I don’t intend to belabor the comparisons of this show and Kokoro Connect – they’re obvious enough without me harping on it, and I don’t want to seem as if I’m beating up on KC, whist still has a chance to be a good series. I do find it fascinating, though, just how much more of an impact Tari Tari is making despite being a completely derivative premise. Unless you’re going completely off the grid like Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita, you can’t build a really good show without going from the ground up – and that’s with the characters. And the three girls (mostly) and two guys here seem much more alive than the ones in KC. Despite the fact that they aren’t really doing anything all that interesting, I’m much more interested in watching them. The cast has a lot to do with that too – in Kokoro it’s an older cast than sounds a little forced and weary, but this group does a better job of convincingly bringing actual high-schoolers to mind. And of course, it doesn’t hurt that the visuals here are so much more vibrant and detailed – it can’t be P.A. Works without a little Shrine porn.
Make no mistake about this either – there are some problems with Tari Tari, above and beyond the fact that it seems to be almost totally lacking in originality. I’m having a few issues with Konatsu, first of all. I’m irritated at the way she bullies her brother, and her out and out stupidity sometimes – like breaking out screaming in the back of a moving car driven by a very pregnant woman – tries my patience. She’s also dancing a little close to the annoying side of the “plucky heroine” scale. So far she’s basically a selfish person who may have strong ideals but isn’t too concerned with the feelings of others – she has the negative traits of Ayase Chihaya, but so far without as much charm. It’s early though, and none of that has made me dislike her. I’m also not seeing any indication yet that Wien and Daichi are here as anything more than window dressing, though they’ve both made solid impressions in limited screen time. If they’re not going to be important characters I’d rather just ditch the pretense that they are, but my hope is that once they’ve actually joined the Choir Club they’ll be allowed the same opportunity to be actual characters as the three girls.
More important than those concerns, though, are what Tari Tari isn’t doing wrong, and what it is doing right. It’s not acting too much like a HanaIro clone, first of all – though it’s close enough to still be a concern. The pacing in the first two eps has been impeccable, keeping my solidly involved in the on-screen developments from start to finish. It’s giving each character enough quirks to make them interesting and three-dimensional, and there’s a real knack for humor, too – I especially enjoyed the scene where Sawa was waiting for Takahashi-sensei in the maternity ward, with the unspoken implication playing out in the faces of the other patients. Very sharp and just a little edgy. I also laughed at Taichi’s “After we eat we’re getting you a better book” and Sawa referring to Konatsu as her pet.
In term of actual plot advancement, things moved rather more quickly than I expected, and that might be a good thing too – like a relationship series that gets to the confession early, TT gets us over Konatsu’s stage fright plateau right away. After blackmailing Makoto to get a few friends to join the club she gets the Principal – vaguely a Colonel Sanders lookalike (Houki Katsuhisa, an old-time seiyuu who was great in Zettai Shounen) – to sign off as advisor. He seems most interested in Sakai’s name on the roster and in the presence of the “Dancing Violinist” at the group recital coming up – an event that comes upon us much faster than one might have thought. After the Principal has an accident and Sawa has to scrounge up Takahashi-sensei to supervise, the rest of the kids are stuck in traffic and it’s up to Konatsu and Sawa to sing alone – until, that is, Sakai joins them on piano. And what that phase one of the story is already over, seemingly.
The backstory is plainly going to start to flow now, with the clear implication from the OP that the Vice-Principal was a friend of Sakai’s late mother. It appears to be memories of her mother that keep Sakai from singing in public, and the VP has serious issues with the song Konatsu chooses for her new club to perform at the recital – probably another connection with Mom, as we share Sakai’s flashback of singing it with her mother. I hope we don’t go too overboard with the VP turning out to be a misunderstood softie with a heart of gold (even here, I have a maximum quota of clichés I’ll tolerate), I hope Konatsu learns a little sensitivity, and I hope Taichi and Wien get the chance to actually join the cast rather than being props. But given all the potential reasons for this show to struggle, I’ve been surprised by how fresh it feels and how much I enjoy it.