Tari Tari Special

March 18, 2016

Wait. What? There was a special episode of Tari Tari released? And that was way back in December 2014?! What? When? How? Where? Why? I know. It came of a surprised to me recently when I saw this title while randomly browsing the internet. I thought my memory was bad (it is) so I was wondering if this must be an OVA of the series that I have watched (there was no OVA for it whatsoever). Then I double checked and discovered that this special is supposedly a new animation to be bundled with the BD box set. Ah… Well, if you are a fan of the series, you might as well want to grab this. Me? I can’t even remember what happened…

Being Cloudy, Shining, Singing Again Someday
It seems to be taking place after the events of the TV series considering everything feels like in the midst of winding up. Christmas is coming and Konatsu is definitely bullshitting about the origins of Christmas in feudal Japan. We know the fat guy in the red suit and white beard is the same too but it has been accepted worldwide ;p. So our Choir Club quintet are cleaning up their clubroom for one last time since nobody is going to be here next year. Next door, they hear the wind instrument club giving its seniors a retirement ceremony. Taichi wonders if they should hold their own retirement ceremony and Konatsu might sound like she is a wet blanket as she is against it. She even tells him to go and sing karaoke by himself if he wants it so badly. Her reason is that one can never quit music. It is all around them. You sing when you want to. Therefore it is meaningless to have such a retirement ceremony. Meanwhile Sawa is having an argument with her dad. I believe she wants to move out and live on her own. Dad is of course against it. He wants her to graduate from high school first and think about it but her mind has been made up. Eventually he puts his foot down that he won’t let her do part time work. Because he is her father. That’s final. But mom says that is his way of saying she can go. Wait. What? I don’t understand. Complicated family matters… Sawa then texts Wakana to have some tea since they aren’t having any retirement ceremony. Later in town, Konatsu must be embarrassed seeing Wien dressed as Santa as he sings in public with Taichi as his backup. Well, she did say to sing when he feels like it, right?

Tarinai? Mou Juubun Da…
Translation: Not enough? Enough already… So erm… Wait. What? I don’t really understand what this epilogue is supposed to mean since there is literally nothing important that goes on here. The fact that this special is only 11 minutes but only 7 minutes of it is actual running time and the rest at the end is just the ending theme in which it showcases snippets of scenes from the TV series. Hmmm… Come to think of it, I believe I did read this is what this special is about too. To showcase a new recorded song for the series. Well, I could say that the full length of Itsumademo Kagayaki Wo is quite a lovely piece especially the harmonization of their voices in this slow and lovely ballad. This song is the saving grace of this little special that would otherwise leave a dull impression on the series’ end. Okay, so I can’t remember much to remember what kind of impression I had on the TV series. Except for that really funny bad English line, “I don’t money”!!! Oh yeah. I really remembered that one.

Tari Tari

March 10, 2013

I couldn’t make out what Tari Tari is when I read the synopsis. All it states in a brief sentence are 5 high school students, describing their personality and their current likes or issues they are facing at the moment. One thing in common that they have is that music brings them together to form a little club of their own. This is one of those summer themed animes in a sleepy town. Something like Natsuiro Kiseki or Uta-Kata but this one lacks any miracle or magic. As you know a group consisting of people with different personalities and goals, it is always the question if they can work together towards their common love for singing and overcome the odds of bigger and more established clubs in the same line.

Episode 1
We begin with a glimpse of the lives of the main characters. Wakana Sakai makes breakfast for his widower dad, Keisuke before leaving for school. Sawa Okita rides her favourite horse, Sabure and has time to stop and smell the flowers. Atsuhiro “Wien” Maeda has just returned from Vienna and makes his first step into Shirahamazaka High School where he will be schooling from now on. Taichi Tanaka practises his badminton while Konatsu Miyamoto is rehearsing with her fellow members of the Vocal Club. In class, the students lavish their homeroom teacher, Tomoko Takahashi with gifts before she leaves for her maternity leave. Before she does, she introduces Wien as their new transfer student and I guess he must be away from Japan so long that he takes it very seriously in learning Japan’s culture. Maybe a little too serious. Does he really need to prostrate himself and speak in olden Japanese? He needs to get a better book to consult. Taichi is tasked to show Wien around school. I’m sure Taichi has a hard time correcting Wien about his misconceptions about Japanese culture. He should really get a new consulting book. At least he is taking down notes. Hope he takes them down right. While Wakana helps out Takahashi with the gifts, Konatsu wants to be part of the singing choir (her current role is to turn pages for the pianist) and goes to see the club’s advisor, Naoko Takakura who is also the school’s vice principal. However she is shot down because of last year’s blooper and being lectured about anybody can love music but it’s a different story whether music can love you. She wants Konatsu to abandon her aspirations to sing on stage. Not happy, Konatsu quits! Remember to submit a formal application then. Konatsu talks to her best friend Sawa about this problem at the latter’s Archery Club. Konatsu is still adamant to sing and wants to start a new club. Guess who has to join her? Despite Sawa thinking she has a terrible voice, Konatsu believes she has a powerful one. But she’s already in a club. Do both then!

Konatsu submits her application for a new club to Takahashi and thinks of inviting Wakana. Takahashi thinks that is a great idea and Konatsu might be a good catalyst for her. After Wakana finishes her supplementary class, Konatsu accompanies her home and talks to her. Wakana can tell she quit the Vocal Club so she can stop beating the around the bush. She tells of her intention to start a new club and if she talks to the principal directly, she might have a chance. Wakana turns her offer down to join since she has already stopped singing. Konatsu continues to persuade her but Wakana is sticking to her guns. She never enjoyed music and can’t condone to Konatsu’s idea to just pretend to sing for fun. Then she questions her back. What does she sing for? For fun? Not the answer she’s looking for. She’s serious. So is Wakana. Goodbye. I guess Konatsu was desperate enough that she goes to ask her little brother, Makoto who is in the midst of taking his bath. She’s not embarrassed. He is. Plus, she forces him to join and sign the application form or else she will tell mom about his secret porn stash. Oh sh*t. Elsewhere, we see Wien writing to his pen-pal friend, Jan and hopes he could show him Japan one day. Well, hope he keeps learning the right stuff. Next day, Konatsu talks to Sawa about her problems. The latter notes she really did screw up last year but Konatsu says it’s not funny and she’s a changed person as she has been training hard. Later Konatsu is listening music via her earphones and the song must be quite good for her to start singing in public. It attracts everyone’s attention. So happen, Sawa, Wakana, Taichi and Wien coincidentally meet at that same spot. Embarrassed?

