Tamayura ~Hitotose~ Review

tamayura hanawa kaoru sawatari fuu okazaki norie sakurada maon

Tamayura ~Hitotose~ is a simple, somewhat forgettable anime—forgettable, however, only in terms of the specific events. Much like the earlier-released Tamayura OVA, this series has very little plot worth mentioning or remembering.[1] Most synopses would simply describe Tamayura as “an anime about a girl who likes taking pictures,” and that would not be too little or simple at all.

tamayura hanawa kaoru okazaki norie sakurada maon sawatari fuu

However, the lack of an intense plot is not a bad thing. Far from it. If anything, it strips the series down to its bare essences, and accentuates its best elements to remarkable effects. As unimpressionable as the story may be, the anime leaves this incredible lingering feeling—the kind that brings warm smiles to my face even as I write these words—the feeling that is reminiscent of that one hazy summer, years ago, when I spent a slow lazy month in a quiet rural town. No, I did not do anything spectacular. I simply had a fun, relaxing time with myself, with my siblings, with the beautiful, friendly town and its surroundings. Eat, sleep, explore, smile… That was all. Yet the experience stuck with me even years later. The vibe of that lifestyle had been imprinted in me (and possibly may be the source of my love for iyashikei today as I constantly try to regain those feelings in these busy days… But I digress). In this familiar, subtle way, Tamayura has quietly left in the audience an incredible impression of its nostalgic vibe.

Tamayura Seto Inland Sea park

Tamayura Seto Inland Sea architecture

Tamayura home

Tamayura bento

Tamayura cake

Tamayura fashion

Much of the charm of that nostalgia comes from the gorgeous scenery Tamayura offers. As expected of an anime tangentially about photography, every scene is brilliantly animated.[2] From the architecture to nature, from cakes to clothes, everything is sublime. Rustic and elegant, but with the smallest dash of luxuriousness—I love all those restaurants and food—Tamayura is a picturesque tour of Seto Inland Sea. Moreover, much like every other detail, even the characters’ clothes are treated with a personalized, fashionable, quiet touch.[3] All these come together to create a serene atmosphere for a soft-spoken story.

Tamayura Norie Kaoru Maon cell phone

That atmosphere—that relaxing, heartwarming feeling—of an intimate rural town in Seto Inland Sea, where the pace of life is slow and the kindness and closeness are sincere… In this age characterized by social networking, quantity, efficiency, mobility, and the lack of genuine interactions beyond texts and status updates, this anime is a very refreshing call for a simpler and perhaps also more meaningful lifestyle. For the characters—Fu, Maon, Norie, Kaoru—exchanging phone numbers actually hold some significance. In one adorable episode, the phone numbers are used as a way to reassure the girls’ friendship with another of Fu’s friends, who has been having a difficult time reaching out to others. By contrast, when I look at my own contact lists, more than half of them are strangers I have met once at some event here. I could use more true friends like these cute girls.

tamayura hanawa kaoru sakurada maon

tamayura sawatari fuu okazaki norie

Further, wallowed in a slow calming atmosphere, the series is driven almost solely by the characters. And, they do a marvelous job. Tamayura takes extreme care to develop each of the main characters. The anime details all her personality, goals, worries, backgrounds, and motivations. Fu is not just a girl who likes taking pictures. Photography is not only a connection to her father, but her way of approaching the world. And in her exploration of the world, she also learns—from friends like the professional photographer Riho—about little ways in which people, goals, and identities may change. Even her photography is not a constant. Likewise, the cutest Maon is not just whistler. She has an immense repertoire of fascinations and dreams. Her shy, quiet, odd personality is just as deep as the diversity of her interests past and present, explored and passionate.[4] On the other hand, Norie is super enthusiastic about baking, and is totally focused on that goal. Her foil, Kaoru, is unsure about what exactly she wants to do, what makes her tick, and whether fragrances are really something she is passionate about, but that is all perfectly fine for now.

Tamayura Maon performance

These various little developments, growths, and motivations all culminate into one final arc when they put on a gallery and performance of sorts for the entire small town. The girls are so inspired and so excited about this project among friends that I found myself falling in love with that determination.

Tamayura childhood nostalgia

Moreover, this ending is especially poignant when it is juxtaposed next to a flashbacks of a vague childhood memory. (I shed a few warm tears when I realized the reason Maon loves whistling so much.) The girls may not remember any of the details from so long ago, but they have been friends for way longer than they know.

