Anime Review: The Tatami Galaxy Episodes 7, 8, and 9

(Originally published on Livejournal on 7/2/10)

Anime Review:
The Tatami Galaxy Episodes 7, 8 and 9

About The Series: Watashi is attempting to live the rose-colored college life, by joining a social circle and making lots of friends, and fall in love with a certain raven-haired girl. But it seems he is cursed, because whatever he attempts to do, he ends up alone and miserable, his only friend the detestable Ozu, who is a perpetual bad influence on him. Tatami #1: He joins the tennis club, and following his rejection he turns to an ‘anti-cupid’ prankster. Tatami #2: He joins the movie club, but when his ideals of making intriguing films are spurned by all the club members, he engages on a monomaniacal quest to take down the egotistical club leader. Tatami #3: He is completely unsuited for the cycling club, recruited to the Birdman Club by his secret crush Akashi, only to disappoint her once again. Tatami #4: Watashi is sucked into becoming the successor of an endless Masochistic Proxy War. Tatami #4.5: He joins the softball circle, which is actually a front for a cult-like pyramid scheme.

ep.7 tl;dr review: Watashi becomes a bodyguard for Jougasaki’s inanimate love doll, Kaori; Over time his infatuation with her grows.

Episode 7 Synopsis: In his goal of living the rose-colored college life, Watashi joins several different clubs, and develops relationships with three different women. One of those comes unexpectedly from Jougasaki, who observes him protecting Akashi from thugs during a Mochiguman peformance. He gives Watashi the job of bodyguard over his secret lover, the love-doll Kaori. At first, Watashi finds the relationship strange and repulsive, but over time begins to view Kaori as a real person. Out of the blue Jougasaki shows up at Watashi’s 4.5-tatami-mat apartment with Kaori in tow, because his place has been compromised by the Macho Proxy War, and now with the 24-hour proximity his obsession blooms. Things come to a head on the night when Jougasaki plans to return and retrieve his love-doll. Watashi finds himself trapped in Hanuki’s bathroom, hiding from her drunk advances; last time he stayed in there the entire night, but in this iteration he charges out after Kaori instead. Grabbing the love doll, he runs away with her, with plans on living a long, rich life with Kaori as his wife. At the last moment, Jougasaki rushes and and decks him, shattering the delusion and saving him from his planned fake life.

ep.8 tl;dr review: Over two years Watashi develops a long-distance writing relationship with Keiko; The true identity of Keiko is ultimately revealed.

Episode 8 Synopsis: In his goal of living the rose-colored college life, Watashi joins several different clubs, and develops relationships with three different women. One of those grows slowly over time, when Ozu hands him a book with a young woman’s name and address in the back. Watashi forms a long-lasting pen-pal relationship with this mystery woman, Keiko, which lasts for two years. Over time, Watashi begins to embellish his life and accomplishments; at first it’s just small things, but the lies build upon each other until the written version of him is far from the reality. Keiko wants to meet him, but Watashi puts her off, unwilling to call off the fantasy. Finally, Keiko gives him an ultimatum, which happens to fall on the night when he finds himself trapped in Hanuki’s bathroom to avoid her drunken advances, and on the night when Jougasaki is to retrieve his love-doll. Torn between his three choices, this iteration Watashi chooses Keiko – but when he arrives she is long gone. Instead, he heads to try and find her apartment, and discovers instead that Ozu is living there — he’s actually Keiko. But Ozu had an accomplice in Akashi, who took over the duties of writing the letters, and confides in Watashi out of her embarrassment of the deception. In the end, Watashi is once again left all alone in his 4.5-tatami-mat apartment, stuffing his face with cake wondering where his life went so wrong.

ep.9 tl;dr review: Watashi gets his fingers entangled into every dirty underground scheme at the university; Despite his ultimate success, he still finds his life hollow wondering where he went wrong.

