladly accepts after being impressed with her aggressiveness. They take a photo of themselves for commemoration.

Episode 4
Seems Fuu hasn’t decided on what to perform for the sakura festival. Kanae will leave it to her and accept her decision. Pressure… But Dougou already has a plan. He’ll play his guitar while the duo dance and display their photographs. He feels there is something missing but promises to work on it. The girls tell Fuu that it’s okay to say no but Fuu decides to go ahead with it because she feels what Dougou is trying to tell them is that as long as they have fun, so will the audience. As the girls survey the stage (Fuu is already experiencing nervousness), they also see sakura trees planted by people for commemoration of events. There is one that belongs to Sayomi too. Back home, Fuu’s mom explains that the Cultivation Committee was only founded in the year Fuu was born. Father immediately left to plant one for her. There is a picture of it but was purposely left blur. Thanks to that, only daddy knows where the tree is. But the purpose is to let Fuu go on a treasure hunt when she gets into middle school. Dougou has finally found the perfect solution: Hoboro will be singing on stage too. She’s running a stall at the festival so she’s glad to help out. We think Dougou has an ulterior motive for doing that, don’t we? On the day of the festival, Norie’s booth is popular. She is not too happy to learn Kou and Komachi are together. I think Komachi is trying to lead him to say “I love Komachi” because she is asking if she likes those Komachi bamboos. However Kou is more interested in the treasure hunt. Momoneko sees the picture and suddenly guides them. Due to some accidental acrobatic stunt while serving at Hoboro’s stall, Dougou hurt his hands and can’t play his guitar. Will they cancel their performance? Fuu won’t. Not after everyone has put their thought and effort into it. At first Fuu and Kanae are a bundle of nerves going on stage and singing like robots. But they soon become calm and are natural. But the audience find it weird… Hmm… Must be the choice of the song. Perhaps the photos were the saving grace. At the end of the performance, their friends congratulate them for a fine performance and that Fuu looked like a true leader back there. Kou rushes to bring the gang along as he has found their sakura tree. There it is, sitting nicely. Somewhere I don’t know of course. Kou credits Momoneko in helping them find it. Fuu is glad to see the tree and takes a photo of it. She finds the view to be exactly in the picture except the tree has grown bigger.

Episode 5
Fuu seems to be more ‘aggressive’ in taking photos of the students. Even entering the tennis court right in the middle of their play! But for Kanae, she erases those she feels are mistakes. Shimokamiyama suggests the girls to enter a photograph of sakura trees taken within Hiroshima. This time Fuu and Kanae are up for the challenge. The duo go around taking photographs of sakura trees they can find but none that has that satisfying feel. They bump into Sayomi and tell her what they are doing. She knows an excellent spot and will bring them there tomorrow. The way she laughs doesn’t sound good… And so everybody meets up. Sayomi even made a big banner to advertise for the photography club. Embarrassing? Thankfully they will be walking. Remember her driving? Yeah. Her car is in the repairs now after it ‘flew’. Hope it will stay there for a long time? But it seems to be a long walk and just when they thought they have arrived, looks like they need to hike up a hill too! Time out! During the break, Kanae explains she took up photography in middle school because she wasn’t good in anything else for her summer project. She received positive feedback and thus continued it. She only took photos without people in it because she will feel nervous when she does so. But that night when she saw Fuu, it was an amazing sight. The next thing she knew, she snapped a shot of her. Thanks to her, it was why she won the award. She adds she is not as aggressive as Fuu when it comes to close up shots and relies on her zoom. That’s why whenever she thinks a shot is not good, she deletes it as she doesn’t want to be reminded of her failures. It is a reason she admires her for using a film camera instead of a digital one. This sakura photo contest is also a lot of pressure to her. Fuu also feels the same but when she gave her support, she knew they could do it. The hike continues and they are rewarded with a row of sakura trees still blooming. But Sayomi says there is more up ahead. Behold! The mother of all sakura trees! The grand and big one which is 250 years old! Everyone is awed at its magnificence. The duo start taking pictures and this time Kanae doesn’t erase bad shots. She wants to preserve this experience. Back in the clubroom, Shimokamiyama is very apologetic. The deadline for the contest was last week. Don’t sweat it. Despite missing it, they got something priceless. Those wonderful pictures and the time spent together are enough rewards for them.

Episode 6
The girls are at the beach when Shihomi introduces Fuu to a woman who suddenly hugs her. Harumi Kawai used to work with Fuu’s father in a travel agency. This is the first time she sees Fuu and the last time was when she was in her mom’s tummy. She is currently working on a package tour project and is thinking of revisiting routes she and Fuu’s father visited a decade ago. She invites Fuu to come along. The duo along with Shihomi begin their journey by taking seaside train and then a ferry to Ondo. After a temple, they visit one of the mountains, Mt Ryuuou. There are 2 mountains with the same name so be sure to be specific. Harumi relates how when she was travelling with Fuu’s dad, the taxi driver misheard and took them to the wrong mountain. Harumi in her younger days as a newbie was quite aggressive and put her foot down telling the driver to turn back but Fuu’s dad was cool and just wanted to go along with the cards fate dealt him. If they hadn’t turned back that day, she wonders what they would have found. Next, they take a cable car up to a temple that houses a lot of cats. There is a stone cat that looks just like Momoneko. The town of Onomichi has many buildings undergoing restoration works. The girls will be staying on Mukai Island and it seems to be an ordinary home. Akio and Yuuko run a B&B lodge. They relate how they loved travelling and would like to try out welcoming people instead of being welcomed. That time they were amateurs and didn’t know what to do till they met Fuu’s father. He advised them that their house would do just fine and initially they thought he was joking. As they consulted in him further, they were told that the selling point of B&B would be a normal house selling normal food. It didn’t take long for their business to start booming and many regular customers keep coming back because they really felt like home. They even leave messages in scrapbooks of their enjoyable stay. Fuu’s father did mention she wanted to bring his daughter here however Akio got ill and the business was delayed. Had they finished earlier, he would have made good his promise. Before tugging in, Harumi further explains when Fuu’s dad wanted to quit and spend more time with her newborn daughter, she was furious as it was like leaving a newbie high and dry. She even hated Fuu and never congratulated him. Now she regrets not saying to him. They both hug and Harumi says congratulations to Fuu instead. Fuu thanks her for introducing the side of her dad she never knew. Harumi also realizes that thanks to spending the entire day with Fuu, she realizes what she has been missing: A spirit full of delight that brings people together. It is what Fuu and her dad have in common. Here’s also another common thing they have: The funny way their end their sentences with ‘~no de’. Like father, like daughter.

Episode 7
Sayomi’s car is fixed. Oh no. But I guess it will have to do since they have no budget and the economy is not that good. How else to find transport to Shioiri? The place Fuu was before moving to Takehara. Kanae couldn’t come due to her cram school but Momoneko becomes a stowaway. Thank God Sayomi manages to drive safely and reach there in one piece. So much so our girls fell asleep (and a good one) during the journey. Oh… It’s a good thing they didn’t know about the time she swerved to avoid a bus… Never mind about that… Thank God they’re alive. When Chihiro is about to greet them, Sayomi almost ran over her! Everyone is introduced to Tomo and she is quite the talkative and scatterbrained person asking Fuu lots of questions. Everyone goes out and have fun together. Sayomi seems like she’s on an eating spree. Especially enjoying that over sized burger and stuffing it in her face. Tomo accidentally asks about Fuu’s father but the latter is okay with it. She thought she didn’t want to dwell on the past today but felt it couldn’t be helped. Both towns are her precious memories after all. That evening, the girls are in their yukata for the fireworks festivals. There is a sparkler championship in which Fuu remembers she was pretty good at and made it to the quarter-finals. Sayomi declares everyone to join. Well, everyone got eliminated in the first round except for Fuu who went all the way to the quarter-finals. While Sayomi is snapping shots of her, it reminded Fuu how similar this scene was. Her dad too was taking pictures of her but she couldn’t turn but knew he was watching. She wonders what kind of expression he had then. Just like history repeating itself, Fuu went out but at least it was a good run. While watching the fireworks and Fuu being narrative about her nostalgia and all, it is Chihiro that starts getting emotional. She has always been worried about her and is now glad she is able to stand on her own 2 feet. Lastly, we see Momoneko being surrounded by other female cats! Such a player!

Episode 8
Fuu and Chihiro once made a promise to see the fireworks festival at Takehara. But her father’s death somewhat postponed it. Soon, Chihiro will be at Takehara so they can fulfil that promise. Chihiro is introduced to Kanae and Shimokamiyama. She’s even crying to see how wonderful Fuu has turned into a club president… Shimokamiyama suggests taking photos of the fireworks to enter a contest but the pictures they previously took didn’t turn out too well. Fuu is having problems what to do as president and is confident (baseless) that things will work out fine. Chihiro then remembers the secret base they once drew. It was Fuu’s father’s idea about getting their own place for themselves to watch the fireworks. Though, they never found out where it was. Shihomi teaches Fuu and Kanae how to take better photographs regarding fireworks. Then she has a proposal for them. As she is running a photo exhibition, she invites them to display theirs in a side room. Fuu is certainly nervous. What about Kanae? She leaves it to her to decide! This is under the club president’s discretion, right? But why is Fuu hesitating? She does want to take up this offer. But if they participate, she wants pictures just for the occasion. She would like them to be ones she took with the intention of displaying them by hers and earn her spot in the corner of her role model’s stage. That evening before when the festivals is in the midst of setting up, Fuu, Kanae and Chihiro encounter Sayomi. She knows this special spot to view the fireworks but suddenly goes quiet. She remembers Kaoru warned her not to ruin their promise for some ill advised adventure. Her face is contorting so much that Chihiro had to somewhat agree to go exploring with her. That cheers her up and agrees to pick them up. Oh dear. I guess it can’t be helped. And so Sayomi also brings the rest of Fuu’s friends. Would you believe it that they have to hike up a hill and beware of snakes? Furthermore, they are in their yukata except for Sayomi in casual clothes. When they reach the top, it is a magnificent view. Chihiro notes this place feels like it belongs to them as nobody as is here. It’s like their secret base. Norie suggests Fuu and Chihiro stay here and watch the fireworks while the rest go back down. Sayomi not happy she’s not in the loop… Fuu sets her photography before the fireworks starts. The girls get emotional as their childhood promise has been fulfilled.

