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Tari Tari PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 11 January 2013 00:00
TariTari, on paper, is the story of a group of kids struggling to be taken seriously as a choir by a dismissive teacher, and how they overcome that teacher's attitude problem. But you don't have to scrape the surface very far to find that it's oh so much more than that...

Konatsu Miyamoto is in her senior year and she desperately wants to sing in the upcoming joint recital, but the vice-principal has barred her doing so - during the previous year's recital, Konata had suffered from a rather unfortunate mishap, something that Naoko-sensei had never forgiven her for. Someone who took their music seriously, you see - and Naoko is a very serious person - would never had made such an error. To get back on stage, and her dreams back on track, Konatsu has to take a different approach - by starting a 'rival' choir club of her own. Which means, of course, that she's got to recruit a few suckers volunteers to join her. Enter Wakana Sakai, whose now-dead mother used to be quite the singer / songwriter in her own school days (help in no small part by a certain Naoko...); Sawa Okita, a friend of Konatsu's who's more obsessed with horses than with singing but can't avoid being brought along for the ride; and the two members of the school's struggling badminton club, Taichi and Wien, who 'merge' with Konatsu's choir to reach the critical mass of five members that a club needs to be recognised by the school. And so the Choir and Occasionally Badminton Club is formed.

In many ways, Naoko-sensei has a point: Konatsu is a bit of an airhead, and does lack a little in the drive and determination department - and so, rather than focus relentlessly on things singing-related, the series goes off on frequent little detours - which turn out to be short story arcs for each of the main characters, exploring what makes them tick and what haunts them: Sawa's love for horses and frustrated desire to become a jockey; Wakana's inner demons over her late mother, that have led her to be very wary of getting involved in anything musical; Wien's concerns over the lack of contract from a young friend he made during the time he lived in Vienna; and so on. Underlying the individual arcs is another story, of their school and its uncertain future, that eventually becomes the focus of the final episodes. In some ways, the presentation feels like a visual novel adaptation, with each 'target' getting their own arc - but this is an original work.

The feel of the series is laid back and relaxing, for the most part. There are moments during each arc where there are moments of emotion for the characters involved, a necessary thing to make you care about them and what they're trying to do, but unlike, say, a KEY series, there's no blatant tugging at the heartstrings, no concerted attempt to get you to FEEL. Crises rise, are dealt with, and pass, allowing the series to resume its relaxed equilibrium. It all just flows over you - a little like ARIA, I suppose, just with a little more pace & with PAWorks' trademark beautiful visuals. But it's the relaxed feel that first grabbed me and drew me into the series - after that, I had the urge to allow myself to get to know the characters as their arcs unfolded. And that's where the show's appeal really kicks in, as with two exceptions they're a great cast. The exceptions: Naoko, whose attitude towards her students is brusque, dismissive and usually uncalled-for; and Wien, who always feels out-of-place - although given his 'foreign' origins that's probably deliberate & the point of his character, he never feels right and is always uncomfortable to watch. But knowing that a character is meant to be the way they are doesn't necessarily make them any easier to watch.

Two bads are easily outweighed by the good that the rest of the series relentlessly churns out, though, from hugely fun tales like the gang's part-time job as a super sentai team (yes, really) to the lows like Wakana and Naoko talking about their lost mother and friend. World's most relaxed rollercoaster, if that makes sense, in the way that it delivers a full range of emotions without ever really breaking a sweat. Another impressive outing from PAWorks, and well worth watching. On of the highlights of its season.

Rating - ***