Tari Tari: An Anime About High School

I realized I never really wrote a post on Tari Tari, one of the anime I watched for the summer season. It’s been a few weeks since it ended, which may be half a century in aniblogsphere time–but let’s not sweat the details!

Tari Tari is about five high school students and the singing club they put together. While watching it I thought it was a fun, cute show, though looking back at it now it’s kind of easy to see there really aren’t many good points to talk about. It’s well-animated, the actual singing is quite good, and Wien is one of the characters. Other than that… Yeah, Tari Tari kind of had a bunch of plot points thrown together, and only sort of addressed each of the subplots it kept randomly bringing up.

Looking back, there were really only two characters the show seemed to try to develop through any kind of back-story–namely Sawa dealing with the possibility of not getting into horseback riding as a career after high school, and Wakana overcoming her childhood feelings of guilt from her mother’s death. The story with Wakana carried some emotion to it, had a clear resolution to it, and actually involved the character changing in some way, so I felt that was probably the most interesting segment of the series. Konatsu meanwhile is mostly present just for the sake of the club existing, and Taichi seemed there just to be continually berated by everyone.

But at least there’s Wien, which I suppose is probably the main reason I kept watching this series. Granted, the whole presentation of him as the goofy, clueless foreigner (Japanese, but grew up in Austria) was over-the-top–but this whole series is really camp to begin with, so it doesn’t feel so out-of-place. I probably would have liked the series more though if something more was done with him.

So there’s five characters in Tari Tari’s cast, and admittedly none of them are particularly ground-breaking in terms of character development or entertainment value. And for that reason I feel that rather than being a show about Konatsu and Co, Tari Tari ended up being more a show about high school. High school represents the transition point from childhood to adulthood, and is often considered a period of time for special memories to be made. Many adults hold a level of nostalgia for their high school years, a time when they perhaps had more confidence in themselves and their futures. At the same time though, high school is a time when many new challenges arise, and there’s a sort of expectation for students to tackle them in a mature manner, despite the fact they’re still only in their teens.

Looking at the synopsis for the series provided by Sentai Filmworks (which licensed the show for English release), the first paragraph seems to go along with this idea that Tari Tari is about what life in high school is all about at a thematic level:

The last year of high school is always a time of both looking forward and looking back. Before you lives the future, alternately bright and scary. Behind you lie memories, both happy and sad. And somehow, in the course of one year, you have to reconcile those two and decide where your life is going to go.

Is Tari Tari a coming of age story? It could be considered that. Even once the characters have graduated though, it still feels clear there’s much for each of them to learn–people don’t suddenly change in any significant way once they’ve finished high school. And in my experience at least, it turns out many (perhaps most?) adults often lack that level of maturity that they seemed to have always claimed to hold. Regardless, decisions must be made, directions must be taken in life, and society must go on the same general way it has your whole life. What will become of Konatsu and her four singing club pals? Perhaps they’ll achieve all their high school dreams and live just the way they hoped to.

Or perhaps not, for good and for ill? Or perhaps they will achieve their goals, but the paths they’ll take won’t be nearly as straightforward as they had planned on. Whatever the case may be, people can at least make the most of their lives right now, and I think that was something Tari Tari managed to get across. The singing club wasn’t actually something pertinent for most of the characters in this show, but was simply something they all did for fun. Nothing wrong with that, right?

I recall a number of people calling Tari Tari boring because the characters lived such mundane lives. I can see what they mean, but I personally found them to be living rather vibrantly. They were being productive, positive, and energetic. I found their sentiment of wanting to actually achieve something significant in their last year of high school rather enviable, ultimately. It’s only been about a half-dozen years since I finished high school, but I do already feel some degree of nostalgia for those years–I actually liked my time in high school, even if I didn’t really do anything remotely noteworthy. I did have goals for my future at least though, and perhaps this sort of hopeful sentiment is something that resonated with me when watching Tari Tari? It’s all rather simplistic, but it’s something I think is worth reflecting over every now and again.

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