Episode 9
Everyone prepares for the Path of Longing festival. Fuu has her photos developed by Maestro and he can’t wait to see them. It is then it hit Kanae that Fuu’s photos have this excitement in them. Speaking of surprises, Maestro tells Fuu she has a surprise guest waiting back at Tamayura Cafe. That person is Nozomu. Erm… Looks like a mean anime antagonist… He is here for the festival since Maestro keeps bugging him about it. Nozomu says he has stopped taking photos since he graduate and wants to see Fuu’s photos. Just like her father. Actually that isn’t a compliment. He is criticizing it! The photos have the subject dead centre. There lighting is poor. She should pick up a digital one and improve. Kanae couldn’t take it anymore and tells him off she loves Fuu’s photos because it is filled with excitement. Before tears could flow, the girls take their leave. To put this awkward moment behind them, the girls go take some photographs. Along the way they bump into Shihomi trying to capture a shot of Momoneko. Failed. Shihomi learns what is eating them and also relates her own experiences of people criticizing her work. Some advises were useful but in the end the critiques were irrelevant because putting love into her pictures is top priority. The girls then see Nozomu standing outside Hoboro. Want to wait till he goes away? Fuu goes straight up to talk to him. Seems he is in a dilemma whether to go in or not (because Maestro has been bugging him) for fear the taste have changed. Hoboro won’t forgive that and tells him to taste it first before criticizing. Tastes good like how it was. Fuu hopes Nozomu could tell her more about her dad. To show he is not a bad moody guy, he treats them all. Seeing her friends playing silly shadow games reminds how foolish they were at their age. When Nozomu stopped photography after graduating, Fuu’s dad continued to snap on. Every photo has the subject dead centre and Nozomu even told him how to change his perception so it would catch people’s attention. However Fuu’s dad never intended to show photos to people. What he wanted was to capture the scenes and friends he loved. If he fell in love with a girl, he would take photos of her and the moments they experienced. He’d marry her, start a family, have kids and record their growth and bring them to places. Nozomu regretted calling his dream a foolish one and realized he was the one who was foolish. Despite the subject dead centre, he could feel his love overflowing. Just like the bamboo lights in this town. Their glow is by no means brilliant but they’re full of love for this town. It speaks straight from the heart. He is glad to have come to this town and met his daughter. He allows Fuu to take a photo of him and she will send it to him later. Maestro sees Nozomu off at the station, noting his scowling always hides his kindness. Nozomu feels the town has changed but he is no longer part of it. Will he be back again? Only to see Maestro grow older. Right back at him too.

Episode 10
The more Kanae looks at the photos, the more nostalgic she feels. It’s like these memories are starting to feel like the distant past. Kanae suggests to her friends about going on a photography tour. Because she’ll be graduating soon, she wants to do everything possible and leave without regrets. Kaoru relays another good news that they can have another photo exhibition of their own although the date is not set yet. If they want to outdo last year, they have to go on another trip to take more photos. Maon suggests her family inn because there will also be a performance at Virgo Hall. On the day of departure, Norie is frustrated that Kou didn’t come but went along with Komachi to some game her father bought tickets for. Jealousy mode on. She is put to sleep by Kaoru’s scented alms. While Maon helps out her parents, the rest walk around the island. Kanae spots a lady singing along the way. Later she asks Fuu about her graduation plans (she doesn’t have any) and how she got interested in photography. She also asks Kaoru and Norie about their hobbies and if they are to pursue them as a career after graduation. She feels she has no goal or turning point or anything but when talking to Maon’s parents, they explain how their daughter decided for herself to go study at Takehara. It was no easy decision and they were worried. But thanks to that she made lots of friends like them. Also explaining this island named Shiomachi which literally means waiting for the tide as boats in the past used to wait for favourable tides before leaving, Maon must have felt changes in the tides and cast off her moorings and set out to sea. What if the tide never comes? It will. The girls are at Virgo Hall and Norie recognizes the lady singing on stage as the one she saw earlier. When she starts singing, Maon instantly recognizes that voice she heard before. It’s a dream come true for her to hear her singing. At the end, everyone thanks Kanae for coming up with this idea or else they wouldn’t have such great experience. Kanae also expresses she didn’t have a turning point or a goal like them and thought if she graduated like this, all the joyful memories would fade into the distance. She was afraid to graduate and never wanted to. But she realizes she has a turning point and that was when she joined the photography club. The photo exhibition with Shihomi starts off well.

Episode 11
The girls are setting up for their own exhibition, which is on New Year’s Eve. Fuu notes this will be the last time Kanae will have activities with the photography club. Because by then she will have to put down her camera and concentrate on her exams. Chihiro and Tomo sent a montage of their own depicting Fuu and friends’ activities throughout the year as their exhibition is divided into the seasons. Of course Fuu gets a call from them and they can tell Fuu is feeling sad about Kanae. Chihiro encourages her to hang on. Dougou, Hoboro and Shimokamiyama help the girls as they work through the night to put the finishing touches. Morning comes and they feel the need to put a picture for the exhibition overview by the door. Fuu suggests using Kanae’s award winning picture. When they open the door, they see lots of people waiting outside. Maestro mentions how he could see their gradual change in their photography styles. They have shaped each other over the past year and have a special place in each other’s heart. Aside the exhibition, Norie is holding a sweets stall, Kaoru a wreath booth and Maon continuing her storytelling from last year. The exhibition is a success and the girls go to countdown for the New Year. Fuu feels sad that Kanae has to put away her camera and promises she will take photos on her stead. In the wee hours of the morning, Kanae sees Fuu flipping through photos of the things they’ve did over the year. Fuu laments they should have done more things together like entering photo contests. If she had not been the president. But Kanae disagrees. She was aggressive as one and starts thanking this and that, including her friends, blah, blah, blah. You know that sort of speech that even brings tears to the eyes of their friends who are pretending to be asleep. Then Sayomi comes to pick them up to see the first daylight of the New Year. She is surprised (and happy) that they are ready and thinks they really wanted to come along. Well, from last year’s experience, they anticipated this. Like it or not, they know they have to come, right? This year they will be watching from the beach. Mountains were dangerous, right? They start yelling towards the sea till the sun rises. Kanae couldn’t hold back her emotions and hugs Fuu. She enjoyed the past year a lot and hopes they will do more fun things together from now on.

Episode 12
Fuu’s family celebrates their father’s birthday. Instead of happy birthday, it has lots of thank you. Fuu finds her camera shutter won’t work so she takes it to Maestro to repair. Don’t worry. It’s nothing serious and in no time it will be back in good shape. So Fuu has to go around camera-less during Hina festival. Norie-Komachi spat continues over Kou. Norie snatches a quick selfie with Kou in his kimono. Kanae is back to her camera snapping ways and relays the good news she has been accepted to the school of her fist choice. Though, she is worried that Fuu’s camera is under repair. Fuu without camera is like fish out of water? As graduation day looms, Dougou must be giving some sort of inspiring speech not to lose hope. I guess he is a ‘veteran’ seeing he has seen many of his students come and go. Hoboro will be closing her shop for some time to go on an okonomiyaki tour with Shihomi and Sayomi. Dougou wanted to come along but Sayomi tells him to go home. Bluntly said. Back home, Fuu goes through her massive photo collection. She feels the pictures do not change but everything else does. Fuu’s mom suggests taking a trip with her for a change. She rides her bike to a rabbit farm. Lots of shutter chances but I guess for a change we need to see the world through our own lens instead of a camera. Fuu is taken to the observation deck and is told this is where she was proposed. Fuu’s dad planned to propose during the sunset but he got so nervous and waited till the stars came out. They nearly missed the last boat home. Mom had always wanted to apologize for not providing what daddy could. She was happy Fuu gradually found the strength within herself to move on. And that she no longer needed her support to stand on her own. She starts thanking everything. From coming here with her to Fuu being born. That’s why they say thank you on his birthdays. Now it’s Fuu’s turn for a host of thank you sentences. From her dad’s proposal to mom to teaching her photography. Just about everything. When they ride back, Fuu’s friends are at her doorstep as they were worried about her. I guess it was unfounded. Fuu’s camera is fixed and graduation day is here. They talk to Kanae for one last time. Here we go again… More thank you speeches. For Fuu, thanks for being in her club. For Kanae, she’ll always be her president. Although the photography club lost its only member and the room seems empty, it is filled with memories. Fuu reflects the many things that have happened this year and hopefully they’ll be more aggressive in recruiting new members for the club.

Aggressively Soothing…
Nothing much for a normal anime viewer like me. Nothing much exciting happens and maybe a few new adventures here and a couple of new characters which doesn’t constitute to anything major. Some scenes have ramp up the emotional tone so if you’re not emotionally strong, you might get ‘infected’ and cry with the girls. Really. But I didn’t. Note: I’m not a heartless person. The last episode felt like some award winning show because the characters start thanking everybody. Yeah, they didn’t forget to thank the viewers too in the end. Some episodes feel like déjà vu like the Path of Longing and watching the first sun rise of the New Year. Hardly anything new or exciting? But always keep in mind that due to the nature of this series, such moments are already considered aggressive. Think of the excitement up a little notch. Yeah. That’s aggressive, right? At least for Fuu and friends in this sleepy seaside town. I must admit that there are times when I felt bored and yawned so much that my mouth could have been bigger than my face but there are a few good lessons to learn after sitting through a dozen episodes of this season. Importantly, urban folks like me are so busy in hectic schedules to meet deadlines for who knows what that we do not slow down and appreciate the things in life. We simply zoom by them without taking notice of its beauty. That is a beauty of living in a sleepy town with not much progress and development.

For Fuu, she has made a big progress since her father’s death. Although we have known her to be a strong girl who has gotten over daddy’s death ever since the anime started many years back. In this season, she gets to meet more people, do more things and learn a side of her father that she never knew existed via other people. Although there are many times in the initial episodes that shows us Fuu’s nervous and panicky side as she is stepping into new territory. But basically she is still the same girl just like her friends. Maon still whistling more than she talks, Kaoru always telling Norie off never to call her Kao-tan (it’s like her catchphrase) while Norie is still the squeaky energetic brat.

Perhaps the only amusing and lively moments are between Norie and Komachi. I love it when Norie squeals in excitement when she gets to know Kou is around but slowly starts wailing in frustration to see Komachi by him. Heaven suddenly hell.  I enjoy seeing them at each other’s throat while Kou I am not sure if he is aware he is being fought over by them. It would have been done to death if there were lots of Norie-Komachi showdown and although I wouldn’t mind more of such scenes, it would have overshadowed everything else in this series, which I don’t think would be nice. So I’d just make do with their limited scenes. It’s priceless that way. Although, I’m not sure how far Komachi and Kou have gotten since Komachi since to be hanging awfully a lot by Kou’s side. It’s like they’re a pair, an item. You don’t usually see one without the other. Now you know why Norie is so mad.

Other characters remain awfully familiar. Sayomi’s killer driving skills is not for the faint hearted and she must be lucky to have missed any major accidents in her life. Dougou still harbours a one-sided crush on Hoboro, Hoboro still making delicious okonomiyaki, Chihiro still getting emotional whenever she thinks about Fuu and how steady she has grown (I foresee there’ll be more crying in the future at this rate), Shihomi still the good photographer and Maestro looking out for the girls (when it comes to photography). And yeah. Momoneko. Who could forget that pink fluffy cat that bums around lazily and yawning. Despite its easy going nature, it seems to be hard to catch on camera as before. It’s like it is screwing around with those who want to take its picture. Well, try harder next time.

