I remember Tari Tari. I remember it fondly. It was a show made by P.A Works that aired in the Summer of 2012 that seemingly flew under many peoples radar due to the popularity of SAO and Kokoro Connect and the such. However, the people who kept their eyes open that faithful season were gifted with a musical treat. With great characters and a down to earth feeling, its a show that I would highly recommend to anyone, no matter your tastes. While it is grounded in music, it truly is a character driven show with a soft spot for comedy that remains fresh. That is my non-spoiler review. Now, I will dive into spoiler territory so you have been warned. What I love about Tari Tari is its “Down to earthness”. Its not over exaggerated, over dramatised and overly forced in any way. It has fresh comedy that doesn’t grow stale, interesting characters that have realistic and genuine problems and a plot that doesn’t rely on romance but is very much present. You could almost say its a slice of life that is….well, a slice of life. While it does have an overarching plot of the school ‘s financial problems, it is still very heavily character driven, and oh my, aren’t these characters good. So good in fact, that they deserve a paragraph each. They deserve that but I’m lazy.
I’m going to start with my favourite, Atsuhiro Maeda or, as he is better known, Wien. Now Wien isn’t only my favourite character in the show, he is one of my favourite characters in all of anime. Seriously, this bastard is the coolest guy you will ever meet. You worried that he is alone? Don’t worry, he’s got his Power Rangers. Sad that his props that he worked so hard on are destroyed? Nah, he just sings it off. Want to help him when he is getting beaten up by a mugger? Relax, he will just sing and his friends will back him up. Like every character in this show, Wien is faced with a crisis, however his “Crisis” could just be a dilemma when compared to other characters in this show. His lost letters to Jan and the move to Japan take up the most of Wien’s troubles. From a neutral stand point, this doesn’t seem like much of a problem as he ends up seeing Jan but its how the show handles Wien that makes this effective. The way he is constructed and presented to the viewer is very well done. He just appears as some cool guy that you wouldn’t mind hanging out and feeding birds with. It was a mixture of his isolation at the start and his light heartedness throughout that made this dilemma work. You’ve grown to care for Wien so if his “crisis” is that he stubbed his toe and has to walk with a limp for half an episode, you would care. The fact that Tari Tari was able to pull this off is commendable but the ride doesn’t end with Wien. Although he may be the conductor, he certainly is not the one piloting this musical train.
Wakana Sakai was probably the character I felt for the most. Unlike Wien, she has a genuine crisis going on in her life that is rather heart breaking. This crisis being the death of her mother and Wakana’s last words said to her. For such a sweet and innocent girl to be seen so guilt ridden really got to me. She promised her mother that she would finish composing a song which would turn out to be the fulcrum of her arc. What I love about Wakana are her outbursts of emotion, whether it being laughing or screaming, smiles or tears, they are all great. While to some, this may seem like her hormones are in a mess but to many, myself included, they are great insights into her character. She is generally a withdrawn girl but I wouldn’t go as far as to say introverted. Her trauma is gnawing at her always so when her emotions are let out, they are always beautiful. A common theme in Tari Tari is that the characters crises don’t tend to get fully resolved. I’m not saying that the writing is lazy and they just didn’t bother to write a conclusion, I’m saying that it is like it is in real life. Not everything gets sorted out like you would want them to. Not every tale has a happy ending and Wakana is no different. She has to cope with the fact that her mother is dead and she can’t change her words. She, however, overcomes her obstacles by sticking to the two things her mother left behind. Her keychain and her song.
In Sawa’s arc, the same emotions I felt for Wakana were evoked once again, not as strongly but nevertheless evoked. Her physique and rather large bust denies her life long dream of becoming a jockey. As random as that sounds, it still has the required effect of being a good arc. Life is unfair and her crisis sums up that statement perfectly. Now, I could go on and say “Oh, My boobs are too big that I can’t ride a horse professionally. Woe is me!” but I won’t because I like this show. Seriously though, from an objective standpoint, this does seem to be a rather minor problem and I would agree with it. However, Tari Tari works its musical magic and proves that there is more that meets the eye. Sawa goes through many family struggles that, in itself, take the primary focus of her story. This “More to what meets the eye” scenario is very pleasing as I love to see this done in anime. Her arc, just like Wakana, doesn’t conclude entirely until the end of the show. It repeats the message of “Life isn’t fair” and sacrifices need to be made. Her sacrifice of moving country to chase her dream leaves Taichi heart-broken. But in the end, following ones dream is the utmost desire for people in life. Sawa is no different.
Konatsu and Taichi are the two members of the cast who I would class under the “dilemmas”. The problems cannot really be compared along side Sawa and Wakana as they lack in any real consequence. If they fail in their goals then it will only really effect their lives in the short term rather then the long run. Konatsu failing in starting a music club could put a stunt in her confidence but she can still study music in college like she did at the finale of the show. Taichi failing in badminton would effect him but not as much as Sawa would be effected if she failed in horse riding. While their stories are entertaining and crucial to the plot, they do not leave the lasting effect that the others had.
I like to mention the seiyuu cast for just a second. I watched this show when I wasn’t really aware of many seiyuus so I went into this show without knowing of Saori Hasami, Seto Asami and Ayahi Takagaki. If I knew these before hand, I believe I would’ve loved this show even more then I would have. Mainly because hearing these girls sing out of nowhere in a show would make my ears go into a trance. Tari Tari gave a debut to one of my favourite seiyuus, Hanae Natsuki. His performance of Wien was amazing. He perfected the role and then some. Seriously though, I would recommend keeping an eye on him. He has a decent amount of roles this season (Fall 2013) so check him out.
The soundtrack is what you would expect from an anime about music. Pretty damn good. It has a lovely mix of calm, relaxing music to sombre, emotional music. There are songs that won’t really catch your ear but they will still sound nice when doing other activities. I wouldn’t regard it as a amazing soundtrack that would rival some major OSTs but still good nonetheless.
The studio behind this is P.A Works who are known for doing amazing work on animation and art. Tari Tari is no exception. From the backgrounds to the character designs, they stand out from the heaping piles of mediocrity. Maybe its just my bias coming into play but holy damn the art in this show is great. Many screens from this show can be used as wallpapers they are that good. I especially love Wakana’s character design. She real does stand out in this show and keeps my attention really well. In other words, I think she is cute. So what.
Tari Tari is one of my favourite shows ever made. Its simplicity in its craft is what makes it so special to me. The lessons learnt from the show are lessons I put into practice even to this day. From the loving charm of Wien to the heart breaking tale of Wakana, its a show that left a lasting impression on me. Its a show that I recommend to anyone and everyone because there is much to be loved from this show that will please the hearts of many. While the show is over and done with, this radiant melody will live on in my fond memories and heart.