Episode 2
Well, the girls ignore the guys. Sawa tells Taichi to show Wien around more. Sawa brings Konatsu and Wakana back to her house. She shows Wakana the video clip of the biggest blunder made in last year’s joint recital. Not only is she so nervous that she can’t sing, when she opened her mouth, it was a very odd sound. Nyah? I can see why the teacher doesn’t want any more blunders from her. Sawa still finds it funny all this time but because Konatsu has been training, she wants to support her. They need at least 5 people to form a club. Wakana doesn’t need to participate and just be a ghost member. Okay. Then it is suggested Konatsu gets Makoto and his friends to join and they can attract people to join because some famous dancing violinist Tetsuji Kumagai will be there. So there goes Konatsu blackmailing Makoto into making his friends join her new club (why does she always have to barge when he is bathing?) or else it’s mommy and his secret porn stash. Konatsu sees the principal, Tayoru Ikezaki (Colonel Sanders?) about her application of her new Choir Club. Though he has his reservations, once he sees Wakana’s name on the application list, he feels this may turn into something interesting and approves it. He also becomes their club’s advisor.

Konatsu and Wakana are in their club room and the former needs to choose a song to start practising. She realizes Wakana can play the piano and wants her to demonstrate. Konatsu shows her a piece with scribbles on it, Kokoro No Senritsu but it reminds Wakana about her late mother. But for Konatsu, it reminds her of the Condor Queens. So the Choir Club begins their rehearsal but Konatsu is summoned by Takakura. When she learns Konatsu is picking Kokoro No Senritsu, she wants her to pick another song and can’t sing this song just for fun. Konatsu argues her point of why she wants to sing it so she reluctantly gives her the green light. On a day when the Choir Club is supposed to do a joint recital, the principal is missing and school rules say a club can’t do any activities without their advisor. They also need to appoint somebody who will lead in the rehearsal. Konatsu goes to get Wakana. I suppose she owes a lot of cakes to her by now. Sawa goes to find Takahashi and finds her at the hospital at her usual check-up. Konatsu learns of the principal’s whereabouts and he too is hospitalized after getting into a bicycle accident. Wakana manages to get permission for their club to go last but it seems the rest of their group are stuck in a traffic jam (Takahashi drives Konatsu and Sawa to the auditorium). With time running out and their turn is up next, Konatsu loses hope and wants to go home but Sawa talks some sense into her. So it’s just Konatsu and Sawa going out on stage alone. Konatsu is feeling jittery so Sawa calms her down by telling her to imagine the audience as pumpkin patch. Never seen one? How about watermelon patch? Okay, that worked. With Wakana playing the piano as accompaniment, the duo sing their heart out. The principal will be hospitalized for a while so he leaves the club’s duties to Takakura.

Episode 3
Now it’s Makoto’s turn to barge in while Konatsu is bathing. He tells her he and his friends are quitting her club and he doesn’t care if she tells mom about his porn. Guess what? It was mom that told her about his porn. Oh sh*t. While Wakana’s bicycle breaks down in the middle of the street, an elderly Spanish guy and his pet pig fix it. I guess it must be freaking Wakana out that she couldn’t understand a thing this guy says. Yeah, she reminded him of somebody he knew and he is bloody passionate about it. Better peddle as fast as you can away from this psycho! Konatsu and Taichi are called by Takakura to her office. Both their clubs will be dissolved since it doesn’t meet the minimum requirement of 5 members (Taichi’s the only member of the Badminton Club). Taichi tries to go recruit Wien and brings him back to his place. Wien gets freaked out to see a woman in her underwear in Taichi’s room! Did he enter the wrong room? But why is he doing a bunny hop out of the room?! That woman is Taichi’s sister, Haruka. Elsewhere the committee for the Western Shopping District are in a meeting to brainstorm plans for the summer. Sawa’s mom, Shiho suggests doing a music performance. We see Taichi against Konatsu in a badminton game. Whoever wins gets the losers to join their club. That will be 5 members, right? So it’s guys versus girls. Two versus three. Don’t blame the girls if they don’t know the rules but they’re serving 3 shuttlecocks at the same time?! Taichi returns 2 of them and Wien is supposed to take the last one. He did a smashing return. If only it didn’t hit the net. A lost is a lost and it’s natural Taichi feels disappointed because there goes his dream of continuing badminton in college and turn pro. Konatsu isn’t that bad so she names her new club, Choir And Sometimes Badminton Club (CASBC). Like its name suggests, they’ll do singing most of the time and badminton on occasions. Yeah, she got it all planned this way. In the event if the girls lost, the club will just be renamed Badminton And Sometimes Choir Club.

So the quintet submit their new club application to the principal in his hospital room. Though he approves it, he hopes they don’t embarrass him. That’s because he notes their Choir Club was once famous for winning the national choir competition and Wakana’s mother was one of his students then and in this club. Wakana seems lost as the principal continues meeting her changed his view on music. Takakura enters to give paper work for the principal to review and she isn’t amused that Konatsu has once more come up with something like this. She will not tolerate this nonsense and crumples the paper. But the rest are stubborn and won’t let it go. Wakana hands the application back to the principal whereby he puts his official stamp to officially approve it. Later he asks why Takakura is so against it but she didn’t reply. Konatsu is at the beach house and learns about the World Music Festival whereby each business in the area will pick a country and set up a stage based on that theme next to their establishment. Each business is responsible in finding their own singers and customers will vote for their favourite and the winner will perform on the main stage at the end of the event. Konatsu is fired up and wants to represent the beach house. Since their location is prime, they need to undergo an audition first. Konatsu, Sawa and Taichi being their audition but a pair of old Spanish grandpas add guitar and percussion accompaniment to turn it into a lively piece. Meanwhile Wakana is being harassed by the Spanish dude again. He’s not letting her go. He wants to talk to her but I don’t think she understands Spanish. “I don’t money”. Yeah, bad English. Maybe she should take up supplementary English class too.