Episode 9 Synopsis: In his goal to live the rose-colored college life, there is one club that stands out from all the rest: The Lucky Cat Chinese Restaurant. Watashi quickly learns this is really a front for all the underhanded schemes at the school, and before he knows it he is entangled in their business. First, he ends up as an enforcer for the library, charged with forcibly collecting overdue material. But given the solitary task of trying to retrieve a copy of ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea’ from Higuchi, he takes an entire year and still fails utterly. Switched over to the print shop, Watashi is a bicycle delivery boy for purchased exams and reports, but has his entire cache destroyed by fireworks set off by Ozu. The leader is brought down and disgraced, and his right-hand man, Ozu, takes charge, putting Watashi as head of the group that grabs illegally-parked bicycles and resells them. In this job, Watashi shines and his success goes to his head. He ends up stealing the aircraft from Akashi and the Birdman Club, causing Akashi to angrily reject him and storm off. Suddenly Watashi feels a tinge of hollowness, and wonders why. Higuchi arrives and gives him several choice pieces of advice, pointing out that there never was any such thing as a rose-colored life and any attempt to pursue such an impossible goal will always end in failure. Watashi is then kidnapped by the former leader of the Neko Cat Restaurant, who is hot on the heels of the defiant Ozu. Ozu has now stolen the giant Honkawa dirigible and attempting to run away with his girlfriend. The revelation that Ozu — Ozu!! — has a girlfriend hits Watashi like a ton of bricks, and Watashi is left confused, wondering where his life went so wrong.

My Thoughts: Episodes 7 and 8 form part of a trilogy with Episode 6, exploring the failed love life of Watashi. Episode 9, on the other hand, is full of so much stuff it’s like trying to drink from the firehose, bringing in just about every single element from the previous eight episodes together and weaving them all together. There’s just so much *there* to absorb, it’s hard to fully process.

Starting with Watashi’s three loves, we get to see how he reached his defining moment, trapped in the bathroom – the timeline leading up to this point is actually the same in each of the three episode, but the focus and backstory for each one is different in each show. Each and every time Watashi ends up in failure, losing all three of them on a single night – but each time for a different reason. I had a sneaking suspicion that Akashi might really be the mystery Keiko, so I wasn’t surprised, but the fact that they still end up apart (because Akashi did not turn out to be his dream-girl) is still a disappointment. Poor Watashi, three attempts but he never had a chance with any of them to begin with. He was aiming for goals that were beyond his reach from the very beginning, unwittingly setting himself up for failure each time. In the end left sad and confused and alone, agonizing over where it all went wrong, all the while the white Moguchiman is dangling right before his eyes.

Then the ninth episode — wow, that’s just all messed up. A little bit of everything from all of Watashi’s past lives is woven into the fabric of this episode, it really is way too much to process all at once, and my head is left swimming. But at the core of it, Watashi finds himself in a place where he really is living his money-soaked dream life, but despite this success *still* manages to feel that something is missing and that something went wrong. The true key to this episode (if not the entire series) is the brief interlude scene between Watashi and Higuchi, when he is giving him frank and open advice that seems as clear as the bright blue sky (well, to everyone except Watashi, of course). Higuchi reveals there is no such thing as a “rose-colored life”, that nothing is perfect, that the pursuit of such a goal is self-defeating and doomed to failure. In just a few short sentences, Higuchi manages to describe all the years of Watashi’s self-repeating destruction. Left within the closing-in walls of his 4.5-tatami-mat room, Watashi is forced to concede that all his attempts to grab hold of the perfect life are for naught.

Good lord, there is just so much hidden meaning that I’m not going to try to do more than scratch the surface. Other bloggers have given that much more due, such as Here and Here and Here. I can’t add more than has already been covered, and if anyone is truly interested in dissecting this episode further, go there instead. I am purposely choosing *not* to try and get in too deep, and just enjoy the show as it is presented — the deeper meanings will percolate through my mind later on. Only a couple of episodes left, the show is clearly building to a climax. This episode was the attempt to bring everything from the previous eight episodes into light, revealing the dark strings of fate (and the single red string) tying everything together. It certainly seemed like the show flailed all over the place, but in the end it all truly is part of the overarching grand scheme.

The Verdict:

Up Next: Working, Angel Beats, Kaichou wa Maid-sama, Senkou no Night Raid, Arakawa Under the Bridge, The Tatami Galaxy

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