Tis' the Season for Love, Delicious Mochi, and Mascot Kigurumi

February. It is the last month of winter, and the second month of the year. Most importantly in Japan, it is the month of celebration for a certain amorous and chocolatey special occasion.

"You two really gotta take it easy and calm down."

After the regularly scheduled meeting of the Usagiyama Shopping District Association, it has been unanimously agreed upon that all shops will be celebrating Valentines with their own thematically correct events and promos. This is all in part thanks to Tamako, who convincingly put forward the suggestion to the members.

"I was just thinking that we should at least do something this coming Valentine's."

While the rest of the shopowners were on board with the idea, there was but one association member who was not in a festive mood to agree.

"Nope. Sorry, but this event's got nothing to do with our shop."

That was Tamako's very own father, the owner of the Kitashirakawa family mochi shop. His stated reason: mochi and Valentine's just don't mix. The more likely correlation: his father was a widower for a very long time, and thus didn't feel the need to specifically uphold the occasion with gimmicky promotions.

rabbit kigurumi posing for a picture

"Usa, usa, pyon, pyon."

Naturally, the stubborn Tamako simply went ahead to promote the Usagiyama Shopping District through Valentine's anyway. Her main strategy? Why none other than to don the tried and tested "traditional" Usagiyama mascot kigurumi!

rabbit kigurumi walking in front of the camera
rabbit kigurumi receiving a food as reward
rabbit kigurumi saying goodbye

The main theme is Valentine's, however, and not Easter, even though its a rabbit kigurumi (Usagiyama means "rabbit mountain"). So hearts and chocolates abound while promoting the Usagiyama Shopping District.

"Anko, could you please take over for me a bit? Sorry about this."

Midori, meanwhile, is getting deep into her own thoughts about the occasion. No spoilers here, but let's just say it will linger on, and kind of "develop", over the course of the entire show.

"Sorry... I actually think its really good. Let's make and sell these!"

As for Tamako's dad, Mamedai, he eventually realized the importance and scale of the festive Valentine's atmosphere around the Usagiyama Shopping District. He finally then accepted her daughter's idea, starting first, with an exclusive promo concept for a mochi. Tamako, of course, gave a hearty laugh while holding the chocolate-filled heart-shaped mochi, before earnestly giving her thanks.

Tamako Market (たまこまーけっと) is a rather unusual entry to Kyoto Animation's standard slice-of-life title list. Especially being that it is an original anime and not an adaptation from any other source material. For the most part, it is quite enjoyable on its own. The premise certainly is interesting from a slice-of-life standpoint. Also, as it is created by Kyoto Animation, the visuals are top-notch.

However, there is a sort of mediocrity to the entire experience, perhaps because the audience is expecting some developments here and there at certain plot points and character developments. In other words, even if it was a slice-of-life title and nothing world-changing is supposed to happen, the story kind of strongly suggested that there would be, and yet there was none, or at least nothing much.

Of course, this would eventually be somewhat "addressed" in the movie that was released later. However, enjoying the show (the original 12 episode anime) is still something that would largely depend on how your expectations of the story would change from episode to episode.