I can’t say the new characters changes the flow of the series directly. Kanae comes into the picture and then out she goes after she graduates. Might be a short-lived club member thingy but I’m sure their friendship will go a long way just like how Fuu and Chihiro end up despite being far away. I can’t see anything special about Kanae except maybe that she doesn’t look like a senior and thus doesn’t look a year older compared to Fuu and friends. Perhaps it is because she always lets Fuu make the decisions as she is the president. Their characters are almost similar and overlapping. That’s why with each other throughout the year, they grow on each other. Shimokamiyama may be a new teacher and a little klutz but she shares the same passion with her student. Maybe it’ll take another year before she can be a reliable teacher.

With Nozomu getting his appearance in person, I thought this was the most tensed filled scene in the entire anime series. As we know the nature of this series, nobody actually scowls like him, right? Even if his criticisms are considered mild but for this anime, it is something big. Something more than aggressive. I thought he might just be the heart stopping incident and turning point of this series. With everybody in this series so nice and kind, suddenly here comes this Nozomu guy whom everybody would easily cast as the antagonist. I believe nobody has ever being that critical towards Fuu. At least I don’t remember anyone being so. But hey, Nozomu is honest with his opinions. Perhaps Nozomu was just being realistic or he went through some patch in life which made him abandon the camera and look like a mean old guy. However as we see, he is not all that bad. It’s just his way of showing kindness. Would things turn out differently had Nozomu had a sunshiny personality like Maestro? At least his seemingly mean looks and attitude made us sit up for a while there.

As seen from just about everything, Fuu’s dad is an amazing person. He might not be in this world anymore but he left behind a lot of memories. It’s like one big puzzle that Fuu slowly puts together and in doing so, she is one step in understanding and appreciating him better. Though, I’m not sure if this gigantic puzzle is close to being finished or still a long way to go. From the looks of it, there may be more secrets and surprised from him that Fuu has yet to discover. And I bet it will be a pleasant surprise and worth the find. Memorable for a life time. Despite passing over at a tender age, with him pretty much having almost a hand in everything that he left behind, it is as though he is still very much alive. Just that you don’t see his face or physical body.

Maaya Sakamoto once again does the opening theme, Hajimari No Umi. Sounds a bit jazzy but still nevertheless soothing and perfectly fits the tone of this series. Likewise, the main ending too is equally soothing in nature. Arigatou is sung by Megumi Nakajima. There are quite a number of insert songs in the series and I don’t need to mention that they too have the soothing qualities that enhance the emotional aspect and tug some heart strings whenever they are played at certain scenes. Some of them have good acoustics, though. The new casts joining this season include Ai Kayano as Kanae (Inori in Guilty Crown), Chinami Nishimura as Shimokamiyama (President Aria in Aria The Animation), Hikaru Midorikawa as Nozomu (Lancer in Fate/Zero) and Sayuri Yahagi as Harumi (Haruna in To Love-Ru).

And so in terms of where this anime is concerned, Fuu and the gang indeed have been more aggressive than before as they try out and experience new things and will continue to do so for many years to come. I guess we have to take a look and re-examine the meaning of the word aggressive now that it doesn’t necessarily mean raging fury or the kind that scares other people (and even stepping on their foot). So long as you do something which you don’t normally do, it can be considered as aggressive. Now that I am somewhat detoxified (definitely not 100% since the corruption within is difficult to stem – I’m only human after all), I suppose it’s time for me to get back to my usual anime genres of high school comedy with fanservice and ecchi bits. Maybe I should up the ante and watch something stronger. Something like borderline hentai, maybe? Hey, that’s like being more aggressive, right?

Tamayura ~Hitotose~ OVA

January 4, 2013

HAPPY BELATED NEW YEAR 2013!!! Another year has passed. Which means another year filled with exciting and interesting animes and lineups for me to watch. Hopefully all will be good. But what are the chances of that? So to usher the New Year with gleaming hope, here is an anime blog to start the year off.

More anime healing for Tamayura ~Hitotose~ OVA or some would call it the 13th episode of the TV series. For those who love the calm and soothing nature of this show, be glad to know that this extra episode is more or less follows the same pattern and ingredient like how you like them in the original OVA or TV series. Don’t expect any shocking twists and turns or developments but do get ready a tissue or two not because it is going to be a tear-jerker but it will touch your heart in a way that you can’t help shed a tear or two. Unless I’ve becoming that soft these days.

It has been half a year since Fuu moved to Takahara and it has been an eventful 6 months. She gets a call from Kaoru about attending the festival but Fuu points out she doesn’t have a yukata. The one she has doesn’t fit anymore. This brings back memories whereby she used to attend the festival with her family and even Chihiro. They would watch the fireworks and grandma would gladly take her measurements to make her yukata. However after her father’s death, they stopped talking about yukatas and the fireworks. They even didn’t attend one since. Fuu felt bad because she promised Chihiro she would go to one with her but never did. She gets a surprise call from Chihiro. At first, Chihiro sent the wrong picture of one of her plushies (looks more like some horror doll). She updates Fuu on the progress of the friends she made and they renew their promise to go to next year’s fireworks show. So happy that Chihiro is close to tears. You know, she doesn’t have to cry every time they have this kind of talk. Oh wait. She always does.

Kou tells Fuu that grandpa is here as they go meet him. Noticing the camera in Fuu’s hand, he mentions when her father bought that camera, he would bring it along when he went shopping but always complained nothing came out the way he wanted. Grandpa has also brought the box of bad pictures taken by her but put away by her dad that she wanted. Even though the shots were blurry, dad thought they were still good. Yeah, so blurry that it looked so funny. These pictures soon became grandpa’s treasure. Noticing an undeveloped film in the box, grandpa mentions that those are bad pictures taken by her dad he didn’t want to develop. Fuu is interested to know what kind of pictures he has taken and gets permission to develop them. As for the topic of yukata, Fuu wonders if grandma could make her one for next year but she says she already made one. The last time she took her measurements, she finished making it with some room for growth. Fuu calls her friends that she is going to try a yukata now so they all happily rush to her place.

Kou puts on the yukata first and the cuteness could have killed Norie. She couldn’t stop squealing too. Then Fuu puts on the bright yellow floral pattern yukata and finds it a little small. But grandma assures she will take care of the adjustments just in time before the fireworks. Grandma puts on the final touches and it’s perfect fit. Fuu asks why she completed it then. To her, time stopped for everyone. Sometimes sadness can stop time. But time that has stopped will move again even though it takes a long time. That’s why she finished it so they could start moving again when the time comes. She is sure that her father would be the one who wants to see Fuu in a yukata the most. The girls all in their yukata meet up early. Kaoru receives mail from her sister Sayomi about the best spot for the fireworks. The rest are horrified because they think she’s going to make them go hiking again! Yeah, remember that trauma… While enjoying themselves at the festival, Sayomi sends yet another mail. She regrets to inform that she can’t come with them since she has a job. Phew. But she’ll tell them the location of the best spot to watch the fireworks. Oh no. Is it going to be atop some tall mountain? Nope. In fact, it is back at Fuu’s house. Not a pretty bad spot.

So when the fireworks start lighting up the night sky, Fuu tries to snap them with her camera. Her yukata fluttering in the wind prompted Kou to mention that it’s like a warm breeze. This is what their late father said. Fuu also remembers that dad told her when she wears a yukata, she should wear one with a warm breeze pattern. And this one looks like as though the flowers are dancing in the warm breeze. When mommy mentions that dad loved the scenario of sunlight shining through the leaves as the gentle breeze blew through, that is how Fuu got her name. Though she thought people would’ve read it as Kaede, he insisted on that name. Fuu requests to take a group photo so she can send it to Chihiro. She receives them and (you guessed it) is close to her teary self. She bloopers by sending another wrong picture of one of her plushie. Next day, Fuu picks up the developed photos from Master. She looks at them and is brought to tears. All those photos he never developed turned out to be blurry. Just like hers. But they are warm pictures nevertheless. And so those pictures become Fuu’s treasure.

Nostalgia…
Well, it was rather okay for me. Since I didn’t expect anything much I could say that this is quite fitting to end the first season until the next season comes out. Though everybody is still the same, but they are making some progress in moving on with life. Norie still the amusing noisy kid and there should have been more cute moments of Momoneko instead of that 2 second only appearance. Despite the sadness that Fuu’s father is unable to be with them to experience these wonderful moments, you notice that everyone here is just as cheerful and there is never a gloomy or sad moment that will get in their way. Each time they uncover something from the past, it propels them forward as these memories do not bring back sad ones but happy times instead. So it is all how you look at things. You can continue to be sad and stuck in your past if that is how you want to live the rest of your life but you can also use and turn them into happy memories and move forward with everyone. That is what life should be about. Live in the moment for that moment may not last forever. And when you treasure and cherish them in your heart, they become nostalgic and meaningful memories. Now let me think back all the good times I had for the last 6 months. Watching anime, watching anime, watching anime, watching anime and watching anime. Oh yeah. Those were really good times.

Tamayura ~Hitotose~

August 4, 2012

I guess the OVAs must be popular enough to warrant a TV series.  Ever since the OVAs came out back in 2010, a year later, Tamayura ~Hitotose~ received a TV series of its own. Many would consider this anime to be a ‘healing’ anime because of the calm and soothing pace the series has to offer. No gory violence or blood, no extreme and mindless fanservice and no exaggerated jokes and puns that would make you die laughing or have stomach cramps. Ah yes. What better way than to ‘detoxify’ what all other animes have corrupted our minds. So if you’re looking for dragon slaying adventure or even some high school comedy romance, look elsewhere. You watch this show because you want to ‘cleanse’ the good of your mind and soul.

The TV series is more like a continuation after the events of the OVAs. I won’t say you will lose much if you do not watch the OVAs and jump straight in to this one, but I feel it is better to watch the OVAs first for a better understanding. As the main story goes, photography enthusiast Fuu Sawatari is saddened by the sudden death of her beloved dad. One of the many memories he left behind are the wonderful photos he took. It brings sad memories just to look at them but as in life, we all have to move on. But Fuu is not alone as she will experience many more wonderful moments that will turn her sadness into happy memories with the support of her family, friends and the people of the town she resides. So basically in this TV series, Fuu has left the town she was born in to return to the town her father loved before he went to Heaven, Takehara. She also decided to take up photography once more so that she could stop staining all the joyful memories with colours of sadness.

