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Tatami Galaxy Episode 1

April 25, 2010

Tatami Galaxy 1 (四畳半神話大系, Yojō-Han Shinwa Taikei)

Plot Summary: When a college dropout stops for a late night bite at a mysterious ramen stand, he crosses paths with a self-proclaimed deity of matrimony. This bizarre meeting sends the young man hurtling through a horrifying flashback to his not-so-glorious college days when the influence of a cruel new friend turned him from a hopeless romantic into a mischievous “black cupid.”

Staff

  • Director: Masaaki Yuasa (Cat Soup, Happy Machine, Kaiba, Kemonozume, Mind Game)
  • Music: Michiru Oshima (Fullmetal Alchemist, Nabari no Ou, Soranowoto, Xam’d)
  • Original creator: Tomihiko Morimi
  • Original Character Design: Yūsuke Nakamura
  • Art Director: Shinichi Uehara (Backgrounds/Art Director: Aoi Bungaku, BECK, Millenium Actress, Ninja Scroll, Paprika, Paradise Kiss, Paranoia Agent)
  • Chief Animation Director: Nobutaka Ito (Key Animator/Animation Director: Ah My Goddess The Movie, Cat Soup, Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell: Innocence, Kaiba, Kemonozume, Mind Game, Nodame Cantabile, Samurai Champloo, Steamboy, Summer Wars)
  • Color design: Kunio Tsujita (Boys Over Flowers, Clannad, Kalaido Star, Sailor Moon, Saint Saiya, Superflat Monogram, Xenosaga)

Cast

“Koinu to Ame no Bīto (迷子犬と雨のビート; Stray Puppy And The Beat Of Rain)” by Asian Kung-Fu Generation

Sources:

The OP was OK, but I really liked Mondrian ED with a nice song🙂

“Kami-sama no Iu Tōri (神様のいうとおり; As God Dictates)” by Junji Ishiwatari & Yoshinori Sunahara + Etsuko Yakushimaru

The protagonist goes through intimacy vs. isolation crisis and engages in maladaptive coping due to his social anxiety. The patient presents with narcissistic rage, displacing unsatisfaction with himself to other people who are happily in love. Moreover, he utilizes other defense mechanisms to deal with his trauma. Manifestation of his id, named Ozu, further entangles the poor protagonist in a vicious cycle. The problem is that he does not realize that all men have womb envy, and the only path to happiness lies in creation rather than destruction. Luckily, a psychologist with a prominent chin offers a solution to his problem: freshman engineering student. A Castella filled with freshly manufactured Accela leads to an accelerated insight, one which would take about 20 years of psychodynamic therapy. Puppy is key to salvation.

The plot is not very interesting, and fast monotonous narration can be somewhat annoying, but some people might identify with the protagonist.

The character design and the entire atmosphere that blends realistic images with surreal settings are very well translated from the art of Yuusuke Nakamura to an animation. Akashi reminded me of Dorothy. Also I am glad that Maaya Sakamoto and Michiru Oshima are involved.

Of course, what makes this show shine is Yuasa’s directing. He employs a very wide variety of techniques, especially frequently using acute angles, track ups/backs, and first person perspective. It is nice to watch, but I just couldn’t resist comparing it to Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (SZS).

The key difference is in composition. In the first two seasons of of SZS and even some later SHAFT works, you can clearly see how meticulously each frame is designed – almost perfect. This is not the case with Tatami Galaxy and other Yuasa’s works. While the content and animation can be excellent, there are relatively few poignant stand-alone cells. It is an animation, not a sildeshow after all, but, for me, presence of such artworks makes an anime especially enjoyable and memorable. Nevertheless, I’ll keep watching Tatami Galaxy, the only anime I’ll follow this season.

21 comments

  1. I personally love director Yuasa’s directing style but it’s usually the rushed plot that I dislike. Perhaps fast pace comedy genre is perfect for his style.


    • If you want less rushed plot and have not watched it yet, try Happy Machine (Genius Party). It has no dialog at all and is very symbolic.

      I really liked how Kaiba turned out. It featured both great action sequences and slow-paced drama.


  2. nice psychological analysis!🙂 for an unknown reason the ‘womb envy’ made me smile…it’s not often mentioned and I think it should- yes, men do have womb envy. Freud’s penis’ envy made me always feel a useless creature…

    I didn’t get your comment about the puppy…is it connected somehow to the girl’s key chain-plushies? Btw she was squizing one like…sth else *cough cough*

    Yes, it speaks in a very fast pace, I’d say in an insane man’s pace…I needed to pause several times😦

    About the plot: the review on anime network promises some mystery. Let’s see…

    Glad you’re gonna follow this series, if you gonna blog it and give us some psychological analysis. So, if you’re covering this, I’ll try covering RAINBOW. Perhaps The House of Five Leaves as well.

    About Nakamura-sensei, which work of his do you like the best? I like the one with the puppy-kitty, whose reflections are inversed and the one with the big apple and the girl on top on my blog.
    [spoiler] I got enchanted by the visual comparison of a cut in two apple with the female genitalia…and the bubbles- ovaries floating around are cute aren’t they? So bizarre, yet attractive, hihi [/spoiler]


    • Thank you🙂

      You are not a useless creature! Don’t let outdated psychosexual concepts developed by men in patriarchal capitalist society affect you!

