The television anime series Tamako Market aired from January until March 2013. Though it was a pleasantly charming series, the director of the show, Naoko Yamada, felt she wasn’t done with the franchise once the final episode was finished. One of the interesting points of the TV show was that it focused around the main character, Tamako Kitashirakawa, but it never focused on her as a character; rather it detailed about the shopping market as a whole instead. Director Yamada wanted to delve into Tamako herself, and given that the theme of the franchise is “love”, what better medium than an adolescent love story? Thus, Tamako Love Story was brought to life. The film opened on April 26, 2014 and was released on video disc October 10, 2014 (mochi day and Mochizo Ooji’s birthday). This is a review for the Japanese Blu-ray release of the film. My thoughts on the film itself can be found elsewhere.
The film is sold by Kyoto Animation and the “Bunny Mountain Shopping District” production committee with Pony Canyon distributing the discs. It comes inside a memorial art box packed with physical extras. The first thing you see when you open the box are two lovely “film” bookmarks (made of translucent plastic) featuring stills from the baton performance on one and stills of the confession scene on the other. Next is a set of three newly drawn illustrations called the “Mochizou photo collection” featuring the girls on one, the Kitashirakawa sisters on another, and Mochizou taking a selfie with Tamako on the final one. An ad for the franchise guidebook is present above the “Tamako Love Story Special Booklet” and the “Noteworthy Scene Storyboard Collection.” I’ll delve into those later.
Beneath all that is the disc (BD for BD, DVD for DVD). The film itself exceeded my high expectations for it, making me cry multiple times through the story. Director Yamada truly made a fantastic love story that doesn’t go through the many trials and tribulations that so many stories want to include for artificial problems. Instead we have a straightforward story that delves into Tamako’s past and fleshes her out as a character. I cannot recommend the film enough; even if this set was only the disc it would be worth it.
While I wish I could say everything was utterly perfect, it would be a lie. This release’s biggest flaw is in the video encoding from Pony Canyon. There’s a few times the video has some banding due to color changes in the picture. None really detract from the experience, but it’s the one blemish in this release. Otherwise the video looks incredibly crisp. Pony’s team encoded it with an average around 40 MB/s. The film itself is visually stunning and that carries over very well on the disc.
The movie itself had a stereo soundtrack, which remains in LPCM format.Some decry a stereo mix in favor for a 5.1 (which is utterly stupid IMO), but this mix allows for wonderful effects to be present on either side. Everything (and I seriously mean everything) is crisp, clear, and easily digestible. It made me appreciate the sound direction, which not many works allow you to do.
Included on the disc are two audio commentary tracks. The first is from the main four cast members: Aya Suzuki (Tamako), Atsushi Tamaru (Mochizou), Yuuki Kaneko (Midori), and Juri Nagatsuma (Kanna). The second commentary is from the main staff from Kyoto Animation: Director Naoko Yamada, art director Ikuko Tamine, color coordinator Akiyo Takeda, and director of photography Rin Yamamoto. Each track was encoded in LPCM, which is quite rare for a commentary track.
Additional bonus features include the textless opening (minus a few things), textless ending, promotional videos, trailers, commercials, and a stage greeting from the opening day greeting at Shinjuku Picadilly. The greeting had the four cast members above with director Yamada and was hosted by Takumi Yamazaki (Dera). An enjoyable greeting with Yamada being so flustered she goes “Good morning” instead of “Nice to meet you all.”
The special booklet is a tiny let down, though the paper used is very nice and textured. It covers a short introduction to each character, a collection of staff messages to the characters, Midori’s notes regarding the baton club’s performance, a full credit listing, and a newly drawn illustration at the end. The storyboard booklet collects the storyboards for the opening animation, the confession scene, the final scene, and the ending animation. (These were chosen by producer Sezaki according to the stage greeting at Movix Kyoto)
Everything listed above is included in each retail set of the BD. However, I chose to order (through a middleman) from the KyoAni Shop, which offered another bonus book with purchase of the movie. This “Love letter collection” adds additional comments (and illustrations) from the main staff of the film along with key frame correction points from the animation directors. A lot of these illustrations are quite cute.
Overall, this is a fantastic release from Kyoto Animation and Pony Canyon. It’s worthy of the film itself and is an easy recommendation (even without the KyoAni book). I highly suggest seeing the film as soon as you can as it’s one of the best films or works I’ve ever seen.