Episode 1
As the last summer of middle school begin, Fuu and her friend Chihiro Miyoshi are browsing through photos of Seto Inland. Chihiro in addition to her cry-baby habit, tries not to make Fuu remember the sad memories of her father’s passing. Each time she thinks she does that, she starts crying. It’s true that whenever Fuu sees photographs from her late father, it always brings back sadness. That’s why she packed up his stuff away. But when Fuu returns home, she sees her little brother Kou browsing through daddy’s photo album. Fuu realizes in those pictures, there were fun and pleasant moments that she never wanted to forget. That’s when Fuu thought she wanted to have daddy’s camera. So with mommy Tamae, they unpack daddy’s stuff and they see a mug that Fuu made for daddy as well. Fuu still remembers how daddy thought her to use the camera and as Tamae notes, daddy is still alive in her. Next day in class, Fuu shows Chihiro the camera and she has made her decision to take up photography again. Thus Chihiro became Fuu’s first shot. So happy that Chihiro cried… When Tamae gets word from grandma that there will be no problem for Fuu to return to Takehara, Kou also wants to tag along. Since they don’t view transferring of schools to be a hassle, it is decided. Tamae is going to move there too. Of course Tamae will need 2 months to tie up everything since it is her dream to work in grandma’s Tamayura Cafe in Takehara. Fuu sends her photograph to a professional photographer Riho Shihomi and wonders if she would get a reply. Fuu and Tamae talk about their childhood friend Kaoru and Sayomi whom they used to spend time with at Takehara and that Kaoru was surprised to hear Fuu is going to attend the same high school as her. One morning, Chihiro finds Fuu excited and out of breath. She has got a reply from Riho and she finds her pictures of everyone in it to be very lovely. Also inserted in the letter is a ticket without a destination. Chihiro notes how Fuu has changed. Perhaps somewhat a little more aggressive. She attributes it to Fuu’s father who gave her that strength and that he is the one happiest about Fuu taking up photography again. As the days passed, Fuu cuts her hair short for a new image and Chihiro gives her a bundle of stuffed dolls as farewell gifts. Cute or creepy. But… She has more gifts! Oh dear. Thank God they are just a handmade album and camera case that comes with a holder for the ticket. Chihiro also wants to change and be aggressive and she manages that first step without ending up crying. Fuu takes several trains to reach Takehara and notes how the scenery never changed. When she steps out of the train station, she is surprised to see a greeting of “Welcome back” on the ground. It is Kaoru and she is happily waiting for her. Emotions overcame Fuu as she felt as if this town had been waiting for her this whole time.

Episode 2
It’s been a month Fuu has arrived at Takehara and she’s getting along fine with her friends Kaoru Hanawa, Norie Okazaki and Maon Sakurada. But she is still nervous (sometimes to a point of being clumsy) when talking to others. Especially the energetic homeroom teacher Kazutarou Dougou who loves making bad puns of regions and blowing his whistle. As the friends taste grandma’s delicious lemon pie (I WANT TO TRY SOME TOO!!!), Fuu learns Sayomi won’t be home tonight due to a seminar. Because of not wanting Kaoru to be alone, she suggests a sleepover. Grandma gives the green light and allows them to use the second floor. Norie and Maon arrive and as they wait for Kaoru, Fuu gets a call from her saying she can’t make it because apparently she can’t refused Dougou’s plea to help out with the festival. Since she doesn’t know when it will finish, she doesn’t want to spoil Fuu’s fun and tells her to go ahead but Fuu and the rest think of helping out. The more the merrier, right? If they can just ignore that Dougou guy… I think his okonomiyaki doll is more creepy than cute. To reward the girls for their hard work, he treats them to Hoboro’s okonomiyaki. Obviously that teacher has a crush on her so to him, he wallops the big 3-layer okonomiyaki and the girls just find it hard to finish that big serving. So the sleepover is back on track with the girls having a bath, taking pictures and flipping through the photo albums. They start to realize what Maon meant when she earlier said she wanted to bring background music: Horror music for ghost stories! Suddenly! They hear footsteps. OMG! Who could it be at this hour? Grandma and Tamae are asleep. Thank goodness it turns out to be Sayomi. She managed to get out from the seminar and judging from Kaoru’s message, she thought she really missed her. Or maybe she’s just over-reacting. The start talking about Dougou and his awful puns but to their surprise they find Maon actually laughs at them because she is a fan of puns. When everyone else is sleeping, Fuu sees Sayomi looking through the photo album. Sayomi thanks her for coming back to Takehara. It is proof that memories of her father have turned from sad to being full of warmth. She and Kaoru was always worried about her family and always looked forward to see them again. Though her father was the one who brought them to lots of memorable places, it is now her turn to give Fuu all sorts of experiences to remember. That way, she’ll find more things to love and in turn they will give her strength. And of course Fuu is glad she returned because she loves everything there is about this town.

Episode 3
Fuu and friends have a taste of Tamae’s delicious special lunch set (I WANT TO EAT THEM!!!) and the peach jelly as dessert (I WANT TO EAT THAT TOO!!!). With Kou serving them, shotacon Norie gets even noisier and ecstatic. Thank goodness Kou didn’t turn into someone who fears her of have instant negative reaction upon seeing her. As Norie and Maon leave, the former notes how having a cute little brother beats having an older one. They feel somebody following them. Once they reach the intersection, they split up to cause confusion. Then they corner her and question her. Introducing herself as Komachi Shinoda, she reveals she was secretly tailing Norie to make sure she doesn’t do any bad things. What bad things? She accuses Kaori of only learning how to make sweets to get closer to Kou. Oh. I can see where this is heading. Cheeky Komachi surprises Norie with a rock-scissors-paper game and the latter lost. Norie gets pissed off and falls into her mischievous pace. Meanwhile Fuu retrieves the photos she took of the special lunch from Maestro but she doesn’t feel satisfied on how they turned out. Maestro imparts some advice on the lighting and to savour the taste of the food before snapping it. Wouldn’t that mean there will be no food left to take once you eat them all? After Fuu tries to snap shots of Momoneko (nothing came out perfect because that candy floss-like cat is never still), they return to Tamayura Cafe. Guess what? Komachi is here too. To stop Norie’s dastardly schemes. Oh boy… She further accuses her of making grandma to teach her to cook to get closer to Kou. She challenges her to see who can make the better tasting sweets. Initially Norie didn’t want to play along but I guess she got swept by Komachi’s cheeky flow. Grandma allows them to start the challenge now and here and Kou will be the judge once he returns. I’m sure this is a super incentive for Norie to do her best. As they start, Norie decides to use her own recipe instead of grandma’s while Komachi is at a loss what to do (she claims she knows too many recipe that she doesn’t know which to pick). Grandma helps Komachi out and suggests pancakes and even guides her in making them. At first it doesn’t turn out good (over burnt). What is missing? The most important ingredient: The wish for someone to enjoy to food you cook. Komachi peeks at Norie and she is almost done and confident with her cooking. She starts thinking maybe she wasn’t after Kou after all (Norie’s dream is to be a patissiere). Komachi tries again and this time it tastes better. Then everybody starts eavesdropping when grandma asks when Komachi have been interested in Kou. She was honest to say when he first came to this town. At first she thought he was a girl but when she learnt he is a boy, that’s when her interest peaked. Kou returns and tries both sweets and finds them both delicious. What does this mean? It’s a draw. Then everyone has a taste of them and it would be unfair if you ranked one higher than the other. Fuu wonders when Norie started making sweets so she explains when she was young, her family was supposed to go on a trip but she suddenly got sick, causing the trip to be cancelled. She thought her brother would be mad but he left her a delicious red bean cake. She never forgot that taste and thinks the desire to see someone smile is what gives sweets their delicious flavour since sweets are made from the feelings of kindness. Fuu captures the delicious moments of everyone enjoying the sweets and she hopes she can do the same for her photograph like how a tasty dish brings a smile to both the ones who eat it and the one who made it. Soon… Komachi has a camera in hand and challenges Fuu… Oh dear. Here we go again. Unforgivable to take pictures to get close to Kou? She’s his sister, for God’s sake!

Episode 4
For the summer holidays, Maon is happy she can go back to Oosakishimo Island because her family runs an inn there. She invites her friends to come along too. Fuu and Kou would love to tag along since their grandpa also lives on that island. I’m not sure which is worst. Fuu being nervous all the way from the boat ride till the inn or Maon’s very emotional father, crying right after thanking the girls for taking care of Maon. Maon didn’t want her friends to go in to her room and brings them up to the second floor to have a panoramic view of the inland sea. She wants to help out with her family with the inn but her mother tells her to guide her friends around the island. While touring around, the gang sees Maon staring intensely inside a stage hall named Virgo. They think her dream is to be a stage performer and is torn between that and her parents’ supposed wish to run the inn. The next stop is the watchmaker’s shop, Fuu and Kou’s grandpa’s workplace. Norie needs to make a good first impression on grandpa but guess who they see at the store? Komachi! Oh dear. Is this a curse? For Norie, yeah. But for Komachi, it must be fate. It’s funny that Komachi can steal the scene right under Norie’s nose and she can’t do anything about it. So grandpa shows up and he is equally nervous in meeting them. I guess it runs in the family, eh? They learn grandpa receives orders to fix watches from all over the world. As they stop for dessert, a group of female employees are asking directions to Maon’s family inn. Maon is tongue tied at first but apologizes to her friends that she needs to guide the tourists to her place. And Komachi has to leave too seeing her granny has requested her help to make red bean mochi. She’ll settle whatever score with Norie back on Takehara. Less one noisy girl… Back at the inn, Fuu and co watch Maon nervously helping out the tourists with their luggage. They wanted to help but grandpa advises not to because Maon is doing her best to give her guests a warm welcoming service. Grandpa leaves and that night the friends are treated to a nice inn meal. Maon’s parents come to talk to them and Norie has something she needs to talk to Maon’s dad. No, it’s not about marriage! It’s about Maon’s dream in the music industry and she thinks the inn may be holding her back. Maon has overheard this and dismisses that. She says the inn is very dear to her and her intense staring at Virgo was because it is also a special place to her. When she was young, she witnessed a stage performance and was captivated by it. She thought how the people on stage could cast a spell to unite the audience’s heart and felt maybe she could do that too. The inn is where she was born and raised so it’s like a precious part of her. She doesn’t really know what she wants to do in her future and would like to help her parents out with the inn though she doesn’t have confidence in dealing customers. But her parents and friends saw how she did today and though she may be shy and never good at speaking, they knew she earnestly welcomed the guests. All they want for her is to choose the path in life she wants. Her father adds Maon had been switching dreams so often in her life and is going to show them a secret. A secret that Maon tried to keep her friends away earlier in the day. After restraining her, they see cartoonish drawings of her dreams scribbled on the wooden wall. Among them includes a mangaka, magician, comedian and a person who wears animal costumes. It’s okay. Don’t need to hold back your laughter. I guess it’s okay to have many dreams too. Just become what you want to be then. Fuu observes Maon and her dad, how he is kindly looking after his child like as if he is embracing her dreams and all. She wonders if her own father is watching over her the same way.