Episode 4
Konatsu hopes the Spanish grandpas could quit interfering with their audition but they note they should be thanking them instead because they too enjoyed it. Konatsu realizes they are the Condor Queens she once saw on TV when young (and the reason why she loved music) but it seems they’re missing a member. You can guess who that person is, right? Wien sees Wakana peddling her might away from that Spanish stalker (he too is peddling after her). Don’t try this stunt that Wien is going to pull. He hires a taxi then when he lines up with the dude, he jumps out and tackles him! If not for the sandy beach, the injury could’ve been worse. Wakana learns he knows her mother and could’ve just avoided everything if he told her. In Japanese of course. Konatsu is willing to forfeit her audition for them and even suggests Sawa’s place for them to dwell for the time being (she lives in a temple). The Condor Queens trio camp outside the temple boundary as they note how similar Wakana resembles her mother, Mahiru. They wrote a song together and it became their hit. They consider her their dear friend and benefactor and even joke they love her but quick to dismiss they’re not Wakana’s father! But all that merriment fizzles out when they note how Mahiru is no longer with them so they go pay respect at her grave.

Because Konatsu continues to admire the Condor Queens, Sawa blows her top that she’s not doing any practice for the CASBC. Konatsu thinks deep about this while she continues to hang out with Condor Queens. They wonder if she wants them to give up their slot. Of course not. They’re not going to give up on the things they love. She might have a long way in life and not even graduating yet, but they’re close to graduating from life! This wakes Konatsu up so she goes to see Shiho to see if there are any businesses that still haven’t found any singers. There’s one. Konatsu runs down to the flower shop to ask if they are still available but looks like her run ran out because they have just been taken. She just missed by a whisker. Oh, that taker turns out to be Wakana. She returns to her other members and she picks out a song they’ll sing on stage (sounds like a Hawaiian song). She is fired up to win the event. On the day of the event, Condor Queens is taking the stage by storm. The quintet go to see them at the backstage during their rest. As the leave, the Condor Queens note to Wakana that she has given up on music. They remember Mahiru said she wanted to write songs that always fit, regardless healthy or sick, happy or sad. They didn’t understand what it meant and laughed it off as a crazy dream. Maybe she was talking about her daughter. They don’t want Mahiru to give up music. It’s not something she does or not. Music is a constant companion. They return her a letter that Mahiru wrote to them when Wakana was born. The quintet begin their stage performance. Not much of a stage. Not much of a crowd (maybe just a bunch of eager kids). But they give it all they’ve got. In the end, the Condor Queens win, Konatsu gets their autograph and takes a group photo.

Episode 5
The gang are cheering on Taichi in his badminton preliminaries. If only Konatsu and Wien aren’t that noisy. I know they’re giving him their support but this? Wakana doesn’t feel good so she takes her leave. As Taichi continues his match, the girls even put up am odd but cute cheering dance! Unfortunately Taichi lost in the quarter-finals. He needs to be in the top 4 to advance. Sawa goes to talk to Taichi (he is giving an excuse he is doing visualization training). She asks why he didn’t enter a high school with badminton programme since he has been playing since young. Let’s say that there was somebody in the club he admired when it had more members in it then. Wakana accidentally meets Shiho in the streets and helps her home (since she got slightly injured from her surfing wipe-out). She shows her old pictures when she was a student of Shirahamazaka and the Choir Club. Mahiru is her senior and Takakura was also part of the club. This picture was taken after they won the national competition. Shiho will make a copy of it and wonders if Mahiru ever told her about this. Wakana remembers Mahiru’s illness was never told to her because she was in the midst of an exam. It came too late when she died. She further remembers visiting mom at hospital. She was cheery and wanted to write a song together but Wakana scoffed it off that she doesn’t have time for that due to her exams. Wakana showed her grumpy attitude each time Mahiru fooled around instead of teaching her seriously. What she was trying to say is that music will still be around after exams and will always be her companion. To Wakana, all that doesn’t really matter if she doesn’t ace her exams.

Wakana talks to Keisuke about getting rid of some of the extra stuffs in her room. Especially the piano. It’s not like she has been playing it and thinks it will be of better use in somebody else’s hands. Next morning as Wakana packs her unneeded stuffs, she remembers a little goldfish (or was it a whale) memento Mahiru gave to her. I guess she doesn’t need it too. A sign that she has moved on? Keisuke leaves for his business trip and Wakana continues her daily life. She turns down Wien’s suggestion for the club to celebrate Taichi’s success in the top eight. Not even the girls can convince her. I don’t think it’s the cake problem… Wakana returns home and finds the piano removed. Her room feels so spacious now, eh? But why does it feel so empty? Then she realizes her pet cat Dora is missing and the storm is coming. While searching for the feline, she remembers arguing with mommy from just about anything before her death. Mahiru continued to be understanding and patient. Then during a school interview, the bad news is suddenly delivered to her. Wakana couldn’t accept reality and broke into tears. She regretted that she never said goodbye earlier in the day when she left and that they couldn’t sing together anymore.

Episode 6
When Keisuke comes home, he panics to see Wakana on the floor unconscious. She got a cold while trying to find Dora in the rain. Well, I don’t know where the cat went but it’s back on its own. Though her cold subsides, she skips school to recuperate. Konatsu pays her a visit and she thought Wakana was going to commit suicide when she sees her standing by the cliff. Konatsu bloopers herself and got all wet when she fell into a puddle. As they talk, Wakana remembers about her promise to write a song with Mahiru but was too busy thinking about herself. But for Konatsu, she feels that sometimes it’s a good thing a promise was never fulfilled because it always reminded her of her late grandpa. Later Shiho gives the copy of the photo and also a cassette tape containing the Choir Club’s practice before the national competition. Sawa lets Wakana ride Sabure and tells of her goal to ride it into a mounted archery competition this year. However her dad doesn’t approve her of becoming an equestrian and would prefer her to be in the government sector even if she doesn’t want to succeed him in the temple business. That’s why they’re both not on talking terms. Next morning Wakana leaves early for practice and leaves Keisuke’s breakfast in the microwave oven. It’s a loaf of bread. Not even toasted. What was he expecting? Wakana sees a hilarious scene upon entering her club room. Taichi balancing books on his head while in a horse riding posture and at the same time Wien holding on to Taichi’s feet and doing leg-ups. WTF?! Can’t blame her if she can’t contain her laughter.

