P.A. Works isn’t the first studio to share a particular visual style across different series. After all, Shaft has been peddling the same look for years now, delighting some and annoying others. In other words, it doesn’t really bother me that Tari Tari looks eerily similar to Hanasaku Iroha, a previous P.A. Works production.
What does bother me, however, is just how sterile everything looks in their anime. Take, for instance, the screen cap above. Look at the detail in that potted plant — how lifelike and natural it seems. The wood texture on the far side of the screen, the individual plates and pans in the kitchen, the way a single light source is reflected in the hanging picture to the top left — everything is so technically pristine just like how it was in Hanasaku Iroha and Another, but is this actually laudable?
I wasn’t a big fan of Another. For a horror series, it just lacked the right atmosphere or je nais se quoi. You can turn down the lighting and de-saturate the pallette, but that does not mean you have created horror. In a previous post, I detailed my exact apprehensions with the series, but to make a long story short, Another was simply too pretty to convince me that fear lurked within its frames. But look at this:
Is this picture of a disheveled girl covered in grime particularly scary? No, but it certainly beats this:
Yes, I’ve seen the “gory” death scenes in Another, but there’s more to the grotesque than just pretty girls covered in blood. Now, let’s return to Tari Tari before this post morphs into another rant about an old anime series.
Granted, Tari Tari is not a horror anime. It appears somewhat slice-of-life-ish from what I’ve seen. So yes, Tari Tari doesn’t have to be grimy or alien or strange. A show depicting high schoolers and their fairly white bread suburban lives (and concerns) need not ooze with subtext. But certainly, there’s a middle ground between the visual styles of, say, Kaiba and what P.A. Works has done in its latest attempts.
Tari Tari looks pristine and that’s precisely the problem. It’s coated in tens of layers of wax and buffed to an obnoxious sheen. The animation lacks soul. Everything is so processed, so manufactured, so lacking of imagination — P.A. Works has given us the white picket fence of anime. I’m glad that they appear to have such a large budget, especially when you consider how animation quality tends to drop in most other series. But I’m also glad that they have yet to
“gentrify” adapt anything I particularly enjoy plot-wise, ’cause their visual style is so uninspiring. For anime, that’s kind of a big deal!
If only Tari Tari‘s boring perfection served as a veneer for something subversively sinister about anime’s penchant for PG
-13 melodrama, but unless David Lynch has infiltrated the studio, I highly doubt it.
A few caveats before we continue. Impassioned assertion does not mean that I’m attempting to make statements of facts. I’ve heard this complaint before, and it is silly. It is a waste of time for me (and you!) to qualify every sentence I write with “I think” and “in my opinion.” ‘Cause honestly, of course it’s all subjective.
Anyway, content-wise, I don’t have much to say about the first twenty minutes or so of Tari Tari‘s plot. Watching Taichi show “Wien” around was about as exciting as watching paint dry. Like Hanasaku Iroha, some of the characterizations don’t seem particularly nuanced. The main girl appears to be a spazz much in the same way that Ohana was. The blunt music teacher is painted in the oh-so-familiar broad strokes that made previous P.A. Works “antagonists,” like Ohana’s grandmother, so initially infuriating. Granted, P.A. Works has never seemed to really care about subtlety if we are to judge their previous efforts.
In any case, I’ll wait till next week to talk more in-depth about the characters and their problems.