Prom was in a month, and all the high school seniors were scrambling to find dates, lest someone ends up a loner in this momentous dance of our lives—well, for those without partner, girlfriend, boyfriend, or implicit best friend at least. Conversations and gossips all revolved around who was going to prom with whom, who got rejected by whom, and most importantly, who were still available. As usual, I was chatting with my friends in our free period after lunch. This particular day, we had a junior girl with us. We were hoping to set her up with this desperate kid in our group. As we prodded and sugarcoated and romanticized and gauged her interest, I asked her what she finds hot.
“Yea, I like it when someone’s really into something and take hella time to work at it.
“Like water polo or wrestling or something.” (My school had a killer water polo and wrestling team.)
“Or like Magic Cards?”
“Uh… Yea… I guess?”
Although the prom date did not quite pan out—I guess my friend needed to be a little better at Magic—the conversation struck me. Indeed, there is something very attractive about passion.
Perhaps that explains my adoration for Tari Tari. Konatsu, driven by her passion for singing, strives to perform at the year-end school culture festival. After she gets kicked out of choir because of a stage fright episode, she recruits a group of similarly passionate people (albeit passionate about different activities) to create her own club: Choir and Sometimes Badminton Club. Together, they hope to take the stage against all odds: the choir teacher who is bent on obstructing Konatsu’s efforts, choir students who look down on the newfound club’s amateurity, and event city plans to tear down the school. At stake is not only a meaningful final high school project, but a maturation of their cultivated interests over the years.
Along the way, Tari Tari presents several differing approaches to passion, among them the dichotomy between the Choir Club and the Choir and Somtimes Badminton Club. The former has aspirations of being professional musicians, while the latter takes a more casual tone. Thus, the two clubs clash often, especially because the Choir Club constantly dismisses and looks down upon the lead cast. Besides this stark contrast, subtler differences in attitudes toward interests exist among the members of Choir and Badminton Club as well. Of the five main characters, Tanaka’s goals resemble those of the Choir Club the most, but he faces them, perhaps, with even more determination. At a school with little badminton support, Tanaka still aims to be a professional player. On the other far-flung hand, we have Wien (Maeda), whose passion is much more fanciful. Wien has an obsession with a super sentai show. Their stories show two extreme aspects of passion—profession and hobby. Whereas Tanaka is actively working towards a specific goal, Wien has a more passive pastime, a matured fandom generated through various means. The common thread, however, is that their interests still flourish despite their being the lone participants (at least until Konatsu recruits them to her club). Tanaka does not mind playing against the wall in an empty gym, and Wien is content with his figures, costumes, and posters. Furthermore, when the chance to fully engage in the sentai experience when they are invited to the Choir and Sometimes Badminton Club—and particularly for Wien, when the club is asked to be the small town super sentai heroes—they take the opportunity to fully enjoy the experience with little hesitation or embarrassment. It is with the club that they both solidify their determination and maturity in their passions.
Unlike Tanaka and Wien, whose passions are defined by unwavering attitudes in of an unsympathetic environment, Wakana needs to rediscover her love for music despite her natural talent. When Wakana’s musically-gifted mother died, Wakana associated her death with singing, and sealed away her own passion. When Wakana is finally able to face the death of her mother and come to terms with the unfairness of the world, she does so with the help of her mother’s love and music. In a marvelously poignant moment, the completion of her mother’s song offered Wakana a powerful catharsis. Thus, the maturation of her passion is intimately related to her own growth.
Sawa’s story is my personal favorite, and is also one I found exceedingly relevant. A central theme of Tari Tari is about the possibility of turning a passion into a profession. We saw earlier how driven the Choir Club members and Tanaka are about their ambitions. Sawa is similarly motivated, but her passion takes a different direction: she must redefine what equestrian is to her when being a professional jockey is no longer feasible. Reconciling with an impossibility is a terrifically painful and reflective experience, and one that many can identify with. I imagine that most with an earnest drive have thought about turning their genuine passions into a career. After all, doing something you love from eight to five—working hard at it and getting paid for it—sounds more rewarding than a typical uninspired (at least from one perspective) day job. Yet, is the end goal of our passions really always only about making money?
A good friend, Emily of Atelier Emily, writes of her transition from an artist hoping for a career in art to simply an artist, who is not any less good. and she enjoys the role art plays in her life now. Likewise, Sawa, a fascinating girl with an adorable fashion sense and a knack for excellence, is going through a shift in her approach to horseback riding. When she goes over the weight limit for acceptance into equestrian schools, she must assess whether her passion is defined singly by a professional career. At the end of her story arc, Sawa realizes that she loves horseback riding too much to limit it to a mere career endeavor. That realization is particularly relevant for many at that age; those high school years are significant because it is when we often began shaping our future goals, career trajectories, interests, and lives. In addition, the side commentary on the delicate, and just as pertinent, issue of body image is neatly done. I found watching Sawa go through that early quarter-life crisis and resolve it incredibly satisfying.
Finally, we have Konatsu, who ties all their stories together with her unrelenting passion. She brings an overwhelming but welcomed abundance of energy, and it is brilliant. Indeed, we see Konatsu’s effect on others; we see how such passion can inspire change, strengthen resolve, and touch hearts. For these young adults, that final act for the culture festival is not some mere performance, but the culmination of their developing and maturing passions over the years. Thus, through Konatsu’s efforts and excitement fervor and sincere emotions, Tari Tari delivers a warm, resonant—and maybe even a little bit sexy—story about growing up and about a love of life.
- Tari Tari and the glory of love and art
- Passion can be sexy! Besides equestrian, Sawa also excels at archery.
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