Tatami Galaxy (Yojo-han Shinwa Taikei) – 08: the novel’s importance

I have not seen much of Masaaki Yuasa, but from what I have seen of his works he is not fond of shallow eclat: he does not mention or involve things and events in his plot if they are ultimately to be of no consequence. I have always perceived of him as an auteur to be a follower of Chekhov’s gun: what may appear to be incidental is actually deliberate; sooner or later, what seems insignificant or innocuous is actually pivotal to the progression of the plot and the characters. The Mochiguman is one of the more obvious examples, but certain symbols like the subtlety of the moths’ appearances or of the episodic interconnections will be bypassed by most casual viewers.

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The novel that Ozu lent, or gave, to Watashi certainly coalesces this belief of mine that Ozu actually tries to act as a true friend for Watashi despite Ozu’s idiosyncrasies and faults as a person. Among others, I initially believed that the novel was merely a humorous implement for Masaaki Yuasa, a red herring, perhaps just his own brand of praise through the insertion of the writer of the original novel from which the anime series was derived. There is little information that a Google search initially gives: I thought initially that it was of no consequence.

Upon a re-watch, however, I tracked back and reflected: why not other novels? Why was another work by Tomihiko Morimi mentioned specifically as a plot device by Ozu?

I searched deeper and I came up with a connection near the terminal end of the results. It was a rough translation of a Japanese blog (at least, that’s what I inferred) and it said that

[…] “after finishing his club at his university, a boy (main character) fell in love with Otome, a girl who is younger than the boy […]

Otome may be a proper name in Japanese, but as a common noun it means ‘maiden.’ Doesn’t the story sound familiar? That’s not all, however.

A city in Kyoto has some troubles because of him! It’s a comical love fantasy!

Remember where the story of The Tatami Galaxy is taking place? Isn’t the story funny? Doesn’t this sound all too familiar? In contrast to the indecision and unfathomable idealism that Watashi enacts, however, the protagonist of this novel

tries hard to attract Otome’s attention every single day. […] He follows the girl like a stalker; he comes and goes most unexpectedly.

He is altogether a different entity from our Watashi. I believe Ozu giving him the novel is actually Ozu exhorting him to do something with his life and with Akashi. The end of the novel, I can only assume, is Otome getting together with the dogged protagonist. We have always perceived Ozu as shrewd and mischievous: perhaps this is his own way of helping Watashi realize that opportunity dangling in front of him?

[Quite notable as well is the contrast between the cool wisdom of Akashi and the stark stupidity of Otome, but that’s for another post if I get more information on the matter.]

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8 Responses to “Tatami Galaxy (Yojo-han Shinwa Taikei) – 08: the novel’s importance”

  1. Samsung Galaxy S Pro: 4G with a QWERTY | Android Unlocked Says:

    […] anime|otaku » Blog Archive » Tatami Galaxy (Yojo-han Shinwa Taikei … […]

  2. Mystlord Says:

    Haha wow the book actually exists. I did a google search myself when I saw the book and came up with nothing. The cover actually reminded me of the promotional image for Yojouhan, and when I went back to look up the exact promotional image, the imagery present in both that image and in this one blew me away. There’s just so much going on in the Yojouhan poster, and it’s funny just how much that image plays into the anime itself.

    The background behind the large Akashi foreground picture is the Tatami mat, and Akashi takes the place of the white Mochiguman in the picture, with Watashi staring up at her. The Spire present in the last three episodes as a phallic symbol makes a return on the left, but with Akashi’s hand bound in a way to it by the smoke rising from Watashi’s cigarette. I can’t identify the image on the right side of the Tatami mat, but it appears to be a natural setting. The top image is almost certainly the city itself, represented by a multitude of signs. Ozu stands in the door to Watashi’s room, shrouded in both black and the moths. It’s almost as if it’s a symbol that he’s what Akashi is truly afraid of, yet she still grabs onto him and doesn’t let go. And of course in the middle is the school that Watashi goes to. The nexus of the entire show. Anyway, perhaps you can extract more meaning out of it than I can see, but at a cursory glance the way it ties into the series is uncanny. There’s only two interesting parts about the image that deviate from the show. There’s only 4 Mochiguman (although there were also only 4 present at the show, the orange one is missing there, and in the poster the blue one is missing. Still unsure as to why that’s so), and Akashi is wearing a sailor uniform, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen her appear in.