Wakana remembers a vocal training with Mahiru. The little girl was making a ‘scary face’ while practising so mother advises her to treat vocal exercise as a song and to relax. Sing as if she’s trying to tell someone she loves in a faraway land that what she’s doing is fun. Wakana demonstrates using emotion in her vocal exercise to the voice and the guys learn something important. Takahashi invites Wakana to her place to catch a glimpse of her newly born baby boy. Then when she comes home, Keisuke has made a feast in hopes that this motivation will mend her lazy ways of breakfast-in-a-microwave-oven. But Wakana knows this is their wedding anniversary and she remembers it since it’s close to her birthday. Keisuke tells Wakana that it was Mahiru who proposed to him. Don’t believe? Wakana changes the subject asking why Mahiru never told her about her illness. If she had, they could’ve kept their promise. Flashback reveals Mahiru didn’t want her daughter to know because she’s facing the entrance exams and knows she’ll get sad easily. Because they promised to write a song together, she didn’t want the song to be a sad one but of kindness and strength. It hit Wakana that Mahiru loved her so much and yet she threw away her feelings and everything associated with her. She feels guilty and breaks down. Keisuke hands over an unfinished song written by Mahiru. She was waiting for Wakana to come to terms with things so she could finish it and holding on to them. Though he knows nothing about music, he would like to hear her finished piece. As for the piano, he never really gave it away. How could he? It was the piano that Mahiru used to propose to him. Even that memento is still around. Mahiru takes a look at the notes and breaks down. Next day in the club room, she listens to the tape and sings along with her friends joining in soon.

Episode 7
With Wakana overcoming her issues, she officially joins the CASBC. She has everyone hold their pitch and finds them all in harmony. They also discuss what they need to do for the school’s White Festival. Wien is still naive because he really believes the girls that the festival is due to a white rhinoceros being kept in school’s basement and once in a while they need to let it out. Nothing conclusive so far but they know they want to go out and sing their best. Members of the Vocal Club come in to take some stuff as Nanae Hirohata chides Konatsu for fooling around because unlike her, there are people in the Vocal Club who are seriously thinking about their future. Konatsu now really wants to upstage them. She goes to see Makoto to fill in application forms for the stage but it seems it won’t be easy because Takakura is running the show. When Sawa returns, her father confronts her about the mail she received about horse jockey. He lectures her about riding as a hobby and the realities of life. Sawa being the rebellious kid isn’t going to listen and she throws a tantrum by stripping herself to make it a point that she will give everything back for the tuition fees he paid for her. Though Shiho was nice enough to let her daughter go, she cautions the world of winning and losing isn’t as nice as she thinks. Before Wakana leaves for school, her father gives her several tickets to a musical he got from the sake shop. Wakana invites Sawa and Konatsu to the concert but Sawa doesn’t feel like it and excuses herself. Konatsu concludes she must be in love. Maybe she should think harder.

Takakura sees the principal about CASBC wanting to use the main stage so he leaves it in her hands to manage everything. Later he is being visited by the school’s chairman. Something fishy is brewing because he mentions he is concerned about something affecting his business plan and the road map has been slightly accelerated. He ‘advises’ if he wants a comfortable retirement, he must work for it. Sawa continues not to be on talking terms with her dad and worse, she goes dieting. So it’s natural that she can’t perform well in practice. Konatsu spies on her and hears her talking to someone over the phone and wanting to be given a second chance. Maybe it’s love. The girls attend the concert and we see each of their different expressions. Sawa is spacing out all the way, Wakana enjoying it and Konatsu, there’s a myriad of expressions. Unhappy, cheerful and even falling asleep! After the concert, Sawa excuses herself to leave early since she needs to practice for a tournament. Wakana and Konatsu are at the bookshop and the former mentions how her mom left her a piece of music she wrote for her to finish. Sawa’s mind is so pre-occupied that she isn’t focusing on her mounted archery competition. Her feet slips and she falls off the horse!

Episode 8
Thankfully there are no serious injuries though the doctor did detect some malnutrition. Sawa’s father picks her up and tells her to give up on the tournament since they can’t be responsible for a minor getting injured. Sawa continues to worry because there is a maximum weight and height if she wants to be a jockey. So her dieting was not only to reduce her weight but to stop growing. She did make a call to the organization but it was discouraging. Daddy gives her that I-told-you-already lecture but Sawa wants to be left alone. The Vocal Club members are using the CASBC room because they’ve got approval and think they are more serious. Sure CASBC can use other rooms but they don’t have a piano. Sawa is still bugged about what happened to her so she lets loose her scathing verbal attack on the Vocal Club girl that they are unfair to take away their only chance. Then Wien suggests they could come to his house because he has a piano. It’s just 30 minutes from school. Taking a train, Konatsu tries to cheer Sawa up. She probably brought up the wrong topic of love. Everyone is surprised to see Wien’s mansion! Is he a millionaire? It used to be his grandpa’s house but for now they’re just renting. Even more surprising is the vast space in his room! Konatsu spots his Gambarisers action figures but Wien tells them not to touch them as they are very important to him. They notice the red figure is missing. It’s away on a very important mission. Anyway Wakana tests the piano and can’t use it because it is out of tune. Sawa needs to leave and Konatsu thought it’s that love thingy again. Sawa explains about her dream to be a jockey dashed. Wakana tries to impart her advice but it didn’t make Sawa feel better because unlike Wakana who can go back to music any time, if she steps back now, it’s all over. Wakana is glad she could do so because it connects with her mother. But if she had a chance to see her again, she would gladly give up music.

