English: The Tatami Galaxy
Synonyms: Yojo-Han Shinwa Taikei, Yojou-Han Shinwa Taikei, Yojohan Shinwa Taikei
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Apr 23, 2010 to Jul 2, 2010
Producers: Madhouse, FUNimation EntertainmentL, Sony Music Entertainment, Fuji Pacific Music Publishing
Duration: 23 min. per episode
Rating: PG-13 - Teens 13 or olderL represents licensing company
Score: 8.561 (scored by 13439 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
2 based on the top anime page.
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Jul 31, 2013
Story : 10 / 10 "Masterful"
Tatami Galaxy is set on a fictional universe, specifically a town, which seems pretty close to the modern Japanese towns. Our main character, Watashi, expects to find the rose colored campus life that he always dreamed of, entering a campus club. Instead, he finds mischief and disappointment in every way possible. Every time he joins a club, everything seem to go wrong and he ends up regretting his choice, wanting to go back to the moment of choosing it and reset his life by changing his choice. The plot is following his different choices and the different lifes he lived after them. Watashi begins a journey of self-discovery, where the weight of his choices matters the most, becoming a matured young man who lives his life with unlimited freedom but also respect on every choice.
Art : 9 / 10 "Great"
The show uses a minimalistic style that combines cartoonish graphics with no shading with a lot of live action film segments used in for quick depiction of areas with lots of background detail. Seen as poor by many, the art of Tatami Galaxy is gravely underrated. It effectively depicts the themes of the show, taking a realistic approach on many problems that college students face in Japan. Furthermore, it becomes very interesting when adding the psychological symbolisms included in the show.
Sound : 9 / 10 "Great"
A testament to the superb voice acting could be that, even though Watashi's speech is faster than a bullet train, he still manages to keep the viewer in his toes with his smart (and funny) take on many different subjects and make him feel whatever emotion he emits. As for the soundtrack, it fits great with the theme and mood of the series, succesfully representing the constant changes in atmosphere, from the melancholic "Youjou han to Castella to Watashi" to the mysterious "Kamotaketsunuminogami" and powerfully liberating "Yojouhan Ki Owari" or "Takasegawa".
Characters : 9 / 10 "Great"
From the bullet-speed monologues of Watashi to the stoic and spiritual presence of Higuchi, the cast is the recipe for instant success. Watashi is a young college dropout who never seizes to amaze with his sarcastic and dark but witty dialogues on everything he analyzes. He is the source of the dialogues and monologues in Tatami Galaxy, and his themes vary from social commentary to self - sarcasm of the highest caliber. Ozu is another college student, dark and devilish character, who constantly drags Watashi to troubles. However, he has some hidden aspects which make him intriguing and three-dimensional. Akashi, a college student in the engineering department, is an adorable female character, and Watashi's biggest love interest. Higuchi is a stoic, and full with dreams on exploring the globe, character who is still a college student, even though he ,by far, had exceeded the minimum years of studying there. He also has many hidden sides, which made him mysterious, spiritual and occasionally wise. There are more characters that are also very interesting, but doesn't quite measure up to the other mentioned above. However, there is not a single character that is not likeable in this series, because of his quirks and personality.
Enjoyment : 10 / 10 "Masterful"
I fully enjoyed every minute of Watashi's attempts to reach a rose-colored campus life, his moments of self-discovery and liberation scenes.
Verdict : 9.4 / 10 "Excellent"
When simple but meaningful premises meets innovative and unique storytelling methods, a show like Tatami Galaxy is born. Excluding or changing only one component of the Tatami Galaxy's recipe would result in losing it's eternal glowing.
There's nothing more boring than reading a review, so give yourself the chance to watch this exquisite show. You will not regret it. read more
Jul 27, 2013
The story is told in first person by our nameless protagonist, a college student who just wants to live the "rose-colored campus life". He relives his college experience in different scenarios
but something always goes awry keeping him from his desired lifestyle. Simple right? Maybe a little boring? Definitely not. Even though the story is told in a somewhat episodic nature and makes each episode seem like they have little to do with the last there are many intricacies in each episode that build up and give you the full picture about all the characters and the ongoings in the series. Everything is so fantastically written, nothing is out of place and every scene and line has meaning whether it's to aid in intricately building the story up in-between these parallel scenarios of our protagonist's or just simple foreshadowing. Such a simple story is put together in such an interesting, innovative and intricate way that it just leaves you in awe even before the incredible conclusion that puts all the remaining pieces together and truly gets across the morals of the story. The Tatami Galaxy knows what it's doing in getting it's messages across just as well as it does at it's incredible story-telling, the messages are never mixed, overbearing, or preachy. Beyond the interesting story-telling is it's bizarre presentation and flow of events, Tatami is very surreal and the happenings of the series are very abstract. There's lots of strange and fun things to experience and they happen at a blistering pace, a lot of which is told through the main characters monologuing which could seem a bit jarring and like information might be missing but you get everything you need through the it's complex storytelling method that I mentioned before. Everything is attended to.
All the characters are really fun, they all have their quirks that make them interesting such as Ozu the main character's mischievous friend who loves causing trouble, Akashi the cold, blunt romantic interest that's scared of moths, or Higuchi the mysterious elder student who is full of wisdom. They seem kind of flat at first but build up with the series and become great, fully fleshed-out, three-dimensional characters by the end of it. Well "becoming" such characters isn't exactly true, they were always that way but they are presented by the story through our protagonists eyes in such a way that it's like we are really getting to know them. As I said the story is told in first person, so meeting the other characters is done through our protagonist and it seems a little bit unorthodox in the way they are fleshed-out. We understand more and more about everyone along the way but not in the conventional style, we see different angles of the characters as we see the different scenarios the protagonist lives through. There is even some nice character development had, not all of it is exactly clear as the main character's development becomes a focal point at the end but it's all there.
The artstyle and animation is very avant-garde. It's creative, pretty, innovative, and most importantly fits the tone of such a surreal and satirical series perfectly. While the artwork may not be exactly the most detailed, cutest, or coolest to look at, it definitely has a finesse that makes it interesting and definitely draws the eye. Even if you don't like the artstlye the series makes great use of the animation and definitely has many jaw-dropping visuals. Madhouse is known for having some creative visuals and they definitely know how to use them so i'm not surprised that it was just as great here.
Even the music and voice-acting are wonderful. The music is all very catchy and fits the tone of series or situation perfectly, Higuchi's song in episode 4 is very cool too - the song and the animation techniques used during it made the scene very cool. As for voice-acting they are all done wonderfully, you can tell the seiyuus really got into their roles as they just made their characters pop whether it's our fast-speaking protagonist, cunning sounding Ozu, or the eccentric and excited Johnny.
It was all there for me to enjoy the series, neat visuals, great and catchy music, and most importantly interesting characters and a phenomenally written story. I enjoyed every bit of it and even liked it just as much on a re-watch, in-fact there's a ton of re-watch value.
There's so many intricacies and complexities that there will definitely be new things for you to pick up from earlier episodes that you wouldn't notice without having seen the ending. A ton of great things to appreciate here, so much substance. Be-warned about the blistering speeds at which the protagonist speaks though, it might take a bit adjusting too.
If you're looking for another generic romantic comedy or battle shounen then steer clear, but if you're looking for a new experience with some fantastic writing and are okay with stepping out of your comfort zone for a bit then definitely check out this stunning mind trip.
10/10 read more
Nov 3, 2013
Impressive almost doesn't do it justice. The creators of this show took an ordinary idea and turned it into an extraordinary one. Most of the story is told in a very episodic fashion, which normally would be taken as each episode having generally nothing to do with the next, but it is quite the opposite. Each episode is crafted with detail and woven together in such a way to make several layers of what seems like different tales into one over arching story. The last two episodes serve too tie everything together and were the best in the entire show. If anything was weak about this show, it isn't this.
A very interesting animation style lead to my eyes being very pleased, and the change from the norm was very welcomed. So why only a seven some might ask. Clearly from what I just said it's not like I found the style of the show jarring or unpleasant. The animation was just good, nothing really wrong with it, but nothing that stood out and screamed masterful. If anything this was the weakest part of the show.
Now besides the immensely wonderful opening and ending songs, nothing else in the music department really nailed it for me. It worked for the show don't get me wrong, but nothing made me pause an episode to look up the OST to download it. Where the music falters, the voice acting shines even brighter. Each character sounded fitting and the voice actors/actresses in question delivered wonderful performances. One of my favorites being the devilish voice of Ozu. I love this beautiful bastard and his voice added to this love.
Speaking of Ozu, the characters of this show are beautiful. Each one brought a brilliance to each scene they were in with ease. Watashi, Ozu, Akashi, and everyone else in the cast went above and beyond on the fun meter. I honestly haven't seen an ensemble of characters that I've liked this much since "Baccano!", and that alone is a testament to how wonderful these people are. Now let me get down to the winner of the cast. ***Spoiler*** Ozu not only field my heart with joy and laughter every time he appeared on screen but in the end when you figure out that he was actually the best of bros the entire time was just wonderful.***End*** So as characters go, you have quite a group that will make each episode worth tuning in for.
