Short-form anime just keep getting better.

People often say it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for. That’s certainly the case with Tabi Machi Late Show, which came from nowhere and proved to be an ambitious little show that deserves more attention than it has received. I may be a bit of a hypocrite in saying that, because I never bothered to check it out as it was airing; I only watched it after hearing good things and reading up online to see that this exceeded most people’s expectations. That confused me at first, but as I began to watch it I realised just how good this show was – it’s not perfect by any means, but as far as short anime go, this is one of the most purposeful in the past few years.

For those who aren’t aware, Tabi Machi Late Show is part of the ‘Ultra Super Anime Time’ time slot, which began last summer. This 30 minute slot typically allows for 3 short form anime at 7 minutes per episode, but this season it’s a little different. Both Sekkou Boys and Oshiete! Galko-chan are a full-cour in length, whereas Tabi Machi Late Show is the first of three 4 episode shorts (the others two being the magical shounen ai, Kono Danshi, Mahou ga Oshigoto Desu, and a retelling of Shinkai Makoto’s award-winning short, Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko: Everything Flows). While some people don’t bother with short-form anime at all, this season is proving that they can be just as good as the full-length series (or even better). I would go as far as to say that this season has the best selection of short anime we’ve ever seen, and Tabi Machi Late Show is at the cream of the crop.

So what’s it about? Well, the tagline is “goodbyes and journeys”, but I would also called it the stories of “nostalgia and melancholy”. Each episode focuses on different characters, tackling issues and drama in a way that many short anime wouldn’t dream of doing. We’ve got the story of an aspiring chef, of high school classmates who could have been friends but never were, of the deceased returning to the world of the living, and of teachers looking back on the many faces that have come and gone. While the foundations for these stories are very simple, there’s a sense of regret and longing in the way they’re told that almost makes them poetic.

While the first episode was the most simple of the four, the other three all stood out in different ways. Seeing two girls who could have been friends scream and lash out at one another was something we don’t witness that often; made even better by their older selves looking back and thinking of what their friendship could have been. The festival episode is easily the best, and the reason why I watched this in the first place. The less I say about it, the better – but I can confirm that it’s as good as everyone said it was. But I also have a soft spot for the final story, revolving around a retiring teacher who looks back at the 37 years she’s been teaching, how she’s remained the same while the children have gone on to live their lives. It’s both touching and sad in a way we don’t typically see. However, if I were to bring up one negative, it would be the obvious lack of animation, as every episode is basically a coloured storyboard. The art is very simple and occasionally wonky, and the characters are practically static throughout. It may be jarring at first, but stick with it. With only four episode – each seven minutes long – I’d recommend everyone give this a shot as it could be the best short anime airing this season.

10 Comments

  1. More people need to know about tabi machi, thanks Samu for spreading the word about this wonderful anime; episode 3 was great and so was the 2nd and 4th.

    And as you said the animation is a low point but the stories compensate a little 😛

    Mako
  2. Oh the feels!!!!!!

    Thanks so much Samu for alerting us to this anime. I feel like I’m reading pages of a story book with the animation style, rather than an anime. It took a little while to get used to at first but by the end of ep 1 I was enjoying it 🙂

    xClueless
  3. My goodness by episode 4 I’m crying… :'( When people say a picture speaks a thousand words, this is what it means! How can 7 minutes convey so much??? Beautiful stories…

    xClueless

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