Archive for May, 2010

Ozu and Watashi are not one and the same: my defence

Monday, May 31st, 2010

E Minor of Moe Sucks wrote quite an interesting entry on The Tatami Galaxy. I know I said that I would avoid writing on it until the next episode comes, but I am strongly in disagreement with his hypothesis that I am currently writing this post to debunk what he said. Granted, his information is incomplete (he writes only taking into account the first three episodes); his proposition, however, is

that Ozu and the unnamed hero are actually one and the same.

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Coaxiality and the disappearance of Akashi

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

I have attempted to expound on a hypothesis made by a forumer (Quarkboy) and establish it in facts and correlations in order to give it more cogency. One of my central tenets is the reflection of the Yojo-han Watashi showed in the second episode in his arguably most introspective film: the film was about a man trapped in unending 4.5 tatami rooms and his attempts to escape from it. The tatami mats were arranged in such a way that the smallest mat was in the center of the room, and it was surrounded by the other mats (as what could be seen in the ending frame). I knew that that film was important in the course of the series, and I mentioned it in my post on the episode.

The format of his room's tatamis remains the same.

The format of his room's tatamis remains the same.

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Tatami Galaxy (Yojo-han Shinwa Taikei) – 06: the battle of virtue against vice

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

Every single one of us, single or otherwise, has faced a crossroads on love. The forking paths may not be as iridescent as what one can see in TV dramas; they may not be as much of a struggle, but they remain to be a struggle within everyone who calls himself human. I do not brag of my conquests in love: to summarize, I may have failed more than succeeded for the most part. But I have been there despite myself and my shortcomings, and I have been in love. It may not have been a romance with a raven-haired maiden, but I can say I have had my share of loving my family and (abnormally,) vintage video games as what my previous readers have seen. With my luck (or misfortune, perhaps, however one looks at it), I have never the problem of loving more than one woman: I have not even experienced the querities of loving a woman yet, and while I will cross the bridge when I get there, I am in no rush.

He is my friend and my enemy.

He is my friend and my enemy.

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Quarkboy’s hypothesis: The Tatami Galaxy reflects the four-and-a-half tatami mat

Monday, May 24th, 2010

This is just a hunch I have, but I bet that there are 4 different “continuities” total.

Let’s call them A, B, C, and D. Each of these continuities overlaps with two other ones in some way. So, B overlaps with A and C, C overlaps with B and D, etc…

Then there’s the room itself which overlaps with all 4 continuities. Let’s call that “E”.

To draw a picture:

AAB
DEB
DCC

… I could be wrong.

This is the picture that Quarkboy meant. The picture was taken from the second episode: it was the penultimate film made by Watashi and the last film that was not meant to offend. The center square is connected to all of the other four tatami. It is the 'E' continuity in Quarkboy's example.

This is the picture that Quarkboy meant. The picture was taken from the second episode: it was the penultimate film made by Watashi and the last film that was not meant to offend. The center square is connected to all of the other four tatami. It is the 'E' continuity in Quarkboy's example.

Yojo-han Shinwa Taikei is transliterated into English as the Four-and-a-Half Tatami Myth Compendium. It is translated as The Tatami Galaxy in English. I was reading all the posts of the two forums that I visit regarding The Tatami Galaxy, and it was the post that gave me pause and made me think about its implications. One has already seen the intersect clearly and explicitly shown in the fifth episode: there is at least a parallel universe that is happening within the show, and the crossing over of the older Watashi simply proves that. The different universes intertwine in different ways: they are somehow interconnected, like different planetary systems are, into a galaxy. (more…)

A picture-entry – Yojo-han Shinwa Taikei 05 (The Tatami Galaxy): no ordinary reset

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010
The background is bright and cheery, and the girl is smiling.

The background is bright and cheery, and the girl is smiling.

Mr. Yuasa is great with his synchronization between the stream-of-consciousness of Watashi and the visual field that the viewer perceives: he paints the kind and nice nature of the Honwaka’s members with a light palette and a cute addition with the bee antennae. More of Watashi’s cynicism and negativity is underlined in this episode as he is placed in contrast with more good-natured people. (more…)

[Angelus] Sora no Woto: an attempt in deconstruction, the subversion of moe, and its (in)ability as an anime series

Friday, May 21st, 2010

When I saw the opening animation of Sora no Woto, I was instantly reminded of Elfen Lied: both shared OPs that alluded to the symbolist art of Gustave Klimt. Back when I first saw Elfen Lied I was impressed more with ‘Lilium’ than with the animation; I only became more informed when I chanced upon a recent Penguin Classics publication of ‘Venus in Furs’ by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. I was always meaning to read that novel as ‘Venus in Furs’ was the prototypical novel for masochism, but I never had the chance to revisit the bookstore I found it in. I believe I chose purchasing ‘Wandering Star’ by J.M.G. Le Clezio instead, as I wanted to know what was in the mind of a recent Nobel laureate in literature.