Takakura summons Konatsu and Wakana and wants them to withdraw their application. You know they’re not going to give in just like that, right? Wakana explains about feelings connecting and the joy of experiencing stuffs together, blah, blah, blah. That speech reminded Takakura of Mahiru. Those were her exact words. Even Konatsu had her share about potential to move people’s hearts. Takakura gives them a chance to participate in an audition. Today is supposed to be it but Sawa is missing and not picking up her phone. She’s locked herself in her room. Sawa sees an SMS from Wakana, apologizing if they have hurt her feelings but they would feel more confident if she was with them. Sawa then sees her father on the phone trying so hard to convince the officials to let her daughter become a jockey because of her love for it. He even chides for making up such ridiculous rules on diet and height. Well, so desperate that you might find it unbecoming of a monk to curse people. Soon, Konatsu leaves a singing message for Sawa and everyone had their share to sing. If this didn’t give her the motivation, then I don’t know what else will. So Sawa starts making her way to school but can she make it? Maybe if she rides Sabure. I’m sure you don’t often see a high school girl riding a horse through the streets every day. But time is still running out. CASBC need to stall for time. Wien was thinking about pressing the emergency fire button! But Wakana had a devilish ploy. She calls the school so the announcer calls Takakura to come to the office to pick up the call. You know how far it is from the main stage to the office? Once she reaches the office, the call is hanged up and she returns to the main stage. Process repeated. This didn’t happen once but a few times! Sawa finally makes it in the nick of time. Oh, where did she park her horse? In the bicycle shed… That’s one huge ‘bicycle’.

Episode 9
Wien is disheartened that all the letters he sent to Jan have returned. Wakana doesn’t know how to write songs and asks dad for help. He too isn’t sure so she thinks she should ask Shiho since she was Mahiru’s classmate. Konatsu has decided to do a musical drama for the festival and even delegates duties for everyone. Shiho and the store owners of the Western Shopping District are discussing an event for the summer in the shopping area to increase revenue. Shiho suggests local superheroes to put up a show and to hand out flyers. I’m sure they agree on that but regarding who to participate, suddenly everyone starts making excuses they have this back pain or exhaustion. Sawa then calls Shiho regarding Wakana’s request so it’s the perfect time for her to rope them in. Now that the kids have dig in their cake, Shiho proposes that if they would like to make some money this summer. She takes out the superhero costumes from the store and explains what they are required to do. I guess they need money for stuffs for the festival so 30,000 Yen doesn’t sound too bad. We can already see Wien so passionate in the role. Later Wakana asks Shiho about song writing but she isn’t really sure. She suggests asking Takakura because the song on the cassette tape was co-written by her and Mahiru.

Wien has come up with a superhero theme for everyone. He’s got it all figured out as they’ll be West Stop Rangers! The heroes of justice that will ensure you enjoy your visit. As for who is to represent which colour, Sawa liked the red but was warned by Wien that it’s the colour for the leader. He doesn’t mind stepping aside for her if she shows she has what it takes to be a leader. Or maybe he just wants to be red that bad. Better give it to him. So each of the colours represents some food and they even have the pose and lines to go with it. May seem embarrassing but Wien points out that being superheroes for little kids is an important mission. Wien’s serious tone has them think that something has happened so he shows them the returned letters. Flashback reveals when Wien was in Vienna, he made friends with an ill boy who overheard him humming the Gambarisers song. They both shared an interest in it and watched the videos. One day Wien had to leave for Japan so he left his Red Gambariser with Jan and promise to write. It was then the girls felt bad because Wien actually believed wrote everything he heard back to Jan. Yeah, the white rhinoceros too. Now suit up and practice! Meanwhile Takakura is surprised upon seeing a stack of documents. The principal has his hands tied because he too is an employee and can’t defy. Even though he is against it, there is nothing he can do. Takakura certainly isn’t thrilled. CASBC members are trying to traverse the tricky part of getting Takakura’s approval to work part time because school rules prevent them from doing so. They confront her head on and explain their need but since she is too busy spacing out and sighing, she stamps her approval without looking! That was easy.

Episode 10
Wien is really into his role and in the streets in action. The rest might be having second doubts if they can do this. They can still run. But they psycho themselves that they can do it and so out they all go to join Wien in this attention catching event. Shiho has managed to convince some of the guys to play the role of the villains. So it’s vegetables, fruits and curry against the germs. Unfortunately one of the ‘germs’ hurt his back so they have to retreat for now. Being old sucks. But the show is a success. Since one of them is out, Shiho needs a replacement. Desperate times calls for… She herself suits up and becomes the replacement baddie. The show is such a huge success that Shiho hopes they can consider and extend their contract. Though they will be busy for the festival, it’s not like they’ll be practising 24/7, right? In school, Takakura summons Konatsu, Sawa and Wakana to see her. Because Hirohata spotted them during their stint and reported it to her. They remind her that she was the one who approved it though she gave an excuse it was because they didn’t explain it. She wasn’t listening, right? She will let this go if she quits immediately. Wakana thinks she is unprofessional for going back on her word and that they are bent on completing their job. Wien is extremely grateful that they didn’t abandon West Stop Rangers. I think they better stop getting ahead of themselves and fill Wien’s head with more lies because he really wants to take notes of them! Takakura thinks back how she was writing songs with Mahiru when Wakana steps back in to show her the tape with their voice in it. She immediately stops it and admits that they were both in the Chorus Club. It was what the Vocal Club was called then. She did visit Mahiru once at the hospital but that was because Mahiru wanted her to. The reason she never told anybody that they’re acquaintance was because she had to respect the school rules and be fair to everybody.

Asking how they wrote songs, Takakura remembers Mahiru told her not to over think because music is about having fun with the sound. She tells Wakana that you don’t write songs because you have to. It must come naturally from the depths of your heart. Takakura leaves and remembers her only visit to Mahiru whereby she noticed she was writing a song that she hoped she could write with her daughter. She hopes Wakana manages to enrol in the school and join her club but Takakura reminds her the change of name of the club now. Because the club and the song were both essentially her original creations. She is surprised that Mahiru mentions she is glad she could get to see her one last time. Konatsu is so desperate to get funds for the festival that she is willing to sell her precious autographed album of the Condor Queens. Wakana apologizes for lashing out at her then but she is okay with it because the more important thing now is that they carry on. Because if they quit, it will be like Takakura has won. Wakana is confident she can finish her song by then. The West Stop Rangers continue to attract the crowd but at the end of the show, a thief steals Konatsu’s bag. Wien goes after him and the thief must be shocked that this guy can run. The thief is cycling by the way. Wien manages to catch up and tackle this guy though both are almost out of energy. The thief punches and pushes him away but Wien isn’t going to give up because he is the hero of justice. Then he starts singing the Gambarisers theme song and is joined by his fellow comrades. I think it would be easier if the thief just hands himself in. Their valour has earned them an article in the newspaper. Wien continues to write to Jan though he keeps the letters, hoping one day he will deliver them to him. Several conveyors are taking measurements of the school.

