The Tatami Galaxy (Yojo-han Shinwa Taikei) – 11: the best anime of 2010
I woke up at three in the morning in the hope of finding a subbed translation of the final episode. I was actually weighing for and against procurement of its raw: while I would know how it would end grossly, I wouldn’t understand what would occur in the first place and the element of surprise would no longer be present when I would finally be watching it with translations. I actually relented a little bit, but stopped when I saw how beautifully they transformed the ED into the OP. I had to be watching while understanding it, because by that point (when I realized that the ED was just that important) my body just felt electric. This show deserved to be watched with full understanding and concentration, and I wasn’t going to disrespect that.
I played truant for the first period of our class today. I wanted to see the episode when it came out and solidify my own opinion as regards its finale. I have no regrets: hands down, it was the best finale I have seen this year, and one of the best finales I have seen my entire life. I honestly cried (not only teared up) when Watashi finally did all the things he needed and wanted to do in the final episode. After it ended, I was beside myself clapping, cheering, and with tears in my eyes. What a beautiful, beautiful end to a beautiful, beautiful series. I am not lying when I say it just qualified as perhaps my top anime (among all my favorites), or at least near that apex. It was just that good.
First and foremost, I called it great: the moths were really Watashi’s way out, and my fearless forecast was very close to what happened to the real thing. How it was actually done will be tackled with later.
The introductory montage of the episode alluded to giant mecha shows: the crosses were highly reminiscent to the explosions in Evangelion. The montage ends with Watashi’s wish to return to where he started in his freshman year: the clock rewinds, but there is no rewind for Watashi. This was in collusion with my claim that Watashi does not synthesize his alternate realities: they are present whether Watashi recognizes them or not. Watashi, however, recognizes them in only the tenth episode, where he is vis-a-vis his parallel universes and his parallel incarnations. He even crossed paths with his Honwaka incarnation. The fortune teller merely led him to the knowledge to his other existences. In contrast to the uppity Asian Kung-fu Generation song, however, the viewer is presented with the more somber and pensive Kamisama no Iutoori, previously the ending of the series. The mood is intensified with only the presence of drab colors in contrast to the more colorful endings of previous episodes. I think the color change pertains to the boredom and tiredness of Watashi in his exploration of the tatami galaxy. He became full of it, and highly desired to escape.
Like the previous episode, Watashi once again tries to inventively explain the existence of the four-and-a-half tatami galaxy with a historical presentation: he argued that the four-and-a-half tatami evolved through time and was the pinnacle of the existence for the tatami.
Watashi continued his exploration of the maze he was entrapped in despite knowing that it was an endless recursion. He subsequently directed his exploration to the people that surrounded his life in his parallel existences. He also gives insight to the similarity among his incarnations when he quipped upon how he would act if he actually saw Kohinata: no matter what circle he chose, it remains that his character as Watashi is infrangible.
Watashi also offers a commentary of the relationships among the characters that surrounded him in his other incarnations: it was strongly hinted at the previous episodes that Hanuki and Higuchi liked one another, but it was confirmed with this one. Watashi also identifies one of the reasons that make The Tatami Galaxy creative and incisive as a show:
‘Looking at it like this, humans really are deep; they have many faces. It’s a huge shame to scorn people just because of a single hasty look at the surface. If you look at them from all angles, you’ll be able to see new, hidden sides to them.’
Watashi also continues that he should have been satisfied with these people, but he was unable to see reality as it was. It is obvious that this episode is a cascade of catharses and epiphanies that transform the protagonist to change towards the better: the second epiphany I recognized from Watashi was his paradigm shift as regards Ozu.
‘If I had only met him, then I bet my campus life would have been a fun one.’
This was a great flight against his previous opinions of Ozu: in the earliest episodes, it was as if Ozu was the bane of Watashi’s existence.
‘Ozu always seemed to be my only real friend.‘
He discovered more about Ozu by exploring Ozu’s phone, where he realized Kohinata was Ozu’s girlfriend. Events of the fifth episode and even the first episode are also illuminated more with the admixing of the Gozan and Ozu’s plan to celebrate it with Kohinata. Watashi realized that despite being a through-and-through idiot, Ozu was also very pure when it came to romance. The appearance of Ozu in real life was also finally shown in more detail with this episode, finally terminating all the arguments that Ozu was just another personality of Watashi. Upon realization of Ozu’s troubles, he tried to inform Ozu that it was a trap. It was clearly a presentation of Watashi’s changing perception towards Ozu.
