Tatami Galaxy (Yojo-han Shinwa Taikei) – 08: I begins again
Watashi’s position in the ‘game of love’ is once again at the position the previous two episodes started with: it is once again alluded to by a move he has to make in love’s board game. Only this time, he chooses the faceless ideal: he chose Keiko-san, and the Reading Circle Sea is the circle featured among the three he has chosen.
In the post-introduction montage, Watashi alluded to his journey with books as if he were sailing in the sea, and Keiko-san was a solitary boat he’d have found. Reading, indeed, is a solitary journey to knowledge and an imagined world. Most people are not fond of it, however, because it takes a lot of patience, and even impatient readers like me (I think this is brought about by technology’s ubiquity) have more than enough patience than most people nowadays because we have the focus to finish books that we’ve started, and read with consistency. It can be easily seen that Watashi is impatient: it is not a solitary journey to knowledge that he pursues, but a journey looking for love and acceptance, and that is the reason thus that he, in contrast to the other people of the club, impatiently tapped his feet while reading.
It is quite amusing how Mr. Yuasa or the author inserted another work of the author and used it to allow the plot to progress. The self-deprecating commentary that Ozu and Watashi made on the work was also quite droll as well. In preparation for the unsolicited letter he was planning to write, he utilized beautiful stationery and prepared thoroughly to keep it short but sincere. Watashi still cannot accept that the reality that the ‘lady’ he was writing to may simply be not the beautiful maiden raised among butterflies and rainbows. He forged on, undeterred by his blurry perception of reality. A short reply from her brings him to ecstasy, and from this he quickly believed that she must be a beautiful maiden.
Their epistolary exchange reveals Watashi as worse than Pinocchio when it comes to blatant lying, all for the sake of painting a beautiful image of himself to a girl he does not even truly know is pretty. There is a dissonance between the imagery and the words that Watashi wrote to Keiko: he is not even all that good at English, after all, and his ‘hero’ performances are anything but sparkling. The foundation of his words are rooted in reality, but he distorts this reality with exaggerated embellishment.
Watashi saving Akashi is revisited during this episode, and this reflects some truth on his claim to Keiko. The drab blue color places focus on himself, but the unheard reality is that children think he’s still a pushover and a freak outside of wearing that suit to them.
The appearance of Kaori at Watashi’s place was actually a result of the Proxy-Proxy war, and the enactment of it was eerily similar to the second episode (only without Watashi’s involvement). The reason of Higuchi’s presence in their editing sessions back in the second episode is now revealed to us. The previous two episodes’s events were just revisited and related as regards the romance of Watashi without nothing novel really occurring.
A little after that, however, Watashi firmly decided to look at the address of Keiko (using a Mochiguman suit, no less). I find it as a wonderful coincidence that it is not Keiko he first sees, but Akashi coming out of what we can assume to be her apartment. The facelessness of Keiko is contrasted with the reality of Akashi: she abruptly asked Watashi what he was doing there.
After a two-year exchange, Keiko already wished to meet with Watashi, even if only for once. It is no surprise that Johnny was erupting: in fact, his gears were grinding.
It no longer became a ‘Life’-like game; it transformed into a race for love, as what can be seen in the board itself: they were even released like racehorses.
In his confusion, he consulted the old woman: she only charged him 6,000 yen. I was at first wondering whether he was thrown into the timeline of the sixth episode, only to discover later on that she charged him afterward as well for additional advice. After dealing with Hanuki, Watashi raced to Keiko only to discover that she was no longer waiting (as quite some time had already passed).
Most of us had the belief that it was Ozu himself that wrote the letters. I was very certain of it, that it was merely just another one of Ozu’s plots. Brilliance will out, however, as Mr. Yuasa threw us the curveball that it was actually Akashi who wrote the letters herself. It is quite fun to know that his faceless ideal is actually her in reality. (I was smiling so widely during this part: the ‘red string of fate’ that others have written of seem to actually be working for Watashi!) I can’t help but love Akashi all the more when she took Ozu’s random prank on Watashi seriously: she even tried to flesh Keiko’s character for him well. She was even the one who waited for him all that time in the cafe, and even waited further when she deduced that he may go to Ozu’s apartment. She asked forgiveness in a very human way, and was truly grateful to what he did for her (with regard to his Mochiguman act of heroism).
He did not ask her out for a date. In fact, it was a regret spoken of by Johnny: it is still visible that Watashi is very indecisive. His sadness reminds the viewer of the emptiness Watashi felt during the first episode, and it was as if he had given up. But just when we believe nothing even changed, he has finally decided to do whatever it takes to rise on the victory podium whether Ozu trolls him or not, and this ends a most wonderful and refreshing episode.