Comparative and comprehensive interpretations of The Tatami Galaxy (Yojo-han Shinwa Taikei)’s timeline through the first nine episodes

The more one is intimately connected with a series, the more information one can glean from it. Take Quarkboy, for example. He was the one who proposed the four-and-a-half mat hypothesis, but in light of the recent episodes it seems apocryphal at at times incoherent with the flux of the series. Leave it to him, however, to propose an alternative solution that attempts to answer these statements I made in my post about the episode. I said:

Nine is twice of four-and-a-half. While that hypothesis seems pretty difficult to substantiate now, there is still credence in the fact that things have been quite cyclical, although they have interacted with one another a lot more than what I initially thought. This [the ninth episode] seemed to be the episode that tied together the first five episodes: it seemed as if it really was the 4.5 episode, and not the Honwaka one. Everything is now interwoven and interconnected with everything else, and the presence of the different characters now have coalesced: it’s as if their basic characteristics are known by us. It is the episode that ties everything together. The previous arc seemed to be a diversion from the original path which were the first five episodes, and this was its connection.

I was thinking of a uniform path for the first five episodes, with Watashi’s divergent choices among the women in the sixth, seventh, and eighth episode. At the time, it made a whole lot of sense to me. The first five episodes were tied with one another, with the previous arc the divergence, once again resolving in the ninth episode. (I’ll be using Paint, so pardon the ugliness.)

Put into an image, this was my initial interpretation of the Tatami Galaxy’s timeline:

There are some instances that would support my interpretation: the sixth and the eighth episode always culminated differently, and Akashi would never meet Watashi as Keiko if he chose either of the two choices left.

There are some instances that would support my interpretation: the sixth and the eighth episode always culminated differently, and Akashi would never meet Watashi as Keiko if he chose either of the two choices left.

It still makes a lot of sense to me.

In contrast, this is Quarkboy’s interpretation:

In my interpretation: Everything that happens always happens in each timeline.

The only difference is the role of Watashi in the events (and sometimes the roles of the other people filling in for him).

Akashi is always in the cycling club and movie club, then changes to birdman and disciple in her second year.

Ozu always meets Kohinata-san in his first year in the tennis club and then joins the secret society to get close to her (as Honwaka is one of their branches). He also always does the fireworks to get revenge on the tennis club (or perhaps as part of a plot for the secret society). Ozu’s greatest loyalty always seems to be with the Master, however.
Higuchi always reads 20,000 leagues way past its due date and then decides to go on a journey after his generation of the proxy proxy war is finished.

Ozu and Higuchi always create the film on Jougasaki’s private life using the hidden camera footage captured by Aijima which was made in order to discredit Jougasaki so Aijima could impress Akashi, but ends up being used by Ozu as an attack of the proxy proxy war.

Hanuki always goes out drinking with Jougasaki after hearing that her boyfriend, Higuchi, has decided to go on a journey after the proxy proxy war is over, attempting to drown her sorrows, and is helped home by Ozu.

Ozu always infiltrates Honwaka the night of Gozan, steals the blimp intending to take away Kohinata to fly over the mountains and see all 5 giant pictures/letters at once, is always brought down by Aijima, then chased all the way to the bridge in the first episode, where a furious Aijima and Jougasaki (who thinks it was Ozu that stole Kaori, I think) are trying to get him.

Each of these parts of the story (and probably many others I’m forgetting) are basically constant… Although sometimes Watashi would be involved or replace one of the character’s roles (like being Higuchi’s successor instead of Akashi, or being the CCCC’s leader instead of Ozu, etc…)

It’s a more comprehensive interpretation than mine, indeed, and it does answer quite a few questions that the series proposes. Put into an image, the timeline of the first nine episodes are linear, with changes only occurring upon Watashi’s intrusion into the picture with his different choices. It’s a very brilliant one.

This is Quarkboy's interpretation.

This is Quarkboy's interpretation.

In fact, it was through this interpretation that I discovered that Watashi’s entire oeuvre of films in the second episode acted as foreshadowing for the entirety of things to come. The first suggests his transcendent and endearing battle with Ozu no matter what choice he made; the second is his predicament in the previous arc: he was King Lear; and finally, as I’ve accurately predicted, the third film really reflected himself in the future: in the next episode he entraps himself in the tatami galaxy of his room. It’s wonderful stuff, although there are some pertinent questions with this interpretation especially in the previous arc: Akashi would have never been saved by Watashi if he wasn’t in the Hero Show Circle, and the events of the previous two episodes suggest this. I cannot think of someone else who would save her except Watashi. Other than that, however, I can’t find any criticism for his interpretation and I even think it’s more consistent than mine for the most part: everything is indeed interconnected.

