「一夜を共に過ごしたぜ」 (Ichiya o Tomoni Sugoshita ze)
“We Spent the Night Together”
Did Tamako Market just turn into a romcom? The subtext around Midori, Tamako, and Mochizou gets louder as Midori and Mochizou go head-to-head in a thinly veiled competition for Tamako’s affection. Come on you two, you’re not fooling anybody!
Mochizou vs Midori
I knew this was going to be a good one when I saw Midori cockblocking Mochizou from going to the pool under the pretense of modesty (“We’re going to be wearing swimsuits” my ass!). Her little spurts of jealousy when his name came up, his protestations when someone called him out on his feelings…puppy love was practically dripping from every line of dialogue, and I loved it! The crowning moment of rabu-funny had to come when Dera waltzed into Mochizou’s room and pulled all his most closely guarded feelings right out of him. Only Mochizou could get made fun of by Dera-chan! You really are easy to read, shounen.
Good Guy Dera did some work pushing the action forward, though. Perhaps this is a random aside (you’ve been warned), but I enjoyed the construction of the scene where Mochizou reads Dera his letter and Midori overhears it. In a standard romcom, the Mochizou character would still have been overheard, but he probably would have done it because he was talking to himself. It would have been a silly but forgivable snafu, a small price to pay to move the story forward. But here, KyoAni doesn’t do that. They don’t let little, unintuitive, “convenient” events slip by when they can justify them (such as Mochizou talking to his wingman Dera). They did the same thing with chu2koi, and I applaud it.
But Dera was not done. Here’s the big question – does Mochizou suspect Midori’s true feelings? Dera spoke about their similar “scents”, and Mochizou immediately backed off, excusing himself from an invitation from Tamako because he had “something [he] needs to do”. KyoAni’s storytelling is so subtle that I find myself honestly unsure as to what’s going on in the character’s minds – and I love that, by the way.
I’m not sure whether Mochizou realizes, but things fall into place better if he does. If he doesn’t, it doesn’t make sense why he would tell Midori he’s not going to confess to Tamako, other than his usual chickenshit and tsundere behavior. But if he does? Then it sounds like he’s taking the easy way out by “letting Midori have Tamako” (as if that’s your choice, you egotistical young’un!).
And what about Midori herself? She suddenly tells Mochizou to tell Tamako whatever he needs to say. That, I think, is more guilt than anything, and an acknowledgement that if she’s not going to take that step, she doesn’t have a right to stand in his way. Mind you, it could be that Tamako’s declaration of love might be the reason, and that she’s now so sure she’s captured Tamako’s affection that she can afford to let Mochizou get his feelings off his chest…but I don’t believe that for a minute. As she said it, I don’t think Tamako’s love for Midori is the type Midori holds for her. It’s still a possibility, but I don’t think Tamako has considered it any more than she has a relationship with Mochizou. No, fear and guilt make more sense, but I think they both now know what the score is, and that more than anything else has changed the playing field.
Swimsuits without Fanservice
I’m about to blow some of your minds – I wholeheartedly approve of this being a pool/beach episode that had practically no fanservice. Counter to some people’s perception of me as an unrepentant pervert, I’m actually a huge feminist. (Though can’t I be both?) Fanservice is fine when it fits the story, but should it be in everything? No! Likewise, while I love my fanservice full of bouncing boobs and delicious thighs, what’s wrong with giving the ladies a few male characters who take off their shirts to expose flawless abs? Equality, says I!
But Tamako Market took a different route and just cut out the fanservice altogether. No surprise there – with an almost all female staff and a cast full of awkward (and realistically proportioned) teenagers, I would have been surprised had this turned into a boob-fest (though a female staff does not preclude this – Sekirei was written by a female manga-ka, after all). The characters end up being treated a lot more respectfully, and titillation doesn’t get in the way of the true purpose of this episode, which is to get our romance on. Roundly approved.
Comedy – More Than Just Dera
Once again, Dera did the heavy lifting as far as the comedy. I already mentioned him outing Mochizou’s feelings and then making fun of him, but there was more. Dera-ojouchan and Dera-Mochizou cracked me up, as did him almost passing out from carsickness after being stuffed in that bag. Then there was him getting chased all over the island and slamming into a window while wingmanning for Mochizou…that tori just can’t catch a break!
But it wasn’t all Dera-chan this time. Tamako also did some work in the comedy realm, mostly by being terribad at swimming. Okay, I’ll admit, Tamako was part cute, part funny, and a whole lot of dense, but it all ended with me having a huge smile on my face, so whatever. The weird thing about Tamako is, for one of the main characters of this whole shindig, she rarely seems to have much involvement in the actual plot, such that it is. Oh, sometimes she’s the focal point of it (as was the case this episode), but she doesn’t actually do anything a large percentage of the time. I wonder…erh, I was supposed to be talking about comedy, wasn’t I? Uhh, uhh…yuri hand-holding! More on that other thought later.
Looking Ahead – What Is This Show?
So is Tamako Market a romcom now? Not quite. Like last year’s Acchi Kocchi, it remains a slice of life with romance in. Why? Because no matter how much seemed to have happen this episode, in a very real sense, nothing much really did. More than being about “normal everyday events”, slice of life stories are typified by an extreme focus on the journey, almost to the exclusion of the destination. Once again, changes happened within the minds of select characters (this time, Midori and Mochizou), but in every outward sense the status quo still rules. Will we get a resolution by the time this series ends? Perhaps, but it’ll come slowly, gradually. Though we may get a bit of a leap forward next week. Only maybe, though.
I’ll end with Dera-chan’s words once again, for they encapsulate my own hopes for this series better than I could say:
Fireworks of love, and fireworks of the heart. A midsummer night’s dream, and feelings bursting into colour. May they not burst and fade like a fleeting dream.
Should I be worried that I think like Dera-chan? No matter. May this not be the last we see of Midori and Mochizou’s feelings. I don’t think it will be though, not for a minute.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Mochizou & Midori go head-to-head for Tamako’s affections, in that awkward way that only teenagers can #tamakomarket
- I love how even Mochizou realizes that he’s a useless tsundere. Now fix it, you baka!
- Oh man, plotting Dera is the best. I would pay good money to see a buddy cop movie where Mochizou is the serious newbie to Dera’s outrageous but strangely effective veteran. Or maybe a show where cupid-Dera goes around helping couples get together, while Mochizou runs around fixing everything he screws up. There’s so much potential in these two! Get on it, KyoAni. I’ll be expecting my royalty check in the mail.
- Tama-chan: “Midori-chan? Midori-chan wa… daisuke da yo!” YURI FOR THE YURI GOD! SHIPPING FOR THE SHIPPING THRONE! *nosebleed*