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.

How they probably looked as freshmen

How they probably looked as freshmen

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 way out, as I argued

The way out, as I argued

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.

The Gozan festival

The Gozan festival

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

Dark Johnny

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.

I just thought this eggplant seemed both cool and out of place.

I just thought this eggplant seemed both cool and out of place.

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.

Finally.

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.

And I love her.

And I love her.

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.

Hanuki and Higuchi together

Hanuki and Higuchi together

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.

He held her hand.

He held her hand.

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.

Where is the one responsible?

Where is the one responsible?

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:

ttg11.9

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?

Watashi has now become quite an Ozu to Ozu

Watashi has now become quite an Ozu to Ozu


‘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):

ttg2.2
‘It’s how I show my love.’
‘Keep that to yourself!’

The fortune teller sits in the distance.

The fortune teller sits in the distance.

The series ends with what was the OP previously, an uppity song that closes our insight to the life of our beloved Watashi.

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19 Responses to “The Tatami Galaxy (Yojo-han Shinwa Taikei) – 11: the best anime of 2010”

  1. qwert1424 Says:

    It’s been a good ride, and now, Yojou-han will fade into anime history, cherished by a few but ultimately submerged into obscurity by mountains of new garbage otaku shows. Seriously, have you seen the next season preview?

    Sigh. Anyways, 10/10, awesome show, awesome ending.

  2. Michael Says:

    Thanks for the ride and thank you for the comments.

    Yes, I saw the next season preview. I was not very excited. I’m thinking of adjusting my value for anime just because I found Tatami Galaxy so awesome.

  3. Lonpone Says:

    Eggplants are indeed awesome, the NES games were full of them. If you look at the shadow of it though, it looks like Higuchi. Divine eggplant mebbe?

  4. Michael Says:

    I really don’t know the reason behind the eggplant. I just thought it looked cool.

  5. Kuya Jorge Says:

    This is simply one of those series where mere reviews or recommendations won’t do it justice. I guess it’s kind of sad that these are the type of series that will get overwhelmed by the deluge of moewhoring, ecchi-per-second and the like. Not saying those types are bad per se, but really these are the types of shows that anime is more than underaged panty shots and comic violence.

  6. Michael Says:

    Yeah. It will be sunken by the deluge of the more traditional and popular anime series, but this is why I watch anime. Even if gems like these come out once a year, I will have no regrets.

  7. onaname Says:

    This is such an amazing series, I don’t know where to start.

    I’m glad that you’ve been writing so thoughtfully about it all this time, and after reading your analysis of the cover image, I must profess I have never wanted a poster as badly as I want that one.

    As for Masaaki Yuasa, though I enjoyed Kaiba and Kemonozume overall (have yet to see Mind Game), I felt both conclusions were ultimately disappointing. Each series tackled grand themes that have been done before to varying success. Kaiba dealt with the mind/body issue, and while it had an intriguing beginning and some thought-provoking middle-episodes, the over-arching plot seemed haphazardly pieced together to justify the journey, and then sloppily executed e.g. ep 10 where the mystery of Neiro’s memories is not so much “solved” as it is “suddenly and tactlessly spewed at the viewer.” Same with Kemonozume–forbidden love between a man and a monster, calling into question the definition of monster. The ending left so many things unresolved: virtually none of the relationships were reconciled: Toshihiko/Kazuma, Kazuma/Rie, Toshihiko/Rie. There was no new information to shed light on the situation with Harumi and the dojo: the most we get is that Ooba killed her (which was so obvious that the build-up seemed silly) and that he was in love with her (which is the kind of plot twist you would expect to clear up a lot of questions, but actually resolves nothing and just seems needlessly thrown in). I half-accepted that these loose ends may be intentional to illustrate the sad frustration and lack of communication (or rather, the circumstances that prohibit communication and the resultant disaster), like some Shakespearean tragedy. But then Toshihiko and Yuka reconcile and live happily ever after. However, their exchange at the end indicates no character or relationship-growth; the only difference between the beginning and the ending is the number of people alive. Yuka says she’s a monster, Toshihiko says he will always be with her, no matter what–which could be sweet and touching, except that that’s what they’ve been repeating every episode.

    So. This long rant about my disappointment with Kaiba and Kemonozume is meant to serve as a contrast to my complete satisfaction with Yojouhan. At the moment, I can’t think of any other series/movie/book/story that has such a cohesive, coherent, and gratifying ending. It brings together all elements of the series, big and small, gives each character his or her own happy ending without seeming rushed or contrived. The ending is the conclusion, the result of the actions of the series. Sounds simple, but it’s not.