Enjoyment is something that is completely subjective. Although I don't believe in giving any show a ten because something can't be truly perfect, when it comes to my enjoyment however its a different story. I couldn't have loved this show anymore. I would recommend it to anyone flat out. It is worth your time, even if you end up not enjoying it as much as I.
In conclusion: The Tatami Galaxy was a show rich in characters and had a very standard story told in a very unique way. With an interesting art style and wonderful voice acting this show excels at almost everything across the board. Lowest point for the show would be in its animation, although no where near bad, I felt like it didn't quite have anything that made me go wow. This is a must watch for people who are looking for something different. If you aren't then watch it anyways. It was one hell of a fun ride, and I thank my friend for the recommendation. Thanks for reading read more
Nov 17, 2013
Tatami Galaxy manages to flesh out a fantastic story in merely 11 episodes. It doesn't feel too short nor does it feel too long. It wraps the story up so that it doesn't leave you feeling awkward. I would have given it a 10/10, had it not been for the fact that, at times, it does seem repetitive. But then again, such is the nature of the story due to the way it employs time travel. I also marathoned it, so that is another reason why.
The artistic style is by far the show's strongest point. The show uses a minimalist style that doesn't come off as amateur, weak, or "we're low on budget so just get the damn thing done." It's a breath of fresh air compared to conventional anime. Additionally, it employs real life stills/video and seamlessly incorporates it into the anime. It would seem that the use of monochromatic colors would hurt the show, but it instead adds to its strength by giving flavor to each episode.
Great music and great soundtrack. Although most of the songs are great as in "it's great in a film, but I wouldn't listen to it without the film" there are quite a few tracks that can stand alone. The opening song (and sequence) really captures the essence of the show. It should be noted that the opening song was by Asian Kung-Fu Generation. The ending song was good as well, but it didn't captivate me as much as the opening song did.
This would have been a 10/10 were it not for a few hiccups. There were a couple of characters that were not fleshed out enough, and some of the characters can even be interpreted as a mirrors for the different aspects of the main character's personality, but I think this has to do with the nature of the story itself, as well as an unreliable narrator.
I thoroughly enjoyed Tatami Galaxy, and I plan on re-watching it again so that I can better appreciate it.
The score speaks for itself. One concern I had was the lack of dubs. While I usually watch subs, this is one show that really needs a dub due to the fast pace dialogue. It can be quite difficult to keep up with the conversations and monologues. Honestly, there were times where I had to pause to read the text. The biggest drawback is that because you have to spend an above average amount of focus and energy on reading the subs, you thus fail to give the animation its appropriate attention. Nonetheless, you do eventually adapt to its pace, and it does get easier to watch as you move on.
Jul 2, 2010
A nameless protagonist, referred to as Watashi ('I') by himself, has just entered college, and the story more or less follows his many lives and many misfortunes. Each episode starts with Watashi pursuing something inane or stupid - like a "rose-colored campus life" or "raven-haired maidens" and in each episode his friend Ozu, manages to somehow screw everything up. I say friend in the lightest sense of the term, because Ozu isn't really anyone's friend. He's a backstabbing punk who just loves to terrorize people, and he always manages to infect Watashi in one way or another, usually ending up driving him away from his goal. Along Watashi's trip across the Tatami Galaxy you're introduced to many different people, and in each life, a different story unfolds. Each story is unrelated other than by starting the same way at first glance, but you'll start noticing some patterns, and eventually it brings you to one of the most impressive endings I have ever seen. If I were to tag a genre to this anime I'd first have to say it's a slice-of-life comedy, then mystery, but it's also a really great psychological anime. It's incredibly dialogue heavy, and the first three minutes of episode one has the most text I've ever seen in an anime. That being said it can be very easy to lose track of what is going on, but if you're on your feet then you shouldn't get lost too easily.
Yojou-han is brought to you by MadHouse, which is known for it's diverse art style and in this anime's case it is either defined as pretentious or glorious. I would like to call it the latter. It's non-traditional and is unlike any other anime in existence, seriously. It's like Mononoke when Mononoke was new, it can amaze people, or turn people the heck away. It's a very vibrant anime, and everything is so fluid - movement looks just splendid. For those faint of eyes, be wary, Yojou-han Shinwa Taikei may not be the anime for you.
Well, there's a song about shapes in an early episode. That was like, totally freaking awesome. How many anime have songs about shapes? Unless Fullmetal Alchemist the Musical is coming out anytime soon, I think that's about a zero other than Yojou-han. The opening is amazing, and Asian Kung-Fu Generation does a great job (It's called "Maigo Inu to Ame no Beat"). I believe it's their first opening for a non-shonen show. The ending is amazingly well positioned (you'll see what I mean) and the first time you hear it I promise you'll get a small shiver. The singer is the same who sang the Arakawa Under the Bridge opening, Etsuko Yakushimaru. The voice acting for every character is of course, awesome as well. Watashi does most of the talking and I was considering favoriting his voice actor (Shintaro Asanuma) just because I liked to hear him talk. The background music is the only flaw sound-wise. There really isn't much to listen to, and even if their is, I probably didn't notice, because between following the dialogue and looking at the art, it's pretty hard to manage a third element.
I've already explained who Watashi is, but let me tell you a little more. Watashi likes shortcuts and doesn't like working, and almost can be seen as a lazy Ozu. Ozu is our antagonist most of the time. He's the downright rotten scoundrel who always leads our poor Watashi astray, and usually ends up profiting off of it. I called Watashi a "lazy Ozu" a moment ago because Watashi isn't an innocent little bird, he's just too lazy to put his efforts into anything other than his hobbies. Akashi, the somewhat romantic interest, is a girl who loathes moths and is bluntly cold to everyone around her. Kind of like Senjogahara (from Bakemonogatari), but easier to cope with. She's pretty funny herself, but all the characters are. We have the doll-fanatic Jougasaki, the drunk and elder Hanuki who likes to speak broken engrish, the Master Higuchi, who is an 8th year graduate who plans to travel the world, and multitudes of others (like Watashi's Johnny (see Eden of the East)). The character development is insanely good too. This anime is about Watashi's little foray of self realization, thusly he gets the most character development, but never have I seen it done so well.
An anime that can create a macrocosm within itself is an anime to be trifled with. It sets the stage with brilliant characters and visuals, brings hilarious moments throughout, and manages to deliver numerous meaningful messages. Is there a perfect world? Will I be happier with more money and women? Will I be happier doing what people say I should? Yeah. It's pretty damn complex. It's as thought provoking as Kaiba while bringing the comedy of Gintama. I think it's safe to leave it at that.
No fanservice, no lolis, no moe, no ultra-violence, no regrets. It's intelligent without being snobby, it's stupid without being idiotic, and it's appealing without being inappropriate.
To sum it up, I think you should just try it out. It's only 11 episodes, and I think for the one season range of anime, this is one of the best out there.
Destiny is always dangling right in front of you, so why not reach out and grab this anime? read more
Nov 14, 2010
Yojouhan is a rare example of a series with time loops where the loops themselves are actually played with. Throughout the 11 episodes, there are several different stories, but many of the episodes focus on the same stories as others. What makes these episodes work is that we see the stories from different angles. In some episodes, we see segments of the story that aren't entirely clear, though at the time are not distracting. In later episodes, these plot points are often explained when Watashi's perspective changes and we see what actually happened. The best part of this, though, is that every episode lends pieces to a larger story. While the series is episodic, what we see effectively falls into place like a jigsaw puzzle, all coming to fruition in the final episode making for one of the most satisfying conclusions I've ever seen.
As a result of this, the first few episodes of the series don't make complete sense. They come off as being more abstract than part of an actual plot, but as the series goes on the beginning is referred to in a way that makes this start a vital piece of the puzzle. However, the start is hardly a throwaway. While not as strong as the rest of the series upon viewing, the bizarre and abstract style make the beginning an enjoyable watch anyway.
On that note, the way the series is presented is part of the genius. Upon starting the show, the first thing that will strike you is undoubtedly the art. The characters are drawn in an oddly cartoony way, using only one-tone colours for the art and having a rubbery kind of movement to them. This seems like an odd choice, but it does help to draw you into the unique world of Yojouhan, and later in the story it even gets used for plot purposes. This is also combined with a lot of black and white live-action shots, wherein the characters are sometimes drawn over the actors.
The strange presentation doesn't stop there, though. One strange feature of Yojouhan is that Watashi is very fond of monologuing, in a way very reminiscent of Kyon (from the Haruhi Suzumiya series, in case you've been living under a rock). He does so, however, at a very high speed. If the show has a fault, it is this, but it's more of a double-edged sword than a flaw outright. For people who aren't great at reading, the high speed of the subtitles can often make the things Watashi says hard to keep up with, but it's rarely overwhelming. On the plus side of it, it helps to keep the pacing of Yojouhan fast, which keeps the series interesting, an important factor in a series that is driven with an abundance of dialogue (excellent though the dialogue may be).
