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Anime / Tamako Market

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Her name's Tamako. She's in a market. What more do you want?

Tamako Market (たまこまーけっと) is an original anime TV series produced by Kyoto Animation and directed by Naoko Yamada, with Reiko Yoshida serving as series composer and Yukiko Horiguchi serving as character designer and chief animation director; all three women had previously worked together on K-On!.

The story follows a happy-go-lucky girl named Tamako Kitashirakawa and her daily life in a shopping arcade. Tamako herself is a high school student and the daughter of a mochi maker who conducts his business from home. Their mochi business, called Tamaya, is right in front of a western-themed mochi shop called Rice Cake Oh! Zee, which creates a lot of friction between Tamako's father and the Ooji family. Of course, true to the Romeo and Juliet archetype, the son of the owner of Rice Cake Oh! Zee is Mochizou Ooji, a Childhood Friend of Tamako. As expected, Tamako is Mochizou's love interest.

One day Tamako goes to the local florist and finds a strange bird inside a bouquet of flowers. As she soon learns, the bird can talk, calling itself Dela Mochimazzi and claiming that he is on a quest to find a bride for the prince of a small island nation. The bird follows Tamako back home, whether she or her family likes it or not.

Is currently being streamed in the U.S. by Hulu. A novel adaptation has also been published.

A movie which acts as a sequel to the TV series, Tamako Love Story, premiered on April 26, 2014. Just as the title suggests, the story focuses more on love than the original show.

Kyoto Animation has announced a new project to celebrate its' 10th anniversary in 2023. To coincide with the anniversary, the series and movie were screened in Japanese movie theaters for one week in June.

Tamako Market demonstrates examples of the following tropes:

  • Accidental Proposal:
    • Dela colliding with Tamako's face causes her to sneeze violently; and apparently Dela's culture interprets sneezing at someone as a declaration of courtship towards them. Dela assesses the situation accordingly.
    • Happens again in episode 2 when Kanna's allergy to birds makes her sneeze on Dela.
  • Adults Are Useless: The grown-ups in the market act very over-the-top, and are pretty gullible, while all the teenagers are wiser.
  • Ambiguously Brown: The people that Dela works for. They have dark tan skin, their names are Choi and Mecha Mochimazzi,note  they wear outfits whose colorful patterns are not especially emblematic of a particular culture, appear to live on a tropical island, and belong to a monarchy. "Choi" itself is a Chinese/Korean surname, and the food she prepares in episode nine looks Vietnamese. Given all this, "Southeast Asian" may be a good guess, but it's never made clear.
  • Ambiguous Gender Identity: The florist Kaoru is voiced by Daisuke Ono but is referred to with female pronouns by others. Signs point towards her being a trans woman, though some material refers to her as male which makes things confusing (though, that might be misgendering due to Values Dissonance).
  • Arc Words: Everybody loves somebody.
  • Beach Episode: Episode 5 has the characters spending a day at the beach, and focuses on a love triangle formed between Tamako, Mochizou, and Midori..
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: This is Ricecake Oh! Zee (formerly Oojiya)'s theme. Even their item tags were all written in romaji.
  • Ascended Extra: Mochizou in the film is promoted to Deuteragonist, as it focuses on his and Tamako's relationship. In the series proper, he was more of a light case of Advertised Extra, being one of the many supporting characters.
  • Birthmark of Destiny: Tamako has a mole on her neck. To Choi, it's apparently another sign that she's meant to be the prince's bride.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Tamako (brunette) and her friends Midori (blonde) and Kanna (redhead). Early in the series they're joined by the brunette Shiori.
  • Book Ends:
    • Episode 5 starts and ends with a scene when Tamako, Kanna and Midori comes out of Tamaya to go to the pool, and Tamako waves to Mochizou who was boringly sitting at Ricecake Oh!Zee's counter.
    • The series starts and ends with Tamako finding Dela in a bouquet of flowers.
    • Episodes 1 and 12 take place on New Years Eve, and concern everyone trying to remember to give Tamako a birthday present. The first time, they all forget, and the second time, only Mochizou remembers.
  • Butt-Monkey: Dela, who gets the short end of the stick when it comes to humor.
  • Camp Straight: Dela is a complete dandy but loves the women.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Something Midori and Mochizou bond over is the fact that neither can work up the courage to confess their feelings towards Tamako. Mochizou finally does go through with it in the movie, something Midori laments when she finds out because she was never able to work up the nerves to do so.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The Big Damn Movie, love story, has a bit of a more somber tone compared to the series, focusing on the relationship between Tamako and Mochizou. Fittingly enough, Dela has largely been removed from the story here, only making a brief cameo near the end of the movie.
  • Chekhov's Gun: One of the first scenes of the anime has Tamako buying things from the market, and her points card being stamped. While this is a common Japanese practice that people overlooked, the points card became an important plot point in episode 11.
  • Childhood Friend:
    • Not only is Mochizou a childhood friend of Tamako, he is also the son of the owner of Rice Cake Oh! Zee and thus works for the competition. Him being in love with her makes it even more tropalicious. The movie shows Mochizou really helped Tamako cope after her mother's death.
    • Midori is another childhood friend of Tamako, having been friends with her since fourth grade... And she also has a crush on Tamako.
  • Close-Knit Community: The Usagiyama shopping district might as well be a tightly knit extended family.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Kanna has a rather odd thought process, and she'll typically do and say strange things with a completely straight face.
  • Cool Old Guy: Tamako's grandfather is relaxed and patient with his granddaughters.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Everyone in town pays attention to Tamako's conversation with Prince Mecha in episode 11. Kanna's only interested in the support beams in the background.
  • Crash-Into Hello: Dela passes out in a field of flowers, gets bundled into a bouquet and shipped to the florist's, where the bouquet he's in is put on display. When he regains consciousness and finds Tamako in his face, he freaks out and flies right into her.
  • Demoted to Extra: Dela and Choi only have minor cameos near the end of the Big Damn Movie, Tamako Love Story. Dela in fact doesn't even get any lines.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: After Mochizou confesses to Tamako in Tamako Love Story, she's left running home in a state of confusion, seeing the world in a maze of blobs, shapes and colors.
  • Diet Episode: Episode 8 focuses on Dela being put on a diet.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Tamako's seiyuu Aya Suzaki performs both the opening and ending themes.
  • Drowning My Sorrows:
    • Bathhouse owner Choji heads straight for the sake when he hears his daughter Sayuri is getting married in episode 7.
    • Subverted in episode 11. It looks like Mamedai's consoling himself with an Irish coffee after storming out of the community meeting...but then we find out that he had no idea that cafe owner Kunio spiked his joe.
  • Edible Theme Naming: The Kitashirakawas all have names related to mochi:
    • Tamako is named after the shop—the business suffix "-ya" is simply swapped for the feminine name suffix "-ko".
    • Anko is named after the red bean paste filling.
    • When you put the names of their father Mamedai and grandfather Fuku together, you'd get Mame-daifuku, Tamaya's specialty. Lampshaded in episode 10.
