When I watched the first episode of Tamako Market, Midori stood out to me despite the scant scenes she was in. Maybe I’ve finally configured my yuri goggles to work properly, but it was clear as day that she harbored some feelings for Tamako, which was further expounded in the next episode.
Now, this doesn’t sound worthy of a blog post, if not for its subtle and nuanced execution. Usually in anime, girl’s love is portrayed in a very distinct manner, using signifiers like blooming flowers, copious blushing, and affectionate gestures that could be read in multiple ways. But Tamako Market is not a yuri anime, at least gleaning from the show’s tone. Midori acts in a realistic manner of a girl in love with another girl–her inability to express her feelings to Tamako and her subsequent depression is played in a natural way, not for laughs or titillation. It’s shown in an earnest and thoughtful manner, while keeping in line with the show’s light mood.
A problem I have with yuri stories (i.e. stories of the yuri genre) is that a lot of characters wear their hearts on their sleeves, where anyone but the densest person could catch on to what they’re feeling. Even then, 90% of the cast turns out to be dense (except for one person with her head on her shoulders who has the unenviable task of breaking the news to the confused parties), which leads to the myriad of romantic slip-ups that the genre is known for. A healthy suspension of belief is required–it’s fine if the romance is good enough despite the question of “who loves whom” all but obvious to a third party, but it crashes badly when it doesn’t work. Tamako Market sidesteps these genre limitations by being outside it, by portraying a young girl’s love without embellishment. The result is a refreshing breath of air.
The episode concludes neatly: Midori is back to her normal self, her brief sojourn from her friends’ company refreshing her perspective, aided by a talking bird, an astute coffee shop owner, and a French song. Midori still has a long way to go, but now she can continue with a little more conviction.
And this, for now, satisfies me.