For a show that could have easily been dull or just weird if it had been handled wrongly, it only makes sense that even more precautions are made to make sure that there isn't a dull second in Yojouhan, as evidenced by the motormouthed narration. What helps with this is that rather than being thrown into an entirely new plot every time, there are a few elements that remain the same throughout every story. The beginning and end of each episode are usually the same, as well as Watashi's meeting with a fortune teller. This helps the viewer to keep a pace with the series, which may have been otherwise hard to do.
The characters of Yojouhan aren't really the focus point, but they aren't an afterthought by any means. While each member of the cast is a vibrant and distinctive individual in of themselves, the actual characterisation isn't really the strong point of the characters, but rather how they are used. Just like the story, each character and their actions throughout the two years are explained slightly more with each new perspective. This ends with more or less every character coming out good, but one character in particular sticks out as being an excellent example of defied expectations, showing their nature as a 3-dimensional character as we see their story from each side fall into place. I won't spoil who it is, but anybody who has seen the series should know who I mean. Watashi himself, while an unremarkable person, is hard not to like for his enjoyable musings and relatable situations, and as the series goes on he does develop well, if not remarkably so.
Of course, the time loops persist for as long as Watashi continues to miss the proper way to live the two years, with conclusions that have been dangling in front of his eyes the whole time. Some of the conclusions become expected after a mere few episodes, but other, more important ones (as well as the entire point of the time loops) are less obvious and yet no less excellent.
Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei is an exercise in series structure unlike anything before it. The way the entire series is built comes off as nothing short of genius. I have yet to see any of acclaimed director Yuasa Masaki's previous works, but Yojouhan makes it blatantly clear that he lives up to the reputation that precedes him. I can only hope Kaiba, Kemonozume and Mind Game are nearly as good as this, because now Masaki has set an excellent example of how to make a truly great, original anime.
For Fans Of: Bakemonogatari, Welcome to the N.H.K! read more
Apr 6, 2013
This series really is why I love episodic series. The bad ones obviously suck beyond belief, but when shows like this one make optimal use of them they can really turn into something unique, and the short stories can allow for ideas that would normally not fit within a linear storyline. A lot of things have to be done right in order to get a good episodic series, though, but to me the key seems to be creativity, along with somehow finding a way to build-up: connecting the different episodes together. I believe that if these aren’t present, you’re just better off with a linear storyline in order to get the best out of your characters. But Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei has both of them.
A man is miserable. Despite all his dreams of a “Rose-Coloured Campus Life” filled with raven-haired maidens who dote on him, his social life is going nowhere. He has no girlfriend, his only good friend keeps getting him into trouble, and the circle he joined brings him no joy. So he tries again, and again, reliving his first two years of college life ad nauseum, making different decisions each time, having no recollection that he’s already done this all before. Will the man ever be satisfied with how his life turns out?
The character designs have a stylish comic book economy that give the impression the animators completed each frame in just a few strokes. The exception is Ozu, Watashi's friend who has a frightfully amphibious face: a head like a fish's, teeth like a shark's, and unnervingly dark lips set against a pale visage. Occasionally, in his wiliest moments, they give him a wagging fox tail. Other than that, most of the artistry occurs in the background details (fractal patterns in the trees and the scenery made of eerie black-and-white live-action photography), the framing of the shots, and the precision editing, which cement Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei's patchwork aesthetic beautifully.
They tend to merge real life shots and video in with the episodes when appropriate and it doesn't seem too out of place which is kinda hard to do so that's a plus. There were no crazy battles, no artsy flips or anything out of the ordinary. However what they did need to do was done well.
The artistic style is loose and stylized, which helps purposefully misrepresent the characters and allows for the art to change at the drop of a hat. Allusions and symbolism between episodes are amusing or subtle, keeping the story creative in its connections. Most of all, the sense of humor of the series continually seeks to entertain even when the general atmosphere is introspective, maintaining the show’s levity throughout.
The music is borderline strong - the OP is a modern classic by AKFG - I rarely sit through the OP on anime, but I did throughout this series.
The ED was pretty fitting especially for the mood at the end of each episode and oddly seemed to also fit the animation sequence.
Overall the OST is just a decent compliment to the whole story but never takes on a life past background music, arguably what it's intended for and in which case would be perfect but sometimes you can't beat a crazy score overlaying a scene.
The voice-acting is very well-done, too. It takes talent to be able to speak so quickly and so level-headedly as Watashi, and Shintaro Asanuma does not disappoint. Even the more cartoonish, exaggerated characters like Ozu and Higuchi receive proper treatment.
Yuasa Masaaki’s work on Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei thrives on its ability to avoid stagnation and build a developing story even when each episode follows the exact same structure. In fact, it is this very paradox that drives the creativity. Wonderfully planned out, believable, and deep.
Yuasa’s dynamic storytelling is further bolstered by the characters, who act as the foundation of the ever-changing state of the singular story. The main character Watashi, or simply I, acts as the unreliable narrator, which drives the perspective of the show. The defeatist attitude with which he views the world skews the very nature of things. His character seems pitiful, his actions absurd. Yet it is these very actions that form his identity as he moves from episode to episode. He is not a static character that commits the same mistake again and again; rather, the choices he makes are multiform and logically or emotionally sound, even if his character flaws cause him to fail again and again.
The other characters are equally delightful in their depictions, which begin archetypical and seemingly one-dimensional. Some are malicious, others are lecherous, and a few are downright whimsical. But Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei is quick to remind us of Watashi’s unreliability by providing alternate looks at these characters, creating interpretations that are hardly apparent at the beginning but still complimentary to the quirks seen in the first few episodes. The development of these characters come naturally, and their presence in the story support Watashi’s characterization immensely.
At first sight, the way in which this series keeps resetting itself after every episode may seem weird at first, but it actually was a brilliant method to flesh out its different characters. Because of its very frequent resets, this stands out even more than series that did similar things in the past, like Higurashi and Umineko. Because of this, we get to see a ton of different sides of the characters that would never have been able to been shown without these resets, and the most important part is that we see Watashi develop in many different ways throughout each episode. The different side-characters all have their own parts to play in Watashi (the lead character)’s world and everything comes together wonderfully in the final episodes.
Overall, this series is one of the most underrated, under appreciated and unknown anime. It is a hidden gem unknown to people. You will rarely see an anime that is very funny but has a very deep meaning. If you are looking for a unique, non-mainstream, non-complex and very interesting story.
This really is an amazing work. It'll make you rethink life which is rare these days. Sure an anime might awe you with an amazing character to the point you try to emulate their traits. But very few make you reconsider life from a new point of view. I highly suggest you watch it, because it really has it all.
So let us all gather around a 4.5 Tatami Room slurping on our delicious Neko Ramen. read more
Dec 4, 2012
If you are just such a person, then watching Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei -or The Tatami Galaxy as it has come to be known in English- is one opportunity that you simply can't afford to pass up.
The story of a nameless (referred to as 'Watashi') young man in his third year at Kyoto University, looking back on the numerous adventures, expeditions and escapades he has experienced during his time on campus. However, rather than fond memories, he finds himself feeling rather dissatisfied with the way things have turned out, and proceeds to ask himself where things started to go wrong.
Perhaps it was the club he joined. Maybe he made a few bad decisions along the way. But in all likelihood, it was all Ozu's doing. But it doesn't really matter who is at fault. With his opportunity missed, Watashi has no choice but to harbour his bitterness and day dream about how things could have been so very different...
And then something miraculous happens, and Watashi is given something that you and I will never have; a second chance. The perfect opportunity to go back to the beginning. The opportunity to do it all again, to avoid his previous mistakes and ensure himself a life of happiness. But one simple question still remains; which path should he take? Which of the various roads, streets and avenues is the one that leads to that most glorious of gardens, the rose-coloured campus life?
Unsurprisingly for a character who's name essentially translates as 'I', Watashi is a character that is easy to identify with; after all, 'disappointment' does not discriminate based on sex, race or class, and at the end of the day we are all looking for the same thing Watashi is-- our own happiness.
But he is just one of the many interesting characters in the Yojouhan universe- there's Watashi's quote-unquote friend Ozu, who seems to be set on preventing Watashi from enjoying a care-free existence. There's Master Higuchi, a local god engaged in a bitter "war" with the leader of the film circle. Last but not least there is Watashi's underclassman Akashi, who's charmingly cute appearance, sets the hearts of men flying, shortly before her distant and fiery attitude brings them crashing back down to earth like Icarus.
But Yojouhan's most impressive achievement is its beautiful, understated visuals. Despite integrating features like stylised photography and simplified character designs, Yojouhan never feels like a Director's visual experiment, but a seamless, straightforward production; proving that looking good doesn't always mean you need to show off. Of course, the animation and directing is still top notch, as you would expect from a show that takes this much pride in its art.
The soundtrack, while certainly not below average, is the only thing about Yojouhan that can adequately be referred to as a weakness. The background music -quiet pianos and melancholic violins- certainly do their job, but fail to be impressive. This is a little disappointing when compared with other aspects of the show.
