The Tatami Galaxy – 03: the theory of relativity
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.
This time, he chose the cycling club Soleil as his conduit to promote himself. Its title is symbolic especially as regards the context of the episode, where it was the sole enemy of Icarus as he flew to his death. His tragedy was not that he was without effort; it was a tragedy because it was without any proper intent. Their purpose was primarily to survive and not to survey the skies: in his efforts, he forgot his purpose of being, tragically ending up dead. Watashi was him to some extent.
While he couldn’t help how he was built and while he couldn’t change his high school life, Watashi diligently stuck to training with discipline, as evidenced by his diet that Ozu questions in the episode. It is extremely notable of Watashi in his improvement that he no longer uses Ozu as his scapegoat: in this episode Ozu is established as more of a villain, because Watashi wants no part of Ozu and tries his hardest to achieve his goals. It is also in this episode that the subtitle of my post presents itself, as it is not merely Ozu who has changed from the perspective of Watashi: Jougasaki is also viewed in a more positive note, in contrast to Ozu’s ‘master,’ who now seems to be a shady guy. Our perspectives of the people surrounding Watashi changed because he himself changed his perspectives on them: this is the reason of Ozu’s sublimation as a villain more than as a scapegoat – he is no longer utilized by Watashi as an escape. Only little changed from the previous episode yet there was such a difference in perceptions among the characters. It is also quite apt because the singer of the ED, Etsuko Yakushimaru, is part of the group Souteiseiriron. In English, it means the Theory of Relativity. While I’m certain it’s just pure coincidence, I could not help but point this out especially within the context of the episode. 🙂
It is during his loss of the bike that he’s worked so hard to attain that one sees a different side of Watashi hidden or totally absent in the previous two episodes: one can see his utter determination to complete the goal he has set for himself despite an elephantine setback in the aerodynamic bike’s loss. Using his heavy, basketed bike, he braved start-up delays, a flat tire, and a pouring rain, as well as the frustration of knowing it was his aerodynamic bike that allowed Higuchi-san to finish first place. He even drank a beer with a huge insect in it.
It is after this scene where one views the quintessential difference between Akashi and Watashi: she had easily won in the bicycle race a year ago, and knowing she did not like it there, directed both her efforts and talent to something she loved. Watashi persisted despite him feeling no love or passion for cycling, and while his efforts were both noble and admirable, what happened to him simply was a catastrophe. He failed at something he was without passion towards, but even more tragically, he failed at something he was passionate about, as well: he wanted to please Akashi in spite of himself that he worked even harder to build his muscles up for the sake of being more able to pilot the free-flying plane that Akashi designed. He gained pride and perseverance, only to discover that it wasn’t what was needed of him.
Despite his pitiful, consistent failures, Akashi once more shined for him. She’s a very beautiful girl, yet one full of pragmatism. It was only with his ultimate failure that he realized that his efforts were misdirected for all his years in the cycling club: there weren’t even any pedals for him to control. He wasted his effort because he was unclear with what he really desired, which is simply to really be with Akashi.
I thought that this was the best episode, but it’s also the saddest as yet: there is not as much to blame Watashi for, and he tried his very best; his only flaw was being unable to see what he really desired and who to really ask. Like Icarus, both of them fell.