And this is precisely the nostalgic feelings Tamayura ~Hitotose~ evokes.


  1. A review of Tamayura OVA, which is very similar in tone with this series.
  2. More musings about the details Tamayura offers.
  3. The fashion in this show is especially worth noting. The casual, relaxed styles are personally catered to each personality. It is totally chic. (And probably entails its own post in the future.)
    Tamayura fashion Maon Norie Kaoru Fu
  4. Maon easily steals the show. And funny faces are still a thing.
    Tamayura Maon funny expressions

More anime and manga reviews

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49 Responses to Tamayura ~Hitotose~ Review

  1. Ok, it really has a good fashion sense. It’s been in my radar some time now, but I was a bit hesitant due to its moeness. You’ve convinced me to check about it 🙂

    • Yi says:

      Ooh I’m glad you’ve decided to check it out. The anime is incredible, especially if you’re into iyashikei. It’s also by the same director as that of Aria, and one can really see the similarities. It’s certainly not the same type of moe anime as, say, the standard harem shounen type of stuff. Anyway, I hope you like it!

  2. hoshiko says:

    You’re right actually – Tamayura Hitotose might be forgotten someday but it has left a lasting good impression on me that I’ll remember the feeling I have when I was watching the series.

    The relaxing nature of the series is something I welcome after a hectic day. It reminded me that living a simple life can be the better option, especially when shared with close friends and family.

    • Yi says:

      Yes exactly, Hoshiko. I think that’s my favorite thing about Tamayura. It’s that I can come home after a busy day (especially common these days… :() and escape into this simple life. And maybe be reminded of that simpler, easier life. Tamayura brings me just a little closer than that.

  3. wieselhead says:

    ^ – ^ Thx for writing such a positive review about Tamayura and exposing it to an expanded audience.

    I loved every episode of it, it was so cozy and relaxing, but I also liked the kind and quite touching parts of it. For me that is one of the best slice of life animes on par with Aria – The animation.
    Going out in the lovely scenery of Seto Island, doing activities in the nature or lingering in the town with your close friends. I loved to be part of their little adventures during the show.

    It’s nice that they changed the outfits of the girls regularly, it somewhat underlined their personalities and felt more believable. In animes where people always wear the same casual clothes feel quite odd lately 😉

    I already knew the bunch from the OVA, but I liked how they portrayed each of the characters, so unique and likeable characters as a group of very close friends. Norie was always so crazy ^o^
    I was especially enchanted by the Maon centered episodes, the backflash were she was telling her self written story or where she was telling her story to the audience. I can’t count all the moments that moved me that much that I shed some tears.

    it actually hurt a little as Tamayura reminded of the days where I was younger and had happy-go-lucky fun with my friends, not much left from back then now, the serious side of life TT

    • Metaler says:

      Yeah, I’m the same as you… I guess this is why I’m bothered by nostalgia. =/

    • Yi says:

      @wieselhead: Yea, totally. I’d love to visit Seto Inland Sea sometime myself too.

      I agree about the further development of the girls from the OVA. In fact, in my review for Tamayura OVA, I noted the lack of depth in the characters. The vibe was there, but I didn’t really know any of the girls, except their names. In this series, we really learn a lot more to each character beyond their gimmick and names. Maon and Kaoru especially!

      Maon’s backstory is super touching indeed!! I love her. ^ ^

      p.s. I’m glad you mentioned Aria. They’re actually both directed by Junichi Sato.
      p.p.s. True. Nostalgia is bittersweet.

  4. Smithy says:

    I absolutely love this show. Not unlike “Aria” it is forgettable yet also unforgettable, nothing much of significance happens in it yet even the smallest event holds great significance. In the utopia-akin indulgence of dreaming of a world different than the one I live in, I dream of a world like in “Tamayura ~hitotose~” or “Aria”.

    • Yi says:

      I had a feeling you would love this anime, seeing how you love Aria. It’s forgettable yet super impressionable.

      “nothing much of significance happens in it yet even the smallest event holds great significance.”
      Yep yep. That’s a really good way of describing it. ^ ^ It’s all in the details: the animation, the pace, the music, the girls… etc.

      I want to be an undine or a friend of Maon and the girls as well.

  5. Joojoobees says:

    I really enjoyed the festival episodes of Tamayura~h~. It is very much like visiting a place. We learn about the foods and funny customs of the locals. It also had a really sweet ending.