The opening and ending themes do offer some condolences though, with a particularly catchy opener 'Maigoinu to Ame no Beat' by Asian Kung-Fu Generation features grungy guitars and lyrics about the banality of everyday life yet has a subtle optimism about it which feels perfect for Yojouhan. Meanwhile, the ending sequence combines an atmospheric trance song with some mesmerising visuals.
Then there's the dialogue, set to the kind of pace one would normally expect in an auction-house. Long and complicated sentences that begin and end within the confines of a single breath. While it makes reading the subtitles a little bit of challenge at first, the extra effort is worth it, as it makes the dialogue far more interesting, and is just one of the many things that demonstrate the level of attention to detail in Yojouhan.
Offering an interesting storyline and considerably more depth than the typical 'Slice-of-Life' anime and each episode offers something new and original, without ever having to rely on tired clichés like hot spring or beach episodes. It gives the whole show a remarkable freshness, and every episode is a pleasure to watch. And best of all it, it manages to be so much more than just straight up entertainment- it actually has a point behind it all. It leaves you with something to think about, and without resorting to emotional blackmail.
Whether you're an expert or a beginner, a casual or critic, watching Tatami Galaxy is the perfect choice for a few hours of quality entertainment. Anime this good only come around once every few years, so don't hesitate. Isn't it about time you seized the opportunity that is dangling in front of your eyes?
Jun 22, 2010
Upon first glance, what do you notice? Chances are it’s the art style. Similar to Yuasa’s previous works, The Tatami Galaxy features a unique, anomalous, but yet simple art style that never fails to evoke a sort of anger towards Yuasa among some anime fans, for many claim that they watch anime to get away from this very style; however, The Tatami Galaxy’s art style reasserts the classic saying that less is indeed more. The style itself is brimming with simplicity; characters are bestowed with one shading at all times, only the most dominant features are depicted, while chins, ears, adam’s apples, collarbones and other aspects of the body are forgotten, leaving the characters themselves appearing very flimsy, curvy and far from dynamic.
How, you may ask, does this advocate the fact that less is more? For those of you unaware of the mechanics behind the animation process, animators must draw a character numerous times, bearing the same proportions and details as the previous sketch. As a result of this, many animators spend their time copying over details from the preceding drawing rather than creating a sense of flow between them. On the contrary, The Tatami Galaxy’s simple style allows the animators to portray actions more fluidly and regularly than other shows. The condensed style is much faster to draw, and so the animators are given a chance to work without restraint, and that is absolutely what they do. Characters ricochet across the screen, a plethora of objects move at once, still frames are very limited, and unlike many other anime, budget does not act as a confinement for imagination.
I would also like to point out that, from a cinematic standpoint, this anime is incredibly well put together. Transitions between scenes flow brilliantly and scene composition is done with great expertise. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that The Tatami Galaxy is easily one of the most visually appealing works of animation that have ever graced this earth.
Does the theme of less being greater than more desist after moving away from the topic of art and animation? Well, not entirely. As the story progresses, or rather regresses, the characters are shown in varying situations that range from sad, hilarious to downright over the top. Rather than taking the time to elaborate as to what the character’s roots are, the show uses its recursive nature to build the character’s personalities and give them a good portion of depth. The characters themselves are all very likable and are drawn very smoothly. I especially enjoyed Ozu’s antithetical antics and Akashi’s icy yet affectionate attitude.
The stunning visuals are not the only thing The Tatami Galaxy has going for it; the voice actors pack great amounts of effort, emotion, and in some cases, speed, into their roles. The background music is also similar to the previously analysed categories in the sense that it follows the ‘less is more’ rule of the show. The Tatami Galaxy is at times silent, while at others calmingly quiet, but the rare fast-paced ensembles never fail to produce a sense of excitement and urgency in the viewer. The composer and sound directors working on this show deserve a great amount of kudos for their excellent work.
Lastly, I will assess the plot of The Tatami Galaxy. Ordinarily, I would deconstruct the plot of an anime first and foremost, but coincidentally, this is far from an ordinary anime.
The story follows its nameless protagonist as he searches for love. In an attempt to find his raven-haired goddess and attain the rose-colored campus life he had been dreaming of, he joins a multitude of extra-curricular activities, but the majority of his efforts are for naught. He denies the reality that has been set out before him, and time rewinds back to the day he first joined college, only giving him yet another opportunity to follow one of the endless contingencies awaiting him.
The plot gives the viewer room to guess what’s going on – it allows them to speculate why time resets, how each individual episode correlate with one another, and the nature of the protagonist’s recursive campus life, or to even ponder the possibility of no recursion at all. Rather than taking the viewer for a ride, The Tatami Galaxy lets the viewer create their own ride, then continues to enhance said ride into a rollercoaster.
Overall, The Tatami Galaxy is a brilliantly put together anime brimming with creativity and originality. Like its predecessors, The Tatami Galaxy is filled with Yuasa’s postmodern madness and humor, giving the viewer food for thought and a good laugh at the same time. I’m usually very hesitant to give an anime, or anything in particular, the title of a masterpiece, but I believe that this show deserves no less than that. It is for that reason that I give The Tatami Galaxy all 10s across the board.
Nov 28, 2012
That's why, to not insult the people who are fed up with labeling The Tatami Galaxy as an intelligent introspective narrative that incorporates deep themes about what it means to have a "rose colored campus life", I'll just say that if anything else, The Tatami Galaxy is a refreshing story that's bold in its premise and succeeds in its execution. While not necessarily a story that left me in awe over its intellectual depth as deep as The Japan Trench, it definitely has some important things to offer, and past all the volumes of texts, I think there's a lot of really well done things to consider about this show. And while some may complain that the show tries to come off as elitist, and at times bombastic and overly complicated, I think people are missing the point if that's what the show seemed to convey to them.
The story of Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei is very simple. We're introduced to a nameless main character who seeks the perfect college campus life. The episodes follows him on a two year journey of his exploits, where he chooses different clubs and societies in an attempt to gain higher social standing, a beautiful girlfriend, or just recognition of his talents. These escapades usually end in failure, no thanks to a mischievous friend named Ozu, whose very existence seems to be to keep the main character from achieving his dreams. At the end of each episode, as the main character is reminiscing on how things might have been so much better had he not taken the steps that he did, an unexplained plot device spins him back to the beginning of his college years, and the cycle continues with him choosing yet another club to find his perfect two years.
The style of the show is what makes the show visually appealing and inviting. It's a very vibrant world, and the main character's rather mundane and normal appearance creates a very stark contrast between him and an otherwise colorful world, which I thought fit in quite nicely with everything the show was trying to express. The very smooth animations and unique character designs, coupled with scenes that sometimes just look like a series of different geometric shapes flying in a million different directions makes this show a very art heavy piece, and I think that works to its benefit. Without saying anything about its content, characters, or even sound, the Tatami Galaxy is a very pretty show, and it's a breath of fresh air from some of the more solid and recycled art forms and generalized character designs that are so common today in anime.
As far as the characters, I think that's a strong part of the show as well. It's a very dynamic cast, filled with people that go beyond the initial archetypes that were cast on them. The deviant friend, Ozu, is more than just the troublemaker bent on destroying the life of the main character, and might have a few secrets of his own. Akashi, the cold and abrasive female lead, has a few quirks that makes her interactions with the main character enjoyable, and while she receives probably the least amount of attention, her presence usually gives the audience a moment of clarity and logic that the rest of the show sometimes neglects. Even supporting characters like the handsome charmer Jougasaki and the self proclaimed deity Higuchi all go beyond their initial stereotypical roles and become people with dreams, aspirations, and personal flares that make them more human and lively in the story. In other words, the characters in this story feel more like humans, rather than labels you can attach to characters and identify as a specific trope or another. That allows people to connect with the story more.
At the end of the day though, the meanings that are derived from this work are not really that "deep" or "thought provoking", and I can see why people get frustrated when they receive hype that's poorly directed. I mean, sure, if you look past the amusing speedy text, the simple story line, and the humor, the Tatami Galaxy does have something more to tell. It's a story about appreciating the things you have, not the things you don't. It opens our eyes to the endless possibilities and futures each and every one of us has in front of us, but it also expresses how sometimes certain things are just meant to be, and we as human beings in a cosmos of unpredictable circumstances can only do what's, in our minds, the best decisions given the hand we're dealt. However, while these themes are probably deeper than the average harem or slice of life show that's airing these days, they're certainly not ideas that are uncommon in literature.
But if one goes into the Tatami Galaxy expecting some radically deep and intellectual material, I think that's the wrong way to approach the show, much as it is a mistake to approach almost any anime with the sole intent of gaining some kind of intellectual value from it. The real focus of the Tatami Galaxy is to highlight a specific portion of our lives and to illuminate all the different possibilities that can arise from such an important period. All its supposedly "smart" insights and musings come secondary to what some might consider a nostalgic experience, and to others an ongoing process. And to that extent, I think the Tatami Galaxy succeeds in its efforts to display a time that may be difficult for a lot of people. It's not hard to sit in the main character's shoes and think that while other people are off having successful adventures in college, you're the only that seems to be left behind the crowd, nor is it hard to imagine back to one's college years and think what could have done better to maybe change one's life around.