    There are so many points to comment on, I don’t think I can order them in any sort of chronological way, so please excuse my disjointed rambling.

    As Quarkboy noted, there are certain things that happen in every universe regardless of the path Watashi chooses. I’d take that a step further and say that the chronology of events is virtually the same in every universe, the only difference being the point of view Watashi takes. Watashi, in truth, serves only as a passive observer, as a narrator. This delights me to no end, as Watashi is the epitome of a literary narrator, except that in most novels, the emptiness of the narrator is never quite addressed–halfway through, I almost wondered if Watashi’s angst was merely a vehicle to showcase Ozu’s antics, if Watashi and Akashi were to Ozu and Kohinata what Nick and Jordan were to Gatsby and Daisy. Watashi fails in every universe, his actions have little consequence, and the ones that do are traced back to Ozu’s manipulation e.g. the expose on Jougasaki that Watashi created as revenge would have been created without his help, but in that universe, Watashi was Ozu’s tool to do so. Indeed, in the last episode, when Watashi grabs Ozu, stark naked, and Ozu asks, “who are you?” it took me a moment to remember that in this universe, Ozu and Watashi never met. Despite this, the events of the series were more or less the same, and the outcome almost identical to ep 1. Watashi’s role through most of the series was that of the audience’s eyes.

    I couldn’t quite imagine what would make Watashi change his ways. With the rut he was in, I wouldn’t have been surprised if the series ended with him unfulfilled, resigned to watching Ozu–the one person he consistently depicts as vile and cruel, of whom he specifically says in the first episode he does not want to end up happy–walk away with Kohinata, the fabled raven-haired maiden. Every ep, Watashi repeats the supposed selfless devotion he would give to a perfect raven-haired maiden, but the truth is, he had met Kohinata in various universes, or had chances to meet her, and gave up easily in each one (Honwaka being his most sincere endeavor). While Watashi was busy making cynical and disparaging comments about everything, Ozu was living his rose-colored campus life in every incarnation: Ozu had a hand in almost every campus club, pursued a romance with a beautiful girl who, though there were obstacles between them, apparently reciprocated his feelings, and enjoyed every moment of it. None of it came easily either, Ozu worked hard for it. Also, in every universe, though Watashi inadvertently becomes Ozu’s pawn, Ozu does care about Watashi as a friend. In ep 6, when Hanuki is telling Watashi about Ozu, Ozu is in the background, holding Watashi’s chair for him, fixing Watashi’s glasses, and being thoroughly embarrassed that Watashi learned his secret. The gestures are small, sweet, and thoughtful, which, though he hides it with unbridled deviousness, is how carefully he treats his relationship with Watashi. In ep. 8, Akashi says Ozu passed on the letter-writing when he got bored, but I’m inclined to believe that Ozu intended to pass it on to Akashi from the start in order to get them together. He knew Watashi was too blinded by his own ideology to properly pursue Akashi.

    So I was expecting some sort of irony that Ozu, who seemed to have no scruples, who readily abused the weak, flattered the strong, and betrayed every trust given to him, would be the only one living his life to the fullest, while Watashi, full of hope and ideologies, boastful of his virtues and talents (not all of which are misplaced), would be left to wallow in self-pity, alone and dissatisfied, unable to see that he was the instrument of his own demise.

    But then with ep 10 and 11 breaking the cycle, Yojouhan managed to redeem Watashi. It did it in such a clever way too. The way Watashi deals with his dilemma is perfect: his desperation, his justification, his ultimate determination to break free and live his life. Every step, every thought necessary for him to grow as a person and overcome his situation was presented in a most logical order. I was so touched when, in Ozu’s absence, he finally realizes that Ozu had been his only friend. I personally think Watashi’s relationship with Ozu was the true focus of the series–his relationship with Akashi is secondary to that, though it is used as a major plot point.

