「あの子のバトンに花が咲く」 (Ano ko no Baton ni Hanagasaku)
“A Flower Blooms on Her Baton”
I’ve got to admit, this episode didn’t strike me. All the usual Tamako Market flair was there, but it was tacked onto a weak-ass frame. No matter how well they executed it, Midori’s crisis was self-inflicted and silly. It lacked any sort of punch, so while I found myself smiling and and even laughing at times, it was nothing like I did during past offerings. C-, could do better.
Midori the Perfectionist
I’ve been told that Midori is cool and dependable before, the key word there being told. I’m talking about back in Episode 2, when we were informed that she was this cool beauty instead of naturally showing us this in the course of the story. Now here we are again, and suddenly Midori is this inescapable perfectionist who is unable to ask for help. What’s going on, KyoAni? Generally they’re able to characterize people smoothly, but with Midori (and Midori alone) they’ve consistently dropped the ball through this series.
But I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. Midori has certainly shown herself to be dependable before, so you can say she just wanted to maintain her image far more than I expected. If so, they still get mediocre marks because Midori’s whole conflict was silly, self-inflicted, and easily resolved. This smacks of those romcoms where everything would have been ironed out within ten minutes if everyone just sat down and talked instead of jumping to the worst possible conclusion. Why didn’t you just ask for help, Midori!? And when an entire episode is based on a character not doing one simple thing, it’s frustrating for the audience.
As far as execution goes, Midori was spewing hints all over the place. I don’t fault Tamako and the others for not picking up on them (I think most of us would have done the same with a dependable friend who we assumed would ask for help if they needed it…which is the problem once again, but I should move on), but KyoAni bashing us over the head with it lacked their trademark subtlety. Over all, their execution was only meh. Even the crying lacked punch! Okay, so it shouldn’t have been a Clannad-level heart breaker, but for the Kings of Crying to show us a scene that was so weirdly awkward was just…okay. It was okay. I thought KyoAni was better than that. This was like seeing Apple release a product with average interface design. Which to be fair is starting to happen as well, but I digress.
All Hail Princess Tamako!
With the Midori plot line that dominated the episode lacking punch, the only real reason for this episode to exist was to finally drop the whole “yo, I think you’re our prince’s bride” bomb on Tamako. And seeing as that took a total of two minutes of screen time to accomplish, that’s a pretty damning indictment of this episode in and of itself. But I should really stop harping on that.
I guess the real question is, how are they going to handle this final bit? While I’ve enjoyed all the slice of life hijinks, this has been the question that’s been burning in the back of my mind for a while now. (Well, simmering quietly…not much about Tamako Market burns, other’n Mochizou’s love for Tamako.) Taking Tamako out of the market seems horribly cruel, so I’m still hoping for a Choi End once they realize that scents and moles are piss-pour ways to pick a wife. I just hope that these last two episodes are good ones. For better or worse, this will be what people remember the show for; subtle slice of life storytelling might make for a good time, but it doesn’t imprint deeply on one’s memory. For that, we need to go out with a bit more.
First of all, a quick side bar – it looks like I ended up ripping into this episode pretty hard, counter to my stated philosophy on such things. Thus, I feel compelled to note that it wasn’t bad, per say. This was a problem of expectations – I expect better of a KyoAni slice of life, especially after a superb previous episode, so when they misstep they’re going to get pilloried for it. That’s a good problem to have – it’s better to occasionally disappoint than be shackled with the soft bigotry of low expectations, to (mis)use a phrase I’m not particularly fond of. Put another way, I only bash them because I care.
As for what’s next…well, I already took care of most of that in the last section, so all I can say is that it doesn’t look like Tamako is leaving quite yet. You still have a chance, Mochizou, Midori! Now get on it before she disappears forever, you lazy kids.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – The normal #tamakomarket goodness shackled onto a week shell. You know you’re being silly, right Midori? Eesh…
- I actually kind of want to see Mochizou’s kung fu movie. So Kakkoii!
- And a random sempai appears. What happened to foreshadowing again?
- There was a lot of focus on the girl’s legs (or really, their socks). I’m not sure what this says, other than someone on the production team must have a huge leg fetish. Which I’m okay with.
- Douzo, have a starfish! Erh, wait.
- “If you think music is only made of sounds, you’re mistaken. Silence is also part of music.” Master is still the best character in every scene he’s in, even when he doesn’t know what he’s saying. Embrace the silence in your lives, my friends…
- For some reason I like how Tamako’s twintail laid on top of Kanna’s head. It’s the small, moe details that count.
- Welcome to YouTube fame, Dera!
- Dera-chan is still the most sparkling thing in this show, though Midori did try. Bishie sparkles, ENGAGE!!