I first started watching Tamayura right after I finished Aria the Origination in May 2015. I’d heard about Tamayura before because the third season – More Aggressive – aired in Summer 2013, shortly after I had started watching anime. I hadn’t paid it much attention, though, at least until now, when I had fallen in love with Junichi Satou as a director. I ended up watching the original OVA series and the two TV series in the span of a few days, that’s how much I liked it. However, because there was still a 4-part movie series being made, I really only finished the entire story in late 2016. At that point my feelings regarding the show as a whole had cooled a bit, and so my experience with the movies wasn’t as fantastic as with the OVA and TV series, but the movies were still really good.
To explain why I love the series so much, and why the movies didn’t quite live up to their predecessors, I have to start at the beginning. Like Aria, Tamayura sets itself up to be a story about friendship and self-discovery from the very beginning, but unlike Aria it also immediately introduces themes surrounding family life and growing up in a non-ideal world (that is to say a real-like world). The main character of Tamayura, Fuu (also known as Potte), starts the story off by deciding that she wants to move back to a small seaside town where she, for a while, lived with her father, who has now unfortunately passed away. She, along with her mother and brother, move because they want to make “the time that stopped when the father died” move again. Long story short, time starts moving again, but the journey there is not all rainbows and sunshine.
Because if it was, how would you be able to write 32+ episodes of almost pure character development? Yes, this show doesn’t focus much on telling a linear story. Instead, it tells a bunch of short character stories, some more isolated and some less, which kind of build “the story” from the bottom up. And interestingly, many of these stories are told several times. For instance, the story of Potte returning to the seaside town and being welcomed back by her friend is told at least 3 times (if I recall correctly). At first this can be confusing, I myself was annoyed by the repetition, but in retrospect it actually works really well to underline the importance that moment holds for Potte. Because it really does. The expression “Welcome back” is meaningful because it is a reminder that the show is about finding your own place in the world and that Potte is proactive about searching for a future she can call her own.
Which brings us back to the 4 movies that served as the finale to the series. While the TV series are mostly concerned with short stories, anecdotes and musings on what it means to grow up and build a future for yourself, the movies are about the characters actually going through the process of graduating high school and finding out what they want to do with their lives. I’m not saying I think Tamayura got worse when it suddenly decided to go for a longer and more cohesive story, but I do have to admit that I couldn’t enjoy the movies as much as I enjoyed the series, probably because they reminded me too much of the fact that I, too, have to figure out what I want to do with my life, and it’s a scary thought.
In any case, the movies are a great ending to the story, even though I couldn’t enjoy them to the fullest. Tamayura is a fantastic journey through adolescence, and it touches on some topics and emotions that I’m guessing almost everyone can relate to. It deals with death and the emptiness that can consume a person when they’re fresh out of high school but have no idea what to do with their life. It deals with expectations from teachers as well as parents, and with how looking up to another person can be both inspiring and tormenting. It deals with the happy times when you can just enjoy yourself alone or with friends despite life being otherwise difficult, and with the times of despair when you feel like everything’s going wrong. It’s one of my favourite shows, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to pretty much everyone.