A Klimt painting in the Penguin Classics cover

A Klimt painting in the Penguin Classics cover

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Yojo-han Shinwa Taikei (The Tatami Galaxy) – 04: the continuum of failure resets

Monday, May 17th, 2010

As I have written in my previous post, Masaaki Yuasa has been an avant-garde anime director for some time. To some extent, he is anime’s counterpart of an independent film director, creating and developing series that are clearly niche and made for the sake of its art. Mind Game is a prime example, and so are other works of his like Kemonozume and Kaiba. His works have often been hallucinatory and allusive in nature, and I was wont to think The Tatami Galaxy (Yojo-han Shinwa Taikei) wasn’t going to be any different.

I was somewhat right: as far as romances go, this totally came from left field. It was a series about romance that was as quirky as they come, and there has obviously been Yuasa’s influence peppered throughout the few aired episodes. This was certainly not a show driven by fluff or by sparkles and bubbles (as much as I loved Kimi ni Todoke). This was a romance that had both concerns rooted in reality as well as little tragedies that pervade the jaded, inexperienced, or unrequited lovers the world over. It does not have a heroic and manly protagonist, or even a wimp surrounded by a surfeit of nubile ladies after his love: it is abnormal compared to the usual romantic comedies, and rather than piquing one’s penis it ignites one’s intellect. Watashi is no Akuto Sai, and he’s definitely no Keitaro, although one can see the similarities.

Instead, we have a likable, if tragic, character who evolves through the course of his painful failures the more and more speedy realization that he is in love with a single woman. This Watashi is a character who is very human, down to his faults and foibles: he is prone to vengeance; he is, at times, Aesop’s fox; yet he is also a diligent worker and caring friend, especially to Akashi. I think I was besotted with this series the moment Watashi told Ozu that he ‘would rather have a beautiful raven-haired maiden that makes you go “whoa…” than someone who is able to comprehend such a person as myself.’ This is because I also hope to someday get to know and end up with a beautiful maiden, too, rather than just someone who merely understands me and my quirks. Looks are important for many men, and I am no exception.

I have a hypothesis as regards the first three episodes of the series, and I think it still applies in the fourth episode onward: there is a continuum between Ozu and Watashi. For example, in the first episode, Ozu is active whereas Watashi is passive, merely being dragged by Ozu to do dirty deeds alongside him. This changes in the second episode, where Watashi is merely a reactor: his act of vengeance against Jougasaki was merely his anger driven to the limit, and Ozu similarly is restive. Finally, in the third episode, Watashi became active and Ozu was the passive one, not revealing himself until the final moments of the episode. In fact, it is currently my favorite episode of the series because of the sheer perseverance of Watashi despite failing utterly everything.

This somewhat resets in the fourth episode, but as the other episodes, it is also a reaction of Watashi from the events of the previous episode. He failed so completely in the third trying to do it his own way: his solution was a popular adage that became so due to the grain of truth in it: ‘if you can’t beat them, join them.’ It was exactly what he did, becoming a disciple of Higuchi. This episode was explanatory more than anything, giving light into the backgrounds of Higuchi, Ozu, Jougasaki as well as finally introducing Hanuki, the drunken lady with Ozu that we saw during the first episode and the Proxy-Proxy war, a term hinted to or alluded by the novel readers in the forums I’ve visited for the show’s discussion. It was not as impressive or as empathetic as the third episode, but I think it was important for the progression of the story.

I am wont to think that there was little meaning in the fourth episode, but I do recognize that its pivotal point when after finding himself in a crossroads to choose between Akashi and Higuchi, he chose to serve Higuchi and unknowingly continue the Proxy-Proxy war. For all his bile and vitriol within the episode, he never looked within and he did not reflect to know what he really desired, who was Akashi. He was afraid to invest his feelings into something unsure and instead chose to continue his ordinary and practically meaningless existence: it was his ultimate failure in the episode, I believe, that despite knowing what to do he avoided doing it because of an impalpable fear.