  • Emotionless Girl: Shiori initially appears this way, due to her inability to express her feelings. However, she manages to overcome this by becoming friends with Tamako the end of Episode 3.
  • Even the Girls Want Her:
    • Midori, who has received valentines from both genders.
    • Tamako, who is crushed on by Mochizou and Midori.
  • Expressive Hair: Tamako's pigtails rise when she's excited, surprised, or happy.
  • Expy:
    • Anko looks like a younger version of Azusa in the "Listen!" ED. Even the hair decs match. Like Azusa, she also seems to get a tan real fast (albeit not as absurdly fast) despite putting on lots of sunscreen.
    • Tamako with her hair down bears striking resemblance to Chitanda, not to mention having a very similar personality.
    • Shiori looks like two meganekko side characters from K-On!
    • Kana looks strikingly like a cross of Mayaka from Hyouka and Yui from K-ON! with a different hair style.
    • Choi looks like a darker skinned Azusa.
  • Eyelid Pull Taunt: In episode 4, An is forced to help out with the mochi store on Sunday, much to her displeasure. She pulls her eyelid at her dad for it.
  • Forgotten Birthday:
    • Everyone temporarily forgets they were going to Tamako's house for her birthday when Dela chokes on mochi. Tamako says something like that happens every year, because her birthday is New Year's Eve and it's such a hectic day at the market. Apparently Mochizou has a drawer full of presents he has failed to give Tamako, though it's not obvious how much of that is due to forgetting instead of the obvious nervousness.
    • This also applies to Mochizou as his friends have forgotten his birthday again in episode 9. When Tamako gives him a birthday mochi he ends up crying in happiness.
  • Fortune Teller: Choi works as this in her island with the aid of Dela. She also does this in front of the market community in episode 7.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Tamako and her female friends: she is sanguine, Kanna is phlegmatic, Shiori is melancholic and Midori is slightly choleric.
  • The Fundamentalist: Tamako's father when it comes to mochi-making.
  • Garage Band: Tamako's father was in one with the current owner of the music store when he was a teenager. He even wrote a song for his future wife.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Tamako's pigtails fit her simple nature.
  • Gratuitous French: The song in episode 2 (which seems to confirm Midori's secret love for blue-eyed Tamako).
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Midori in Episode 5 when she competes with Mochizou for Tamako's attention.
  • Head Pet: Dela seems most comfortable on Tamako's head. He's spent so much time up there she can tell when he's one glass of water heavier than normal.
  • Hey, You!: Dela addresses Tamako and other young female characters as "young girl", and Mochizou as "young man", with two exceptions: Anko ("Call me An!") and his own beloved Shiori-san.
  • His Name Really Is "Barkeep": Mochizou can be read to mean "mochi maker", though the way it's spelled it could also be read as 'he who has mochi' or 'mochi warehouse' — the "mochi" part is left without kanji and the part that would have meant "maker" is written with the kanji for "posession/ownership."
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Tamako's mother was tone deaf, so the song Tamako's been humming the whole series sounds almost nothing like the actual song. Tamako's version doesn't having any clashing notes or anything like that and still sounds alright (and is the basis for the ED), but man was her mother off.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Anko demands that others refer to her as "An"... while referring to herself as "Anko" in the same sentence. Her father calls her out on this, while the bird's compliance with her request actually causes her to freak out.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Tamako and her mother are infallibly kind girls, both with blue eyes..
  • Interspecies Romance: Dela the bird...thing gains a crush on the human Shiori.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy:
    • Mochizou tells Tamako that he will support her with whatever makes her happy.
    • In the movie, this is Midori's main motivation for giving up on Tamako.
  • Larynx Dissonance: Kaoru, maybe.
  • Left the Background Music On: Kunio the owner of the music cafe on occassion. Special mention to Midori suggesting that Dela should go on a starvation diet. As if on cue, Toccata and Fugue in D Minor plays immediately thereafter.
  • Love Confession: At the very end of the movie Tamako finally reciprocates Mochizou's feelings by confessing to him at the train station using their Tin-Can Telephone. It is heavily implied, if not confirmed that they finally end up together. Some Official Artwork even supports this.
  • Love Revelation Epiphany: A key aspect of the movie Tamako Love Story. Tamako is Oblivious to Love and Mochizou Cannot Spit It Out, and it takes him finally working up the courage to confess before she's able to think for even a moment about how she really feels.
  • Love Triangle: Between Mochizou and Midori towards Tamako, particularly fleshed out in episode 5.
  • Magitek: Or something like it. Dela is some kind of cyborg parakeet with video ports, but a fortune teller can read his wing beats to divine the future.
  • Maybe Ever After: For Tamako and Mochizou, whose romance is left fairly open-ended in the television series. Not much is left to interpretation after the movie.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Midori's name means "green". She wears a green hairpin and green kneesocks and is envious of Mochizou's closeness to Tamako.
    • Dela Mochimazzi. "Mochi mazui" means 'mochi tastes horrible'. Tamako's dad keeps insisting he change it to Mochiunmai, 'mochi tastes awesome'.
    • Mochizou's name like Tamako's, also reflects his family's business
    • Ouji most typically means "prince", though the name is actually spelled 'large road' note .
  • Missing Mom: Hinako Kitashirakawa, Tamako and Anko's mother, died some years back.
