Tatami Galaxy (Yojo-han Shinwa Taikei): the ‘game of love,’ analysis of the exordium, and the hypothesis revisited

The exordium analyzed [opening animation]

Despite watching every episode of The Tatami Galaxy at least twice, I have not put any focus on the opening animation of the show until now. It is quite illuminating that after the introduction of the title and the important people helming it, the three people that appear in the first tier (or really, the second floor), are the three characters most important to the show’s progression: they are Watashi, Akashi, and Ozu, in that exact order.

The next tier of characters that are also involved directly with the plot but are primarily just supporting appear in the next floor: these characters are Hanuki, Jougasaki, and Higuchi, in that exact order as well. I think that Hanuki among the three has the greatest effect on the story because she is a legitimate love interest of Watashi. In fact, the only other palpable woman in the show aside from Akashi is Hanuki. To men, male friends are important, but it is a woman that will serve as our companions for our lifetimes.

The final tier of characters are those that also support the plot but are only tangential compared to the tier that came before. In this tier, Kaori, Aijima, the Fortune Teller, the Ramen Store Owner, Johnny, and then his horse end the character lineup. Kaori is pivotal to the plot, indeed, but it is Watashi who creates her character: she does not have a character of her own, and her existence simply just propels the plot forward toward the development of Watashi. The same can be said with regard to Aijima, the Fortune Teller, and Johnny. Aijima was one of the triggers to Watashi’s vengeful film in the second episode, but it was Jougasaki who was the central sparkplug. Like Kaori, Johnny is just another ekstasis (the Heideggerian sense) of Watashi. The Fortune Teller exhorts Watashi about what to do but does not directly mingle with his affairs, while the Ramen Store Owner helped Watashi in episode five. The characters of this tier are very important, just that they are not as important as the tiers before them.

I think this speaks of how the series will progress in the eighth episode. Having checked the entirety of the people appearing in the opening, only three have not yet appeared. Two of them are men wearing sunglasses, while one looks a little bit like Ozu. I think it’s all right to assume that Higuchi Keiko is not a lady that is rooted in reality. Perhaps it’s just another one of Ozu’s nasty jokes, or Higuchi’s hijinks.

The hypothesis revisited and the ‘game of love’

This appeared in Tennis Circle Cupid.

This appeared in Tennis Circle Cupid.

Upon a re-watch of the sixth episode (knowing fully well what occurs in the seventh), I think that in this three episode arc, Watashi suffers from the paralysis of indecision. As regards Mystlord asking its relations to the first episode (according to the expounded hypothesis), there are instances in the background where scenes from the first episode is focused on as well as the fourth episode.

This also appears in the first episode.

This also appears in the first episode.

This is in agreement with the proposed hypothesis because the first and the fourth episode are interrelated with each other, because Hanuki has started to become a significant player this episode, tying closely with the opening animation I have just discussed.

The picture is enlarged to see how distant Watashi is from the clover, a symbol of luck.

The picture is enlarged to see how distant Watashi is from the clover, a symbol of luck.

I can’t help but notice that in the ‘game of love’ that Watashi plays, he is very far away from luck. In fact, his avatar is but a blur in the game in relation to the three-leaf clover: it must be noted that he is also, in addition to being a suffering fellow, quite an unlucky one as well. He is not far away from love, however: this is the opportunity that the Fortune Teller says simply hangs nearby, but it must be noted that he faces away from that path. Instead, he faces a convoluted path where love is so far away from him.

Love, however, is only two steps away.

Love, however, is only two steps away.

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11 Responses to “Tatami Galaxy (Yojo-han Shinwa Taikei): the ‘game of love,’ analysis of the exordium, and the hypothesis revisited”

  1. MorningGlory Says:

    Hahah Didn’t even realize the game of love.by the way,It look like a town ,I think i can see river and railroad but maybe its just my imagination ^^

  2. Michael Says:

    It does look like a town. I think it recalls a dating sim game, thus the city-like simulation. However, it simply must be pointed out that while he’s very close to love – just two steps away, actually, he decides to take a different and more convoluted route toward it: he is facing away from where the heart is.