    • Yi says:

      Me too! Those episodes do such a great job of building depth in the setting. Totally agreed that it makes the audience feel like we were there, enjoying the festival and the relaxing lifestyle alongside these girls. I loved it!

      One of these days…

  6. Pingback: Tamayura ~hitotose~ second season accounced « Blue Blue Wave

  7. Pingback: Tamayura ~hitotose~ second season announced « Blue Blue Wave

  8. Overlord-G says:

    I don’t have much to say right now except I’ll be looking forward to the 2nd anime season, technically 3rd of the series coming soon. I’ll have a more detailed comment later. Oh and the Whistler is my favorite character.

  9. SnippetTee says:

    I put this series on hold because it’s too laid-back and it affects my pace. The other airing series at that time also overshadowed this show, that’s why I really wished it has at least a bit of K-On!!’s energy. But after reading that it has a poignant ending, especially there’s a mystery behind Maon whistling, that really intrigued me. Now I’m thinking maybe I should try to catch-up since there’s going to be a second season.

    • Yi says:

      It’s true. It affected my own pace too, which was a bit of inconvenience because of my busy schedule back when I watched it. But I guess I felt like I needed to slow life down just a little bit.

      K-On! certainly has a lot more pop, and it works for K-On! really well, but I think that level of energy would be fundamentally anti to the atmosphere Tamayura’s trying to create. Everything in Tamayura is deliberately slow and controlled, including even Norie’s outbursts of passion.

      Anyway, yes. Watch it for Maon!! ^ ^

  10. tsurugiarashix says:

    One of my favorite slice-of-life series. So glad that they are making another season ^^

  11. darkandchoco says:

    This is interesting.. I might try to watch this~ =3

  12. Kai says:

    I need to watch this when I find some time, I heard it’s made from the same guys who made Aria :3 Definitely not passable, lol.

    • Yi says:

      You heard right. ^ ^ And it feels very much like Aria, which is one of the best anime ever. So yea, I really love it. If you do get around to watching Tamayura, I hope you like it as much as I did.

  13. Canne says:

    I’ve tried a few episodes of this show. Though it did not interest me that much as a whole, it was undoubtedly very beautiful.
    So beautiful that I could almost feel the joy of the animators who made the anime.
    Maybe it’s just my feeling…

    • Yi says:

      Perhaps it’s simply a genre preference? I tend to really like these types of anime where nothing of significance happens, and the emphasis is on building an environment and atmosphere. But I could also see how many could find these types of anime too slow or dull.

      Anyway, at least we can both agree… Tamayura is gorgeous!

      Thanks for the comment, Canne. ^ ^

  14. Metaler says:

    I liked Tamayura quite a bit, but for some reason I never really got to finish it; which is odd because I actually like some Iyashikei quite a bit, my favorites being Hidamari Sketch and Sketchbook… Hey, I just realized all of these 3 have some sort of art as part of its central theme. o_o

    But anyways, I guess the reason why I never finished is because this anime reminds me of my forever alone nature… Not that I mind it or anything, but sometimes I wish I was less socially awkward. orz Not to mention I have certain pessimistic views on life (not that I’m entirely pessimistic), which may end up bringing up some feelings in me which ended up bothering me a bit. It’s really a shame, but I was really enjoying this.

    • Yi says:

      Awww… I personally found the nostalgia a bit bittersweet as well, although perhaps not as much as you did. Yes, it certainly makes the audience long for a lifestyle and company like those girls, but how many do?

      Well, hope you feel better Metaler darling. ^ ^


      p.s. I should get around to watching Hidamari Sketch and Sketchbook some time. and yes, how odd that they’re all about art.

  15. jreding says:

    Yi – thanks for this sweet review. Reading it was like watching an episode of Tamayura ~hitotose~ itself!

    When I watched this show I wasn’t sure if I should really call it Iyashikei. Despite the fact that Fu’s father passed away I found the mood quite optimistic and not melancholic at all (in contrast to YKK which defines iyashikei for me). Therefore it somewhat opened my eyes to read: ” […] and possibly may be the source of my love for iyashikei today as I constantly try to regain those feelings in these busy days […]”. It is true, the iyashikei in this show is quite refined. The feeling is less inherent in the setting or the plot but derives from the melancholy of thinking back to more peaful days.

    I’m very much looking forward to your upcoming post on Tamayura’s fashion as this is one aspect I liked as well in this show. I particularly loved Norie’s dresses! Together with her long hair they reminded me a bit of Mizusu in Air… Norie is really my favourite character… besides the grade school girl! It was so cute that Norie was constantly fighting with a grade schooler!

