Tamako Market Episode 2: A Valentine’s Day Blooming with Love
“Everyone has feelings they can’t put into words. At least, I think so. That’s why they ache inside.” -Kunio Yaobi
Summary: With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, Tamako notices that Usagiyama Market isn’t decorated at all! As all the residents find unique ways to put a little love in the air, it looks like some of our characters might be making some important discoveries about their own feelings (with just a little help from a certain bird.)
Impressions: Tamako Market continues to warm even my cold, black heart with it’s special brand of magical realism this week, suffusing even the most mundane of real world situations with a sense of wonder. In the main storyline of the week, Valentine’s Day is rolling around, and in an effort to get the shopping district looking festive, Tamako suggests that everyone do something special for the holiday to really set the mood. In the B-storyline, Midori seems to come to terms with her own feelings. In both cases, the story goes in completely the opposite direction from what I was expecting, which was a nice surprise.
The shopping district community, spurred on by Tamako and Mochizou inept but in the end effective public speaking skills, decided to all do what they can to make Valentine’s Day a success. That means things like heart-shaped bouquets, heart-shaped cuts of meat, decorations, chocolate, and even special pink bathwater. Mochizou pitches in with his idea to film a commercial, showing off the whole market. Everyone is excited and happy to do something fun. Papa Kitashirakawa is the only one dead set against it, as he is steadfast in his belief that mochi should be one way and one way only. Not even Tamako’s cute heart-shaped mochi can melt his icy heart. I can’t really say I blame the guy: a holiday focused on love and couples isn’t the easiest thing to get into when your wife has passed on. In the end he comes around though, much to his own embarrassment, and ends up making white and pink heart-shaped mochi with chocolate inside. Tamako, once she stops laughing at her prickly father for making something as “cute” as “lovey-dovey mochi,” is overjoyed that her father finally accepted her idea that mochi should have to be just one thing forever until the earth falls into the sun.
The warm feeling that is sent out from all the residents getting together to celebrate such a relatively minor holiday was well done. It gave us a very good idea of just how close all of them must be. While we as the viewer might not be very familiar with who these people are and how they relate to one another, there’s obviously a very deep sense of community there. Each resident relates to one another in a specific way, informed by a history that we’re not privileged to yet. It gives the whole group the feel that they didn’t just start their lives at the beginning of this series, but that it’s always existed and now we’ve been invited to join them. We can see this in how Tamako goes around to each shop everyday to run errands, by the friendly rivalry of the two mochi shops, in the crush that tofu shop owner has on the girl from the bath house. This is a world that has a sense of history, even though it was just created for scratch for this one series. It certainly adds a bit of depth to all the cute that happens during the filming of the commercial.
Tamako and Kanna, who are both wearing rabbit suits for added cuteness (actually it’s probably because the name of the shopping district is Usagiyama), go around showing off all the various Valentine’s Day specials, with Mochizou acting as camera man/director and Midori as an assistant. Anko tags along too, as well as Dera (who is still the best part of the show, by the way.) They meet Midori’s grandfather, who tells them that “Everybody loves somebody” which seems to stir something in Midori, who then leaves suddenly with Dera to get coffee. This is where the B storyline comes in. Throughout the whole episode Midori acts a bit strange, especially around Tamako. She and Dera go to the coffee/record shop that Tamako had visited last episode, which is quickly being established as a the place to go to get some deep philosophical advice, listen to great tunes, and drink coffee (i.e. a place where I would like to go.) Both Dera and Kunio (the owner of the place and my second favorite character so far) make Midori realize that she’s in love too.
At first I though, maybe she has a secret crush on Mochizou, and was trying to keep it from Tamako (I think I would have quit if it had turned into some love-triangle thing) but it actually turns out that Midori is really in love with Tamako. I think this was surprisingly well handled, and I’m glad it wasn’t played for laughs. It was actually very sweet seeing Midori happily skipping down the street and coming to terms with the fact that she might have a crush on her best friend. I even like that Kanna, who might be much more perceptive then she lets on, kind of reassured Midori that anyone is free to love anyone. It’s a very surprising sentiment to hear from the show that I was least expecting it from. Considering that this is a Valentine’s Day episode, I went in expecting the focus to be on Tamako and Mochizou, since’s there seems to be something there, but this went in a very different direction, which I think was for the better. It was not only a refreshing break from your standard Valentine’s Day episode, but it was also so heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time. I’m very curious to see where they take this in future episodes.
That’s not to say that there weren’t some cute Tamako and Mochizou moments. The fact that they were using a cups-on-a-string telephone to talk to each other was downright precious. It’s that kind of thing that (again) speaks to the history that these two have, since that’s really more the type of thing you use as small children. It’s also that kind of little detail that makes me happy while I’m watching this show. Of course, there was a little bit of surrealism thrown in this week too, as at the end of the episode, Dera’s projector powers were shown again, this time when he purposefully used them when the actual projector wouldn’t work in order to show Mochizou’s commercial for the market to everyone. Everyone just took it in a stride though, and were more shocked when after the commercial was finished it switched over to show the Prince. We got a little bit of a glimpse of him last week, and so this week we can really see him a bit better (along with his cute…sister?) That part is still a complete mystery to me: where is the Prince? It seems like it was a recording and not a live feed…so what gives? (I would be willing to bet that he eventually shows up in person to collect his bride thought.)
I’m curious! Whoops, wrong show. Can it be next week already? I want more of this…not-quite-slice-of-life show!
Final Thought: I’m dying over how cute that French insert song was. French Pop music is my #1 weakness. The lyrics even kinda matched what was happening on screen with Midori. I was kinda hoping that it would be a real record, but try as I might I couldn’t find either the singer or an album that matched what was shown. It might still exist, but seeing as I know exactly 0 French, it makes looking for something old and obscure like that very difficult, even with the Internet.