      As for the puppy, the girl calls them Mochiguman, but they look very similar to Maromi from Paranoia Agent. This chain-plushy is key because the protagonist realizes that he found the one that the girl lost, but have not returned it yet. He tires to return it in the end, but fails miserably.

      hehe Well, Yuasa likes all kinds of sexual content, explicit or not😛 Akagi uses that thing as a stress ball in that context.

      I might cover it if I have time. I look forward to your posts on Rainbow and House, but if you also want to cover Tatami Galaxy, please go ahead – everyone has a different perspective and may see something that others didn’t🙂 I often notice such a sentiment in the blogosphere: why should I cover this series if blog x is already doing it better than anyone? Well, you could do it anyway because I care about what you have to say or show about it🙂 The more opinions are expressed, the better it is – diversity is good.

      I also like that puppy-kitty picture🙂 Another one that I also like is the last in this post. This is my projection for it. The girl is in a swimsuit, and it looks like she just have finished a race. She trained very hard and won, but she feels somewhat tired now, and all the red color in this picture depicts the blood that is rushing through her system. Of course, it might have much darker meaning, but this is what I think about it, perhaps, because I am a runner and can identify with her to some extent.

      ahaha Now your blog will be flooded with curious visitors😛 It is a creative picture, but it could have been more subtle.


      • I write when I really have something to say. And usually I’m not that bright or don’t have the plenty of time to ponder on certain spots of an episode, so I usually get enthusiastic of insighful comments of others rather than my ideas. So, if I 1% notice something that’s clever or I think adds a new, refreshing perspective, then I write about it.

        Yes, the last picture is nice,too. My interpretation was that the red colour suggested the heat, because if you see carefully the background, things appear melting. Interesting how our own experiences filtrate the meanings of others and create multiple, different meanings. (I had a lesson on this and generally literacy and orality). Very interesting.🙂


        • I also share a similar perspective. I rarely have much to say because things are very obvious in most anime. The recent anime that compelled me to write more than usual was Xam’d.

          Oh, it might be heat. Yes, our experiences shape our perceptions🙂


  3. oh, I forgot. There was one more picture that was fascinating. The one that appears like collage. It reveals imo what artists really do: represent the world from a different, fresh point. It reminded me of this story http://view.unblessed.net/Mukashi/c04/index.php?p=1


    • Yes, the collage picture was nice.

      Oh, thank you for mentioning this nice manga!🙂


  4. wow I watched the first episode of this cuz of Maaya. Seriously this anime is too artistic for me😦


  5. Dang, you are correct, Akashi does look like Big O’s Dorothy. Sounds and acts quite similar too.

    I appreciate the sampling of Yusuke Namura’s art you provided; Tatami Galaxy’s designs in the actual animation itself are a little more simplified but you can definitely see his influence.

    Thanks also for the analysis, helped frame some of the themes a little better – the original Japanese title referenced “mythology”, so I was thinking a little more Carl Jung. Very helpful how you note Watashi’s problem is really how he wants to create (which initially impresses Akashi), but ends up destroying (which ends up disappointing her), which of course, leads to frustration at the end of every episode.


    • I am glad you found the art and analysis useful🙂


  6. […] anime, and ask those that like Tatami Galaxy but haven’t seen Kaiba to give it a chance. You can check out Kitsune’s site for more screenshots and a second […]


  7. Late comment, I’m just now catching up (two episodes done)🙂

    He employs a very wide variety of techniques, especially frequently using acute angles, track ups/backs, and first person perspective. It is nice to watch, but I just couldn’t resist comparing it to Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (SZS).

    I surely felt the Shaft vibes, but this one is really fluid. Sakamoto definitely adds to the appeal.

    The protagonist goes through intimacy vs. isolation crisis and engages in maladaptive coping due to his social anxiety.

    So poignant. I’m not a super huge social anxiety stories, but I’m always interested in how things resolve, if at all🙂


    • No such thing as late comment, only late reply😛

      haha I am also very interested in how things will resolve🙂


  8. This anime looks rather weird but interesting at the same time! It somewhat resembles Zetsubou sensei! And *squeals* Maaya Sakamoto, Yuko Kaida and Junichi Suwabe?! Whoo! I’m dying fandom to watch this anime! Hopefully it turns out to be a nice anime with all the weird stuff and all…


    • Yes, it does resemble SZS, and I like cast also🙂


  9. Are you planning on writing about future episodes of Tatami Galaxy? I’ve enjoyed your insight into the first two episodes.

    Having just finished the series, I’m trying to recapture some of the mystery that has now fallen underfoot.


    • Thank you! I might continue the coverage sometime later, but, given that I am starting a doctorate program in a few days, it’s not going to happen anytime soon.


      • Truly, the rose-colored campus life of which you’ve dreamed! Remember to eat and sleep!


        • ahaha Yup, it will be anything but rose-colored! The teachers said directly that they will extract all the juice out of their students, making them study all the time. If fact, they said to choose a hobby and dedicate a few hours per week to that activity to retain sanity, but the rest of the time we are expected to study😛

          Indeed, sleep and nutrition will be sparse, but I’ll survive!🙂



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