These are the questions that the Tatami Galaxy asks. It doesn't necessarily try to probe at some greater questions of life or delve deep into better understanding a specific human condition, nor do I think there's an intent to appear smarter than it is. I'd say that's more or less a product of the main character's personality shining through the narrative, which I think adds stylistic appeal that's probably more or less rare in animes that just open up stories with a happy girl saying her name and what school she's in. Instead, the Tatami Galaxy asks "what kind of possibilities do we have in life" and by extension "how many of those possibilities have a negligible impact on where we end up?" The show doesn't answer this question completely. It tries, in some areas, especially with the main character who gives extensive explanations and attempts to rationalize an answer with his narrations, but ultimately it leaves such an ending to be answered by the audience, who forms a conclusion based on the main character's experiences. That's the Tatami Galaxy, a cosmos of different paths and opportunities to be explored and a moderately insightful look at a time where one may feel disillusioned by what many consider to be one of life's greatest experiences.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Tatami Galaxy, and I didn't enjoy it because it was a deep and thought provoking work. It was fun to watch, visually appealing, had characters that were interesting and beyond my initial expectations, and ended up nicely with a few important messages about life that I took to heart. If that's the kind of story you're looking for, I'd like to highly recommend The Tatami Galaxy to you.
May 14, 2011
The Tatami Galaxy runs with different arcs for each episode with a total of 10 arcs. These arcs keep on repeating but with different twists and circumstances. By this type of story-telling, it could often be compared to the “Endless Eight” of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (2009) and the total mind-blowing Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Though it might be used as a comparison, the three titles are entirely different. In The Tatami Galaxy, the same situation arises but with the existence of tons of different options in which it could provide a different ending for each arc; in Haruhi, all scenarios were the same but Kyon just need to realize something to break through the endless cycle which in turn could get very annoying; and the difference from Higurashi is, instead of preventing something from happening with the efforts of everyone around, The Tatami Galaxy is trying to make things happen by yourself… and it doesn’t involve killing lolis.
The Tatami Galaxy is being told in how the main protagonist perceives his world. He is the focus of the story and is also the narrator himself. Having the main protagonist as the narrator, depending on the circumstances and situation, he could be extremely biased and most of the time uses exaggeration in describing things. By running through parallel worlds, the anime looks on the different angle of events, like what could have happened if he chose this over that and the other numerous possibilities. All the 10 arcs will always start the same but with immediate options that were presented these greatly affects the outcome. Sometimes, some events that are entirely irrelevant to the current arc are seen but then it will be shed light upon on some other arcs as to why such a phenomenon occurred. These events are also used to fill out the missing links in each and every arc leading to a grand conclusion.
The main character of The Tatami Galaxy didn’t state his real name all throughout the span of 11 episodes thus he calls himself “Watashi.” Being the main character, he is also the narrator himself in which kind of reminds us of Kyon (Haruhi) but a lot better and is absolutely not a total killjoy. Unlike your usual high school life setting, The Tatami Galaxy is set on a college stage. Watashi is a college student that goes with the flow of his surroundings; in which other people are a great factor. One of these great factors or if not the main reason why this happens is the guy who was described by Watashi having a youkai-like face, Ozu. Ozu is a mischievous student who is your typical trouble-maker. He bullies the weak, sucks up to the strong, a backstabber, doesn’t care as long it’s fun, has low grades, hates vegetables and etc. He is the most hated guy of Watashi but also his best friend. Being a college student, Watashi also has his campus crush who is Akashi. Akashi is the strict and no-nonsense type of girl but also has a cute side to her as she is easily scared by the presence of moths. Some more important characters are the Fortune Teller who always runs away with Watashi’s money, the campus heartthrob but who has a creepy fetish Jougasaki, the “Master” man-user Higuchi, and the drunkard dentist Hanuki. Through the different arcs, the characters reveal their different facet except for Ozu which is pretty much linear as he remained to be the usual boisterous youkai that Watashi believes him to be. Though near the end, a revelation will be known as to why he acts that way. These people greatly affect what is happening and unless Watashi doesn’t find content with his 2 years in college, the time loops will always occur thus leading to another arc and story.
The humor of The Tatami Galaxy mainly runs on the narration and the conversation that Watashi does with the other characters. By any chance that you’re wondering what is with the “weird” art, it is actually used to describe how Watashi sees things. The art is done as simple and twisted as it could be so that in other arcs were Watashi’s views are different, it could be easily changed and adapted. The theme songs of this anime are done by Asian Kung-Fu Generation and by the one who sang the Arakawa Under the Bridge’s opening, Etsuko Yakushimaru. Surprisingly, Koinu to Ame no Bīto by AKFG is not as J-Rock as their other anime songs which fits as an opening song of this anime perfectly while Kami-sama no Iu Toori by Etsuko Yakushimaru is simply awesome. It is so haunting yet so catchy that will leave you craving out for more.
There were no dull moments in The Tatami Galaxy as you might often find yourself focused on to know what’s going on because of the rapid narrating of Watashi. Being monotonous and very fast, it helps in getting more attention and kills any boredom that makes it always interesting. But by this, you really need to focus and some people might stop and pause a lot of times if you’re not a fast reader and could not understand Japanese.
Overall, The Tatami Galaxy is one great anime but sadly is overlooked by some. Honestly, there could possibly be no wrong in this anime just the fact that not all would appreciate it as it mostly appeals to those who like to think while watching which mostly consists of the older age group. But if you’re a fan of dark comedy with a brain-twisting plot, you should just go and watch this now.
Aug 10, 2010
There's two things of very noteable worth in this series. One; is the story. Two; is the animation.
The story in The Tatami Galaxy is constructed over a episodic nature. As each episode recollectes the main character's last two years of college, but within different social circles or clubs. So every episode plays around the main character going through almost the same events, and meeting the same characters, in each episode. This sounds like it'll become very tedious.. BUT! Unlike Haruhi's Endless Eight, which forces you to watch the same episode 8 times, The Tatami Galaxy plays afew key scenes the same, but the actual journey through each episode is always different. Because of this, each episode feels fresh, and the novelty doesn't slowly wear off and become dull.
Also, the amount of detail that went into this series is staggering. I can almost akkin it to the Watchmen graphic novel, in the sense that the series is scattered with all these little small details and foreshadowing. It's impressive when a episode later in the series will make a callback to a very small scene that happened in the second episode.
Though, something I became seriously impressed with is the ending. Considering the story works in a episodic nature, I had a hard time believing that everything would lead to a beliveable conclusion... I don't want to spoil anything, but it's very satisfying.
The animation in this series is very simplistic, yet beautiful to look at. It provides a sense of charm and atmosphere for the series. Though, the animation has two things working for it, it uses a intergration of real life stills or videos, and placing animation on in, and, it has a sense of 'exaggeration' that is common placed in most animes, but instead of playing it up for laughs like other animes do, it provides this sense of fantasy or imagination within this universe. The animation is very 'arthouse', if I had to define it to a single term. Which is no surprise, considering Madhouse has always been known for pumping out series with excellent animation behind it.
As of far, The Tatami Galaxy is one of the most intellectually satisfying pieces of media that I've seen in quite sometime. Even though it's half-way into the new year, I'm going to go ahead and say that this is quite possibly, the best anime I've seen this year. I can't suggest this highly enough. read more
Jul 5, 2010
STORY SECTION: 10/10
This series is to the most part a comedy. If you happen to have watched several anime comedies you will probably have realized that the story is (ironically) a joke too. The first episodes set up a premise, they promise a plot, they give hints of mystery, progress, evolution… and do Jack. Really, it doesn’t take more than 2 episodes to turn to random gags, episodic structure and open ended to keep trolling the viewers for a sequel with the hopes of a conclusion to come along… only to dreadfully create a far less exiting second season with usually far less context and far more fan service. Recent examples to the series’ airing dates include Arakawa Under the Bridge, Working, B Gata H Kei . Go further back and, WOOP, 99% of comedies are like that. This is quite the usual bait and fandom bites it all the time, unwilling to admit the harsh reality. It is also quite ironic how the first anime I ever watched was in fact a comedy… with a concrete story! I am referring to Kabamaru Igano which is surprisingly good even by today’s standards.
Anyways, after all that came Tatami Galaxy which happens to belong in this very rare category of concluded scenarios. That alone is enough to give Story a wooping score… but there is more! Yes, there is! The structure of the story eventually becomes a web of events that interact with one another, making the final episode to actually feel like everything happened for a reason as such. It didn’t feel like there were wasted episodes, dead time, random gags and such. Remember that Haruhi / Haibane Renmei / Matrix rip-off that was Angel Beats? Well forget it; this series is actually NOT shitting around just to end up being rushed and half-baked.