  • Motivational Lie: Near the end of the movie Midori tells Tamako that Mochizou was leaving for good to start attending a University in Tokyo, when he was simply just going to take an entance exam. This prompts her to frantically try and catch him before he leaves so that she could finally confess to him. This was even lampshaded by Kanna, who tells Midori she's awful for doing so.
  • Mum Looks Like a Sister: Tamako's mom was most likely this, considering how cute she is in her high school flashback, and Mochizou's mother, Michiko, definitely qualifies, she could pass for her son's older sister.
  • Mundane Fantastic: It is a realistic slice-of-life series wherein a talking bird hangs out with humans.
  • Name Order Confusion: When Tamako introduces herself to Prince Mecha in episode 11, she uses the western order while speaking Japanese. Shiori is a bit surprised.
  • Nice Guy (and Nice Girl): Both Tamako and Mochizou are the most friendly and kind-hearted characters in the series, and are known to get along with each other pretty well. They even help make mochi together despite the fierce business competition between their fathers.
  • Oblivious to Love: Tamako has no idea that two of her close friends are crushing on her.
  • On The Next Episode Of Catchphrase: "I wonder what kind of mochi we'll have next time?"
  • Palm-Fist Tap: In episode 4, Anko has a crush on a boy. Tamako doesn’t quite understand, and when she "figures out" that they are "enemies," she taps her fist on her palm.
  • Perennially Overshadowed Birthday: Tamako's birthday is always overshadowed by New Years' Eve, and leads to people forgetting about her birthday.
  • Polly Wants a Microphone: Dela talks and and is sentient enough to know what he is talking about.
  • Puppy Love: Anko is in the fourth-grade and has a crush on Yuzuki, one of her classmates.
  • Quirky Town: Bunny Mountain Shopping District is a quaint place with all sorts of strange people, like rival mochi chefs, an eccentric girl with a perpetually stoic facial expression, and a record store owner who puts on fitting records at appropriate times. It gets even weirder once a talking bird is added to the mix.
  • Real-Place Background: The Usagiyama shopping street is based on the Masugata Shōtengai in Kyoto. Many other locations from Kyoto are also recognizable, including the school and the Demachiyanagi neighborhood.
  • Red Herring: In episode 4. It appeared that Anko had a crush on a hyperactive classmate, but in the end it turned out it was on the sweet boy he was walking with.
  • Running Gag:
    • The Kitashirakawas getting shocked whenever the surname Mochimazzi is mentioned.
    • Dela getting sneezed on.
    • Mochizou calling Tamako's dad, Dad. Much to the latter's dismay.
  • Scenery Porn: To quote the K-On! page, "What you get when you hire KyoAni to do a high school show taking place anywhere."
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The main plot line of Dela being in Japan to search for a bride for his prince is all for nothing, as it's unsuccessful.
  • Ship Sinking: Despite all the Ship Tease between Midori and Tamako, the makers had Midori give up fairly quickly on Tamako in the movie, so they could focus completely on the blossoming romance between Tamako and Mochizou.
  • Significant Birth Date:
    • Mochizou was born on 10 October, a day known as the "mochi day"— fitting for the child of mochi makers.
    • Tamako was born on December 31st or New Year's Eve, traditionally a very busy day for mochi makers.
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: Tamako's and Mochizou's fathers.
  • Slice of Life: Despite the Mundane Fantastic angle, it's also about the life and times about a bunch of shopkeepers.
  • The Starscream: Kanna makes no secret of her plans to steal the baton club captain seat from Midori.
  • Stalker with a Crush: In episode 5, Midori thinks Mochizou is being this towards Tamako.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: In episode 6, Dela doesn't understand the point of a Jizo statue, and when told that it protects children, he remarks that it could be useful if you threw it at an enemy. When Choi, a native from Dela's island sees the statue, her first thought is, "What is this? A weapon to use against enemies?"
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Tamako looks exactly like her mother, with the exception of her hairstyle and Tamako's eyes being a slightly darker shade of blue.
  • Super Drowning Skills:
    • Even as a high schooler, Tamako cannot swim, and still needs floaties whenever she goes into the water, and even so she could not move far. Downplayed by Kanna; she also needs floaties but she moves in water well.
    • In the movie, Tamako even manages to almost drown in one of the shallowest parts of the Kamo River, which is already extremely shallow overall.
  • Tin-Can Telephone: Tamako and Mochizou use these to communicate from their rooms across the alley between their houses, although as Anko points out, they could easily just raise their voices slightly. And half the time the line isn't even taut enough to conduct the vibrations.
    • In episode 2 Dela sabotages their discussion by standing on the line.
    • Episode 12 reveals one of the ladies in the market made it for the pair after Mamedai gave them hell for earlier conversations.
    • The pair plays an important part during the climax of the movie.
  • Token Mini-Moe: Anko is the youngest character, and is smaller than everyone else.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The market community seems pretty chill with having a talking bird around who comes from an island and can project and record film out of its eyes!
  • Wham Episode:
    • Episode 7 Choi arrives and chews out Dela for neglecting his duties. After a few misunderstandings (mostly the result of Dela trying to shift the blame for his idleness), she comes to befriend Tamako. At the end, she recognizes her as her prince's destined bride.
    • Episode 11: Prince Mecha personally visits Bunny Mountain.
  • Wham Line:
    • Episode 7:
      Choi: That scent...
    • Episode 10: Choi tells Tamako that she's the prince's destined bride.
      Choi: Tamako-sama, you are the prince's bride!]]
    • Episode 12: Prince Mecha denies that Tamako and he are meant to be.
  • Wham Shot: Episode 11 ends with Prince Mecha handing Tamako her lost medal.

Alternative Title(s): Tamako Love Story