Going into Tamako Love Story, I was under the impression that it would be radically different from its parent story. While Tamako Market was more geared towards the togetherness of a close-knit community and comedic everyday doings of teenagers and an egotistical bird, Love Story is more of an introspective piece on dealing with love at a young age. Of course, sixteen isn’t really young, but when you’re twenty-three, any age below eighteen is young. While my expectations with the mood change were met, the execution of its conflict left a lot to be desired.
Love Story takes place after the events of the parent story, presumably a year or so into the future. Tamako and friends are all doing exactly what they’ve always been doing. However, the often-ignored male side character turned male lead, Mochizou, who is hiding feelings from Tamako, has decided to move out of town to study abroad in Tokyo. Of course, he’s struggling with the idea of how to tell Tamako, so he decides he needs to confess his feelings for her before he leaves. The consequences of this confession, and the build-up to it, is the bulk of this eighty-minute film’s run time.
An issue I had with Tamako Market is that I didn’t feel the central character, Tamako, was likable enough to carry the show. In Love Story, she is one of two central figures within the plot, carrying the weight with Mochizou. While Tamako is still relatively bland as a character, Mochizou feels more relatable and more realistic as a person. While he doesn’t have any particularly good characteristics, he seems nice enough, which is all that most male anime characters need, apparently. He serves well as an unenthusiastic, but optimistic male lead in love. Is that enough to carry the movie? No. But does it make the mood of the show more appropriate? Absolutely.
I think what makes this film so charming to so many people is the post-confession antics by one Tamako. If Tamako has one thing going for her, it’s that her innocence can be adorable. Seeing her cope with a blind-sided confession like a kitten exploring a home has enough staying power to allow emotional relatability. Admittedly, her exaggeration to it is almost child-like, but her personality suits her unrealistically childish mindset, so it makes sense from her character. Mochizou simply mopes while Tamako skitters and buries her red face from anyone who asks about it.
But, and there’s always a but, I found the content of this movie incredibly lacking. Aside from Mochizou’s decision to study in Tokyo, his confession, and the lead-up to the climax, nothing really happens in this movie. A lot of it is simply delaying of events and rummaging through the inner conflicts the lead couple face due to the confession. It really seems like this movie is comprised of half nothing, half emotional turmoil. The characters don’t really act too different from the parent series, aside from Tamako, and there isn’t any sort of focus outside of the lead couple’s relationship. Slight indication is given to relieving your feelings through other people’s care and comfort, but otherwise none of the side characters serve much of a point.
The reason I decided to make this entry quick is because I can’t really find the words to describe something that leaves as little impact as Tamako Love Story. There’s simply nothing to it. The only parts I felt truly immersed in were the confession itself and the final scene, and they’re supposed to be the most emotionally-charged of all scenes. They work, but everything between them feels like emotional purgatory, full of occasionally sweet, occasionally thoughtful, and primarily dull moments that blend together into an amnesiac mirage of moving stills with pretty faces. I’d say it’s better than the parent story based on focus and character relatability, but entertainment value takes a strong hit. At least the art’s still pretty good.
The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.