Chromatology in the Tatami Galaxy (Yojo-han Shinwa Taikei)
The Masque of the Red Death was one of the earliest literary short stories I have ever read. I was in the fourth grade back then, enjoying reading primarily with Goosebumps, when my father exhorted me to read stories that were more literary because it would allow my English to progress and improve. I listened reluctantly, but I was glad I did.
I think the last time I read that short story was about five years ago, but it has never failed to make an impression on me, seeing as it was one of my first true explorations of allegory (notwithstanding what Poe said about it). Aside from the idea that the Red Death was the personification of the bubonic plague, I was struck by Poe’s evident use of colors to paint meaning into the story: in the story, Prince Prospero saunters through seven rooms of different colors before finally meeting the Red Death face-to-face (and then dying in the process). Each room had a different color and signified something different: I was turning the idea over in my head since the last episode represented the different choices made by Watashi with different colors. I cannot say I am totally convinced with the signification myself, but I personally think that the colors the rooms possess certainly give definite impressions that can be recognized with the individual color’s social and cultural significance, whether universal or not.
The dominant color of the first episode is a dark or forest green. It is actually a truer green than the one in the third episode, and one universal symbolism of the color is that of envy. I personally think it is apt for the episode, seeing that Watashi is ultimately jealous of other people’s happiness because his quest to obtain his romantically failed badly. The entire episode is actually just his jealousy taking hold of him, and even when he was given a chance to escape this vicious circle, he still fails because of his cowardice.
The dominant color of the second episode is violet: I write violet because it is lighter in hue as compared to the predominant color of the sixth episode’s room. It represents the color of purpose, and this is reflected by most of the show’s second half. Watashi was highly determined to expose the dirty drawers of Jougasaki, and he did so with diligence and out of pure spite. On a deeper level, the movies that Watashi created during the episode was a foreshadowing of what he would do throughout the show: the first movie reflected the Proxy-Proxy war; the second movie reflected episodes six through eight; the third movie is his current predicament; and the fourth movie is a love story that transcended time and space. The first three have already occurred.
The third episode sported a green that wasn’t quite green as it was a mixture of yellow and green. It was the chartreuse color, or neon green, and it totally screamed a pursuit of safety to me, as it’s what cyclists and traffic officials often wear during contests and work, respectively. But it is also what Watashi desperately tries to achieve throughout the episode: he chases a sense of safety against the Cheery Cycling Corps, but also pursues it in transit toward his goal of rose-colored women. He did not risk simply being himself; he instead pursued becoming muscular so that he wouldn’t look as weak to Akashi as he then was.
I thought it apt to refer to the Hinduists’ belief as regards the color orange:
The significance of orange as the colour for Hindu swamis is commonly thought to be connected to the idea that orange symbolises fire. Renunciates’ fiery ochre robes display outwardly the inner transformation that is happening – the burning of ego, their former selves, and their personal wants.
Watashi outwardly symbolizes that by being adherent to the goal of Honwaka. Deep within, however, he’s actually chasing for love and the rest is just a show. This dissonance is one of the reasons that he again failed. But a glimpse to his inner transformation can also be seen during this episode: it is the only episode where two Watashis of different universes actually meet.
In antiquity, purple was only available to the kings and the elites. The color has evolved through time to denote royalty and sophistication. Ozu and Watashi describe the appreciation of Kaori to be ‘a form of extremely sophisticated love.’ It is a kind of love and appreciation limited to only the royal and the sophisticated. This room may have been a focus of either episode seven or eight as it was an arc with highly related episodes, but allow me to peg this room as that of the sixth episode.
The reason for that previous statement was that Watashi acted as a Mochiguman only in the seventh episode. The color predominant in the room is white, and the universal symbolism white represents is purity and nobility. Hero shows are appeals to the purity of children’s hearts to look at life as if it were primarily in black and white. The color, however, also suggests Akashi, as a side of her never seen before was exposed this episode: she enjoyed sentai shows, and was not even afraid of expressing it to Watashi.
I also thought Watashi was noble during this episode (despite being hidden in the suit) when he saved Akashi from being hit on by ruffians. It was one of the few unselfish acts he did throughout the show, but it was a very kind thing to do for her.
I was trying to search for a suitable denotation of pink. I did not think the episode was homosexual by any means, but then I found out that pink also represents glamor. I do not mean glamor in terms of style; I pertain to glamor as a negative: I pertain to braggadocio and unwarranted ostentation, something that Watashi (and even Akashi, to some extent) showed during this episode. He painted himself as a renaissance man because he couldn’t accept who he was just as he was. Just as his other incarnations, it ended in failure because he did not learn to accept himself.
Blue is both the color of coldness and sadness. It was during this episode where he took the pursuit of the rose-colored campus life to the extreme, and truly achieved what he thought he initially desired. He was able to obtain the women he sought for and the popularity he desired in exchange for his warmth as a human person: he had to be a cold bastard. It still did not give him his happiness. It was in fact the cause for his sadness and Akashi’s sadness as well.
These are but only my thoughts and perceptions. What are your interpretations of the rooms’ colors?