Even more, the story is actually deep, far more than a run of the mill plotless school comedy. In fact, to the most part it was planned along to unfold this way BEFORE starting making the first episode. The scriptwriter didn’t begin with the usual “Well, duh, let’s start at random and make up stuff along the way.” Thus the story does not only avoid random progress but also offers a lot of other delightful extras, such as multi-layered lines of events, science fiction, psychological immersion and even witty life lessons around one’s being. Now that is what I call a wonderful story!
Was it an original story? Nope. Usually that means I am loosing interest in it very fast but this time it was actually far better that all the other similar stories I could think of.
Mind Game has similar thematics in terms of the protagonist’s inability to interact properly with others. In fact, the visuals and the plot reminded me a lot of that movie. In fact… it is made by the same guys! WOOP! And guess what, being a series that takes place in far more areas and has more duration allowed the same theme to unfold far better and smoother that in that movie. Thus it is overall SUPERIOR to Mind Game, a movie which many have in their tops.
Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei and Kuuchuu Buranko are comedies with a high amount of artistic animation, social criticism, and psychological immersion. The problem is those where episodic and had no overall plot or story. Thus, once again, Tatami feels SUPERIOR in this regard.
Bakemonogatari had in similar fashion to the above witty dialogues but the story was far too simple and could easily split to stand-alone arcs.
The main story being about time loops has also been done before with the most recent example being Endless Eight . WAIT, TAKE OUT THE GUN FROM YOUR MOUTH! GET DOWN FROM THE ROOF! MOVE AWAY THE KNIFE FROM YOUR WRIST! Although this series has a similar form of pacing, it is NOT REPEATING TO THE POINT OF SUICIDE. It made sure to be using the same events with a far different take or just skip them when they loop and leave you alone to understand the rest.
Again with time loops was the great Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Although I am very fond of that work, it still feels less captivating for being a movie with less artistic approach.
Thus I find no reason to give the story anything less than a perfect 10. The ending may feel weird and far-fetched or as some called it “pretentious” aka the scriptwriter offers the ideal ending on a subject that bothers him. That is not a reason to detract point from the story, since as I said for such a type of series offers a hell of a lot instead of just going for the easy way.
CHARACTER SECTION: 10/10
Then comes the cast, which feels good as well. Usually a series focuses too much on one or two characters, leaving all the rest as comedy generators, irrelevant and useless to the actual plot. Remember TK in Angel Beats? Yeah, he was dancing and speaking in dreadful engrish. Did he actually do anything in the story? Nope! Here, every character is part of the plot, affects future events and is looked upon from different viewpoints. By the end of the series they have all evolved far beyond the archetypes they were formed from and are not by any chance cardboards. Plus, the way the series uses internal monologues all the time offers a deep insight to each one’s mentality that flesh him/her out with simple comedic speech. So cheers to the scriptwriter for a job well done!
Some may feel dried up and not imposing in any way. I find no reason to detract points for that as they are still maturing and evolved by the end of the day. Also, the most interesting character ends up being Ozu, the “main villain” of sorts. Unlike most series where the villain overshadows the hero for being damn evil and politically incorrect, here he is great for having a secret agenda that is revealed late in the story. Yippee!
ART SECTION: 9/10
True art is timeless. It has nothing to do with KEWL visuals and 2354 different points from which the sound emanates. This series uses a style that is both minimalistic and enough for all that it tries to depict. Abstract, almost cartoonish, with almost no shading on characters and with a lot of live action film segments used in for quick depiction of areas with lots of background detail. Although that can be seen as cheap by most, you can see that it actually fits with the thematics of the story and doesn’t actually hinder it in any way. It really has to do with tatami apartments and university groups in Japan, plus it takes a somewhat realistic approach on the problems many college students face. So it’s not alienating to see actual filming of such areas. And if you add to that all the psychological symbolisms, such as Johnny the Cowboy, then you get a very interesting result that hardly disappoints. And believe it or not, it actually has more animation and detail that Shaft’s works, which although similar in aesthetics use still panels most of the time. I prefer the Miyazaki fully animated level of detail a bit more than this but I still like it very much.
SOUND SECTION: 9/10
Hm, the protagonist speaks faster than a speeding bullet and you’ll end up freezing the episode every 30 seconds to find the time to read the subs. Other than that, I’ve seen even faster speech in Puni Puni Poemi. But no worries, it is still very funny and smart most of the time, as most of the context is an allusion to ones’ mentality. Voice acting is fine too; I found no out of place pinching in voices. Sound effects contribute to the series’ thematics and the music score is good both in intro and outro.
VALUE SECTION: 9/10
Replay value is actually very high, as you will be interested in watching again all those minor details that were cleverly intergraded in each episode and seemingly played no purpose up until the final episode, where everything comes together. Beyond that, it is an ingeniously made series, far more mature and well thought of that most comedies out there which are no more than “Well, duh, there is this cute girl and, duh, a dork living with her, and, I don’t know, duh, stuff happen”.
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 9/10
Aside from a few scenes that appear really weak in humor and the ending that may or not feel meh for some, I must say that I fully enjoyed every minute of it; a thing as rare for me as finding a virgin in a red lights district.
A very good and funny take on a subject that is somewhat overused in a bad way.
Mind Game (anime movie)
Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei (anime series)
Bakemonogatari (anime series)
Kuuchuu Buranko (anime series)
Endless Eight (Haruhi trollfest)
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (anime movie)
Cube 2: Hypercube (live action Western movie)
Groundhog Day (live action Western movie) read more
Apr 4, 2012
My attention had been gripped very tightly from the beginning due to the fast paced dialogue although at first it was a nuisance I was slowly able to appreciate the element and texture it added to the anime. Getting into this anime I was very skeptical of it as I feared that the repetition of it would be its doom. However I couldn’t be more wrong. Although this might seem like the case in the beginning, every episode is brilliantly layered and what appears to be the main character using a reset button to come to the same conclusion every time is actually utilized in a magnificent way.
In the second half the the pieces of the puzzle slowly start to come together and all the episodes begin to intertwine and we begin to see more sides of a character in each episode or slowly being to realize the symbolism or significance things might have held, ones we might have looked past before but it is nearly impossible to escape the realization of what they represent. The castella, the mochigum, the book Higuchi took forever to return, the ramen, the 4.5 tatami room.
I could go on and on and even though reading this you probably think I have given away everything and spoiled it for you, I have not. That is how incredible this anime is. Just when you think you have everyone’s motives or where this story is headed figured out, it throws something at you that completely changes what you had in mind. That is one of the greatest things about it, it never lets the viewer rest, it forces you to think harder and harder about what everything could mean, what conclusion it could come to. It experiments with Watashi’s psychological state in such depth that sometimes it feels like simple problems of a college kid and his life but at others it’s an unsolvable maze which has you perplexed trying to figure it out. My never ending praise for this anime might seem exaggerated but I am overwhelmed with emotions after watching it.
Upon entering this show you will also notice that the animation and art is uniquely strange to ones usually seen in anime and they were a huge contribution to making this show stand out. The music too was glorious. The opening is partly why I kept coming back to this anime with incomprehensible amounts of excitement. The quirkiness of the characters and the unfortunate failures of Watashi would flash through my head and I wouldn’t be able to help but smile when listening to it. The ending song was nice too.
It was a glorious ride and I command you to watch this anime or you shall be banished to a dungeon where all you get to eat is castella and fish burgers for an eternity. read more
Aug 29, 2010
Enter Watashi (“I”), a young and hopeful freshman at a university who is faced with the choice that will determine his further life at the said campus: he has to choose a club to belong to. So he decides, inspired by the colorful dreams of pleasant and carefree existence as a student, yet the reality is nowhere near as bright as his imagination. When all starts going downhill and Watashi cannot cope with the demands of the world around him, the clock spins backwards, stop, reset, he goes back. …wait. He actually goes back in time.
Although the story is based on the same scheme as the overly hyped “Higurashi” series, it is done in a slightly different manner. The catch is that every counterpart of a person he meets retains their personality, but is actually met in different circumstances. The people around him do change their places, yet he feels he does not – at least not until a certain point in his life, but that is something that has to be seen for oneself. From the good introduction and right until the perfectly developed ending, the story is a strong – if not the strongest - focus of this series.
Although very impressionistic and fluid, the art doesn’t shock. Remembering the very promising promo artworks that came out ages ago and thinking to myself “hey, this is going to be one interesting series, better watch it”, I feel slight bitterness when I feel it is rushed at times, but what pains me the most is that it’s nothing that hasn’t been seen before. Sure, simplicity at its best – sophisticated graphic design does not necessary make a good series, but improving it wouldn’t hurt at all, would it? Fortunately, it is not anything that would subtract from the brilliance of “Yojôhan Shinwa Taikei”.
What strikes in this case, are the perfect opening and ending sequences. A little gift to fellow Asian Kung-Fu Generation fans, the show features a song that goes perfectly with the general mood prevalent throughout, making the opening animation truly an integral part of it. The ending, on the other hand, ties perfectly into the finishing scenes of each episode.