Episode 11
Wakana is making progress in finishing the song. We have a glimpse of Konatsu’s extravagant fantasy adventure play for the festival even if this is just her imagination. She’s really fired up to make this a success. Isn’t the play a little too long? Taichi is not happy he has to draw the background so Konatsu uses her convincing powers to persuade him to do it. This also made Wien to do his best to make props. While to trio are debating, Sawa listens to Wakana’s incomplete song and though Wakana feels it is not as grand as Konatsu might have wanted, Sawa is okay as long as she is happy. So everyone works on their part and Wien shows his miniature props much to the delight of everyone. This guy can be a pro. As for Taichi, we might not see what he has sketched but I guess it was so horrible that he was told never to draw again! I guess he can’t take such a defeat so he heads straight to the art club to seek the help of its president, Youko Mizuno. However she is too strict for an amateur like him that he is better off drawing himself. All is not lost yet because his friend Tooru Hamachi who happens to be in the club offers his expertise (he claims he wants to be a mangaka and live off royalties). But in exchange he wants a nice high resolution picture of Sawa. I guess we know why. Taichi goes to find her and sees her alone and sampling Wakana’s music. She starts dancing to the tune. Wow. She can be the next Flash Dance. She’s cool with the somersaults but it is Taichi who is caught off balance because when she flips, he saw what’s underneath her skirt…

The principal is with the chairman. Seems the latter is happy his luxury condominium project is reaching the next phase. All that is left is the consent of parents and students but the principal seems to be dragging his feet in making this announcement. The chairman doesn’t want delays that will be detrimental to his plan. Konatsu goes to see Midori Ueno, seeking her help for accompaniment for their play. I guess they lack manpower in their small club. However Hirohata reminds her they need to practice for their Vocal Club despite their song haven’t been selected yet and not fool around with amateurs. Konatsu chides back that they are even dumber since they can’t pick a song themselves. They also note Takakura acting strange recently. The principal enters the staff room to make his announcement but Takakura knows about it and doesn’t want to stay and listen. She goes to the Vocal Club. I guess when the cat is away, the mouse is out to play. Yeah, everyone is slacking without her presence. Get back to practice! However Takakura is in gloomy mood. Something is clearly not right. She didn’t even mind Konatsu’s presence! Something wrong alright. Then she drops the bombshell. The festival is cancelled. As the principal makes his announcement that they’ll stop taking new student applications from next year because due to the decreasing birth rate, it has led to an annual decline and each year it’s getting harder to secure funding. There will be temporary classrooms setup on the school grounds so classes can be conducted normally there. So the school is like dead now. With most of the parts undergoing construction. The CASBC members coincidentally meet and have a little chat. Then Wakana comes rushing in and is happy she has completed her song. Despite the festival being cancelled and school shutting down, she still wants to sing it with everyone. It’s not over yet and they’ll have their own White Festival.

Episode 12
The CASBC members discuss what’s left to be done and the worst case scenario if nobody turns up. But they having not to sing at all would be the worst. Later Taichi seeks Sawa’s permission to take a photo of her and tells the reason why he is doing so. She agrees and poses for him. As he leaves, he snaps a shot of her back as she was getting back to her practice. He gives this picture to Hamachi and he’ll gladly do the job. Taichi goes back to the club room and he thought he saw a personnel carrying away Wien’s box of props. He tells it to his members and they realize it’s really gone and goes to search for it. How are they going to chase after that truck? Meanwhile Konatsu is in a student council meeting and she wants the festival to remain. She argues her points why it should not be cancelled so everybody takes a vote (including chiding Hirohata for not putting her money where her mouth is). Sadly, majority didn’t approve her suggestion. By the time they’ve got Wien’s props back, they’re damaged beyond use. Taichi and Konatsu’s argument could’ve escalated if not for Wien starting to sing and thanks them instead. He remains positive that they can start over again. Wakana catches Takakura praying at Mahiru’s grave. She laments how Mahiru was the only one who loved music because the school was the only thing that connected her to music and now it’s going.  Wakana has Takakura sample her song and she notices how she could sense Mahiru in it. Wakana is grateful for finishing this song and having all the support that made her come this far. So heartfelt that Takakura starts crying. Wakana thanks her late mom because this song was what enabled them all to be brought together.

Taichi, Sawa and Wakana enter the club room only to realize Wien had stayed up the night before to finish his props. He wanted to finish the costumes too but Taichi says he’ll do it. Does he know how to sew? Well, he starts asking the sewing club for help. Maybe teaching him will take so long that the festival will be over so they all pitch in to help finish the costumes. Just remember to treat them. All of them. This is really going to cost. Sawa begs to some of the shopping district owners to advertise their play. Though they are reluctant due to some higher up directives, Sawa gets down on her knees and pleads that this festival is one of those things she cannot give up. If this doesn’t soften your heart, I don’t know what will so the owners at least agree to put up the posters within their shop. Konatsu hands Ueno the music sheet for Wakana’s song for the accompaniment. She also hopes Hirohata can sing together. After all, they’re from the same club before and knows she loves singing (though she may not like her). Hirohata continues to rubbish Konatsu’s suggestions and thinks she is more serious about music than her. The principal also tries to persuade the chairman to at least provide a stage since he doesn’t want to become someone who tramples on his students’ dreams. But the chairman isn’t budging and reminds him to keep all students off the school grounds by 5pm, Sunday and public holidays. Otherwise, those caught will be suspended. Besides, he spotted that poster in town and doesn’t want any unnecessary discord with the locals seeing that construction is also behind schedule. Everyone continues to work and practice hard but on the day before the big day, it starts raining heavily. Konatsu is praying so hard. Very hard indeed. They try to remain positive that they’ll respect those who come. There might be none at all. Sawa assures her father will be there. Well, one person may seem good but it may make their efforts look pathetic. Who cares? They had fun, right? And things were out of their control. It continues to rain tomorrow too. I guess God didn’t hear Konatsu’s prayers.