Episode 5
Chihiro comes to visit Takehara but she got so excited that she stepped off the train upon hearing ‘Ta’ on the announcement. She ended up in Tadanoumi and the next train is an hour away. Fuu suggests for her to wait there while Tamae goes to pick her up. Hey, Tamae fetching her in a Harley? Woah! Fuu returns to the cafe to see Tamae’s old motorcycle club members. They are glad to see Fuu all grown up and show her a picture of Tamae during her younger days. They’re here to ask Tamae out for another motor excursion. Tamae returns with Chihiro and that night she stays at her place. Next day, Fuu brings Chihiro to meet her friends. While eating Hoboro’s okonomiyaki, they learn Chihiro started calling Fuu, “Fuu-nyon” when they first met because of the former’s nervousness. As they tour around town, Chihiro spots something and excitedly rushes to it. What could it be? It’s Momoneko! Who can’t resist seeing that cute furry cat? Kaoru got a bad feeling when Sayomi SMS her to build up some enthusiasm. Before they could ignore everything, there she is! How fast is that? She plans to hike up to Mt Kurotaki. I remember how her driving sucks. So bad that you can say she’s got a ‘licence to kill’. Haha! But good news! They won’t be driving. Bad news? They’ll be walking there. Bummer. It beats having to sit in her car, right? Say, isn’t Mt Kurotaki back at where Tadanoumi was? Oh shi… And after walking for 3 hours, they only get a short break?! Sayomi and Kou seemed okay but the other girls…  During the break, Kou tastes only one of Norie’s sweets. Only one. Maon finds Chihiro likes cute things and the latter tries to learn whistling from the former. Finally reaching the foot of Mt Kurotaki, Chihiro almost collapsed when she heard Sayomi saying that it takes another 2 minutes for warm up and another 30 minutes to reach to the peak! They’ve been walking all day, haven’t they? She accidentally drops her bag and out comes her cute (to me, they’re creepy) little handmade dolls. They didn’t reach the peak but at a reasonable place to view to town from a high ground. Chihiro starts crying seeing Fuu has managed to take care of herself. I guess it’s okay since she held it this long. To commemorate their friendship, Chihiro has the girls take a doll each (I don’t know, I find their names weird). In return, they swap email addresses and this brings another round of tears to Chihiro. As the gang sees Chihiro off at the train station, Chihiro notes how she felt lonely when Fuu made new friends. But now she doesn’t feel that way anymore. And as Fuu narrates, no matter how far they’re apart, distance or years, they’ll always be friends.

Episode 6
In the fall of 1999, little Maon was reading aloud her fairytale storybook at the top of the observatory top. But each time a visitor passes, she stops reading as she felt embarrassment before continuing when they’re gone. She noticed one visitor happened to whistle. She goes to an isolated spot to continue her reading when to her embarrassment realizes Fuu was hearing what she read. So embarrassed that she hide her face under her turtle neck sweater! Of course Fuu finds it interesting and because she starts asking questions about the story, Maon had to make things up impromptu since the story wasn’t finished. Then she spots Norie and Kaoru coming up. She is a little shy of meeting them because their families are currently staying at her inn. Norie is pestering Kaoru to come to the top but the latter is just tired (though Kaoru did not say this I can’t help feel that all she wants Norie is for her to shut up :p). So the tugging and tussling between them ended up with Norie accidentally slipping and falling on her butt. Ouch. She starts crying. Kaoru starts crying. I guess cries are infectious enough because Fuu also starts crying. I think Maon wanted to cry too but she needed to find a way to solve this and came up with an idea to whistle (part of her spontaneous answer from her fairytale). At first nothing came out but after that, she got the hang of it. Instantly the crying stops. Maon continued to whistle like as though the entire sea is her stage. Norie and Kaoru are impressed, made up and return to their family. Likewise, Fuu also returns to her father. Maon ends her fairytale story how a big crowd gathered and everyone became friends.

In the spring of 2009, as Maon leaves school she spots Momoneko and tries to follow it. It leads her to Norie who is somewhat sitting dejectedly. Her heart’s broken? So as the duo walk around town, they learn a little about each other like Maon who came to this island herself and is living alone. So for a noisy girl who loves sweets, why is Norie to exact opposite today? Well, there was a boy she liked. She made him a pumpkin sweet but the kid didn’t like sweet things. That’s when Norie snapped and went crazy with her verbal abuse/chiding. I guess that’s where her depression stems from. Maon learns Norie wants to be a patissiere but for herself, she would like to try her hands at becoming a musician though she isn’t in any music club at the moment. When Maon starts whistling at the sea, Norie thought she heard this familiar tune before and notes it is like as though she’s whistling to the ocean as her stage. Hey, that is what Norie was thinking. Coincidence? Maon continues her whistling and doesn’t care if it’s coincidence just as long as she understands how she feels. Guess what? Norie said that too! What does this mean? Her whistling may be her top-class instrument! To make certain this isn’t really a fluke, Maon whistles once more and hopes to make friends. What do you know? Norie extends her hands for them to be friends! Is she a psychic?! And that was the start of their friendship and how Maon started whistling because it made her a friend. But I guess the mystery is only exclusive to the duo because when Fuu and Kaoru tried to guess them, they are far off. Very, very, very far off.

Episode 7
As Fuu and co go meet up Kaoru at her home, they are shocked to see her strangling somebody!!! Actually she’s finishing up Sayomi’s teruterubouzu when she got a call and suddenly left. Yeah, the face of that teruterubouzu looked like somebody strangled it… Like being hanged… Seeing that Kaoru haven’t been to the Path of Longing in years, thus the reason why Sayomi made the teruterubouzu to hope it will be sunny tomorrow. The rest start making their own teruterubouzu. Fuu remembers how her dad promised to bring her to this festival but he usually ended up busy and thus the promise went unfulfilled. They stop by at Maestro’s place and overheard him giving advice to a couple of girls who plan to confess. Place of recommendation to confess? The graveyard. Yikes! Why? A girl can squeal in fright and cling on to the guy! Besides, isn’t it romantic the place being dark? Yeah, hope you see no ghosts… Passing by the town in preparation of the festival, Fuu tries to snap a shot of Momoneko but she is afraid it will turn out blur. Suddenly to her surprise, Shihomi comes by to lend Fuu her tripod for stability. By the time she sets it up, Momoneko is gone. Shihomi has returned from Tokyo for this festival. Making their way into the packed Hoboro’s okonomiyaki restaurant, suddenly Dougou has a favour to ask the quartet. They have a bad feeling about this. He plans to confess to Hoboro during the festival and wants them to help out. I guess they can’t say no, can’t they? Thus the plan is for the girls to invite Hoboro for a walk and that’s when he’ll come along to show her the way. On the day of the festival, dark clouds loom over the city as it starts drizzling. While they are writing their wishes on paper lantern, Kaoru’s old friend, Shouko Hirono turns up and they are surprise to see each other. But once Shouko realizes the place she recently moved in was where Fuu once lived, the duo start getting chatty. Have we seen them this talkative before? By 4pm, it is still raining as the gang make their way back to Tamayura Cafe. Kaoru is ecstatic when Kou returns but that turned sour once she sees Komachi with him. Here goes the rivalry again… So much so Komachi blurted out her intentions to confess to Kou. Did Kou hear that? Thankfully, he was preoccupied with several grannies at the other table. Kaoru feels frustrated because this is her first Path of Longing as well as Fuu’s since her return and it had to rain. Fuu has dozed off and dreams of her dad. She wants to tell him all the fun memories and new friends she made. By 5pm, the rain had miraculously stopped. They go outside to see the town beautifully lit with bamboo lanterns. As they browse through the wish lanterns, they get a call from Dougou as the cue. They invite Hoboro for the festival so Hoboro gives Dougou a quintuple decker okonomiyaki special. Eat that! Fuu narrates how everyone how came with special feelings in their heart and they helped out to make this day special to her and that her father’s promise has finally been fulfilled.

Episode 8
Though Dougou didn’t manage to confess to Hoboro, he’s still as lively as ever. Fuu mentions when she stopped by at Hoboro, as Shihomi is staying with her, they might be related. They come up with wild theories like they once loved the same guy but overcame resentment with friendship or Shihomi is freeloading for the pancakes. Fuu notes how she was in middle school, she chanced upon a sky-themed photo album in the library. She was captivated by it and this led to her first encounter with Shihomi. Visiting Maestro, guess who Norie is shocked to see as a regular patron? Yeah. Komachi. Trying to take photos to challenge Fuu over Kou? As they look at her photos, they note how she has improved a lot (although her first few photos were on Kou. Stalker…). Komachi says Fuu’s tamayura inspired her to take up photography. Then over at Hoboro, they see Shihomi snapping shots of Hoboro in action making okonomiyaki. She can really put up a show. Shihomi asks the girls a series of questions that include Hoboro’s real name (Chimo?), her surname (Yakusa) and why this restaurant is named Hoboro (in Hiroshima, a hoboro basket signifies divorce. Just kidding. Actually it’s taken from a name of an uninhabited island whereby it is rumoured that critters are eating the island away). Later Fuu and Shihomi browse through the photographs the latter took. Fuu realizes that she photographs a lot of other things instead of the sky. Shihomi mentions she’s not photographing the sky anymore and then noting the ticket with no destination that Fuu keeps, it represents them, their vague and formless dreams. Fuu wonders if Shihomi hesitates sometimes too when the latter invites her to go to Casablanca, an eatery run by an ex-classmate, Misono Fujii.

On the train there, Fuu can’t help ponder if Shihomi is giving up photography. The girls meet Misono at Casablanca and as Fuu admires the several drawings on the wall, a couple of guys come in and tells Misono to give them everything she’s got. Well, are you up for Bitter Melon Cream Green Tea Chilled Noodles? WTF is this combo? You can tell how it tastes when they put it in their mouth. Nevertheless, they finished it all! As explained, these guys help Misono taste-test items she wants to add to her menu. Yeah, and she has all these crazy ideas dying to get out of her head… Just hope they don’t die eating them. After they leave, Misono continues that they are from the flower shop and have been taking pictures of the same spot over the years. There are things you only discover once if you’ve lived here for ages as their photos showed more than just scenery but change. As they talk about the things they did in life, Fuu wonders if dreams change. As Misono puts it, she’s greedy. She wants to take in both things that change and those that doesn’t. Since she’s so greedy, she might want to find something else to do. While walking back, Fuu asks Shihomi if she’s being greedy too because her family, friends and scenery of this town are all dear to her. Shihomi responds that Fuu looked sad when she said she wasn’t photographing the sky anymore. However she notes she will be sad if Fuu gives up photography because she cares for her and it brings her both hope and sadness. Of course it is up to Fuu to decide and choose. She is sure with the way things are, they are all greedy in this aspect. Shihomi assures Fuu she hasn’t given up on photography yet. Fuu narrates the pictures they take are for them to decide and as for the ticket with no destination, it has the freedom to take them anywhere as the decision to go where she wants lies within her. The girls have a taste of Hoboro’s new Bamboo Shoot Muffin. Yummy! Now this is the kind of dish I would like to taste-test and try.

