Tamako Market is the most perfect slice of life anime I’ve ever watched and I am bewildered to why it’s not a highly acclaimed classic in the genre. It not only has most of the aspects that make this genre good, but equally as important is that it lacks the characteristics that are not supposed to define this kind of show but nevertheless plague too many of them.
There are three parts that I want to highlight about this show: the animation, the characters, and the storyline.
Tamako Market has really good animation. It’s not stunning action or beautiful scenery, I’m talking about the animation of the characters just going around their daily lives. I’ve always noted that KyoAni character animation is significantly better than the vast majority of the competition, so saying that this is typical KyoAni quality is the highest praise. You can tell the difference in quality and liveliness just by witnessing the characters casually strolling around. The style is strikingly similar to K-On, but there is a larger variance of character designs. I especially loved how expressive and cute all the characters were, whether they were sad or anxious or excited or anywhere in between.
The characters were all delightful in Tamako Market. All the side characters had their own personality but the development and characterization is definitely focused on the small group of main characters, as some of the side characters were unique but rather one-dimensional. Tamako, the main character, is cheerful but also dynamic. Dera, the talking bird, is haughty but also lovable, a careful balance that injects the show with both foolishness and warmth. In addition, Tamako's shy and compassionate little sister Anko, her childhood friend and neighbor Mochizo, her tsundere father Mamedai, and the fortune teller Choi all have their moments to shine in the show.
The final piece of the puzzle is the story. Tamako Market is not an awesome, inspiring journey, but it doesn’t have to be. In my opinion, the plot was enough to have substance while also being laid-back as expected of a slice of life show. If K-On is on one end of the spectrum where the story matters very little and there is minimal development, and Your Lie in April on the other end, where the story is the driving force of the whole show, then Tamako Market would be in the middle. The plot is important and occasionally emotional, but it’s also mostly a show about cute girls doing cute things. I will point out that the part about finding the prince’s bride felt like just a way to introduce some of the characters, rather than an actual plot point.
These three aspects put together, the animation, the characters, and the storyline, blend together to create this delightful and captivating masterpiece. There are numerous scenes that are so sweet that my mouth was compelled to display a huge grin, and they were always due to a culmination of those three components, and would not have been possible without all three.
Tamako Market also notably lacks some things. First, it doesn't have lewd fan service. It does have things that I would consider "fan service" in that they're included merely to satisfy the audience, things like baton twirling routines, trying on different clothes at a clothing shop, and closeups on cute character faces.
Tamako Market also doesn't have any scenes that make me cringe; I attribute this to the fact that none of the characters are comically socially inept or stupid as is common in anime, and the fact that romance is not a focus for this show, eliminating opportunities for ridiculous and awkward scenes. It also doesn't have any overused cliches, the only thing that really fits into a cliche is the father who can be characterized as tsundere, but he is so much more than a tsundere, and really puts other so-called "tsundere" characters to shame with his vibrant characterization.
If you're a fan of KyoAni's works or if you want a great conventional slice of life anime, and you're okay with not having much in terms of fan service or romance (at least until you get to the movie), I highly recommend Tamako Market.