    Watashi’s return to the world was also beautifully done. Michiru Oshima composed the BGM for the series, but her music is overshadowed by Watashi’s narration. I thought it was a bit of a waste, as her score for FMA was breath-taking and added so much to the dramatic flair of the series. But upon his return, Watashi, for once in his life, is silent, and the music, previously quiet, crescendos as he finally sees the reality of what is before him and not the twisted version inside his head. The sight of Akashi brings tears to his eyes, but the first thing he says is Ozu. I have to say, talk of love and friendship really makes me gag, not because I don’t believe in the sanctity of both, but because they’re such easy ideas to abuse when one wants to manipulate the emotions of the audience. The latest travesty of NAKAMA!-touting is Rainbow. I had to take a break after 3 episodes because I couldn’t stop throwing up from all the bro-talk (the pedophilia and prison-rape didn’t bother me nearly as much). But Ozu and Watashi’s friendship is built so well. Kindness and devotion in novels and anime alike generally come in the form of some meek and pathetic little girl whom everyone wants to protect. I’m so sick and tired of that trope. It’s as overused and unrealistic as the knight in shining armor. Here, we have Ozu who shows that love in unconventional ways, who is embarrassed to admit his devotion, but is devoted nonetheless. It takes Watashi 11 episodes, literarily multiple lifetimes, to understand and appreciate Ozu’s friendship, and once he does, he begins to act in the very same manner Ozu acted throughout the series. Because Watashi reiterates it at the end, we know that when Ozu had said “it’s how I show my love,” he meant it. This is not a shounen smack in the face and yelling “Friendship!” at the top of his lungs while everyone else looks on and nods approvingly. This is art. This is meaning. This is a look at reality. Both Watashi’s and our own. Right, and the protagonist is known only as Watashi.

    I love that Watashi wears the youkai face at the end, “turning into Ozu.” As I’ve said, Ozu had been living his life to the fullest, and now that Watashi has finally gained the confidence to do so, it’s no surprise that he takes on Ozu’s appearance.

    As for Ozu’s final incarnation, I was a little confused at the tantrum he threw on the bridge. He seemed so scared, it wasn’t like him at all. However, since ep 2 when Watashi sees Jougasaki on the palanquin, it’s clear that Watashi is an unreliable narrator. I’ve been waiting for Ozu’s real face for a long time, and didn’t know what to expect, but it was good. Through Watashi’s eyes, Ozu is relentlessly cunning and daring, but the truth is that he’s just a silly guy trying really hard to impress a girl, he’s not as fearless or reckless as Watashi led us to believe (e.g. when the blimp begins to crash and Ozu skips around like he doesn’t even notice).

    Oftentimes, the bias of a narrator is left to speculation. Why has the narrator ordered events as he has? What has the narrator intentionally left out? What has he unintentionally left out? And unintentional for the narrator does not necessarily mean unintentional for the author. I had suspected that there was an encounter between Akashi and Watashi during which they fell in love that occurred in each universe, though each time, it seems Watashi chose to ignore his feelings, and subsequently, omitted it from his consciousness as well as the narrative until the very last episode. It may have been that every time they spoke about the Mochiguman and Akashi smiled, Watashi had fallen in love and just refused to admit it, hence why he keeps the Mochiguma tied to his light.

    Aaah, and the light, and the moths. Yes, good call, very astute observation. That all came together so well–culminating in him dropping the Mochiguma into Akashi’s hand. I can understand fans wanting more screentime for Watashi and Akashi, but I personally never thought it was the focus, and Watashi confirms it when he explicitly says showing his relationship isn’t the purpose of the series, and then goes on to say he wouldn’t waste the viewer’s time since nothing is as boring as a story of successful love. Just like him to gloat about it in such an off-handed way too.

    The characterization in this series was top-notch. Watashi’s line about humans having many faces would seem like some cheesy aphorism in another series, but fits so perfectly here. By repeating those two years, Watashi gets to know different people and different sides to those people. He doesn’t know all of it in every universe, always only a bit. It’s easy to like a character because, as the viewer/reader, we can get to know them even in their most private moments, but as people, time and opportunities are limited. It takes Watashi a long time to stop judging others and pining for an ideal person, and by the end, his change of heart is convincing.

    Story and characters aside, Yojouhan was also visually dazzling. I don’t think Ozu would have left the same impression if I’d read “a face full of ill-portent, like a creature from the dark side of the moon” without his black shadow and sharp teeth towering behind Watashi, or without his nasal and nonchalant voice. The colors, the designs, the caricatures of characters winding their bodies about in ridiculous ways. It has Yuasa’s trademark spastic art direction, but this time, without the spastic budget.

    On a random note, though Watashi was hard to keep up with, I found his narration extremely entertaining. Usually, characters that talk at the speed of light are obnoxious and inane (Excel?), but Watashi’s ramblings were always so colorful, full of metaphors and imagery. The sharp cynicism also helps.

