Thoughts on Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei (Spoilers?)

Hrmm, hrmm. With something as symbolic as The Tatami Galaxy, I would think I would enjoy it more. But alas, it was rather up and down for me. At points in time, I was more interested in what was playing next to me on the television than the anime itself, while at other points (specifically the ending), you couldn’t get me to look away. Personally, I believe this was due to a slow build-up. While watching the third to last episode of this series, I could only think of one other anime series I could compare this to: Kuuchuu Buranko.

The Tatami Galaxy has a plot that basically says (and says almost every episode), “Grasp what’s in front of you.” Never delude yourself with hopes and dreams that can never be accomplished without work and a mighty wisp of perseverance. You’d be surprised at the possibilities of your current lifestyle, even if it isn’t exactly to your liking. I thought the concept of using every episode to show different choices one could make was interesting, however, the premise got dull after a while, seeing as they would all result in virtually the same message. Of course, this is the point of the story, but when I’m reminded of watching The Endless Eight, that’s not something I’d like to re-live again, even if that was slightly exaggerated. The last two episodes in particular were hard to take in all at once. When you expect to see the same scenario each and every episode, suddenly taking a different course can be somewhat harmful. I had a hard time (particularly in episode ten) paying attention to the episode at hand. Fortunately for me, episode eleven made it all clear to me, and basically filled in the gaps of what I may have missed, even if I had to draw from my own conclusions, which is always fun. It also makes me wonder if episode ten was even completely necessary… yes, it was, but probably not to the degree of explanation that it provides.

Initially, I was confused when all of the characters’ faces, which I had become accustomed to, suddenly changed during the second half of the final episode. Then, I thought about it. This anime truly likes to be symbolic. So juicy. My favorite character in this entire show was Ozu. I had always come to enjoy that devilish smirk of his (which was why I was disappointed at the end). His behavior was also one to my liking, as it seemed to be the polar opposite of the main character’s. Speaking of which, the main character looks quite dashing with a beard. Besides his looks, the main character was also an interesting character. That being said, I didn’t care for him. Perhaps it was his hesitant personality. Perhaps it was his constant refusal to give any attention to Akashi. Perhaps it was because he was snow white. I’m not sure, really. I just didn’t care for him, all throughout. Akashi was interesting, too. I think I would like her, if the anime decided to focus more on her as a person than a prize. Many of the other characters, whom I’d rather not mention by name due to my fingers falling off, were varied in likability. The characters, along with the creative ambition behind the plot and the art style, was the driving force of the title.

Ah, art. It is rather unusual to see characters that actually look somewhat like real people. Their eyes aren’t the size of their hands and their skin is as white as… white. Not to mention, when you want to be symbolic, you make the environment look like a colorful array of bombastic proportions. I believe the character designs are truly what make this anime… er, enjoyable. I’d rather not say “great,” as I don’t think this anime is. The over-exaggerative expressions are always nice. Goes to show the amount of emotion a character is putting forth… in an obvious fashion. And the symbolism isn’t hard to catch, either, particularly on the last episode. Just be sure to stay awake all the way there.

I didn’t listen to this with the sound up. All I recall hearing were the screams of Akashi around moths and the main character screaming, “Ozu!” during the final episode.

Here’s the run-down: The Tatami Galaxy, in a lot of ways, is like Kuuchuu Buranko. They both use their art styles in order to convey a less than typical view of anime. They both are highly symbolic, while at the same time are symbolic of basic, human morals. They both show each episode in the same fashion as all the others, only Kuuchuu Buranko has a resolution after each episode, while Tatami Galaxy waits until the final episode. Finally, they both have characters that are expressed only in personality and other people’s impressions, only Tatami Galaxy has a central character that takes all of this in for each episode. Personally, I enjoyed Kuuchuu Buranko much more than I did Tatami Galaxy (hinted at Tatami Galaxy’s lower score) for most of these reasons, but Tatami Galaxy is certainly much more insightful in terms of moral discipline. It also doesn’t just tell you the message it’s trying to convey, as does Kuuchuu Buranko. For that, I applaud its restraint.

Overall, this anime was enjoyable to a varying decimal. As I said before, it was a rather up and down series for me, as I had to “suffer” from watching what was essentially the same episode over and over again. However, the pay-off, while not as strong as I would have liked, still made up for the time I spent trying to pay attention to the last two episodes. While it’s simply a personal conundrum, I can’t help but rate this title lower simply because it bored me at times due to its over-explanations combined with vivid imagery. So be it.

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei (Spoilers?)

  1. Interesting thoughts. Dullness easily arises that way in following groundhog day stories. I personally like to see the different adventures and attempts, regardless of the fact that we know he won’t succeed until the very end. This is what I presume most people enjoy about hypotheticals, where for example in detective stories it’s obvious the primary suspect isn’t the killer, and that it’s surely going to be supporting character C, but nobody cares because they like seeing all the clues and guests and things. There’s also certainly enough to change the remainder of Yojouhan’s story as we’re only given the beginning and ending, but I guess it doesn’t matter if you’re not engaged with the main character.

    It’s also important to note that Akashi is only one of the many items Watashi has been aiming for in the quintessential college experience, so romance is only a segment of the story. Ozu’s awesome, and I imagine you like him best because he defies the flow of the narrative. (I do too) All the characters really are quite cool, Akashi and Ozu of many.

  2. “I thought the concept of using every episode to show different choices one could make was interesting, however, the premise got dull after a while, seeing as they would all result in virtually the same message.”

    My main issue with Tatami Galaxy. Not that the hypotheticals themselves were boring, but the conclusion wasn’t convincing. All this drama, clusterfuck of 4.5-tatami rooms and alternate fates, for a rather simplistic life message that didn’t need a Groundhog Day twist to be successfully integrated into a love story. IMO.

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