Tamako Market

Tamako Market

Tamako Market anime series cover art
Tamako Market

Series Overview

Tamako Market (たまこまーけっと) is an original slice of life, comedy anime by Kyoto Animation. One of the first things you’ll likely notice about this series is that it looks almost exactly like another Kyoto Animation series, K-On! The reason for that is that not only are they made by the same studio, but Yukiko Horiguchi designed the characters for both series.

K-On! has been on my list of anime to watch for a long time (and I’ll get around to it one day). But the fact that I had never seen it or Tamako Market until now apparently caused some confusion. Unbeknownst to me, I had actually seen many pictures from Tamako Market in the past and mistakenly assumed they were from K-On!

But, now that I know these two series look the same, it will be interesting to see if there were any references to K-On! in this series when I finally get around to watching that one. I feel like there had to have been at least one considering how close the styles of the two series are.

Anyway, this review is about Tamako Market, so let’s get back on track. The series is about a girl named Tamako who lives in the Bunny Mountain Shopping District. It follows her daily life and showcases all the things Tamako loves about where she lives — especially her family’s mochi shop.

While the series may seem simple on the surface, I think it has a lot of depth that’s expressed through its characters. What little plot there is never becomes complex and the series doesn’t really tackle difficult themes. But the characters grow and we learn more about them in such a natural way that the fact that “nothing happens” doesn’t matter.

Tamako and Dera

Tamako Kitashirakawa is the titular protagonist of the series. She’s an ordinary girl who lives with her father, grandfather, and sister in their mochi shop within the shopping district. She loves everything about mochi, believes the shopping district is the greatest place on Earth, and is a member of the baton club at school.

Outside of that description, Tamako doesn’t really have much going on. While I’ve seen many people hold this against her, I think it’s actually what makes her such a good character. She’s simple, and because of that, she’s relatable.

However, towards the end of the series, her character does get a bit more development. And I don’t mean that she develops as a character, but rather that we get to see aspects of her character that she hadn’t previously shown. I’ll discuss this more in the next section.

Tamako and Dera from the anime series Tamako Market
Tamako and Dera

The other main character I want to mention is Dera, a talking bird from an island in the South Pacific. Dera is the childhood friend of the prince of his country and is also used by the prince’s assistant to divine fortunes. As such, Dera views himself as a noble being that has graced the shopping district with his presence.

Dera’s self-absorbed nature can be a little annoying at the start of the series. But, I’d argue that he’s the character who develops the most throughout the course of the anime and ends up as a much better character than he was at the start. The year he spent with Tamako and the other people of the shopping district changed who Dera was for the better.

Sure, even at the end he puts on airs and acts like he only cares about himself. But in reality, he cares much more for those he has come to consider his friends.

Tamako Loves the Shopping District

In order to discuss Tamako’s development, I need to spoil the final few episodes of the series. Since the beginning, Dera made it clear that his goal is to find a bride for the prince of his homeland. And since Tamako is the protagonist, it’s pretty obvious that she’s going to be the one.

However, when Dera does finally select Tamako, and when the citizens of the shopping district and Tamako’s friends find out, Tamako shows a different side of herself that we hadn’t seen before. Everyone assumes that Tamako will become the prince’s bride and they continuously tell her that they’ll stand by her decision.

The only problem is that none of them are really taking Tamako’s feelings into consideration. Tamako doesn’t want to become the princess of some far-off land. All she wants to do is continue to make mochi in her family’s shop and live in the shopping district she calls home.

Anko Kitashirakawa from the anime series Tamako Market
Anko Kitashirakawa

Tamako’s love of the shopping district had always been apparent throughout the series. But it wasn’t until this moment that we really saw how much the district itself means to her. This isn’t just the place where she grew up. This is the place where she wants to live for the rest of her life.

The part that really made me view Tamako as a character with depth, however, came in the final episode when she returned to the market to find that all of the shops were closed. When she sees the district like this, she begins to panic, and we aren’t entirely sure why.

At first, I thought she was worried that the district inhabitants were planning a marriage for her that she never agreed to. Then I thought maybe she just didn’t want to see her beloved district closed. But in reality, it was because the shops had only closed once before in her lifetime.

That one time was when her mother died.

We don’t know how Tamako’s mother died, but I think it’s fair to assume that it wasn’t expected. If she had been sick for a while, it wouldn’t have been as much of a shock. But since Tamako remembers returning home to find all the shops closed and that her mother had died, it must have been sudden.

It didn’t last very long, but I found this scene of Tamako rushing through the market to make sure her family was okay to be one of the best of the series. It emphasized what matters most to her.

Conclusion

I read a couple of other reviews of this series, which isn’t something I normally do, and saw that most of them gave it a 5 or 6 out of 10. I think Tamako Market is a solid 8/10 though. It seemed to me that those other reviewers didn’t really get the point of the series.

They all wrote a lot about how this is just a moe show that doesn’t have much going on aside from looking cute. But I think that couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, it looks cute and it is cute, but it has so much more going on beneath the surface. It’s definitely a series I would watch again.

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