A slice-of-life from acclaimed studio, P.A. Works, this series was one that fell under the radar before the start of the season. The reason? Its similarities to another P.A. Works slice-of-life from a year ago, Hanasaku Iroha. Looking back, Iroha was a series that started pretty well for the most part, but faltered quite a bit before its ending. With a similar art style and somewhat slow beginning, I suppose I can see why many would naturally associate TARI TARI with the series... but that's also why I was left pretty darn disappointed before the season. I mean, P.A. Works has shown a propensity of making good/great series on a consistent basis, being associated with Angel Beats, Another, and True Tears to name a few. Combined with the fact there's no way they would make a show that would be a rehash of a previous one, let alone one they made previously, and it made me go: "Seriously? You're discounting a show that's almost guaranteed to be good, just because of some surface similarities to another show? This is P.A. Works!" Following that, I even labeled it my pick as surprise of the season via Random Curiosity's end of spring podcast.
And the result? Not only has TARI TARI risen to the point where it's definitely the biggest surprise of the season, it's exceeded even my wildest expectations. In fact, it's risen to such a point because no matter what your initial views are, TARI TARI is now widely being considered one of the better series this season has to offer (and the best in my opinion) Why? Because it does slice-of-life right.
For one, there's the fact it is the definition of realistic. We don't have people aiming for the moon. The characters have emotions and reactions that are exactly what people of their age would have. And their development, the ways they go about things to achieve their goal, and the scenarios they face... they're things you can't help but relate to because chances are, you've experienced the same thing at a point in your life. TARI TARI takes such a naturalistic approach to the genre that you'll end up empathizing with each of the characters, feeling elation at each of their successes and brought to tears at their failures. A good example of this impact? The fact that TARI TARI made virtually everyone cry only a few episodes in, including me: the person who has teared up or bawled at only a handful of episodes out of the 4000+ episodes I've watched in my lifetime. Not only that, it earned the distinction of being the only show to cause me to tear up TWICE only a few episodes later. And considering the fact it's barely more than half done, the fact that TARI TARI's been able to do this... to be able to elicit emotions other series spend all their episodes trying to do in half the time... is absolutely amazing.
And what's potentially even more notable regarding this respect is how P.A. Works manages to demonstrate that the naturalistic approach to slice-of-life is still a viable one. In other words, TARI TARI is also important in demonstrating why people shouldn't be too quick to dismiss series that seem to tread down paths many others have traversed. And like I alluded to in my Rinne no Lagrange impressions way back in January, just because something looks cliche, doesn't mean it can't impress. Lagrange and Lagrange Season 2 are good examples of this as well, but that's something I'll save for later.
Moving on, another key aspect that makes this series is how it manages to incorporate so many added layers of complexity, not only via the scenarios and how it plays out, but via spectacular quotes whose meanings go far beyond the context its used in. See, conversations in TARI TARI, are usually more than just characters talking to each other and interacting. They're a subtle commentary on life and I've listed some below. As for the meanings, I'll let you guys decipher it for yourselves. But know this: while the quotes may or may not wow you at the moment, they sure will when you see them in the context given. Also, know that the quotes themselves aren't the only things with subtle meanings in the series, as many of the situations that arise can also be construed as aspects with additional meanings. Lastly, note that for the sake of keeping spoilers to a minimum though I've only referenced a few:
"Remember when you told me that I didn’t have that special something that moves people? I realized I can’t do it alone. But with the help of my friends, I think I’m at a point where I have the potential to move people’s hearts. I believe a teacher’s job is to develop that potential.”
“When I was depressed, I wanted to be left alone. But, it was nice to know someone cared.”
Feeling like watching the series yet? No? Guess I'll keep going on. Next up are the characters and development. As you know, virtually every slice-of-life relies heavily on its characters to drive the show. If they're unlikable or the scenarios for their development too contrived, too simple, or too rushed... the train starts reeling off the tracks really quickly, and what you get is a show equivalent to a train wreck. And if a train wreck is the result of a slice-of-life gone wrong, then TARI TARI is a bullet train running smoothly at over 200 miles per hour. Meaning, this is where TARI TARI really shines, because it does what few shows manage to do with any semblance of a large cast: give a specific character a major focus, while ensuring the rest don't get left behind at the same time. And it just shows the quality of the series in that they're able to accomplish this despite the other characters' shortened screen time. All of this, and I haven't even started on the characters themselves. Yes, they don't quite scream "original", but they're different enough in their goals and the various obstacles they need to overcome that it's more than worth watching the series just for them.
And last but not least, there's the music to discuss as well. What TARI TARI does different here is its usage of choir/choral music, rather than the typical pop/rock-isque tunes you see from other series of similar genres. The result is an exceptionally different feel to the series, as well as a key difference that distinguishes it from being just another run-of-the-mill slice of life. Furthermore, it attests to the skills of the voice actors in the series, as they're able to flawlessly adapt to and sing songs of such drastic stylistic difference compared to their usual ones. What's even more notable about the music portion, is how realistic the training routines are as well. As a former choral student in high school, I can verify that pretty much everything they do in an attempt to get the new members up to speed and to improve their singing... they're all things I've used or seen used at one point or another. And for me, this just adds another layer of enjoyment that few other shows offer.
Ergo, you owe it to yourself to watch this series if you haven't already.The first few episodes start a bit rocky in ways, but the rest of the series so far will make it more than worth it. And well, if you're up for some discussion, feel free to swing by Random Curiosity, where I'm covering TARI TARI on a weekly basis.