It's always difficult to stay away from anything that P.A. Works produce - if nothing else, you know that it's going to be a visual feast, and most of their recent efforts have been pretty fun to boot. This brings us to Tari Tari, my first pick of this summer anime season.
The opening episode of this series wastes no time in giving us very brief introductions to its numerous characters - we have the serious and hard-working at both home and school Sakai, who clearly struggles somewhat to fit it, the energetic wannabe singer Konatsu Miyamoto and a new transfer student who has returned to his birthplace after twelve years in Vienna who is thus struggling to adjust the Japanese life and culture.
It's Miyamoto that really drives this first episode however - despite being a member of the school's choir, it seems that the advisor of the club in question sees her as fit to do little more than turn the pages of the pianist's sheet music. Upon confronting her tutor and requesting a chance to stand up and sing in a forthcoming recital, Miyamoto is shot down in no uncertain terms as we're given a hint as to how this slightly oddball girl somehow managed to ruin the same event the previous year. In a fit of pique, Konatsu quits the club and sets out to create her own choir, with hookers and Blackjack... or something. Of course, in time-honoured anime after-school club tradition, her first task is to assemble the required number of members to be allowed to start the club - but can she persuade the motley crew of friends and classmates around her to buy into her earnest dream?
As a set-up for a new series goes, Tari Tari shouts "CLICHÉ" from the rafters before falling from them onto a mysterious transfer student - its concept couldn't be much more predictable if you tried. However, in spite of this Tari Tari's opener gets something of a free pass largely because it's frequently laugh out loud funny - our transfer student's confusion when it comes to Japanese customs makes for some easy humour, but there are a number of great one-liners and exchanges throughout the episode which ensured that I enjoyed it greatly (although worryingly many of the best lines came from a departing teacher). In this sense, Tari Tari feels like it looks, as an approximation of Hanasaku Iroha Mark II - if it can continue to be fun while looking pretty, I have no problems with that at all, even if it isn't going to blaze new trails by any stretch of the imagination.