Episode 9
An episode on Momoneko?! At least for the first half. Even cats like him have dreams. Yeah, dreaming of Fuu feeding and tending to his needs. Must be such a wonderful dream that he falls off the wall! Don’t worry, he’s okay albeit a little grumpy. It doesn’t help when Norie makes unnecessary comments like it’s good to be a cat because he can laze around all day long. That night, Momoneko goes on his usual patrol around town. Putting litter into correct recycle bins and helping a female cat from being harassed by a male cat. I guess this even happens in the cat world. The female cat wants Momoneko to help out as she shows him a vegetable farm ravaged by a wild boar. At first he was reluctant but her cute pleas must have changed his mind. But when the scary wild boar shows up, Momoneko runs for his life! Back at the shrine, he is in a dilemma whether to go back or not but thoughts of the wild boar made him stay put. Next morning, to his worse fears when he visits the vegetable farm, the female cat gives him the cold shoulders. Momoneko becomes depress and for the first time, Fuu is able to get a still shot of him. However since he is down, it doesn’t make the picture look good. But she and her friends’ comment about Momoneko being a local guardian spirit and his presence makes them feel at ease has to cat’s spirit up again. Then on its way to confront the wild boar, it’s a showdown. Of course Momoneko is no match for the tough boar but he gets a little help from Kou who starts throwing stones. With that distraction, Momoneko scratches its face and sends him running away. Kou and Momoneko become friends and when the former returns to Tamayura Cafe, the girls are puzzled to see him sketch a paw of a cat in his sketchbook.

A grumpy customer, Shouko Tobita enters Hoboro’s shop to request for 10 okonomiyaki to eat! Dougou doesn’t want to lose out and orders me. She also does likewise. Fed up with their childish challenge, Hoboro is going to make 20 okonomiyaki each and they better not leave a crumb! Oh, they’re so screwed! Of course they both can’t finish it but Shouko starts experiencing stomach discomfort (what do you expect?). Since Hoboro has no additional futon, she and Sayomi carry her back to Tamayura Cafe. Seems Fuu knows her because she was the one who spoke to Maestro for confession advice. Next morning, the girls are surprised to see her on another eating rampage! How many plates of breakfast and sweets did she whack?! Of course get stomach discomfort lah! Hoboro and Sayomi return with Shouko’s friend, Manami Hoshi who was worried about her. They ask about the confession so Manami tells them though Shouko did that, the guy she liked since middle school only viewed her as her friend. I guess that’s why she’s so upset. Maon starts her weird delusions that the guy may be in some shady organization not wanting her to get involved. Shouko wakes up and dismisses all that crap. That’s when Sayomi thought everyone should have fun and go for a drive. Oh no… While Hoboro wormed her way out to back out and look after shop, it’s not so lucky for the quartet. Thank God, Manami also drove so the girls are spared the ‘hell drifting’ that Sayomi did. It was one hell of a scary experience for Shouko, eh? It’s amazing she’s still alive at the top of the mountain but I guess you can attribute another sickness for her. Once Shouko sees the breathtaking view, she casts away her misery, deletes all the photos she has on that guy and decides to move forward. She wants Manami to take a photo of her but the latter notes if she did, it may make her look sad. She continues that the photos she took had emotions in them and sometimes it’s best to cry her heart out. It’s okay to show her emotions in front of her and her camera as they are on her side. With that, Shouko is overcome with emotion and has her best friend snap a shot of her stupid crying face. But to Manami, that is the face of honesty and adorableness as the tears of sadness sparkled with radiance instead.

Episode 10
Kaoru thinks of asking everyone’s help to search for ingredients for her potpourri this Sunday. However upon learning they have their own plans, she somewhat feels dejected. Of course her friends can tell something is wrong. Back home, Kaoru thinks how her friends have their own goal in life when Sayomi comes in to suggest to go mini sanctuary exploring this Sunday. She clearly rejects it, giving no room for big sister to finish. Next day while walking to school, Kaoru’s pals each have the same idea of inviting her to come along with them but of course she refuses their kind invitation. So this is when Norie confronts her that she knows something is wrong because Sayomi called her and since Kaoru refused her mini sanctuary hunting, she almost got dragged into going with her! Kaoru insists there is nothing wrong and wants to be left alone. As they quarrel, Komachi interrupts them by taking their shots. I’m not sure about her rational of taking pictures in contrast to Fuu’s calm and soothing ones to beat her. Huh? War photographer says she? Come Sunday, Kaoru receives SMS from her friends telling her what they are currently doing. While tending to her garden, Sayomi ‘hijacks’ Kaoru with a toy gun filled with bamboo vinegar (it stinks). She brings her to Tamayura Cafe and she is surprised to see her friends waiting there. Seems Sayomi had a hand in this calling them all here since they are worried about her. Norie had even made a special dish to cheer her up. So finally Kaoru reveals what is bugging her. She likes making potpourris but has lost sight of her goal since she doesn’t know if she can keep this up in the future. She didn’t want her indecisiveness to cause them trouble. If Fuu and Maon’s words are nice, then it’s the opposite from Norie. Yeah, she snaps back at Kaoru that she always worry too much about those around her. But the bottom line is, all her friends care about her. Norie continues to remind Kaoru about that special memory she had when she was a kindergarten kid. She was sick but didn’t want to miss out on the field trip and went along. She couldn’t hold it in anymore and vomited. The others find her stinking but Kaoru gently wiped her mouth with her favourite handkerchief. Kaoru announces what she wants to do. She suggests holding an expo on themselves. An exhibition they can openly show what they’re capable, thinking of and feeling. She manages to get permission from her dad to use a hall at Old Kansai Manor for it on 30th December. The girls get excited upon knowing that all the people who come and see their work at the expo even if the things they do still have a long way to go.

Episode 11
They thought Maon is going to put on a whistling performance but she notes she wants to try something different. On her way back from a book signing session, she went to see a recital drama and got inspired. She wants to do this for the expo but before that, she wants to perform her first performance at her family’s inn. So as the friends discuss the story she is going to recite… Wait a minute. She hasn’t even started thinking of a story! Can she finish in time? Maybe. MAYBE?! The show is in a week’s time, you know? Maon works hard but experiences a writer’s block. She sees how Hoboro has even made up a poster for the drama and her parents are really looking forward to it. Norie comes to check on her and what do you know? She hasn’t got anything down yet! Don’t panic! But I don’t know what’s worse. That or Sayomi’s horror storybooks she lend as reference for her recital drama. Maon feels nervous and doesn’t want to disappoint everyone so Norie cheers for her to do her best. Come Christmas Day, which is also the day of her recital drama, it seems Maon already has written a story but she can’t think of an ending! Can she finish it up in time? The suspense is killing me… But at the inn, her parents mention that they have invited their past guests to the recital and quite a number decided to come that their inn won’t fit. So how? They rented Virgo! Wow. Unexpectedly Maon gets to realize her dream at performing here. As the crowd fills the hall, Maon still can’t come up with the ending. There are thoughts of postponing the performance but she can’t let those people who had high hopes for her down. So she decides to go for it and her friends ensure they’ll always be there for her. Though nervous at first, Maon gets into the pace of her recital (why the heck did she even use Dougou’s puns?). I feel that her whistling bird story mirrors her own life. When she reaches the ending, that page is blank. Oh no. She must come up with something spontaneous. Looking at the support of her friends and parents, she closes the book and the words suddenly came naturally. “The bird flew back and told her parents how she managed to make new friends”. In a heartfelt thanks to her parents who believed in her so that she was able to speak today, the audience give her a round of applause. I guess the show is a success. The quartet gather at the observatory top where they first met, Maon says there are lots of things she wants to try in the future, a little at a time. Thanks to them, she has the confidence now. Thanks to her, lots of people want to attend their expo. I guess Maon’s success has also inspired her parents to put on their very own recital drama back at their inn. One on Maon’s embarrassing childhood secrets! Maon’s first bed wetting… Oh Sh*t!!!!

Episode 12
All that’s left is to put up posters for the expo. But the girls feel they are missing something. Dougou thinks he knows what it is and goes around as a walking billboard to advertise the expo. I think that wasn’t it… The exhibition opens and behold! Nobody. What do you expect? A bee line at this hour? They just opened, right? But the first customer turns out to be Komachi. Actually, she wants to participate and put her photos next to Kou’s drawings. Erm… Why are many of her photos have angry faces of Norie? So the first real customer is… Momoneko?! He doesn’t seem impressed till he sees Kou’s cat paw drawing and leaves satisfied. Okay, the first real human customers are Tamae and grandma. Soon the crowd builds up and would you believe it? Dougou overslept and almost missed it! Better late than never. For Maon’s recital drama, she puts on an exciting performance of Noko the Bamboo Fairy. With the visuals, aroma experience and getting the audience to be involved, it makes it a refreshing experience. Maon seems so lively that like as though she is a natural and a pro. So when the story reaches its climax that something bad is going to happen to the main character… To be continued! WTF?! That’s really leaving viewers in suspense! So the girls are kept busy at their respective areas while Shihomi once more gives Fuu the morale booster that the photos she take can capture the moment when a heart has been touched. At the end of the day, the girls read the questionnaires and they all had positive praises. But some suggestions they made for the expo to be better (if there should be any) seemed like they’re pushing it a little. There’s even one from Sayomi which states that since they have given her a lovely present to end the year with, she promises to give a better present in return. They can’t help feel it’s a bad omen. After the countdown to New Year’s Day, Fuu gets a call from Chihiro. She mentions about visiting the shrine with her new friend Tomo and will gladly introduce her to Fuu the next time she visits. She is happy that the sadness of her moving to Takehara never happened. Ah well, starting off the New Year crying already?

The girls get a simultaneous wakeup call at 5am. Guess who the devil is? Yup, Sayomi. They can tell this is the start of the bad omen when she comes in with that weird getup. Bad omen number 2? They can’t refuse her nice offer. Where are they going? She’s going to drive them to somewhere nice. Did she say drive? Oh shi… Did she say mountains and cliffs? Double shi… Though the good news is that she drove slowly and safe, but heck, even the snail seemed faster! Blame the GPS for sending them wrong directions but it may be a blessing in disguise. Or not. I don’t know how, Sayomi’s car is hanging precariously on the edge of the slope! Thank God it’s not the mountain edge of cliff. DON’T MOVE RASHLY! So once they all manage to get out safely, Sayomi can even make a joke that her great luck cancelled out Kaoru’s terrible luck! Why are the other girls feeling they owe Sayomi?! But Sayomi went back into the car to get some equipments to make hot tea and it left the girls on the edge of their seat (feet rather). She’s so carefree in taking those things out and I guess you can say that she had great luck since the car didn’t slide down. They watch the sunrise coming from behind the mountain as Sayomi mentions that there is one thing they wouldn’t have seen if they watch this view from the mountain top: The mountain glowing in the sunrise itself. She likens it to the girls that they pursue their dreams, but their worries and cares may prevent them from realizing it. However others can see how blindingly beautiful they are glowing. Fuu takes a group photo and narrates how in time they may all separate, that’s why she wants to capture this precious moment. It brings tears to her eyes when she realizes the treasures she had discovered through her father’s viewfinder. In time, they may slip out of her hands forever, that’s why she wants to capture these moments and in a way it connected her to her father’s spirit. Sayomi continues to be the lively one turning every negative aspect into positive. It’s a good thing they got lost or else they could never have this heart warming moment? To hear that from the culprit… Don’t even encourage her. Soon those people who heard they got stranded offer them warm refreshments. I guess the towing assistance is going to take a while, eh? Fuu’s final narration is that the treasures she sees before her will disappear in time. But if she captures them with her camera, she’ll always be able to say to those treasured moments, “Welcome back!”.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Memories…
Oh yeah. This is such a calm and heart warming story that there is going to be a sequel scheduled to be release in 2013. The slow and gentle pace of this series I have to admit that at times I caught myself yawning but don’t take that as a bad sign that this show is boring. There are of course some light-hearted moments and the characters that drive this series. So I would rather attribute my yawn to my lack of sleep and the most, ‘a person who is not used to watching such calming stories’. Therefore I would say that this series is quite suitable for the family to watch and though it not be family themed or oriented, the friendship and bond the characters make are enough for us to reflect and apply in real life. If everybody had this kind of warmth and tenderness, the world would be a better place. Well, I guess it’s not possible in the big city but for a small sleepy seaside town, yeah, maybe. Everybody knows everybody and everybody is everybody’s friend.