The brilliance of this show presents itself in the ever-changing point of view we have of people. It was something I and others noted as early as the second episode with the Movie Club, but the ninth episode lends gravity to this perception: Higuchi is not only an aloof dilettante; Akashi is not just a cold maiden; Ozu is not just a fool; Aijima is not just a blind follower; Hanuki is not just a drunkard. Everyone is given depth through the evolution of the show and it is done in such a novel way.

Thank you, Quarkboy!

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11 Responses to “Comparative and comprehensive interpretations of The Tatami Galaxy (Yojo-han Shinwa Taikei)’s timeline through the first nine episodes”

  1. Quarkboy Says:

    You have misinterpreted the first of Watashi’s movies…

    The battle between two men that transcends all reason is a reference to the proxy proxy war. I’m pretty sure that’s the specific episode it’s foreshadowing. Consider even the clip shown from the film is on the same looking bridge on which the final showdown happened.

    Speaking of films, you shouldn’t forget Watashi’s last, unfinished work, which was (if I recall) about a love that transcends time, distance, and even gender… 🙂

  2. Michael Says:

    Ah! Great stuff! That does fit more into the series!

    And the film was incomplete … amazing! That totally passed me by!

    Thank you.

    ‘Why do you haunt me so?’
    ‘It’s how I show my love.’

    That gives it more meaning. Hahahaha.

  3. sam Says:

    naruto shippuden episode http://bestanimescollection.blogspot.com/

  4. Michael T. Says:

    Hey there.

    I just wanna say that I really appreciate your review, discussion, and analysis posts about this wonderful show. It felt like I stumbled upon a diamond in a rough when I started watching, and it’s hard to get a good discussion on the forums. And it doesn’t help that most my friends don’t watch anime outside of the occasional comedy/moe/mindless action show.

    Reading your thoughts and comparisons helps solidify the meaning of each episode after I finish them, and also provokes some thought and speculation about the persistent symbolism and direction. There is just so much to digest.

    This show is tremendous and I can’t wait to see how it continues to unfold. The stage has been set for a shattering epiphany, one that I am more than eager to see.

    Cheers!

  5. Michael Says:

    Michael T:

    Thank you very much. This show that I follow doesn’t really scream popularity, but it’s posts like yours that make things all worthwhile.

  6. Mystlord Says:

    Ah that theory of the timeline makes much more sense in my eyes! It definitely adds a whole new dimension to the speech Higuchi makes in episode 9, as Watashi hasn’t lead his own life, but he’s just been stepping into the roles of everyone else. And still, despite stepping into the roles of other people, the outcome is always the same… Makes perfect thematic sense.

    On the other hand, the mystery of the 4.5 Tatami Mats is still left unsolved. I can’t really believe that there isn’t a reason as to why the number 4.5 was specifically chosen… Could be a red herring though ><

  7. Michael Says:

    Yeah, it does. It has a few questionable points, such as certain roles that only Watashi can take (as with the Mochiguman hero suit), but other than that, it’s impeccable.

    It’s still unresolved, yes … but it could be a red herring too, yes.

  8. Vendredi Says:

    Have to agree completely; since episode 3 or 4 we have seen certain characters remain constant – Jougasaki and Hanuki, initially, but now with episode 9 we can confirm that Ozu’s behaviour too, is consistent in every repetition. Your first idea I think is spot on in a thematic sense, 6-7-8 group together very well, and 9 fills in a lot of gaps from the previous episodes.

  9. Michael Says:

    I was thinking that there are some things that only Watashi could do. There are some instances where Watashi is the only one able and capable to do it, which is why I trifurcated the previous arc and then converged it with the ninth episode.

    There’s still a lot of credence with Quarkboy’s hypothesis, however.

  10. Quarkboy Says:

    Part of the reason for my initial 4.5 hypothesis comes from the fact that in the original novel there are 4 chapters, i.e. 4 different timelines, that all end up in mostly the same place. It seems like the anime however has really taken apart the story and rewoven it into a different tapestry, however.

  11. Michael Says:

    I read that from you before. Although I also just realized that the anime really changed things from the novel. 🙂

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