    Finally, the background art in this show was gorgeous. My favourite episode is the one covering the festival (I think it was #7). After watching this show I read the book “The Inland Sea” by Donald Richie ( http://amzn.to/Hb8r0e – recommended!) to get a bit more of this region’s atmosphere. Travelling to the place would be even better, though!

    • Yi says:

      Oooh thank you so so so much for the kind words. I had wanted to, just a little, evoke the feeling of Tamayura. So I’m glad you feel this way.

      Agreed that this has an overall feel of optimism. In many ways, this feels a lot like Aria (unsurprising as they have the same director), and Aria defines iyashikei for me. Further, for me, while iyashikei is defined by tone, it’s more about the calming quiet than it is about optimism/melancholy.

      With that said, yes, there is still a sense of loneliness, sadness, that, I think, is inherent to nostalgia. I long for those carefree days that I will never see again… Interestingly, some other comments above also feels a similar way, so much so that some have even dropped it. Sigh… bitter and hopefulness, two sides of the same coin. We feel hopeful because we are not satisfied with where we are.

      The fashion is superb. Very reminiscent of K-On!! in its approach to an authentic, casual, and wearable wardrobes. Norie is lovely, and I love her clothes. Personally, Fu and Kaoru’s style match my own a little closer, but that’s because I rarely wear skirts or dresses. Anyway, I hope I find the time to write a fashion post on it, but unfortunately, it looks unlikely now…

      Seto Inland Sea is incredible, and this anime does it justice. It’s a tour of scenery pornography. I loved it! The festival episode is also my favorite in terms of setting as well. It’s really just so full of gorgeous cultural picturesque cinematography.

      Thanks for the link, jreding! ^ ^ If I can’t visit the place now, at least I will be able to enjoy it via books.

      p.s. Norie is super funny. Love her energy!
      p.p.s. Lovely points as always. Thank you for the comment. Cheers!

  16. @fkeroge says:

    Tamayura was a really relaxing watch. While it was still airing, it was one of the first things I watched when I got home after a week in the University dorms. Just takes some of that stress away with the simple yet beautiful scenery and the laid back feel of the whole anime.

    • Yi says:

      Yep yep, I watched it during one of my busiest days, and it really helps to slow things down, take some stress off, and help me relax. I love that laid-back feel. ^ ^

  17. fathomlessblue says:

    I’m sad to admit that this was only one of 3 shows in recent years that I had to stop watch halfway through (if I make it past 3 episodes, I’m almost guaranteed to finish a series). That’s rather depressing considering the other two were HSoD & Index. Even to this day I can’t fully put my finger on what frustrated me so much about Tamayura Hitose; after all, female-fronted, gentle slice of life anime usually appeal to my sensibilities. Also, I really appreciated various things about the series, whether the gorgeous art, particularly the attention to detail, or the gentle nostalgia permeating each episode.

    I think for me, it just crossed the boundary between ‘cute girls doing nothing’, to ‘insufferably cute girls doing nothing’. While there was the usual banter & silliness that you would expect from such a show, the whole cast felt like they were on tiptoes, trying to avoid even the slightest hint of natural tension or friction you find in day-to-day life. Coupled with the lack of real substance (even most slice-of-life anime have a club or other narrative focal point), the show just felt too airy for my tastes. This was the reason why I could never get into A-channel, either.

    The series has often been referred to as a ‘healing anime’. While I can definitely see & respect that approach, I also think that you can push it too far in certain regards. My biggest gripe with the Wandering Son anime was that while it tried to approach realistic dilemmas involving sexual identity, it also used muted voices, slow movements/scene transitions, & hazy, whitewashed watercolour animation to provide a reassuring, calm & almost nurturing atmosphere to the proceedings. That style works wonders with naturally upbeat & matter-of-fact shows like Usagi Drop, but with Wandering Son, the enveloping protective atmosphere gave me the effect of being stifled! Tamayura caused me to have a similar reaction, being overtly gentle & soothing to the point where it almost feels like someone is standing over you with a hand on your shoulder. When a show feels that heavy-handed (ba dum pish!), rather than feeling relaxed & upbeat, I instead feel under duress & melancholy. I don’t know; it’s a hard feeling to describe.