As the series doesn’t entirely focus on Fuu alone, it is refreshing that some episodes also focus on her friends and their issues. As in the OVAs, part of the storyline and goal of Fuu in taking up photography again is to find that little light circles that appear in photos called tamayura, hence the name of this show. Also, a favourite photo of hers that contains an outline of her dad and filled with those tamayuras, she and her friends too had this objective of finding this mysterious place in which this photo was taken. However in the TV series, we don’t really see Fuu chasing after them so much so if I hadn’t refreshed my memory, I would have really forgotten all about it (I didn’t go and rewatch the OVAs again before starting this show). But that’s a good thing because instead of being obsessed and infatuated of something minor, there are lots of other wonderful and amazing experiences that she encountered. And that is what happened in this TV series. Hopefully all these encounters will lead her to what she is seeking for and bring her the ultimate joy in life.

The most amusing and of course my favourite character is still Momoneko. It’s nice that they dedicated half an episode to the cotton candy-like feline but I feel I there should be more screen time appearances of that little creature. Maybe a spin-off series would do some justice? Even if Momoneko just bums around town, doing as he pleases, I still don’t really know what that cat is. Just like that mystery in Mashiro-Iro No Symphony’s Pannya. Cute and adorable, no? Enough to make me smile each time he pops up on screen. As the girls say, he may be a local guardian or something that keeps the town safe. In its own way. But the way he purrs, it makes as though he sounds ‘tired’ and ‘bored’. The second amusing character goes to Norie. For every girl group, you need one who is lively and noisy, right? Norie fits that bill and every time she gets excited, she goes into her high pitch squeal that will either annoy you or make you fawn with much endearment. I know that such girls are irritating in my books but due to the nature of this anime, I guess I find Norie quite likeable. I don’t mind her breaking out into such frenzy modes because it makes me smile. Norie’s ‘rival’ would be Komachi and that cheeky tomboyish girl doesn’t hold back when it involves Kou. I don’t know how shifting her interest to photography and rivalling Fuu would ‘protect’ Kou. A weird habit that I find Komachi likes to do is that when she cheekily challenges her ‘rival’, she loves slapping her own butt right in the face of her ‘rivals’! How unlady-like. I wouldn’t really consider Sayomi to be the big sister of the group. She’s a little pretty much of an airhead herself. She doesn’t really listen if the girls have something they disagree and continues with her topic. Then her driving would either make her a world rally champion or someone who would add to the statistics of road related accidents. Let’s hope it’s her great luck after all these years that prevent her from becoming a victim of the latter case.

Fuu’s gentleness and kindness somewhat reminds me of Aria The Animation’s Akari. Don’t you see the striking similarity in their characters? She treasures all her memories, past and present and of course her family, friends and the things she love. It may be a totally different story when she grows up but with the pictures she has captured, it is like encapsulating a moment in time with her photos. And each time she looks at them, she could be whisked back to that time by just thinking about it. It is unfortunate that she lost her dad at a young age but that doesn’t stop her from getting on with life. It may seem Fuu will never continue experiencing a father’s love like her friends do but even without him physically around, Fuu is a strong girl. So people, appreciate your parents whilst you still have them around. Though Fuu has a long way to go before she can be professional photographer, she keeps improving by the day. There’s just one subject of interest that keeps eluding her camera lens: Momoneko! Yeah, she can never get a clean shot of that cat. I don’t know if Momoneko’s position and location are hard to reach for humans because Fuu is always seen trying so hard and in awkward positions just to capture a single shot even if Momoneko is stationary. In this sense, it makes Fuu somewhat clumsy and a klutz.

Kou is a cool kid. You might say that he is too young to understand what is happening and that he seems to be having fun all the time, but that is a good thing, right? Kou is cool because he doesn’t get traumatized by Norie’s constant shotacon fawning. Not to say that Norie harasses him but each time he pops into the picture, you can expect her to start going wild. It may be because he doesn’t harbour any hatred or ill feelings because usually if kids do, that’s why they start getting alarmed whenever the serial harasser appears. Whether Kou knows it or not that Komachi likes her, he doesn’t treat her indifferent. So I’m sure if Komachi doesn’t treat everyone close to Kou as her rival, Kou will still be the nice friend he always will be. I just hope Komachi doesn’t take her rivalry thing and consider Tamae and grandma to be her new ‘rivals’ if she ever manages to convince herself she has bested Fuu. On a trivial note, I realized if you say Fuu and Kou’s name in succession (like how their grandpa did), it sounds like ‘fukou’ which means misfortune or bad luck! Didn’t you realize it?! Maon is the shy girl of the pack and though her ever changing dreams are amusing (who ever said you should just stick to one dream?), I find the way Norie can understand every single whistle she makes to be an amusing mystery. Maybe whistling is another way of communication since she is shy of speaking to others. But I’m sure Norie isn’t just making a bloody confident wild guess each time. But so far she has 100% perfect record in guessing every whistle right. I feel Kaoru is like the calm in the rational sense among the group. She just needs to put up with Norie antics especially the loathsome pet name she calls her as “Kao-tan”. About Chihiro’s handmade dolls. I don’t know, I just find them creepy instead of cute. She also has a knack of naming them odd names but I guess she finally made a doll that resembles very much like Momoneko. See? Too cute to resist having one.

Maestro though making few appearances, I think he’s quite a cool guy too especially the way the ‘advices’ he gives. Some of them feel like he’s trying to make a pass on a girl but in that sense it really makes him a funny guy. Dougou too isn’t such a bad guy. Just another noisy fellow but with lots of spirit. I’m not sure why he likes to rope in the main quartet girls for his help and especially Kaoru. Maybe it’s a way to show that he is concern for his students. I’m sure his love for Hoboro will keep him going on strong. If she realizes that. The other characters like Shihomi, Shouko, Manami, Shouko, Tamae, grandma and Misono do add more soothing and gentle affect to the pace of the series and effect on the lives of the girls. They are such nice people with their own perspectives on things that serve as inspiration to Fuu and the rest. But too nice that it makes them looks bland. Heck, most of the people in Takehara are so nice that crime doesn’t literally exist. Have you seen a policeman in this place? Not that I notice. Don’t get the wrong idea. Being good is, erm, good. But in the world that I am living in, it is hard to believe there exists a town whereby everybody is kind and warm. So much so it looks fake.

Because I have hears Ayana Taketatsu and remembered her as a seiyuu who is at best doing character roles that usually does reprimanding (think of Mio from MM! and Kirino in OreImo), it never occurred to me that she can also voice cute and moe roles like Fuu. I never thought it was her voice till I did a little research and suddenly I am reminded how this is what K-ON!’s Azusa sounds like if she didn’t spend her other time reprimanding Yui. Yuka Iguchi’s character roles somehow always annoy me. But not in this anime. Even though she has that trademark squeaky high pitch voice like Index in To Aru Majutsu No Index, Maria in Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai and Yashiro in Denpa Onna To Seishun Otoko, as Norie here, I don’t really find her irritating. So it must be the flow and pace of the story that affects my mood and my perception of her in this series. Yukari Fukui (Nia in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann) must have the easiest role because as the voice of Momoneko, you don’t hear her saying anything else as that cat. Other casts include Kana Asumi as Kaoru (Yuno in Hidamari Sketch), Yuko Gibu as Maon (Yumi in MM!), Kanako Miyamoto as Kou (Naru Arata in Eureka Seven AO), Ryou Hirohashi as Komachi (Alice in Aria The Animation), Sayaka Ohara as Sayomi (Alicia in Aria The Animation), Minako Kotobuki as Chihiro (Yuuko in A Channel), Erino Hazuki as Shihomi (Akari in Aria The Animation), Miyu Matsuki as Hoboro (Yoshinoya in Hidamari Sketch), Junji Majima as Dougou (Kinji in Hidan No Aria) and Jouji Nakata as Maestro (Giroro in Keroro Gunsou). The opening theme is the clincher of this series. Okaerinasai by Maaya Sakamoto, it is a soft and calm piece that nicely sets and conveys the pace of this series to viewers of what they’re going to expect. Yes, this is one of those few calming songs whereby it makes me want to close my eyes, lie down and do nothing but think of all the good memories. There are several ending themes, all of which have this heart warming feeling to it. The main one is Kamisama No Itazura by Megumi Nakajima and other special endings by her include Natsudori -Uta No Piano- (episode 2) and Hoshizora (episode 7). The seiyuus of Fuu, Kaoru, Maon and Norie sing the special episode 11 ending called Ashita No Hidamari while Maaya Sakamoto does the final ending piece on the last episode entitled A Happy New Year. In addition, there are a few insert songs (usually by one the seiyuus of the main quartet) that will also make your heart warm and fuzzy. So if the storyline and pace of the story isn’t enough to make your heart go emotional, hear some of these tunes and you’ll get an overdose of touching-ness this series has to offer.

As for the drawing and art, I won’t say that the sceneries are breathtaking but they are still beautiful in their own right. The characters especially the girls look cute in their own way and of course, Momoneko the cutest and adorable thing of them all. I guess you can say that sometimes you don’t have to put in a lot of detail to make something look good. Perhaps the genre and the pacing of the story also play an important role so with simple and easy drawings you see here, there is nothing people like me should complain. Besides the visuals, I think there is another thing that makes its ‘cameo’ nearly in every episode: The food! Tamayura Cafe and Norie have this penchant and knack of making sweets so for a sweet tooth person like me, watching those tasty delicious desserts make me want to have a try. Really! I can’t help notice myself drooling at those sweets. Thank God I didn’t try to eat my monitor screen. Or even try to bite Momoneko for fantasizing him as a cotton candy. How embarrassing that would be. Even if I’m not a fan of okonomiyaki, Hoboro’s skill and the way she makes it at least make me want to try them. Not the triple decker, please! I’ll start off with a small one first and definitely I won’t add on 20 stacks of it like some okonomiyaki-obsessed or glutton people. But I hope Misono can keep her menu to be tasty and practical instead of just trying out crazy ideas just because she thinks it pops up in her mind.

I suppose another subtle aspect this anime is trying to tell us about is true photography. Nowadays with handphones embedded with camera functions or at most digital cameras, you don’t see a real camera that uses film anymore. There are certain things that only such camera can bring about especially if you’re talking about the quality and texture of the subject taken. Maybe digital technologies have improved on that but the arguments would be something similar to reading a real book or e-book. And with technology, everybody can be a photographer these days. Some for wrong reasons (blackmail, voyeurism, etc). Fuu’s trusty Rollei 35S will make her treasures even more precious. Mind uploading them on Facebook? Heck, do you even see technology in this anime?! No wonder it is such a ‘healing’ anime.