The voice-acting here, ah. It’s professional, suits the show and shows the many sides of the characters effectively. Shintaro Asanuma who played the part of Watashi reigns here. Indeed, his lines are something that needs some accustoming to (“man, slow down, this is killing me” was what I thought at the very beginning), but later on they become a masterpiece, giving this show a certain feeling that can’t be found in its equivalents. It is just as if the main character had too much to say and too little time. I got the feeling it was natural.
Another strong issue. There is no single unlikable character in this colourful show. Whether it’s one of the leads, or the big cast of supporting figures, they all feel as if they belong there, no matter what their role would be. Out of the trio Watashi-Akashi-Ozu, the protagonist may seem the dullest, but the journey he goes is far from boring. Akashi, his ideal raven-haired maiden, is an outspoken young lady with a particularly nasty fear of moths; it is, however, Ozu that drives the craziness, accelerating it by his mischievous doings, successfully making Watashi’s life even more difficult than it already is.
“Yojôhan Shinwa Taikei” has also a well-developed cast of supporting characters, as mentioned before, whose stories intertwine with Watashi’s existence, often in troublesome ways. The most interesting part is always finding out what happens to whom in each part – situations change, but personalities remain strong.
Watashi’s monologues killed me at first. I started watching and was reluctant to continue; it wasn’t long, though, until I resumed the show and was taken by surprise. And it was a very positive surprise. Seeing a show like this is rare nowadays, one that may not be most innovative in its category, but it certainly is captivating and inspirational. Before I noticed, the series was over and I could only sigh. Spring 2010 was a good time for anime and “Yojôhan Shinwa Taikei” contributed to it remarkably.
Watch it. Be prepared, but watch it nevertheless. The show is like a breath of fresh air – it’s a revitalising, pleasant experience. Follow Watashi’s road to finding himself, follow the journey of a human who dreamt of a satisfying life. A solid reality in an abstract wrapping. But that is just how life goes, isn’t it?
Nov 25, 2012
Musically, the show's track is primarily comprised of light orchestral pieces that manage to support its comedic and dramatic moments equally well. The music itself is nothing you haven't heard before, probably even in other anime, but it generally fits. The show has a habit of reusing some of its tonal motifs regularly whenever a certain situation pops up, but considering the story is built around a Groundhog Day loop I can write that off as part of the joke. It's never abused to the point of becoming a distraction, so overall I can say that this show is perfectly competent in its use of sound.
Voice acting is always important, but here especially it's absolutely crucial. Though there's no dub, I must tip my hat to the Japanese voice actors for carrying the difficult script so well. Of particular note are Shintaro Asanuma as our protagonist and Keiji Fujiwari as Higuchi, both of whom have lines that require them to speak a mile a minute and manage to deliver them without a hitch. I'm not sure if they had some sound editing to help them along, but good editing only does so much for lackluster performances and even when speaking at a normal pace they still sound quite good. The voice acting as a whole leans a bit toward the cartoonish side but it's never flat or dull. I think this show would benefit from a dub simply because of the amount of subtitles you'll have to read to get through it if you don't know Japanese, even though you'd probably much rather be taking in the show's quirky visuals. In my personal experience, I had to pause the video a few times just to keep up with all the subtitles. Still, that's not to disparage an excellent Japanese voice track. I just hope that if someone (Funimation?) does eventually dub it they'll do the series justice.
So for all the college students out there in both Japan and abroad who watch and enjoy anime, it's kind of sad and a little surprising how few anime there are that make the effort to address life at this juncture. In recent memory, the only other such series that spring to mind are Moyashimon (which is also unlicensed) and Honey and Clover. As a college student myself, I'll take representation where I can find it. I should probably clarify that The Tatami Galaxy is more about college as a life experience than as an educational institution. That the show chooses this angle, particularly in Japan where the culture leans so heavily on academic achievement (I'm basing this on hearsay, don't quote me on it), is actually quite refreshing, and it certainly becomes more of a boon than a burden, to say otherwise would be missing the point. It could be argued that this show is an achievement simply for its choice of subject matter and for the fresh ground it chooses to tread. But the show also stands out for its style of storytelling. What really holds The Tatami Galaxy together more than anything is the consistency with which it delivers its central metaphor.
First of all, unlike the infamous Endless Eight, the Groundhog Day loop here actually varies its timeline. Most of the recursions, particularly early on, feature similar chains of events aside from the club our protagonist chooses to join, and on the surface it might seem like pointless repetition, but there is an underlying arc that creeps up on the audience over the course of these loops. Each episode gives a different angle on the same events, and small, seemingly pointless details from one cycle can become pivotal plot points in another. To say that every detail in this story has a purpose isn't entirely accurate, at least not from a plot standpoint. Thematically, though, it gets its message across loud and clear as we're shown all the different opportunities that can be found just by slightly shifting our perspective. However, the way to happiness isn't through the missed opportunities of another lifetime; as an old fortuneteller reminds our protagonist every episode, the opportunity to find happiness is always dangling right in front of him. It's a simple message, but the execution is unforgettable, bordering on downright groundbreaking. In many ways, this show seems to deserve a full 10/10, but for all there is to praise here, The Tatami Galaxy has some fairly serious problems.
Getting back to the setting I mentioned earlier, one of the main draws of The Tatami Galaxy is the fact that it addresses college life. Naturally, it's going to ring particularly true to people who have gone to college or are going to college. As an audience, we're expected to sympathize with the characters for the juncture they're at in life, and it works for some people. Still, even though their backdrop makes this easier to overlook, it has to be said: these characters do not act like real people.That's not to say that they're flat, static or archetypal, they are none of these things... and now I need to clarify. Many of the key characters of The Tatami Galaxy have traits common among ordinary college students you may have met, but they tend to come across more as the sum of their traits than as actual, believable people. Hanuki and maybe Higuchi are the most human characters of the cast, but aside from them the motivations we're shown are either simplistic or alien, if not both. Some of them still get their share of development, but when the characters feel like they sprung into existence as college students with no prior life experience you know you're in trouble.
I could have forgiven all that. After all, we're seeing the world through our protagonist's warped perspective, of course he'd fixate on the superficial, but now I get to address the elephant in the room. The astute readers among you may have noticed that I have yet to refer to the protagonist by name. Well, that's because he doesn't have one. Throughout the series he's never once referred to by name (not even a nickname a la Kyon) and he's simply credited as Watashi (Japanese for "I" or "me"). The intent behind this is obvious: he's supposed to be the everyman we can all relate to. Unfortunately, the writing only half-succeeds at getting this across, and the end result is basically an assemblage of human desires and flaws, and feels more like a symbol of college students in general than any actual college student I've ever met. I'm not saying Watashi isn't likable; he can still be fun to watch, and from time to time you'll probably feel something for him, but sympathizing with a character based on his situation only goes so far.
I mentioned earlier that Watashi's perspective is warped, and boy did I mean it. The Tatami Galaxy is at its very best when it utilizes this trait to its full potential, i.e. when there's a discrepancy between what's said and what's shown, or when Watashi shuts up and gives the audience a chance to take in the situation with their own eyes and ears. But this series is based on a novel, specifically a first-person stream-of-consciousness novel. This works well enough early on in the series, when Watashi is stumbling through timelines, misinterpreting his own mistakes and shortcomings, etc. Nor does the use of repetition bother me especially; it's part of the theme, and the meanings of some of the lines he repeats will actually change depending on the context. Still, when a character says in twenty words what could have been communicated in five, it gets frustrating. Worse yet, it's not uncommon for Watashi to explain in intricate detail the conclusion we're expected to draw from the scenario presented. How someone so messed up in the head still manages to be so eloquent is beyond me. We know you're trapped in the "what-ifs" of your life, so shut up and do something about it.
This problem reaches its absolute worst in the last two episodes, specifically the first episode-and-a-half of the last two episodes, where Watashi is forced to confront the manifestation of all the college years he's wasted in all the different lives he's lived. This could have worked if he was more of a character and less of a symbol, but instead we get a mouthpiece spouting explanations for things we should already be able to piece together on our own. If that was all, the conclusion would just be heavy-handed, which wouldn't be so bad, but then Watashi goes on to explain the understanding he comes to about all the other characters and their motivations. Looking back at the nine episodes that preceded, I can understand how the setup is present for many of these character arcs, but having Watashi telegraph his conclusions at us does not wrap them up in a way that feels natural. This is lazy, manipulative storytelling that ignores one of the most basic narrative principles: show don't tell. To be fair, the latter half of the final episode is actually quite fitting, and it successfully ties up the story's central metaphor, but the story's humanity is lost in the process.
For those of you who argue that the story doesn't need a human side precisely because it's symbolic: saying it's okay to forsake that element because it's "a necessary sacrifice" is not only a pitiful excuse, but also completely untrue. It's not easy or common, but it is perfectly possible to merge metaphor and humanity. Revolutionary Girl Utena did it. FLCL did it. The presentation may be "avant-garde", the subject matter may be fresh ground, and to a certain extent I respect it for that, certainly enough to warrant a recommendation, but the lack of a human heart holds this series back from being the masterpiece it could have been. On a more subjective note, I have to wonder if Yuasa's artsy direction was really the best thing for this show. Don't get me wrong, it's not bad, but at a time when more and more people are going to college and it's becoming a more universal part of growing up, mightn't an earthier, more realistic art style have made the show more accessible to a wider audience? Just food for thought.
