The Tatami Galaxy

The Tatami Galaxy

The Tatami Galaxy anime series cover art
The Tatami Galaxy

Overview

The Tatami Galaxy (Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei / 四畳半神話大系) or, The 4.5 Tatami Mat Galaxy, is an anime series which was on my plan to watch list for a decent amount of time. However, one day I removed it because I figured I was simply never going to get around to it.

But luckily for me, HeavyROMAN wanted me to watch it, so here we are.

And I say luckily because The Tatami Galaxy was actually a great anime that I would have otherwise missed out on. It’s animated by Madhouse, who have been known to make some pretty good anime, and it’s based on a novel. That’s right, a regular novel, not a light novel.

However, what I liked so much about this series was how similar it was to some of my other favorite anime. It reminded me of things like the Monogatari Series, Mononoke, Bunny Girl Senpai (sort of), and even Serial Experiments Lain to an extent.

It’s one of those psychological series which doesn’t make a lot of sense at first, but as you get farther into the story, all the bits and pieces begin to come together. And, The Tatami Galaxy is also very much about self-reflection. Something that most anime have a hard time pulling off.

Without spoiling the series — I’ll do that later on — the general plot goes something like this:

A college student is prepared to make the most of his college years and decides to join various clubs and organizations. However, at the end of his two years he finds himself unsatisfied and wishing that he could do it all over. It’s a tale of friendship, self-reflection, and unrequited love.

Characters

The protagonist of this series doesn’t actually have a name, which actually makes the self-reflection aspects of the series all the more meaningful. Nobody ever calls him by name, so all we get is him referring to himself as “Watashi” (I/me in Japanese) in his internal monologues.

"Watashi" from the anime series The Tatami Galaxy
“Watashi”

Watashi’s best friend at college is a student in the Electrical Engineering department named Ozu. Ozu is constantly described as one of the most unpleasant people you will ever meet. He’s also physically described as looking like a demon. And to be fair, these descriptions are pretty accurate. After all, Ozu’s self-proclaimed goal is to drag Watashi down to his own level.

Then we have Akashi, Watashi’s love interest who always seems just out of reach. She’s Ozu’s junior in the Engineering department and has become acquainted with him through that. Akashi’s likes include a children’s superhero known as Mochiguman, and her dislikes include moths.

Seitarou Higuchi is a mysterious man who claims to be a god of love. However, he lives in the same apartment building as Watashi and is the mentor of both Ozu and Akashi for unknown reasons. His head is shaped like an eggplant.

Ryouko Hanuki is a friend of Higuchi’s and works as a dental hygienist. She’s also a prominent member of the English Language Club, which is where Watashi knows her from. She has a habit of licking people’s faces when she gets drunk.

Finally, there’s Masaki Jougasaki, a jock and the leader of a film making circle. He’s around the same age as Higuchi and Hanuki, and has been caught in an endless prank battle against the former for years.

Discussion (Spoilers)

So with that out of the way let’s spoil the series by discussing some of my favorite — and least favorite — parts. One of the first things you’ll notice about the series is it’s strange art style. But then you’ll immediately forget that when you’re hit with the second thing, the rapid fire internal monologue of Watashi.

To say the dialogue in this series is fast would be an understatement. The Monogatari dialogue is fast. The Tatami Galaxy dialogue is on another level entirely. And the reason for it is that, like Monogatari, the anime attempts to adapt every line of dialogue from the source material.

But, although it’s a quirk that makes this series stand out, I do think it’s a detriment. As far as I’m concerned, some of the internal monologue should have been put on text cards like Monogatari does, or the series should have been 22 episodes instead of 11 to make room for all the speech.

Akashi from the anime series The Tatami Galaxy
Akashi

So to balance that out with something I really liked about the series, there’s how the series evolved with each episode. In a way, it’s set up like the Endless Eight of Haruhi. Each episode aside from the final two is a redo of Watashi’s two years at college.

And with each episode, although they go down different paths, we learn a bit more about each of the supporting characters. For example, as the series progresses into the latter half, Ozu appears less demonic and more human. And by the end, the roles of he and Watashi have been swapped to an extent.

Then, there’s Watashi himself, who finally learns that all those paths he chose to redo were actually great in their own ways. No path is perfect — what matters is making the best of whatever you choose.

Conclusion

I’ve been contemplating what to rate The Tatami Galaxy ever since I finished it. On one hand, I did really enjoy this series, and would highly recommend it if you don’t mind reading at the speed of light. But at the same time, there are a few little things, like the dialogue speed, that make this adaptation less than ideal.

In the end I’d give it a 9/10, but with the caveat that the novel it’s based on is probably a 10. I don’t necessarily think the series itself had any issues. The issues I have with it come from the adaptation of the series.

But that doesn’t mean I think you should skip the anime in favor of the novel. The anime definitely adds things to the mix, such as a great OP/ED combo. The OP song is by Asian Kung-Fu Generation, so it’s automatically a banger (as the kids would say). And the ED is even better. I’ve actually been listening to the ED song on repeat for the past couple of days.

Anyway, if you enjoyed this review, or found it helpful in any way, let me know by clicking the like button ❤ down below. Also follow me over on Twitter @DoubleSama so you don’t miss out on any future content. And, if you aren’t already aware, which I assume you aren’t since you haven’t joined it, we have a Discord server.

Finally, I’d like to thank HeavyROMAN for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month. To learn more about how you too can become a supporter of this blog, check out Patreon.com/DoubleSama.

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