    So yeah, it just didn’t appeal to me no matter how much I wanted it to. Maybe I’m the wrong age, sex or mindset for the anime to resonate. Maybe one day I’ll attempt it again & enjoy it; hey, it happened with Haruhi Suzumiya! Until then; sorry Tamayura, it’s me, not you. ^^

    • jreding says:

      Re Wandering Son:

      It is exactly as you say, the watercolour art is creating an “enveloping protective atmosphere”! I found this particularly nice in the Valkyria Chronicles PS3 game as it gives warfare a calm slice-of-life atmosphere.

      But back to Hourou Musuko: This show pretty much blew me away when I watched it the first time and I also loved the art, soundtrack etc. But when I later read the manga, I discovered that the manga’s art is so much more intensive than the anime. The drawings have this slightly awkward style (like a child drawing) which makes you feel the characters uneasiness and angst much stronger!

      When I think about it, the Hourou Musuko manga might actually be too intensive for some. Maybe the anime’s creators even decided to tone down the atmosphere in order to reach a broader audience?

      • Yi says:

        Something of note. The watercolor art style is reminiscent of the manga. The mangaka loves that style. Aoi Hana is another good example of a manga/anime that uses this style for a muted, but intense story.

    • Yi says:

      @fathomlessblue: I think that’s a very legitimate criticism. True, nothing significant at all happens, and it’s just so overall slow. I actually really like the gentle tiptoes. The moments of laughter and comedy, the flashbacks, the nostalgia—everything—come in tiny, quiet bites. You could say it’s almost a passionless, deliberate fear of committing to anything. Or you could say it’s going for the calmest, most serene experience. They’re two sides of the same coin.

      I guess one way of thinking about iyashikei (or any genre) is to consider it a sliding scale. For slice-of-life, we may have something more focused on comedy (e.g. Azumanga, Yotsubato) on one end, and something completely nostalgia based (Tamayura) on the other, with various things in the middle. For example, K-On! may lie closer to Azumanga (and also perhaps deviates to another axis), and Aria closer to Tamayura. On this scale, we all have our sweet spot.

      I wish I could comment on Wandering Son, but unfortunately, I have not seen it. With Tamayura, I do feel slightly that melancholy though, but perhaps for a different reason—nostalgia is always bittersweet. 😦

      “it’s me, not you. ^^”

      Thanks for the really wonderful comment! Cheers, fathomlessblue.

  18. Michelle says:

    I like the sound of this!

  19. fabrice says:

    I’m going to miss this precious sweet little anime so much!!
    Every week it brought nothing but happiness and smiles~ And very often sometimes tears!

    Everything about it was beautiful and touching and I hope that others enjoy it in the future just as much as I did!!
    It really deserves more credit, I can’t understand why it wasn’t very popular!

    I will forever be jealous of these girl’s friendship.

    • Yi says:

      Me too. I will miss this anime a bunch. The, beautiful lingering vague feelings of warmth and smiles and tears. ^ ^

      Luckily, there’s a second season coming!

  20. chikorita157 says:

    I saw the OVA and I enjoyed it as I liked the calm feeling to it. I did watch three episodes into Hitotose, but I never completed it. I will definately finish it once the semester is over.

    • Yi says:

      If you enjoyed the OVA, I think you’ll love Hitotose. I think Tamayura really made good use of the longer running time to flesh out each character. Hope you enjoy it!

      p.s. Good luck with the semester, chikorita. ^ ^

  21. maybebornagain says:

    I have the sinking suspicision that I may have said this before, but I liked this, too. It was very relaxing. Thanks again for bringing this to my attention~

    • Yi says:

      You very much probably have, and perhaps in the review for the OVA or via somewhere else. Super relaxing, something I crave~

  22. lostty says:

    I never made it past episode six in this series. I agree with a lot that you have to say. It had a great atmosphere and it was a very calming series. It also had a lot of interesting points about photography, like when Fu was trying to capture in a photo how delicious a meal was.

    Though, the reason I dropped this is because it was just really boring. The slow pace was just too slow for me. It’s a genre that a lot of people have a hard time appreciating, and although I wanted to like this series, I just couldn’t.

    • Yi says:

      Oh I definitely understand the boring part. There’s a comment above that addresses a similar feeling towards Tamayura. This is part of the trade-off, I guess—between focusing so much on the tranquil emotive vibes and thereby sacrificing plot and any sort of action. Tamayura also seems to deliberately mute extreme passion, such that there’s this general… sleepiness to it. It’s certainly not something that will appeal to everyone.

      Thanks for the thought, Lostty. ^ ^

  23. Pingback: Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing | Listless Ink

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