Has to be said that the summer 2012 Anime season was a bit overrun with slice of life genre anime. However, Tari Tari caught my attention for two reasons; the first being the fact it’s a P.A Works title (The studio is most well-known for Angel Beats, and the winter horror series, Another, both of which I enjoyed), and the inclusion of music. I’m a big fan of K-ON!, so I was always drawn to this title. It started out well, it got a bit dull halfway through, and it ended on a high. Here are my thoughts for this interesting little series.
The show focuses around a group of five interesting characters, all very different from one another, and all with very different goals in life. However, their passion for music has brought them together in order to form the “Choir and sometimes Badminton Club” for their last year of school together. Of these five characters we have best friends, Konatsu and Sawa, transfer student, Wien, somewhat grumpy Wakana, and finally the badminton lover, Taichi. Konatsu is the reason the club started up; she has a passion for music, however after being banned from singing in the schools main choir club after an attack of stage fright the year before, she vows to improve and sing once more. If this means leaving the choir club and starting her own club, then so be it. Sawa is Konatsu’s best friend, and while she does enjoy music, her main goal in life is to be a jockey and the show does a good job of showing her passion for horses throughout. Wien has just come back to Japan after living out in Austria for twelve years, so has a lot to get used to on his return to Japan. We mostly see him with his head in a book reading about Japan, however the books normally aren’t the most helpful of sorts and Wien tends to rely on his friends more than anything for guidance. Then we have Taichi who quickly strikes up a friendship with Wien. Admittedly, he is tricked into joining the new choir club through the promise of getting better at playing badminton, but once a part of the club you see he also cares for music. Lastly we have, Wakana. She’s grumpy and difficult for anyone to get close to in the beginning, however as the story unfolds we learn why this is, and without a doubt Wakana ends up taking centre stage of this whole series.
Maybe this is both why Tari Tari succeeds and is hindered by Wakana. What starts off as a series where you care about all the characters and the club; ends up halfway through with you only rooting for Wakana. The rest of the characters seem bland next to her, even the various problems surrounding the characters seem bland. Of course, this is hardly Wakana’s fault, but you are left wishing the other characters had something more to them. For what starts out seeming like a light-hearted series, it actually goes much deeper than you first expect. All of these characters have problems of their own to deal with (admittedly, some worse than others), and you tend to always be kept on your toes as to what is going to happen or be revealed next. Sadly, apart from Wakana, any problems these characters have tend to be resolved within an episode or two, when they really shouldn’t be. No one gets over things as quickly as these kids do, and it would have been nice to still see traces of how things affected them as the series went on and not just end up where Wakana is the only one who doesn’t forget everything she’s been through. However, while these are mild complaints, the show still carries a great deal of emotion with it, and I sat with tears in my eyes during the final episode. With this show you can easily go from not caring for it, to really enjoying it in the space of an episode or two.
Enough about the story and characters though. What about everything else this show has to offer? Well, in terms of artwork this show is really impressive. When it first started airing many quickly feel in love with its setting, which to be fair isn’t hard. The series is set within a city not far from the coast, it isn’t something I’ve seen very often in recent shows, and watching it is something I always found really enjoyable. The settings look stunning from start to finish. P.A Works have a nice way with character design too, so you aren’t left looking at anything dull in those respects at all. Of course a large portion of this show revolves around music, and does it let us down in that respect? Nope. Granted, none of the soundtrack is truly outstanding, but each tune will stick in your mind well after you finish the episode. It’s all very up-beat and cheery stuff, which fits in nicely with the series. There are some really nice piano pieces thrown in here and there too.
Final word: Tari Tari isn’t an outstanding anime, nor is it amazing. But, it isn’t a bad show either. If you can look past the fact only one character gets major character development and actually has anything to show for it by the end, you will enjoy this series. If you’re a fan of the slice of life genre mixed with music, it’s certainly worth your time.