    Anyway, that’s quite a tangent I went on. With regards to the book itself, the change in the background to an apple is a play on many things, though whether it’s connected with the Christian interpretation, I don’t know. The change in imagery to the night sky with a crescent moon also seems important to me, as it’s plastered right on top of the apple. Without reading the book itself though, the images there don’t mean too much to me.

    Another point of interest more so relating to the anime itself though is that I don’t think Ozu gives the novel to Watashi to make him realize that he has to do something. After all, he said in the show, “It’s a silly young adult novel, but feel free to use it as a bad example to follow.” I find it interesting too that Watashi also dismisses it as a silly young adult novel, perhaps showing that there is a greater parallel of thought between Ozu and Watashi, or perhaps even that they’re two sides of the same coin (which is what I believe at this point).

    Anyway, thanks for the research into the book. I probably would have just passed on it if you didn’t point it out 😛

  3. chounokoe Says:

    Well it is a nice observation and I see that it’s very hard to get information for actuall [b]novels[/b] from Japan, but I have to make some small comments regarding that topic.

    The novel ‘yoru wa mijikashi aruke yo otome’ is actually a kind of sequel to ‘yojouhan shinwa taikei’.
    Both stories are set in Kyouto at the same university, but are linked only through the characters of Higuchi and Hanuki. The plot is vaguely similar but has a much more straightforward approach than ‘yojouhan’ had.

    I actually think it is more of a funny wink from the producers to include the novel, even though of course it connects to the plot on a certain level, but that is more or less, because the universes are connected in a way.

    In the source novel I think it was ‘20.000 leagues under the sea’ (or at least another Jules Verne novel) in which Watashi had found the name of Keiko. The novel was featured way more in the novel, while it plays a less important role in the anime.

  4. Michael Says:

    Mystlord:

    AHR (one of the commentators of the series) also noted the relevance of the poster to the series. The imagery does play into the anime itself. I think that was a good point made on the similarities between Ozu and Watashi: they have more in common than Watashi likes to think.

    chounokoe:

    Oh, I see. So Higuchi and Hanuki still reappears in that novel. I also thought it was a funny wink at first, but when I read about the novel I had to assume something else was going on. We’ll see how the anime deals with this.

    It’s still the novel that Higuchi returns to Watashi, however. It will still probably have much meaning in the series.

    Thank you for the comment!

  5. The Tatami Galaxy Episode 7 and 8: “Hero Show Association” and “Reading Circle Sea” « FungaFuFu Says:

    […] anime|otaku gives some insight on the book that is given by Ozu to Watashi in this episode. In the original source material it apparently was a copy of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea – the book that was lent to Higuchi – which dovetails nicely with the title. In this animated version, the director has seen fit to replace the book with another work by the author of the source material. […]

  6. Sabrina Krysh Says:

    Steer clear of black colored crickets, I fed some to my pet Anole and it died a few days later. Any type of fly is ok, should you can catch them. Go for Grasshoppers, easy to catch, and they’re a good size for a Chameleon.

  7. Laure Kooch Says:

    I have a green anole and he turns brown sometimes. Sometimes whne he is on his rock he iturns light brown. But sometimes he gets to be the darlest brown you can imagine. And sometimes he turns light gray. What do these colors mean for the green anole. And is it good when he is bright green?

  8. kamoriver Says:

    I don’t know if you already know, but that novel was animated into a movie by Masaaki Yuasa. He even called the folks who worked on The Tatami Galaxy to help. Some characters of The Tatami Galaxy, like Higuchi or Hanuki also make a appearance in the movie.

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