12 Days of Anime (2013) – Day 8 – Giving a Disappointing Anime a Second Chance

tamayura_more_aggressive-11-norie-kanae-maon-kaoru-friendship-together-photo-viewfinderI’ve tried to follow some themes in my 12 Days of Anime posts, and Day 8 has traditionally been reserved for an anime that I normally would not have watched but ended up enjoying greatly.  In 2011, I gave a bad anime (Softenni) a chance and in 2012, I gave a forgotten anime (Yuru Yuri) a chance.  In 2013, I changed my stance again, and decided to reexamine an anime I would not have watched based on how dissatisfied or frustrated I was with an earlier installment.  And earlier this year, Tamayura ~more aggressive~ aired.  Considering my displeasure with Tamayura ~hitotose~, the first television series in the franchise, I considered passing the sequel without a hesitation.  It even took me about a week after the first episode aired to even watch the first episode.  But since that moment, I found myself enjoying Tamayura like never before and it’s all thanks to giving a disappointing anime a second chance.

tamayura_more_aggressive-04-kanae-fu-shimokamiyama_sensei-photo_club-meeting-chibi-comedy-cutePerhaps it’s best to start this off with a chronicle of how I reached this point.  I suppose the best beginning would be to revisit my final review of Tamayura ~hitotose~, which was published nearly two years ago:

Review – The main reason I picked up Tamayura was because of its strong connection and resemblance to Aria an anime that belongs in my Top 3.  I knew not to expect anything to that degree but I expected the two to share parallels and be enjoyable to the same degree but at a lesser magnitude.  But Tamayura failed to create that magic that made Aria so extraordinary and distinguished which left the anime somewhat boring and, at times, annoying.  Only the final episode felt like something out of Aria while the rest felt like a cheap imitation with completely inferior characters.  The cast of characters is probably the biggest difference between the two and I never really loved any of the characters.  In fact, I disliked most of the cast and found them to be obnoxious (Norie), irritating (Komachi), gimmicky (Maon), or hollow (Kou).  Fu was too timid and uncertain to be effective as a lead in exploring the setting and the other characters and the only ones I enjoyed was Kaoru who felt like the only human among the cast of stereotypes.  The setting felt underdeveloped in that the girls went to various sites and saw them but never translated to how it affected themselves (beyond being “wow, this is great”) or the story around them.  The art style was that kind of simple that I don’t care for but the scenery and backgrounds were gorgeous and peaceful.  The music was better than expected and had some of the better tracks this season.  In the end, I don’t regret watching this anime since it had several enjoyable moments, but I do regret expecting it to be something like Aria or even anything close to that masterpiece.

Although the final review might not sound harsh, I do recall being particularly bitter at some episodes during the middle of the series.  In fact, I even went as far as awarding it the biggest disappointment of Autumn 2011.  To say I was happy with the series would have been an absolute lie.  In fact, some of my resentment lingered into my preview for Tamayura ~more aggressive~, which began prior to the Summer 2013 season:

Opinion: Tamayura is an anime I want to love.  It has a descriptive and vibrant setting, a cast of characters that has developed well over the previous dozen episodes and an endearing message that is effectively told in each episode.  What’s holding me back, and what’s really damning about this series, is that the episodes are often extremely boring and that I don’t like anyone in the main cast except for Kaoru.  After seeing that Tamayura is returning this season, I immediately recalled my last experience with Tamayura ~hitotose~ being regrettable and deciding that I wouldn’t continue with the series again.  But the more I think about it, the more I want to give this anime one more shot to make sure I’m making the right decision.  It really depends on how boring the first episode is or how annoyed I get at either Norie or Kou.

Plans for this show: Doubtful but it gets a shot

So here is where Tamayura ~more aggressive~ fits the criteria laid out at the beginning of this post and where it fits in with the theme of giving an anime I wouldn’t otherwise watch a chance.  But thankfully, I did give Tamayura ~more aggressive~ a chance and it developed into one of my favorite anime of Summer 2013.  In fact, you can see how my thoughts on the series changed as soon as the third episode:

Tamayura ~more aggressive~ (Episode 3)

How quickly do my opinions change.  I remember enjoying the Tamayura OVA, struggling and disappointed with Tamayura ~hitotose~ and considering not even picking up Tamayura ~more aggressive~ after remembering how discouraged I was after the 12-episode TV run.  But with just three episodes into Tamayura ~more aggressive~ and I find myself in love with the franchise like never before.  Perhaps it’s because the new characters, Kanae and Shimokamiyama, provide refreshing roles in the series in how they assist and develop Fu’s character and that the two biggest problems for me (Ko and Komachi) have had minimal screentime.  Or maybe because the series is focusing on the newfound Photography Club and on photography in general as compared to previous episodes of ~hitotose~ which alternated between charming stories and boring snorefests.  But with this new season of ~more aggressive~, Tamayura has taken a more aggressive approach to its characters, its story, its themes and its presentation and the sequel to this franchise is off to a fascinating start.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sequel score more than one point higher than an original, especially since Tamayura ~hitotose~ places last in Autumn 2011, but this has been the biggest surprise of the season, especially since I was considering skipping the series after my disappointment two years ago.  Thank goodness I gave this anime a shot and have felt rewarded ever since.

And no, I didn’t tailor the criteria for this post just to write about Tamayura… it was Tamayura that tailored itself to me to make me want to write about it.  And no, it didn’t stop there at the third episode.  In fact, Tamayura ~more aggressive~ continued to grow on me, ending up in the upper half of anime for Summer 2013, an impressive achievement considering the stiff competition and the fact the first TV series was dead last in Autumn 2011.

tamayura_more_aggressive-09-kanae-fu-cameras-tripods-photography-friendship-clubIn the end, I am exceptionally thankful that I gave Tamayura ~more aggressive~ a chance.  This delightful anime turned quickly from a potential regret into one of the brightest spots this summer.  It’s still the only anime to place 2 points better than its previous installment, which is especially amazing since the average is often the same or a point below.  Really, the lesson here, as it has been the last two times I’ve done this post, is that it’s always worth giving an anime a fair chance.  Even though most of these types of anime fail to meet our expectations or continue to depreciate over time, there’s always the chance that an anime will reverse that trend and become something fun, insightful or meaningful to watch again.  If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out and the anime can be dropped again.  And if it does work out, then you’ll find success stories like this one.  I’m extremely fortunate and grateful to have continued again with Tamayura ~more aggressive~ and I sincerely hope the franchise continues onward with another television series soon.



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