    I thought it was a nice touch by the director of the episode. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Mystlord Says:

    Ha I totally forgot about that scene. Yeah that happens right at the beginning of the first episode ๐Ÿ˜› Looking through the other scenes in that montage though, I see flashes of scenes that were present in other episodes as well. Ozu and the peaches was in the Bicycling club episode (3), and I also saw some flashes of some Ozu scenes that linked back to the “Softball Club” (episode 5). There were also numerous other scenes that I recognized but forgot which episode they occurred in. I’m still not fully convinced of the Tatami mat theory, but it is certainly an interesting theory nonetheless. We’ll just have to wait for Episode 8 and see if that ties back to Episode 5 then!

    And on the ‘Game of Love’. I find it just as interesting that there isn’t any real “end” to the board. The board looks eerily similar to the Game of Life board game, but while there is a definitive end there, there is none here. It feels as if Watashi is trapped on the board for all of eternity, doomed to wander around forever. Aside from that, I also find the symbolism of him starting off on a 4 way crossroads just as interesting. Three of those paths actually loop around to the same path through the board, but the one on the left takes him on a completely different path.

    Gotta go right now, but thanks as always for posting this analysis!

  4. Michael Says:

    Love is a never-ending process until death. The greatest of loves endure despite any obstacle. We can never really remove ourselves from love, because it is what makes us fundamentally human. Of course he is ‘doomed to wander around forever,’ because love can never be taken away from people. It’s only when they remove themselves from love that it dies. All of the paths still cross one another, if you look at it. All of the paths converge. There is no ‘end’ to love, because life must go on. However, there are paths which lead one closer to it, and this is my point.

    By the way, the Tatami mat hypothesis isn’t even a theory. It’s just another guess I built up on, but it is uncertain whether it’s really correct. It’s pretty convincing for what it is, though. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Vendredi Says:

    Note also the circuit of the camera in the opening – we climb floor after repeated floor, then room after room, then pass through a series of rooms, all with an identical hanging Mochiguman – then a dive through the center Tatami board through more of the same rooms, before returning to the the identical pass. The entire thing is very focused on a depiction of the Shimagamo Yusuisso building.

  6. Michael Says:

    Vendredi:

    Indeed, it does seem that way. Wonderful structural commentary, as always.

  7. ESSWHY Says:

    I just feel like pointing out that there are 3 hearts on the board game of love, just as the 3 possible love interests in episodes 6-8(I assume).

    The clover, however, is something he is very far away from, so this probably represents Akashi (from Watashi’s perspective). He probably thinks it would just be luck (or accidental fate) if he were ever to reach Akashi.

    But who knows, sometimes things like these can be accidental. That and it is easy to find tiny details to support a whole range of wild crazy ideas–when it comes to analyzing things in depth–in general!

  8. Michael Says:

    That’s a wonderful catch! Three ‘obvious’ paths, but a path of ‘luck’ that he is very distant to, who is probably Akashi.

    It also helps that the series is very open to interpretation with its avant-garde artwork and animation. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Tatami Galaxy: Collected Comments « FungaFuFu Says:

    […] My take on the OP a few episodes back, which is oddly prophetic in light of episode 10. Note also the circuit of the camera in the opening รขโ‚ฌโ€œ we climb floor after repeated floor, then room after room, then pass through a series of rooms, all with an identical hanging Mochiguman รขโ‚ฌโ€œ then a dive through the center Tatami board through more of the same rooms, before returning to the the identical pass. […]

  10. Tatami Galaxy – final thoughts « Abandoned Factory Anime Review Says:

    […] There is some fascinating reading on the Anime|Otaku blog about all sorts of details, ranging from an analysis of the dominant color for each episode, to “an analysis of the exordium”. […]

  11. John Says:

    Hello by reading websites like this, I have come to realize that I need enhance my game. Later.

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