Episode 13
But the rain won’t damper their spirits as they make their way to school. However to their dismay the gates are chained and there is security at certain points. Taichi thought of climbing in but the chairman has been watching them and gets down from his car to confront them. Though they give an excuse they forgot items in their class, he knows they are here for the festival and reminds them this place is off limits. Because they remain defiant, he reminds them about being penalized which will affect their future. The principal then tells the kids to carry on their festival for the chairman has no authority to approve the festival or directly penalize students. Though he can fire him. He apologizes to them for never helping them out even though he was their advisor. He argues with the chairman that this place might be his asset but it means much for them. He pleads to let them just sing and in the struggle, he slips and pulls down the chairman’s pants! How did this even happen? I guess he’s fired. Then Takakura shows up and tells them that the Vocal Club and Wind Instrument Club will be their main pillar of support. She gives Konatsu the music sheet for the chorus and accompaniment and hopes she can be the conductor in the play. Of course. She also did some arrangements to send the security away. The chairman doubts anybody would come but he is made to eat his words when the crowd slowly starts showing up at the gates. And there’s nothing he can do about it. Go on and leave. Everyone makes the final preparations and the musical drama went well, much to the delight of the crowd. In the aftermath, we see the school’s construction going on as planned. The CASBC members talk about their plans after graduation. Seems Sawa will be going overseas to study in an equestrian school and be a step closer to be a jockey. Of course her dad still opposes it but what can he do when she’s already made up her mind? She leaves by next month and though she thought of dropping out from school, the teachers agreed to let her graduate. So it’s a tearful farewell for the friends when they see Sawa off at the airport. Wakana returns the music sheet to Takakura. It brings back memories of Mahiru. Whenever she’s with her, she felt talented but couldn’t walk the same path and felt jealous and ashamed. Wakana decides to dedicate herself to studying music. After the graduation ceremony, the gang takes a picture and send it over to Sawa abroad. They record and sing a final song for her. We see Taichi practising his badminton, Takakura tutoring Wakana music, Wien receiving a letter from Jan and goes on a trip to meet up with him and finally Konatsu in college is being suggested by her friends to join a club. Whatever it was, it brought a smile to her face. Perhaps something to do with singing, no?

Life Isn’t Always Pitch Perfect
So life just goes on for our friends. At least they have one final bang together. The entire story may not be anything extraordinary or provide us with something new. A group of friends come together with a common passion, each having their own problems and then overcoming them, a conspiracy from the greedy higher up that threatens to derail their very dream, they persevere and with the support of others they perform their swan song. Happy ending? Well, the school may not have been saved from its ill fate at the end but the final memories made then will always be treasured by all those who participated and watched. So which do you think will have better value in the end? You know the answer. And yes, friendship as usual is the main theme for this series.

As mentioned that the main characters each have their own issues to deal with, though it does provide some plot to the storyline but it sometimes also feel like a side distraction. Although Konatsu and Wakana’s issue were music related whereby the former wanted to prove that she truly loved singing and shouldn’t be singled out just because of a minor mistake, the latter had regrets not bidding farewell to her late mom properly and thus her aversion to music is like a self-defence mechanism whereby she cuts herself off from music. Sawa’s passion for horse riding and being a jockey seems to be rather out of place if you consider that singing has got nothing to do with it. Must it? What about Taichi’s badminton? Well, he was original from the badminton club so that is partly excusable. Wien and his friend Jan? Maybe it is the theme song of Gambarisers that connects them. I don’t know why all this time Jan kept silent without replying. I’m sure Wien has told him of his address before he left for Japan. Maybe Jan has moved that’s why the letters were returned. But all of them at the same time? It got me thinking that Jan may have received them but perhaps felt he wasn’t as strong as some Gambarisers to open and read them so he had them subsequently returned.

Sometimes I feel that Konatsu’s earnest character makes her a little funny. Perhaps a little airhead-like. Oops. Like how she thought Sawa was in love and was really worried over her and gave some advice to cheer her up. Wrong topic, wrong answer. Speaking of love, I thought I may be imagining things but is it true that Taichi did develop feelings for Sawa? There are a few indications like how he glanced over his shoulders just to glimpse her. Who wouldn’t love an athletic girl who easily does back flips and somersaults like dancing in air? Then in the final scene whereby they are seeing off Sawa, though the dialogue is inaudible, from the body actions, it seems like Taichi was confessing to Sawa! See the faint blush on their faces? However she didn’t give an answer that seemed to reject him. Because he didn’t make that gloomy I’ve-been-rejected face but something that made his eyes glimmer with some hope. Speculation time. Will she agree to it when she returns from overseas? How long would that be? My online research (read: lazy and brief browsing) did confirm that Taichi did have a crush on Sawa. Wien’s initial habit of writing everything down to eagerly take down notes blindly and believing it all to learn Japan’s culture is also another funny bit. I do hope that Wien has emerged wiser from his trip to Japan. Sometimes, don’t believe everything you read and hear. Overall, the CASBC quintet may not be the closest knit group in the history of animes focusing on a small group of friends, but at least you can see they treasure each other’s company.

The other minor characters were okay too. The principal was torn into doing what he believes and what is required by his job. So the poor guy got fired eventually and what happened to him in the aftermath? Don’t know. But at least he can now sleep peacefully knowing that he saved the dreams of a handful of dreams rather than his fat retirement plan. Where’s the happiness in all that money if you don’t have the happy memories to share? But to unintentionally pulling down the chairman’s pants feels somewhat comical. That’s the biggest slip. Like being caught with his pants down. Haha. The chairman may look like a typical greedy businessman villain. But when you’re in a corporate world, business is business. You don’t make money from your petty dreams. Can you blame him? It’s not like he really did some illegal moves. Takakura was shown as a strict and cold teacher and my guess she wasn’t just targeting Konatsu. She felt bitter that she couldn’t walk the same path with Mahiru despite being her friend. Her demise only enhances that as she wasn’t able to come to terms with her death just like Wakana. So how does changing the Choir Club name to Vocal Club do any good? It’s like sweeping dirt under the carpet. Ironically it is her students that guided her the way and make her realize that after all this time, she still loves music.

