Management: this article was originally published in Chinese. I translated it into English because Google’s CN -> EN translation is abysmal (no, not because I wanted an easy post for the 12 Days of Anime challenge, not at all ^.^;).

For Tamako in Tamako Market, youth is eternal.

Right from the first moment, we see Tamako’s unchanging routine: she comes home from school,  says goodbye to her friends, visits the fish shop, buys tofu from the Shimizu tofu shop and the croquette from the meat shop. She receives flowers from the florist, and occasionally listens to records at the record shop. To Tamako, the shopping district is the whole world. She has only lived in one place, and has always planned to go into her father’s mochi business, paying no mind to the outside world like Tokyo and its bustling metropolitan life. Tamako’s life remains essentially unchanged from Dera’s arrival in the first episode to his unexpected return in the final episode. In her eyes, and in our grown-up memories, adolescence is eternal.

daily life

Once we arrive at Tamako Love Story, everything changes.

We enter the final year of high school, which signals the beginning of the end for high school life, and, in a sense, adolescent life. Everyone is starting to think about life after graduation, career paths, rushing tie up loose ends from high school. Suddenly, youth is no longer eternal.

First comes Kanna, pushing for the Baton Club to enter the local competition in order to seize this last chance before she graduates. This immediately gives the audience a sense of urgency, even if Tamako herself doesn’t realize it. Next comes Tamako’s friends discussing their plans after graduation, further highlighting the approaching end of high school life. Yet Tamako has always been considering working in her father’s mochi business, so she doesn’t feel like anything would change. Finally comes Mochizou, who has originally wanted to confess to Tamako before graduation–before he moves to Tokyo and can’t see her anymore. Much to his dismay, Midori shortens this deadline further: Mochizou now gets a mere twenty-four hours to confess.

A whirlwind of confusion

The scene by the creek may well be the turning point of Tamako Love Story. Mochizou’s confession finally breaks Tamako’s happy stagnancy. She falls into the water and hurriedly scrambles home, the familiar sights of the Shopping District melting into a whirlwind of confusion. With the childhood friendship that she took for granted suddenly morphing into romance, Tamako finally realizes that everything is changing, time is relentlessly marching, and her friends are all moving towards the next stage of life. Already bewildered by this realization, Tamako receives another push from Midori, who tells her (falsely) that Mochizou is moving to Tokyo and is already at the train station. For Tamako, her eternal adolescence has become a fleeting youth.

To seize this ephemeral youth, Tamako dashes towards the train station.

You can read about the 12 Days of Anime in the intro post here.

Note: a big inspiration for the idea of this post came from this article about Tamako Love Story on the blog Mi Blog Otaku.