    I had refrained from naming a favorite series before. There are so many great series that are great for vastly different reasons, surely there can’t be such a thing as a favorite. But this, though it has no resemblance to other masterpieces like Monster or Princess Mononoke, is without a doubt my absolute favorite story ever. Not just series, not just anime, but story, period. And now, in light of it, I feel like I finally have a decent ideal, a standard against which to weigh the quality of other anime (at least those with literary ambitions and not just mindless explosions and boobs, attempting to justify itself with NAKAMA!). It’s not just that Yojouhan has amazing characters, or an entertaining plot, or amazing artwork, or excellent voice acting–it’s that it has ALL OF IT in PERFECT combination. And when you finish it, you don’t just feel entertained, you feel like a better person, like this anime actually had an important message to impart, like its purpose wasn’t merely an escape from the mundane, wasn’t merely to fill up time. Like it was worthwhile.

    Gawd, I love this series. I’ve started rewatching it; I imagine I could rewatch it at intervals for the rest of my life and still discover new connections in it. I often hear people saying “it’s just a movie/book/series, you don’t have to analyze it” as if entertaining means brainless, and quite frankly, a lot of it is. And there have definitely been times when I found analysis to be pretentious and extraneous or altogether nonsensical. But this. This warrants it. This is the kind of great work that must be discussed through the ages. Hell, if universities are going to devote degrees to deconstruct and analyze Ulysses, I don’t see why Yojouhan couldn’t be included.

    As a point of criticism, I will say I loathed ep 7. There’s not exactly another side of Kaori the viewer needs to know about, and that episode rehashed information that was already known without adding any new viewpoints. That’s about it 😡

    I can’t wait for Yuasa’s next work, and I’m glad that Madhouse seems to be going strong even after all these years, still daring to create intelligent anime on a sizable budget. In the meantime, I need to brush up on my Japanese and find a copy of the novel.

    Sorry for spamming your blog D:

  8. Michael Says:

    onaname:

    You have been what I have been looking for in a commentator. First and foremost, thank you.

    (1) As much as I appreciated the previous series of Yuasa, I have the same complaints as you with regard to the endings of the show. They seemed so incomplete and apocryphal that while it was a good show, I simply had to accept it as a mode of plot progression.

    (2) Yes. I am not joking when I say that Yojo-han is my current no. 1 anime of all time. The ending was so satisfying, so gratifying, such a wonderful turnaround for Watashi that it was cathartic and emotional, even for me. I also appreciated how Yuasa was able to give each character that which they needed and the understanding that they needed it at the end of the series. For all of Higuchi’s ‘wisdom,’ there has never been any other woman than Hanuki who was able to ground him (ep 6). In the same vein that Hanuki was just so lost and depressed when she knew Higuchi was going to go away from her.

    (3) I am in agreement with the majority of Quarkboy’s words, but then I posited the example of episode seven. I mean, I do agree that the central timeline of the series is one and the same, but for example, Watashi would never had been a Mochiguman had he not primarily participated in the Hero Circle Show in episode seven. It had never been alluded to in any of the other episodes, so I think Watashi himself modifies the timeline when he can. I don’t think there’s any other incarnation of Watashi who saved Akashi from bullies as that one. But yes, Watashi’s eyes were the audience’s eyes for the most part, and this can be most clearly seen in the incongruity between how Ozu really looked like and how Watashi perceived him. It was first clearly denoted during the second episode where Watashi looked at Jougasaki differently in comparison to reality.

    (4) I once saw Ozu as a scapegoat, but never saw him as anything lower than a friend during the fifth episode. He’s the kind of friend who’s devious and mischievous, but ultimately cares for you, and he’s that kind of friend to Watashi. Despite his lacking scruples, we are shown that it was all for the love of Kohinata, and all that he did was for her. I also saw that contrast, and I loved the realization by Watashi that Ozu really was his only true friend.

    (5) I cried during his run to save Ozu. I thought it was the culmination of his transformation, and it was just so beautiful to watch. He realized that he loved Akashi and recognized Ozu as a friend, and sought out to prove those relationships to them, which really, really worked. Yes, that is friendship. It’s not the traditional kind, but it’s friendship all the same. In all those universes, only Ozu really accompanied him for better or for worse. Akashi was also always there as a friend, but not for filial friendship. It’s also why I argue Tatami Galaxy is the best show this season. Nothing really beats it.

