Think of where you are in life right now. Are you happy? Unsatisfied? There has to be something you're unhappy about. Think about that decision you made a year or two ago that put you in this situation. You'd like to try changing it, yes? Do you think you would become a more well-rounded person through that change? Now how would you change it? All you have to do is keep thinking about it until you reach the perfect answer to reach an ideal outcome.
That is, if you're fine with looking for something that exists in neither reality nor your imagination.
Tatami Galaxy revolves around our
nameless protagonist in his second year of university and the colorful cast around him. Each of the episodes proceed with a recurring pattern- our protagonist opts for a rose-colored university life and picks out a circle in his first year then gets disappointed by the results of his efforts at the end. It doesn't matter what circle he chooses, he gets those rose-colored lenses slapped off his face. Albeit infuriatingly, he picks those glasses up and puts them back on continuing to think things would change if he'd decided on something else. Without missing a beat, he questions that very first choice he made in his first year about the circle he chose. Time gets rewound and he gets another shot with a different circle of his choice.
Despite seeming repetitive in nature, the show takes more and more slight turns every episode to make you watch it carefully at a slow pace. It then decides to break your neck once it reaches those glorious last 3 episodes where the show's meaning is shown in full. The conclusion makes it more than worth it to stick it out until the end.
From our nameless protagonist to the demon without a single positive trait to him to the doll-loving eighth year university senior, each of the characters bring a new flavor to every episode as the focus shifts depending on what interactions line up with which circle our protagonist chooses. The protagonist bases whether or not he thinks he's satisfied with his life with his relationships with these people around him. I’d like to discuss a few of these characters and their connection to the protagonist- namely Ozu and Akashi.
Ozu is an amusing figure. He is what the protagonist describes as a demon who is connected to him by a black thread of fate. And so he is. Ozu is the protagonist's only friend in every episode as he can't hit it off well with anyone else in the circles he chooses and is inevitably stuck to the demon. Multiple times in the show you'll see Ozu telling the protagonist that he'll drag him with him into a trench just to emphasize this unbreakable tie. Protagonist sees Ozu as a bad omen and blames a part of his dissatisfaction on him thinking things would have different if he had never met Ozu. Time gets rewound with the protagonist thinking a different circle will prevent him from meeting Ozu but we all know how this turns out.
Akashi is our main girl. She’s a smart girl a year younger than our protagonist and a part of the engineering department. And also cold-hearted. Very much so as she rejects all the advances made by other male students. But she does show a warmer side to our protagonist. There will be multiple symbols around the protagonist posing Akashi as an opportunity which you'll have to think about yourself, I'd ruin the fun if I just said it now.
You either hate it or you like it. Tatami Galaxy has an art style that isn’t the most detailed. It uses a more expressive art style that makes use of simple, weird faces and expressions. At times the show will use non-animated clips that may be a hit or miss depending on the person. The visuals aren’t for everyone. If you’ve seen Yuasa’s other work Ping Pong the Animation then you should know what it’s like. Thankfully though, Tatami Galaxy has a much more fluid animation than Ping Pong’s.
I’ll admit. This soundtrack is addicting. I’m listening to it as I write this review. The music fits in well with each scene and doesn’t draw you out of the world of the main character. Pair this with an amazing opening performed by Asian Kung-Fu Generation to set the mood for the show and a hypnotizing ending from Etsuko and we have one of the most suiting soundtracks for a show.
Those last few episodes make this frustratingly hard to hate. If I’ve learned anything from this show, it would be to just accept whatever I think of it at the end and not bother with whether or not this makes me seem like a fanatical retard I would hate to be. I liked it a lot. Masking it’s slow, repetitive pace with quick talk? I liked that. Non-traditional art style? Liked that too. I was thoroughly entertained throughout the show and got more than what I expected of a day of lounging around to watch some anime.
Tatami Galaxy is different. It differs from other anime in the best of ways. It tells a story in a non-conventional way and it shows. It’s point is clear and not some mystery you have to guess at but that doesn’t matter. It takes you along on a ride filled with recurring symbols and characters to etch it into your brain. It sets all this up for those final episodes to make a point. And it does make a strong one. Goal achieved and an enjoyable watch. This anime is a major success.