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

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.

(God, I do not want to re-watch the first three episodes again. Nevertheless …)

He states:

Ozu makes his appearance in each episode always roughly the same time and situation: when things have turned sour for our unnamed hero.

This has been quite consistent for the first three episodes. I agree with him.

I disagree, however, with this part:

But how is it that the unnamed hero and Ozu are one and the same person? There are several possibilities:

1. Ozu is a physical incarnation of the unnamed hero’s depression, frustrations, anger, etc. He comes to life when the unnamed hero is at his lowest point.

Personally, the third episode proved for me that Ozu and Watashi were not one and the same. I think it is against rationality to steal one’s own bike, sell it to a person one does not know, do not make any money from it, and be angry at the person who took away one’s bike if one really did sell it to said guy (Higuchi).

If Ozu and Watashi are one and the same, does that not suggest Watashi’s mental incapacity and instability? Does that not suggest borderline insanity?

What’s more querulous is the fact that Watashi completed the race in his older bike against his wishes and returned home despondent in his old bike. It can clearly be seen that Watashi is an unreliable narrator from the second episode alone: what he sees is in a disconnect with what we really perceive. This is the reason I was arguing in my previous posts that Watashi is quite autistic: high-functioning autists, however, feel sad when something is taken from them without their knowledge, and sold to other people without any returns to them. They do not obscure the occasion or affect a sort of amnesia. They also get angry when something is stolen from them, just like any normal person does. They do not simply forget.

In addition, how can they ride a bike while jogging?

How can the same person ride a bike while jogging?

How can the same person ride a bike while jogging?

Multiple personalities reside in a single person. I don’t think a single person can ride a bike while jogging at the same time, even if he is a victim of a multiple personality disorder. More importantly, how can Jougasaki ride a bike with him while training him for jogging? Should we assume that it is actually just Jougasaki riding the bike standing up in the bike’s back spokes while Watashi pedals? Or just while he runs? What would be the use of the paddle if Watashi rode the bike? Who would drive the bike if Watashi really ran?

2. They are one and the same. People can only see one of them at any given time — they can only interact with one of them at any given time — with perhaps one exception but we’ll get to that later.

I think the simpler (and actually more cogent reason) is that people don’t usually talk to two people at the same time. I believe that that is the reason why the word ‘dialogue,’ is much more popular and used than the word ‘trialogue,’ which is even considered as informal English in some dictionaries. The human brain can focus best at one thing at a single point in time, which is why we barely or never see three people talking to each other at the same time. The third person either waits for their turn to speak or interjects.

If, for example, I was Akashi, and I wanted to talk to Ozu, why would I call Watashi? It is the same reason that the other principal characters in the show do not mention Ozu and Watashi at the same time: I believe it is only rarely where said characters desire to talk to them both.

I agree with Ozu being a troublemaker. He is quite the mischievous imp. But I am of the opinion that his impish appearance is due to Watashi perceiving him as such. He perceives Ozu as a frienemy, I believe. I am of the opinion (from what I have seen quite a few times) that Ozu is a palpable existence and not another personality of Watashi. Watashi may be flawed, I agree, but he is not that flawed.

I think a good counter-proof for this claim can be found in the first episode:

Hanuki leans on Ozu but looks at Watashi. She asks Ozu if Watashi was a friend of his.

Hanuki leans on Ozu but looks at Watashi. She asks Ozu if Watashi was a friend of his.

I think the fact that she sees Watashi but talks to Ozu suggests that she interacted with them at the same time. She connected with Watashi through the sense of sight: he saw her, and she saw him, and she connected with Ozu aurally: she talked to Ozu, and Ozu listened.

Akashi is talking to Ozu. Ozu is crowded by people. Watashi looks on.

Akashi is talking to Ozu. Ozu is crowded by people. Watashi looks on.

Akashi talks to Ozu as a separate entity and she also talks to Watashi as a separate entity, calling him Sempai. If they were one and the same, wouldn’t she call them both by the same name?

If Akashi was a mere construct, how could he have won the race and be recognized in national television if he did not win the race the year before?

Jougasaki calls Ozu out.

Jougasaki calls Ozu out.

Jougasaki and his right-hand man also considered Ozu a traitor but paid no mind to Watashi until he goes to the tip of the bridge later on.

[…] What becomes clear is that the unnamed hero is in denial. He blames his fate on his choice of clubs and Ozu, but the one constant in each story is the unnamed hero himself. As such, the blame for all the unnamed hero’s troubles should fall upon the unnamed hero himself and not Ozu. Ozu only appears after the unnamed hero has failed. Ozu seems more like a manifestation of the unnamed hero’s dark desires — an aspect of the unnamed hero’s dream-like reality — than a distinct entity.

This is where episode five will truly debunk the idea that Ozu is a personality of Watashi, because in the fifth episode Watashi admits that the blame squarely falls on him (among other things ;)). Ozu serves as his scapegoat in the earlier episodes, but I think each episode elicits a subtle change in his character and in his perception of Ozu rather than Ozu being just an aspect of his personality, or another personality of his. Ozu also while still an imp, also affects a different role in this episode.

Who is the god of matchmaking?

He is, quite simply, a confidence man. Episode four will prove that. Kamo Take-tsunomi no Mikoto, from my research, was important in shaping Japan because he acted as a Yatagarasu (three-legged bird or eight-span crow) and aided Emperor Jimmu in the consolidation of Japan. He is an important god in the place that Watashi resides in, but he does not merely act as a god of matchmaking. The mistake in his repetition should have suggested something was peculiar about that ‘god.’

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4 Responses to “Ozu and Watashi are not one and the same: my defence”

  1. Josephus Says:

    I agree with you.

    He may be a poor soul, but he isn’t cracked up.

  2. Vendredi Says:

    Just a few days behind on my Tatami analysis, but man, does it feel like I have a lot of catching up to do.

    I’ll try and formulate a proper response once I’ve caught up – but I couldn’t help but comment on the conflation of Kamo Take-tsunomi with Yatagarasu – amazing catch there, which shines a lot of light on the mythological underpinnings.

    The three-legged crow, known as Yatagarasu in Japan is almost always associated with the power of the sun. In Japanese Shinto, the sun is personified as the goddess Amaterasu, from whom the Japanese emperors were supposedly descended. Yatagarasu is thus her emissary, a representative from the divine to aid in human affairs. “Matchmaking” perhaps could be seen in a broader sense, Yatagarasu is a meddler. Or perhaps, as the Crow/Raven was in First Nations mythology, a “trickster”… and Ozu is depicted as his henchman. Wheels within wheels…

  3. Michael Says:

    Nice explication there, Vendredi. Maybe Yuasa doesn’t mean these things, but they shed a lot of light to the series.

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