Even Hirohata had a slight change of heart in the end. Always chiding Konatsu for fooling around and comparing her goofing off with her so called serious grand plans for the future in the music industry, perhaps with Konatsu’s recent rebukes for being unable to decide to do something herself and always the need to wait for the teacher’s instruction, has left her to do some soul searching and open her eyes. See, even if they are in different clubs with different names, when it comes to music, their love and passion for it are the same. Sawa and Wakana’s dads may have different approaches but in the end you can see that they care very much for their daughters. The monk just wants Sawa to wake up to reality and not keep dreaming in her rose coloured fantasy so he had to be harsh with her. Keisuke is a total opposite and doesn’t raise his voice towards Wakana (he probably learnt this from Mahiru, who definitely had a sunshiny cheery disposition to turn rainy days into clear skies). He is quite easygoing. If only those heart-shaped bento meals he make for her didn’t embarrass her. That’s how he shows his love for cooking and Wakana. Shiho is pretty nice and sporting too. If she only didn’t have a penchant of smacking girls’ butts as a tease. What happened to Takahashi? After she gave birth, it’s like that’s the end of her role (not too sure about her appearance thereafter since I wasn’t paying attention to look out for her). Haruka? Weird girl who loves chilling out in Taichi’s room in her undies… You don’t see big sisters doing that very often, don’t you? Yeah, you won’t see such a scene ever again. Makoto? It’s funny to see him give in to Konatsu’s blackmail. I guess the blackmailing stopped. Either he stopped getting his porn fix or hid them somewhere else. But be careful. Mommy will always find them… I should also mention that the Condor Queens may be a bunch of old dudes but I think they have the wittiest lines in the series in some of their dialogues. That’s having a positive outlook in love despite knowing they can kick the bucket anytime! Touch wood!

There isn’t anything that stands out in the voice acting department. Except for one that caught my attention. One of the Condor Queen members (the burly guy who kept chasing Wakana on her bicycle and prompted her to say what I believe is the most ‘memorable’ quote of the series, “I don’t money!”), is actually Spanish. No wonder the Spanish sounds impeccable. Jorge Diaz is credited to that role and he seems to handle his Japanese lines quite well too. Now if only Japanese people can do that with English and not make it sound so Engrish… The other 2 Condor Queen members are voiced by Japanese seiyuus, Motomu Kiyokawa and Yutaka Aoyama. The rest of the casts include Asami Seto as Konatsu (Chihaya in Chihayafuru), Ayahi Takagi as Wakana (Saki in Natsuiro Kiseki), Saori Hayami as Sawa (Ikaros in Sora No Otoshimono), Nobunaga Shimazaki as Taichi (Kaito in Ano Natsu De Matteru), newbie Natsuki Hanae as Wien, Atsuko Tanaka as Takakura (Caster in Fate/Stay Night), Akiko Kimura as Takahashi (Aoko in Tsukihime), Sayaka Ohara as Mahiru (Erza in Fairy Tail), Katsuhisa Houki as the principal (Jimbei in Once Piece), Chinatsu Akasaki as Hirohata (Yasuna in Kill Me Baby), Mamiko Noto as Shiho (Sawako in Kimi Ni Todoke) and Ayako Kawasumi as Haruka (Nodame in Nodame Cantabile).

I won’t go so far as to say that when the CASBC members sound bad. Actually they sound quite good but because I’m not used to hearing a mini choir group sing, so it sounds a little odd for me. I know it’s not my place to say since I don’t really have a good singing voice. Some of the songs that you’ll hear are sung by them. Like the lively pop ending theme, Shiokaze No Harmony. On an unrelated note, in the ending credits animation, we see Konatsu and Sawa sitting by the school terrace in the early episodes. Once their new club is formed, they are joined by the guys but notice that Wakana seems to be standing in a distance. As their relationship grows, you’ll notice the gap reducing and once her issue was solved and became a member, she sits besides them and CASBC becomes a whole. It’s like inevitable, right? Back to the songs. Of course, Kokoro No Senritsu is also sung by CASBC and is the special ending piece for the second episode (there is also an Asami Seto and Saori Hayami duet version) as well as the theme song sung as the West Stop Rangers, Nettou Hero Gambariser. We also have Asami Seto doing a solo with the insert song, Goin’ My Way and also a rendition from the Vocal Club. The opening theme is Dreamer by Airi and this rock outfit brings back memories of the opening themes for Hanasaku Iroha. Amigo! Amigo! is another of those insert songs sung by the Condor Queens and is in Spanish. One of the oddest insert songs I heard that was sung by the Vocal Club was True Tears’ Reflectia. Imagine trying to turn that pop piece into a choir. Sounds so weird. Sounds awful. Of course the final insert song for the final episode is Radiant Melody by the Vocal Club, a full-fledged choir-like piece with the wind instruments complementing the strong performance.

The drawing and art for this anime is your typical conventional Japanese anime standards. Everyone has that good looks. Girls look pretty and the boys handsome enough to please the eyes of those who love this kind of drawing. Some of the scenery and background are also gorgeous but not to the extent that you’ll lose focus on the story and keep admiring the backdrop, unable to peel your eyes away. Hah. I just exaggerated there a bit. Really. Good but it won’t win any awards. But if the art style of the characters is somewhat familiar especially to Hanasaku Iroha, then do not be surprise that the studio, P.A. Works is the one responsible behind both these animes. On a side note, True Tears was their debut animation production and they also produced other animes like Angel Beats and Another.

It’s odd for me to say this but as long as you like music, don’t let anything stop you from singing. Even if you have a terrible voice (like me). Remember the American Idol reject, William Hung? See, where his tone deaf took him? Even if it’s alone in the bathroom or the sanctuary of your room, it’s still okay to sing. Just that perhaps other people have more pleasant voice in the ears of others. How can you enjoy singing if you don’t believe in yourself first? I admit that recently for a long time I haven’t been singing my anime songs due to my hectic life (read: busy watching animes if I am not working). I wonder if I am losing touch with the harder songs that I took a very long time to practise with. Only one way to find out. Time for me to get a mic and let my voice fill the room. So much so everyone had to leave to make room for it! Haha! I hope one day I won’t turn into someone who loses touch with music forever. Otherwise I would be going, “I don’t music!”.