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Tamako Love Story

Jan 13, 2022

The movie follow-up to Tamako Market, Tamako Love Story takes a stab at resolving all those feelings of unspoken and unrequited love.  But, does it fit the bill?

Let's see ... the words you've been waiting to hear ... snap to (not fade to, mind you) black ... roll the credits (featuring an old Tamako Market theme followed by something more romantic.  THE END!

The story picks up approximately one year after the events of Tamako Market.  Tamako, Mochizo, and their friends are seniors now, and are looking to graduation ... and the time beyond that momentous occasion.  Many of Tamako's friends have made plans, mostly the local university (Kanna chafes at the idea of education beyond high school, that ol’ rebel girl).  Even badminton girl Shiori is thinking of studying overseas, but her shyness hinders her from making that bold leap.  Tamako has no more ambition than to stay at her family mochi shop and carry on the family tradition.  And Mochizo ... he is looking forward to continuing his film studies at the far off Univ. of Tokyo.

In Market, everyone was choking on their efforts to produce that confession of love, Choi with the island prince (the islanders make a cameo appearance towards the end of the movie ... why?  And why bring that pompous fowl Dera along?), Mochizo with Tamako.  Not the case in Love Story.  Mochizo stumbles about at first, but he gets over the angst and tells 'I love you' to Tamako ... just after announcing plans of attending school in Tokyo.  And now that the confession is made, Tamako transforms into the model of confusion and shock-and-awe.  The remainder of the movie is just Tamako sorting out those complicated feelings, thanks to BFF's Midori, Kanna, and Shiori.

Symbolism is thick in Love Story.  The string phone Tamako and Mochizo use in their nightly chats is damaged (and whatever pledge of love Tamako makes can only be done through this simple device).  The coffee at Kunio's coffee shop is noted always as bitter and efforts to add milk or sugar are always thwarted (and the music from Kunio's record-player still has that charm of matching or molding the mood in that room).  When stunned by Mochizo’s love confession, Tamako keeps using ‘Mochizo’ whenever she means ‘mochi.’  Tamako is a member of her high school baton team, and through the whole movie she cannot make the catch of the flying baton, until movie’s end.  Tamako takes a shine to her father's love song he made to woo Tamako's mom, and in repeatedly listening to it, she lets the cassette (hey! it could have been an 8-track) play beyond and hears her mom's recorded reply, a parody of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.  Hearing her mom's voice stirs Tamako to make the reply to Mochizo's  confession.  In the meantime, you have scenes of dandelion seeds strewn to the wind, a reminder that the people you've seen at Tamako Market may never be seen again.

And the characters who made up the mercantile class of Usagiyama Shopping Arcade do appear in Love Story, many as semi-cameo appearances.  Just enough to remind us that Tamako is a beloved member of the arcade.  The parents of the Kitashirakawa and Ooji clans make excellent foils as they are unaware of the strong emotions flustering about Tamako and Mochizo, and even sister Anko was mystified by Mochizo's cry of rage over letting Tamako know of his affections for her.  Only a crisis with grandpa Fuku becomes the catalyst to bring the two young people to handle their situation discreetly.

The animation technique perfectly matched the style Kyoto used in the series.  It played well with the festive character of the arcade which had ever thrilled Tamako until she knew she had to cope with the changes that do come in life.  This feeling of nostalgia versus growing up and moving on was reflected in the music composed for the movie.  A good interplay of tunes from the series with novel pieces.

It might not be seen as the ideal resolution, especially among the 'hugging/kissing' fandom.  But, when one considers the original production, such an ending might be seen as 'perfect.'

9/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
10/10 characters
9.2/10 overall
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