From the director that brought us Mind Game, Kemonozume, and Kaiba, comes what could quite possibly be the most elegant and artistic show of 2010. Yojou-han Shinwa Taikei (or The Tatami Galaxy) is very much a self-contemplative work. Directed by the unique Masaaki Yuasa, the show aired during the latter half of the noitaminA programming block during the spring 2010 season. The show as whole captivates everything that noitaminA stands for: quality and aesthetic entertainment for the older audience.
The show follows the nameless protagonist (referred to in the first person simply as “Wastashi”) who begins his college career expected a “rose colored campus life.” As he first walks under the clock tower onto campus, he is presented with various “circles” of which he can join. Among them are the tennis club, film club, bicycle club, literature club, and many others. Each choice leads the protagonist down a different path over the course of two years, however he can never seem attain the “rose colored campus life” he so dearly wished for.
Masaaki Yuasa’s unique and dynamic form of storytelling creates nearly an enlightened form of entertainment. The foundation and driving force behind the show’s inspiring narrative lies in the portrayal of the main character. The character itself is a rather pitiful one in a physical sense. He has no “redeeming” traits or talents and his pessimistic attitude creates an increasing nihilistic view toward life. However, his actions are what tell the real story. Each decision that the main protagonist makes is logically, morally, and emotionally sound. His intentions, mistakes, and failures are genuine and each passing choice helps bolster his multifaceted identity as a character.
There are some people who insist that The Tatami Galaxy is similar to the Endless Eight arc from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. While the premise is vaguely similar, only by virtue of the Ground Hogs Day element, one cannot even begin to compare the two. The greatest distinction lies within the show’s execution. One can tell that The Tatami Galaxy is a product of the ethics of “doing things right.” Madhouse did not cut corners on this one. Each episode can stand on its own; each episode contributes to the overall story. To compare The Tatami Galaxy with Endless Eight without noting such discrepancies is a travesty in and of itself.
Final Thoughts: 10/10
The Tatami Galaxy is pure genius in both narrative and artistic style. The cyclical story and captivating atmosphere paints each character in multiple facets. The narrative is purposefully fast, witty, and disjointed, a stark deviation from almost all of its contemporaries. The show as a whole acts a beacon of hope for quality animation in the future. Quite possibly Madhouse’s finest product since 2002’s Monster, The Tatami Galaxy is one that is not to be missed.