From the lavender water of an obsolete sports drink …

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

I am a pretty thin guy, but I don’t let my slimness get in the way of physical fitness. While I have temporarily stopped weightlifting because of academic concerns, I have not stopped doing cardio through playing basketball. I enjoy the sport despite my skill, and since this is probably the only uninterrupted free time I would probably have throughout the next school year I decided to just enjoy myself for the time being.

This is the obsolete sports drink.

This is the obsolete sports drink.

While on the way to our local sports complex, I ventured into a store I have never gone in before to buy Gatorade. It made sense to sell Gatorade across a sports complex, and I was not wrong: they had, indeed, a slew of Gatorade drinks for sale. One item caught my eye, however. It was a sports drink that appeared just as quickly as it disappeared back when I was still in Manila, in university: it was Celerity, a sports drink locally developed to compete with Gatorade. It did not help that its taste wasn’t as refined as Gatorade’s was, and so its appearance was merely an evanescence into nothingness: the company that developed it probably threw the towel, as the website it had at the back of its label is now defunct; currently, the site is just another place-holder for GoDaddy.com.

The lady selling the drinks did not allow the sale of the product as it was of old stock. I persisted, and she gave it to me for free. (I have a special respect and fondness for things of age.) I clearly remember trying it once, although its taste did not appeal to me. After opening it to try it, it still doesn’t, and the developers of the drink simply just wasted their money in attempting to develop a hip and fit sports drink, which was all the rage a few years ago.

Here in the Philippines, a lot of items overstay their welcome: here today, gone tomorrow, because the welcome to most of these novelty items were, in reality, absent in the first place. I was thinking about how this was in contrast to the Japanese way of doing things, where the avant-garde auteurs such as Masaaki Yuasa seems to know how long the welcome remains welcome in anime, and never seem to overstay their presence.

For example, we have The Tatami Galaxy. In contradiction to more popular anime series, it has no big-breasted women surrounding either a wimp who later on realizes that he’s a lot better than he thinks he is or a total badass who attracts the women like piranha to blood. It does have a wimp as a protagonist, but one who is quite vitriolic and vituperative at the time being, primarily due to his own failure to recognize his faults. It does not have women who surround the lead, and while it is a romance, is a far cry to the romantic comedies often flooding anime seasons. There is one beautiful girl, but it is not the beauty that an otaku expects: Akashi’s beauty is a more subtle, refined one. She is full of intelligence instead of eclat.

It is enlightening to note that The Tatami Galaxy is only 11 episodes. For an anime series, that’s very low. I think this is due to Mr. Yuasa recognizing that the anime he directs is niche, and he does not need episodes full of sound and fury to tell a love story and a story about love. I think Mr. Yuasa notes that only a few people are willing and open to watch series of his designs, and he keeps it short and yet intellectually stimulating for those interested. I saw the same mental flow with Kemonozume, and I am grateful for his concision.

The Tatami Galaxy – 03: the theory of relativity

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Unlike the first two episodes, I thought this was Watashi’s breakout episode: he was at his most sympathetic, and simultaneously, at his most heart-wrenching best. For the past two episodes, most of the viewers have regarded Watashi as wicked and yet a louse: he was the quintessential sour-graping fox who marginally improved in the second episode, not by trying to get the grapes through a ladder but by extirpating the grape tree so that no one else could enjoy its fruits. This episode was very different, because in spite of himself, one cannot disparage both his effort and persistence: they are both present in spades; the only tragedy is that both are misdirected. He got a ladder, only that he climbed to get an apple, and not the grapes he sought.

Watashi as Icarus

Watashi as Icarus

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[Crusader] Anime ja nai!

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Crusader, because of his kind heart and even kinder pockets, were one of the two people who solicited their monetary aid when I sought for something rare and something I have obsessed about for quite some time. I’m very grateful with his help: this is my token of gratitude to him, and these are my opinions after watching Gundam ZZ. Once again, thank you very much, Crusader. Next week will feature an article on Sora no Woto because of the help offered by another reader of my site, Angelus.

I think it’s quite sad that this series is not as respected as other Gundam series, but I think it’s also partly the fault of Yoshiyuki Tomino (or perhaps some of his staff that influenced him) as the series started with a lot of stupidity and slapstick comedy. Even I, as a fan of Gundam (and I say that I am because it was primarily Gundam Wing that led me into a fondness with anime), was quite alienated with the series’s beginning. I was not used to oranges as weapons of mass destruction, or an insipid, metrosexual antagonist in Mashmyre Cello.

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