He was clearly yearning for reality and finally recognized after all this time the simple things that he missed doing and omitted to do entirely. These were simple things such as eating Neko Ramen, eating spaghetti at a certain cafe, taking a public bath, watching movies, and even listening to lectures.
Dark Johnny finally showed himself this episode: it was the avatar of Watashi’s frustration for the past two months, not only with sex, but with his entrapment. After bursting through the different rooms of his different incarnations, he finally ended up back in his room, and here came his third epiphany:
‘I had thought the days were all wasted, but they were such a bounty! Always dreaming of the unrealistic, I never looked at what I had right around me. That was the life I chose. And this is the result I wished for.‘
He finally introduced to us his current incarnation’s experience of Watashi regarding Akashi. I don’t think it’s merely a consequence that Akashi’s name is like this, because Akashi actually roughly means ‘bright jewel.’ I also don’t think it’s a consequence that Ozu means ‘mischief,’ and Higuchi roughly translates to ‘gutter mouth.’ The final episode illustrates the reason to her name, especially in relation to Watashi:
‘At that point, her expression, which was like some European fortress city, relaxed into a smile, and that smile left an impression that has never left my mind. In short, frankly, to put it plainly, honestly, saying it without any reservation, at that moment … I fell head over heels for her.‘
The tears started to come to my eyes at this time, because he finally faced the reality that he loved someone who was not an ideal raven-haired maiden, but someone rooted in reality. He also finally recognized the reality of his emotions: he loved her, even if she was merely human.
‘I should have thought to look for her, but I never took the first step.‘
It was another catharsis: he solely placed the blame on his shoulders: it was my fault. He finally saw through the words of the fortune teller, and grabbed the Mochiguman with all his might.
‘I will take that step now, whether it takes 100 steps or 1000.’
It is finally the end of cowardice and the beginning of action: ‘I’ will act. Again, what I forecast two days ago really happened: the moths were really Watashi’s way out as they led him a way out of the maze upon grabbing the Mochiguman. Upon his exit from the maze he returns to the bridge scene during the first episode. No longer, however, is he bridled with his fear, cowardice, or indecision. Watashi was going to act.
When he realized that Ozu was in trouble, he quickly raced to his rescue while losing all his clothing in the process. I think this was a stylistic implementation by Yuasa pertaining to the rebirth and the real ablution of Watashi’s life. The coalescence of his parallel existences had now planned on action and fruition. I think it also references the philosophical ekstasis, literally jumping out of oneself.
Whereas Ozu covered for Watashi in his parallel existences (during the first episode and the fifth episode, especially), Watashi was returning the favor this time around. He was doing for Ozu what Ozu had previously done for him. He had even saved Ozu from being dragged out the river. Ozu was now the one who needed help.
Watashi returned the favor of friendship to the people who had tangentially or directly helped him in the past, not only towards Ozu, but towards Higuchi, Hanuki, and especially Akashi as well.
It was Watashi this time who gave wise advice to Higuchi, persuading him to take Hanuki with him because Hanuki loved him, and he loved her too.
Watashi finally returned to Akashi to help her relax from the explosion of moths by giving to her the Mochiguman she had been looking for so long. How the Mochiguman ended up with Watashi in this universe was also finally explained: it was a not-so-simple exchange.
The one responsible for the current Watashi to experience his other incarnations was indeed the fortune teller. Perhaps that was the reason why she charged him a lot with every episode progression. Watashi finally fulfills both promises to Akashi early on in the series: he fulfills his promise to take her to Neko Ramen (made in the first episode), and he also completes the final film (realizes it in real life) he was producing in the second episode. He realized that transcendent love towards Akashi and faced the interweaving of Ozu’s and his black string of fate. Akashi even notes herself of this esemplastic coherence between his parallel universes:
Watashi was finally realized his love for Akashi. He became a disciple and continued the Proxy-Proxy war against Ozu. He even went away from his regressive four-and-a-half tatami room to signify his transformation and was even able to jostle with Ozu in terms of words. What Akashi spoke towards Watashi in the first episode (to leave the expenses to her), Watashi spoke towards Ozu, from a friend towards another friend.
The final film is also explained, from the cryptic words that Watashi and Ozu shared towards one another.
‘Why must you be so interested in me?
‘It’s how I show my love.’
‘You can keep that icky love to yourself!’
One is reminded of the ending of the final film of Watashi’s (the incomplete one that closed the second episode):
‘It’s how I show my love.’
‘Keep that to yourself!’
The series ends with what was the OP previously, an uppity song that closes our insight to the life of our beloved Watashi.