Despite all my gripes and frustrations, the series' merits as an allegory are still perfectly valid, and I commend it for that. The reason I emphasized the series' flaws so much in this review isn't that the show is bad, not by any stretch. The Tatami Galaxy is a thoroughly admirable creation that delivers spectacularly on the intellectual front, but never quite reaches for your heart the way it really should, and much like its protagonist it can get pretty far up its own ass. Still, the unique artistry and storytelling set this series apart, and it does have something to offer for anyone who's been to college. read more
Sep 5, 2012
If there's anything for which The Tatami Galaxy should be commended the most, it should be the brilliant writing. Characters start off as one-dimensional parodies in the eyes of the unreliable narrator, but through each of the stories, they are given more depth. Likewise, the plot seems to be a random amalgamation of hypothetical would-be's, and thus seems to meander at no real direction. However, like 4.5 tatami can piece together into a square, the brilliant final two episodes piece everything together to give a surprisingly complete picture of a true plot and of the true characters. Without spoiling anything, it's hard to elaborate, but these two episodes are truly spectacular in combining nine seemingly disparate episodes into one complete narrative arc. Regarding style, The Tatami Galaxy is unique. The art is really simple, and for many, it can be a real turn off. However, the simplistic designs put the emphasis on dialogue and development; moreover, it is used as a plot device in one of the episodes. The soundtrack is likewise good, though it is generally overshadowed by the lightning-quick dialogue. Being able to read subtitles quickly is an important skill; otherwise, one may find himself pausing far too often. Ultimately, though a more traditional art style would be aesthetically rewarding, the quirky nature of The Tatami Galaxy's production complements its clever storytelling.
All in all, The Tatami Galaxy is a fantastic anime. The rating may not be too high, but this is due more to the issue of personal enjoyment; I didn't bond to any of the characters, I wasn't fond of the art, and I found the first episodes to be a bit slow. Nevertheless, the anime epitomizes smart, clever writing. The prominent rich themes perfectly cater to the audience. More so than other mediums of art, anime provides an escapist alternate reality for those looking for a break from life, perhaps due to a dissatisfaction with some aspect of our lives. Even though I had a fantastic four years in high school, I sometimes wish I could relive it just to be even more active. Maybe I should have joined ASB. Maybe I should have asked that girl out. Maybe I should have gone to that dance. We can always find things we should have done. I suspect this may be more true of those who are entertained by such a free art form. What The Tatami Galaxy teaches us is that while it's important to try to make the most of your high school and college experience, don't forget to look back and appreciate all the great bonds and experiences. Though they may seem mundane, we wouldn't trade them for the world. read more
May 15, 2010
From what I can gather, each episode is a different potential time line that (so far) resets after each episode, sort of like the arcs in Higurashi. However each timeline is completely different so, unlike the evil endless eight, there is some progression along with different hilarious storylines. You'll need to watch a few episodes before you get a hang of what's going on, otherwise I can see a lot of people dropping after the first episode.
The characters are very interesting. The main character is just how I like them, kind of cynical but hilarious at the same time. The only problem I have with him is that when he narrates, he talks EXTREMELY fast. Sometimes I need to pause to read it. The way he interacts with the supporting cast and situations are pretty hilarious. All of the side characters are unique as well (especially Ozu, ugly bastard. But I still love him).
Even though there isn't a whole lot of plot developement so far, the series has been very enjoyable. I will definitely continue to watch this until the end and I wouldn't be suprised if it makes it onto my favorites. It has that charming, goofy uniqeueness to it but still a touch of something much deeper.
Definitely recommended, especially since it isn't doing so well with rating and views. read more
Nov 3, 2013
Nov 28, 2012
To its credit, a story about an unnamed protagonist who continuously relives his college years in hopes of finding his perfect campus life isn’t something you see every day. For that matter, neither are the deliberately one-dimensional, “incomplete” character designs and background art. But originality doesn’t get you far, even if you have a goal, if you don’t know how to get to your goal.
To explain what I mean about The Tatami Galaxy having a goal but not knowing how to get there, I mean one of the show’s messages is heavily implied by the time the viewer reaches the third episode: stop aiming for perfect circumstances and be content with your current situation. But the message can’t carry the show because every time Watashi (meaning “I” or “Me”), our protagonist, relives his college years only the club he’s in changes; everything else about his experiences remain the same and the differences that should be brought out depending on what club he’s in are superficial: He joins the Tennis Club with the hopes of finding someone special but it doesn’t work out, he joins the Film Club for the promise of friends but it doesn’t work out, he joins the Cycling Club with the hopes of finding a girlfriend but it doesn’t work out, you get the point. Worse still is that Watashi relives his college years several times throughout the show; a few repeats of an identical situation to convey a message is fine but any more than that without enough variation on each scenario becomes an exercise in viewer patience. The Tatami Galaxy either needs less episodes, more variation on every timeline, or both.
The show is further brought down by its characters. Nearly everyone is defined by a single quirk or personality trait with little in the way of development; Ozu is nothing but the mischievous best friend, Akashi doesn’t go beyond being the sarcastic love interest that’s afraid of moths, and Jougasaki is a consistently overbearing jerk. It also doesn’t help the one-dimensionality of the characters when nearly every interaction is identical and happens with the same person. Ozu screws up Watashi’s endeavors, Watashi starts eyeing Akashi, and Jougasaki is thrown in somewhere to deliver the coup de grace to Watashi’s campus life. How about Ozu being in a love triangle against Watashi for Akashi’s feelings? How about Jougasaki being a bro to Watashi once in a while? Characters can also be defined by being compared to one another but unfortunately there’s hardly any change in who’s talking to whom. The Tatami Galaxy has repetitive character dynamics in the truest sense of the word (repetitive) on top of the cast itself being underdeveloped.
Of course, it could be argued that the characters don’t need to be developed because they exist to characterize Watashi. Since he usually shows a contrast with Ozu, Akashi, and Jougasaki, Watashi is defined by who he isn’t; he’s not a mischievous friend who screws up another’s life, he’s not a jovial moth hater, and he’s not an overbearing jerk. But since most of the characters are figured out by the third episode, by extension it means Watashi remains as undeveloped as everyone else. Furthermore, characterizing Watashi via showing what he isn’t doesn’t tell you who he is; not being mischievous doesn’t necessarily mean you’re honest, not hating moths doesn’t mean you love them, and not being a jerk doesn’t automatically make you nice. The Tatami Galaxy tries to characterize Watashi by saying who he isn’t but ends up being more descriptive of everyone else.
The one-dimensionality of the characters can also be supported by saying this is how Watashi views the people around him. He’s so focused on himself that everyone else seems one-dimensional to him and the way he sees them can reflect how someone doesn’t pay enough attention to anyone in real life. However, it’s difficult to believe Watashi’s perspective on everyone wouldn’t change because not only is he reliving his college years multiple times but he’s actually conscious of the timeline resetting. Nothing changing regarding Watashi’s relationships to everyone could be interpreted as the show’s other message: the end result will be the same no matter which path in life you take. But this makes no sense considering how The Tatami Galaxy ends; Watashi decides to stop pursuing “perfection” and be content with what he has and suddenly the end result changes for the better. Honestly, what was the point of hammering the theme of an unchanging destiny throughout the show when a change in expectations was all it took for Watashi’s college life to turn around? Because everything will suddenly work out if you don’t set your standards too high?
But as well-meaning as the message of “everything will work out if you don’t set your standards too high” is, it’s, quite frankly, hopelessly naïve. The struggles people face to reach their goals will not go away just because the goals are unambitious; in fact, it’s everything a lot of people can do to accomplish an everyday task but I digress. People might say there’s nothing wrong with a simple message but unfortunately The Tatami Galaxy is a show that’s clearly trying to be smart. The simplicity of the anime’s themes might have been easier to accept if the narrative wasn’t as straightforward repetitive as it is and the characters were properly developed and dynamic in terms of whom they interact with. Director Masaaki Yuasa makes the mistake of using thematic focus as The Tatami Galaxy’s means instead of its end because everything that’s more important to a story is neglected.
This is what I mean by The Tatami Galaxy being far-sighted. It knows what it wants to say but it takes more than a message to carry a show. It needs a narrative with enough variation on its timelines to stop it from being repetitive. It needs to develop its characters enough to stop them from being predictable in the truest sense of the word. But The Tatami Galaxy fails miserably in both of those aspects and ends up with themes that switch presence at the plot’s convenience. At the end of the day, it’s like this anime joined the noitominA Club with the promise of being profound but it didn’t work out; if meta-irony baloney was what Masaaki Yuasa was going for, he succeeded. Otherwise, The Tatami Galaxy is all style, no substance, and crushingly disappointing. read more