    (6) He can take on life even as a youkai because he has learned to seize the day. I find your analyses on Ozu informative, since I primarily focused on the central character throughout the episodes. See how points of view really matter? Ozu is not merely an impish character capable of danger and destruction: he’s very well a human being like Watashi himself, and the final episode showed the complete side of that humanity to us.

    (7) The Mochiguman was found in different places during the different episodes, but whenever they did meet, Akashi and Watashi were never evil to one another (except for episode nine, where Watashi took that circle choice of his to the extreme). They were very amicable, and in fact she melts whenever he’s around her. Nearly all that time his heart beat, and he knew she was the one he really liked, but could never learn to accept that until the final episode. I’m glad I called that right with the moths and all, and I also loved that off-handed remark by Watashi, but he’s right. It wasn’t a romance-comedy through and through. It wasn’t like other anime.

    (8) His change of heart was so convincing, I only cried during two series’ endings: this and Honey and Clover.

    (9) The characterization was top-notch, yes. So were the story, the characters, and the music. And I really got the message of this show, I try to implement it in my daily life: I’m also pining for the past and for lost time. Now I try to just live life as it comes and face reality as it is and as it charges towards me. It doesn’t make me a happier person per se, but it does help me keep things in perspective.

    (10) I don’t write two thousand word articles just for any anime. I couldn’t even do that with Toradora, as much as I tried. This is the series that deserves analysis. It never gives you the meaning face up, but forces you to figure it out, like a Faulknerian jigsaw puzzle that gets more and more clearer as the story winds down. It’s a beautiful anime series, and that’s why it’s my current top series.

    (11) Episode 7 was important in illustrating the incident between Akashi and Watashi of the Hero Circle Show. Aside from that, yes, it was pretty superfluous with Kaori.

    (12) I love Madhouse.

    (13) Thank you for your comments. It’s these kind of comments that make writing my analyses worthwhile. Don’t worry about spamming. Thank you.

  9. zeroj Says:

    If you love Madhouse, get to watch Hajime no Ippo.

    Amazing series. Loved every episode.

  10. Michael Says:

    zeroj:

    I seriously didn’t know that. Thank you.

  11. remm Says:

    It was beautiful; the only bad part was that it ended
    I wonder how much it would cost to get a translator to do the book.
    I just want the full experience

  12. Michael Says:

    remm:

    Yes, it was. Hah. I also want the novel translations. You are not alone.

  13. The Tatami Galaxy 11 (END): The End of the 4.5 Tatami Age « FungaFuFu Says:

    […] flawless, down to the last detail. I can see why anime|otaku dropped everything to get to it first. There is barely anything to add or interpret here, rather, […]

  14. onaname Says:

    Hey Michael. Thanks for taking the time to respond to each point so thoroughly. I’ll definitely keep an eye on your writing. The summer season doesn’t look too exciting, but hopefully it won’t be years before there’s another great series.

    I cried during Watashi’s run too. It was that weird sensation where the body remains inert, no jerking, no choked-up feeling, but the tears keep flowing. If Honey and Clover is that powerful, I’ll give it a watch.

  15. Michael Says:

    onaname:

    Thank you for taking the time to comment so seriously in a blog post of mine. 🙂

    The summer season doesn’t look to exciting, but I’ll probably have some mindless fun with High School of the Dead and Toradora 2 (;)).

    Yeah. The tears just came out. I don’t know whether you’d love Honey and Clover since it appeals more to the heart than to the mind, but it has that realism in real-life relationships that’s bitter as it is sweet. Do give it a go, as you may enjoy it. 🙂

  16. kosze upominkowe Says:

    Hey, nice art i add your blog to my rss!

  17. Anthrax451 Says:

    Just a small note:

    When Watashi saves Ozu from drowning, saying “We are tied by a black thread of fate” it mirrors those images of both of them sinking into the Marina trench when Ozu’s repeating the same phrase.

    Just wanted to mention that if anyone missed it

  18. Michael Says:

    Not only that …

    It’s not only the Mariana trench. In different episodes they sink into the deepest trenches in the world: I believe they sink into the Philippine trench in one of the succeeding episodes. 🙂

  19. marc Says:

    in the credits first episode there’s this Creator’s File Vol 1 segment. while showing different parts of the face of the creators(i assume) a song was playing in the background. do any of you guys have heard of this song before?

    cause i have, and i can’t remember what the title is and i don’t know the lyrics, and artist and its driving me INSANE!

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