So do I feel my mind and soul ‘cleansed’? Well, I’m glad I get to watch this anime because it also brings back my own many sweet (and bitter) memories when I was a kid. It’s just too bad I didn’t have an interest in photography so most of my memories are drawn from my own memory instead of looking back at past photo albums. It is true that it is up to you to decide whether certain memories should be happy or sad but if you’re going to live your life forever in sadness, then there is no point in living, right? How long are you going to wallow in sorrow? That won’t bring the dead ones back alive. Just like how Fuu slowly turns every sad memory into joyful ones, it is the only way to move forward. Life isn’t totally perfect so there will always be good and bad times and those dear to you will always be there to support and guide you. So before the sequel comes airing, I guess I’ll go back to more extreme violence, mindless ecchi fanservice and over-the-top comedies. Then make time for another round of soothing and calming ‘purification’. Hey, life is a cycle, right? You have got to take the good and the bad together. Hmm… Should I take a photo of myself now and upload it on Facebook? Oh I forgot. I don’t even have Facebook what more a camera.

Tamayura

May 13, 2011

The mysteries of photograph. Like a picture, they tell a thousand words. Each photo has its own unique tale to tell. Well, Tamayura isn’t a series about photography, but the main character, Fu Sawatari enjoys snapping pictures with her trusty Rollei 35S. I hope many of you who aren’t ‘old’ enough still remember what a camera looks like instead of using that convenient all-in-one handphone for quick shots. Yes those square shaped tools that you need to squint your eyes into the small lens to have a good view of the subject taken. Of course there are more sophisticated ones that professionals use. But before this turn into anything else, let me go back to this series. So yeah, basically if you’re not into slice of life anime with calm and soothing atmosphere, you’re not going to enjoy this 4 episode OVA of approximately 15 minutes each.

Episode 1
Fu narrates the exciting feel when taking photographs. If you’re wondering what Tamayura means, they are those round light particles due to the reflection of the light you see in pictures. This is what intrigues and fascinates Fu the most. Her dad passed away 5 years ago and she has this one silhouette picture of him with lots of Tamayura floating around that she took. She has been wondering where this place is as she was too young to remember where the shot was taken. On the peaceful and scenic seaside town of Takehara in Hiroshimawhere she grew up, Fu enjoys taking shots of unfamiliar things as it brings joy to others when they see it. Especially that fluffy little cat called Momoneko. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be cute because it looks odd as it looks more like a moving cotton candy. As she tries to snap a floating seed with her makeshift hand camera, she nearly falls off the bridge but is luckily pulled back up by her friend, Kaoru Hanawa.

In class, Kaoru thinks Fu should start her own photography club since she loves it. Kaoru mentions she would love to start her own scent club since she has a scent fetish (?!). Later the duo visit Maestro at his shop to retrieve Fu’s repaired camera. Maestro seems to be hitting a couple of girls in his shop. The girls notice Fu attaching a ticket with no destination on her camera. Norie Okazaki and Maon Sakurada enter the shop and soon Fu makes friends with them. The quartet head over to Hoboro to have a great taste of okonomiyaki. They talk about the photo with Fu’s dad in it that she has fond memories of and have a look at the newly developed photos Fu took. Norie spots a cute girl in the photo but Fu reveals it is her brother, Kou. Norie takes a liking for Kou and after getting a group picture taken, Norie purposely follows Fu home to meet Kou. Erm… She’s so infatuated with him that she’s stroking his head with love!

Episode 2
Fu narrates how after her father died, she spotted Kou browsing an album filled with pictures of their dad. That’s when she remembered how she used to borrow dad’s camera and told him how much she loved taking photos. The quartet go around town and as usual Fu tries to take pictures of things even if it made herself in funny positions. They return to a cafe run by Fu’s mom. Norie obviously here for you-know-who. Yeah, trying to be a big sister for him, helping him with his homework. Norie gets too excited by the cuteness of the siblings till she burns out. The girls try a new dessert for the menu and find it delicious. Apparently it wasn’t mom who made it but grandma. Norie also thinks how cute grandma is so much so that serial moe harasser thinks this family is going to kill her by infatuation. Fu still has no confidence in some of her photo shots but grandma likes them because it brightens her day when she looks at them. Fu suddenly gets excited when she receives a letter from Riho Shihomi. She is a professional photographer whom Fu admires and in the letter a ticket inviting Fu to her photo exhibit. The rest notice her ticket without a destination and concludes it may be useless, sending Fu to depression. But after giving her eat some cake, she’s back to her happy self and in her own world. Kaoru suggests Fu should take up photography and be more serious in it since lots of people admire her pictures.

Come Sunday, Fu and Kou take a train to Shihomi’s exhibit. While walking through the hallway filled with photographs, Fu spots Shiho and gets nervous upon meeting her. Shihomi takes Fu and Kou around her exhibit. There are some pictures that looked terrible because it was her first time taking photos but she decided to exhibit them because she can’t replicate them anymore. Fu realizes she misplaced the present she got for Shihomi for the ticket but she doesn’t mind. Shihomi reveals the reason she gave the destination-less ticket. There are times when one feels unsure where to go but someday one must decide where to go but for the time being she has to keep that ticket even if her destination changes every day. There’s a place Shihomi wanted to go further or a person whom she wanted to see but thanks to Fu, she remembered that feeling again. At the end of the day, they part as Shihomi wishes to see more of Fu’s photos next time. On the train home, Fu ponders if dreams and Tamayura are similar. Upon arriving back, the station attendant gives Fu her misplaced present. Guess she forgot and left it behind before her trip.

Episode 3
During kindergarten, Kou drew a picture with lots of islands, a tree and a black rock. Fu thinks this is the place similar to the one in that photo when dad was alive. As the quartet test taste another new dessert, they discuss the possible place in Kou’s drawing. Kaoru’s older sister, Sayomi offers her help to find the place and has an idea where the place is. She plans for them to meet up and go together next Sunday. Norie was reluctant to go till Kou mentions he wants to come she makes a total u-turn on her decision. Shotacon… Though Sayomi told the gang to arrive sharp, she has the cheek to arrive 30 minutes late and even told them to hurry up or they’ll miss the train. After rushing from the train and hopping on to the bus, they have to hike their way there. How far up the peak? 2 hours. Seriously? Yes. Damn. No ride? Nope. Just walk. Damn! And 2 hours later, seems Sayomi got the wrong way. So they walk for another hour the other way. And yeah, not this place too. Lost. They all take a break as Fu apologizes for troubling them to come with her. But they’re okay with it since that photo became everyone’s memories without them realizing it. Though nobody remembers exactly where, Sayomi feels she has been there and though everyone may have forgotten about that memory, that photo makes them remember it. They continue their journey to the top but it doesn’t seem this is the place in the old photo. They have a good view of the scenery and feels their journey was worth it. Fu feels nostalgic and even though this may not be the place, at least she feels she met her dad for just a little while. In addition, this place gives them new memories. The gang goes to a public bath and Norie flusters to know that Kou is taking a bath with them together. Well, it is normal for Fu.

Episode 4
A flashback showing how Fu and Kou first met Kaoru and Sayomi when they’re young. They become playmates and due to Fu’s clumsy walking nature, that’s when they nicknamed her “Potte”. In the library, the girls are going through more candid camera shots taken by Sayomi. Seems she’s calling herself Shutter Change Hunter and never misses a nice moment. However Kaoru points out that Sayomi’s interest isn’t in photography but researching petite unexplored places. Shihomi pays Fu’s mom’s cafe a visit as the girls visit Maestro for clues of the place. Since he has no idea, they’ll have to wait for Sayomi’s complete investigation. As they head over to Fu’s place, Fu is surprised to see her. Taking a look t her newly developed photos, Shihomi praises them, flustering her. Grandma further compliments her. Shihomi takes Fu out for a walk as they talk. Shihomi reveals that she once temporarily stopped taking photos after realizing she didn’t improve. But one day after looking at the sky, she had this urge to take pictures of them and before she knows it, she started liking photography again.

The girls receive an SMS message from Sayomi about the place. Kaoru fears it’s going to be a Bloody Sunday. Why? Good news: They don’t have to walk. Bad news: They’re going by car. If you must know, her driving is terrible. For Heaven’s sake, there are kids in the car! Hold on to your seats everybody! I don’t know if it’s fluke since she’s drifting all the way up the winding mountain road. It’s a good thing everybody is still alive. She even got time to admire the scenery while everyone else was screaming? After parking the car, all they have to do is trek for 20 minutes to the spot. Upon reaching the place, Fu sprained her foot. Sayomi is going to call for help when they hear Maestro and the ladies he tried to hit on in his shop, arriving at the peak. Maestro treats her foot and carries her back. As everyone admires the beautiful scenery, suddenly Fu realizes that the black rock wasn’t so in Kou’s drawing. The view was in fact the back of dad’s head. He was half asleep when dad was carrying him on his back watching the scenery. Tears well up in Fu’s eyes as she is happy she is able to meet dad once more. Though she isn’t sure if this is the actual place, everyone is here thanks to the camera and that photo. Though she wasn’t able to meet him directly, his heart was definitely captured in that photo. Lastly, Maestro’s car is just parked 20 seconds from the peak as he gives Fu and Kou a lift home. Haha, guess the rest have to start walking. Sayomi, you didn’t do a proper investigation job, didn’t you?

Little lights of happiness…
So the series may not amount to anything much but that is to be expected with the calming and soothing pace of this series. I can say that this series is definitely heart warming. It isn’t about Fu becoming a photographer or trying to find the exact place in that photo, but rather the journey of making new memories together. It is a funny thing that a simple picture contains so much feelings and emotions and how it leads from one event to another. Photos are like time capsules too, a moment in time frozen and captured for us to see. It is sort of like a physical version of the memories in our head.

Norie has got to be the most amusing character here since she really hypes up whenever she sees Kou. Beware of this serial shotacon harasser. Maon is also another quirky one because of her communication via whistling. Seems Norie can decipher what she says. And that Momoneko cat, it still boggles my mind that it is a cat. Sure, the characters here look cute but for the sceneries, I won’t say that they are awesome but at least they’re nice to look at. If you buy the DVD, the episodes are combined together so there are only 2 episodes. The weird part is the intermission in which we see Fu doing a weird dance. Is that supposed to be some kind of variation of the hula dance?

I may not be interested in the Tamayura but I’ve always been troubled by the fact of why children have those red eyes effect when flash photos are being taken of them. Well, at least better than something unexpected popping up. No way! So maybe it’s time I take out my old dusty photo albums and remember all those nostalgic memories I had with my family, relatives and friends. Spending too much time watching animes has left me without taking any photos about anything for the past few years. Even the cameras we had have all outlived its lifespan. Yeah, handphones are such a convenience these days.