I’m back this week for another review of a recently finished show. This time it’s Tari Tari, PA Works’ summer season show, directed by Hashimoto Masakazu. If you’ll remember, PA Works is the studio behind a show I really liked (Hanasaku Iroha) and looking at the PV for Tari Tari leading up to its release, it looked to be more of the same. The character designs were fairly similar, the genre of the show seemed similar (some slice of life, drama, and humor), and the art looked pretty nice again. Especially the backgrounds. With all of this going for it, how could things possibly go wrong?
Well, they did. Not in a major way, I mean the show wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t even that the show did anything unexpected; it just ended up being a little mediocre. But let’s start that discussion from the beginning, the plot. Tari Tari’s plot is pretty simple. You have 5 main characters, all with their problems and dreams for the future and whatnot. They all go to the same high school, Shirohamazaka High School. It’s a school known for its musical department, in particular its Choir Club. The show kicks off with Miyamoto Konatsu, one of the main characters, being kicked out of Choir Club by the advisor (and vice principal for the school) for an incident one year ago. Of course, Konatsu is a spirited young girl and she loves singing, so the first thing she does afterwards is create her own Choir Club.
She enlists the help of her best friend, Okita Sawa, who for some reason, along with being a gifted equestrian and archer (AND horseback archer!) can also sing. But we’ll let that slide. Through some trials and tribulations, Konatsu ends up recruiting three other people. Sakai Wakana, a rather antisocial girl who is also gifted at writing music and singing. Tanaka Taichi, a badminton player. His club was disbanded due to lack of members, though, and was summarily swallowed up by Konatsu’s Choir Club. In fact, the official name for her club is Choir and sometimes Badminton Club. But that’s not important. Lastly is Maeda Atsuhiro, or Wien. He’s a Japanese person from Austria, and is quite unfamiliar with Japanese culture and customs. In the beginning he’s shown to be reliant on poorly made books on Japanese culture and believes what anyone tells him. Somehow Konatsu organized this motley crew and began their adventure as a Choir Club (and sometimes Badminton).
But that only goes through the first couple of episodes. Beyond that, the show delves into each of the other characters a bit more, exploring their pasts and their relationships with others. Sawa’s quest to become an equestrian, Wakana’s trouble with her past, Tanaka’s dream of playing pro badminton, or… Wien’s letters. To be quite honest, this is one of the first problems I had with the show. The characters were not at all equally represented in terms of story focus. Wakana got the most focus, by far. I understand that she was supposed to be the main character… I guess. She’s not the most likable, anyway. But Tanaka got barely any focus, and Wien’s story arc was disappointing at best. He had to share the spotlight with Wakana! I guess what’s most frustrating is that some of the more likable characters lost possible development at the expense of Wakana gaining more.
And once everyone gets their act together, the show finishes with a stereotypical bad guy who wants to shut down the school and create an apartment complex or something to that effect. And with the power of Konatsu’s Choir Club, they stop his nefarious plot!… Is what I’d like to say, but I’m fairly certain he ends up going through with his plan. Still, Konatsu and their club get one last stand before the school is shut down, so it’s not as if they don’t get a victory of their own. That’s the plot and characters in a nutshell, and while all the aspects of it are fairly standard and expected, I walk away with mixed feelings. On one hand, character focus was uneven and unsatisfactory. The plot was a little cheesy, but really that’s to be expected here. I was expecting something with a little more realistic human drama like Hanasaku Iroha, but what I got was an inferior product in the same clothing. That being said, Wakana’s character arc can get to you a little bit. Same with Sawa. They’re not poorly done, per se, just unevenly done.
Moving on to the art… It’s quite good. Half the reason I was excited for this show, honestly. Quite similar to Hanasaku Iroha, though I kind of preferred the rural atmosphere of Hanasaku Iroha over the beach side/school atmosphere of Tari Tari. One point I’d really like to praise here is Sawa’s character design. She looks great (read: hot) and has a great fashion sense. It’s kind of funny that Sawa was too fat to become an equestrian… We can all see where it went. But I digress! The art is gorgeous, really. The animation, on the other hand, well… It’s there. Not great, not awful. Like most slice of life shows, really.
For a show about music, I was kind of unimpressed with the soundtrack. The opening theme is “Dreamer” by AiRi. I’ve heard of Airi a little bit, but I don’t know too much about her (or is it a band?). Anyway, the song is okay at best. The ending theme is “Shiokaze no Harmony”, and is sung by the five main characters’ voice actors. Funnily enough, looking through the voice actors, I don’t recognize any of them except Sawa’s (who is Hayami Saori). I’m not really excellent at recognizing voice actors, but I know most of the popular ones, so I guess the voice talent behind this show isn’t exactly high-budget. Not to say they did a poor job, though. Lastly, the BGM was slightly above average. Most of it was mediocre, but there were a few really nice tracks (for example, the song that Wakana ends up writing) and variations of those nice songs. Fun fact. The choir club sings Reflectia in the first episode. Reflectia is the opening theme of True Tears, another PA Works show.
Studio: PA Works
Director: Masakazu Hashimoto
Character design: Kanami Sekiguchi/tanu
Music: Shirou Hamaguchi
Original run: July 1, 2012 – September 23, 2012