Anime Review: The Tatami Galaxy Episode 1

(Originally published on Livejournal on 5/1/10)

Anime Review in a Minute:
The Tatami Galaxy

What This Is All About: I am going to attempt to watch at least the first episode of every anime show of the new season that is subtitled. The review will be divided into three short sections: “The Elevator Speech”, a quick two-to-three sentence synopsis of the episode; “The Skinny”, my initial reactions, and “The Verdict”, a simple Pass/Fail grade that determines whether to continue to the next episode or not. For those with a passing grade, I will follow-up later with the second or third episodes for a re-evaluation.

The Elevator Speech: Life is not going as planned for a young college student; he has tried to join a social circle, make friends, and woo the crush of his life Watashi, but all his attempts have ended in lonely failure. In desperation, he turns to the demonic Ozu, with whom he forms a dark friendship as the “Black Cupids” where they break up relationships and cause various juvenile pranks. One day, our hapless protagonist meets up with a “God of Love” at a ramen stand, who tells him that he must choose between himself and Ozu as Watashi’s match; can he pull himself out of the depths of self-pity to make the right choice?

The Skinny: From a director who is known for his visual experimentation and unorthodox styles, this show does not disappoint. And, more importantly, the visual gymnastics do actually enhance to storytelling style rather than distract (always a risk whey you try something so radically different for no other reason than to “just be different”). The one negative, and it is a massive, massive negative is the speed of the narration of the main (unnamed) character, it’s extremely distracting, like Kemonogatari on crack. I had to stare intently at the subtitles to try and read them as fast as possible just to keep up, missing much of the rich tapestry of artwork. Some reviewers mention that this verbal avalanche is as much an intriguing style choice as the artistic explosion (sort of like drinking from the firehose for both the eyes and the ears), but I just find it…annoying. Extremely, extremely annoying. So much, that it could get me to drop the series on that one factor alone, no matter how good or intriguing the story may be.

But, ultimately, The Tatami Galaxy had me thinking about the story and various possibilities after I had watched it, and realized it had piqued my interest. I have a theory about what is “really” going on, that I’ll expound upon in my “Second Look” if the second episode corroborates my idea.

The Verdict:

More Info:
Online Review: http://bakareviews.wordpress.com/2010/04/28/yojou-han-shinwa-takei-the-tatami-galaxy-01/
Anime News Network entry: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=11200
Episodes Stream For Free on Hulu via Funimation: http://www.hulu.com/the-tatami-galaxy

The Scorecard So Far (first episodes only):
Thumbs-up: Working!!, Angel Beats, Kaichou wa Maid-sama, K-On Season 2, Heroman, Arakawa Under the Bridge, Giant Killing
Thumbs-down B Gata H Kei, Hakuouki Shinsengumi Kitan, Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou, Mayoi Neko Overrun, Uraboku, KissXSis, Senkou no Night Raid, Ookuku Furikabutte Season 2, Hime Chen Otogi Chikku Idol Lilpri, Shin Koihime Mousou Otogi Tairan, Ikkitousen Xtreme Xecutor, Hetalia World Series, Rainbow Rokubou no Shichinin, Haiyoru Nyaru-Ani, SD Gundam Senshi Sangokuden: Brave Battle Warriors, Jewel Pet Tinkle

Up to bat next in the lineup (only a handful left!):
– Tales of Symphonia: Tethe’alla, House of Five Leaves, Major Season 6, Sex Pistols, Magic Kaito, Shoka

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