After the end of Tatami Galaxy, I thought it was high time to re-watch Kaiba, because people could posit that I only like it as a series because it just ended. Re-watching Kaiba would address both of that, as it won’t be the most recent series I watched, and it’s also a work by Masaaki Yuasa so the two are open to interpretation, comparison, and contrast.
Whether before or after the re-watch, however, my heart remains the same: I think Tatami Galaxy is better than Kaiba. I’ll accede to the fact that Kaiba is more brilliant thematically, but that is all I will give Kaiba. For the most part, Tatami Galaxy is equal to or better than Kaiba from my perception. Read the rest of this entry »
[This will constantly be edited with questions addressed in the commentary section of this post. I will utilize other blogs, research, and Quarkboy as references, in addition to my observations with regard to the series.]
1. From Vendredi: What is the importance of cats in the series?
When he asked the question, I was actually pondering the answer myself. This is merely a hypothesis, and may not be satisfactory to many, but even as early as the first episode the viewer is exposed to cat symbolism and cat imagery, most notably here.
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I was actually vacillating between posting this today or not, but I decided that as it was quite seated in time to just post it.
Yesterday was quite a polarizing day for me: I was both on a high and low during the exact same day. For the lows, I contracted sore throat; I also didn’t do well on our test. It didn’t help that I experienced a good part of the afternoon in sweltering heat because the city I am currently residing is prone to blackouts due to the El NiÃ±o phenomenon. There was barely any ventilation in our classroom if the air conditioners were turned off, so we were like sardines in a can being heated at the back of an oven. What made things worse for me was that we couldn’t go home until five in the afternoon.
It wasn’t exactly a memorable experience for a healthy person; it was virtually torture for me. Read the rest of this entry »
I have this simple hypothesis on Watashi being the final Mochiguma that Akashi lost. Aside from that fact that he wore the white suit during the seventh episode when he rescued Akashi, I noticed that she didn’t have the white Mochiguma with her when they went to visit Ozu. It may just be an error in animation, but I’d like to think that Watashi’s existence and not the white Mochiguma completed Akashi.
If you looked closely, there are only four Mochiguma with Akashi, and yet she still feels very comfortable.
It feels good to think about it that way, at least.
EDIT: I tried a re-watch with J-pwq’s version, and I think I can surmise how the fortune teller specifically picked Watashi out to help.
It can be guessed that she actually saw Watashi at that moment he fell in love with Akashi.
EDIT2: It was just the angles:
There are five Mochiguman now.
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.
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How they probably looked as freshmen
Over a meaningful discussion of The Tatami Galaxy in 4chan, ahr re-introduced the cover image of the Tatami Galaxy’s novel to me. I was just thinking how fecund of meaning the picture was, and I think it suggests the reason why Watashi has to grasp the opportunity in front of him (which is to turn off the light by grabbing the Mochiguman).
In a blueprint, the opening of the door is denoted by a quarter-circle. It can be seen in the image that this opening (the escape from the tatami galaxy) is actually signified by the moths and Ozu. I remember in the tenth episode that the moths themselves come and go as they please from room to room: I think it will be Watashi’s method of escape in the final episode.
Watashi himself notes in the tenth episode, before it ends:
Anyway, it seems like these fellows can cross through the parallel worlds and gather in them one after another.
If he turned off the light, the moths will actually go somewhere else, and one of them will be a path to his escape.
The Masque of the Red Death was one of the earliest literary short stories I have ever read. I was in the fourth grade back then, enjoying reading primarily with Goosebumps, when my father exhorted me to read stories that were more literary because it would allow my English to progress and improve. I listened reluctantly, but I was glad I did.
I think the last time I read that short story was about five years ago, but it has never failed to make an impression on me, seeing as it was one of my first true explorations of allegory (notwithstanding what Poe said about it). Aside from the idea that the Red Death was the personification of the bubonic plague, I was struck by Poe’s evident use of colors to paint meaning into the story: in the story, Prince Prospero saunters through seven rooms of different colors before finally meeting the Red Death face-to-face (and then dying in the process). Each room had a different color and signified something different: I was turning the idea over in my head since the last episode represented the different choices made by Watashi with different colors. I cannot say I am totally convinced with the signification myself, but I personally think that the colors the rooms possess certainly give definite impressions that can be recognized with the individual color’s social and cultural significance, whether universal or not. Read the rest of this entry »
This episode was the cumulation, culmination, and fulmination of Watashi’s cowardice: while the previous episodes featured important circumstances that Watashi shied away from because of his indecision and fear, this was the apotheosis of his cowardice: upon the recognition of the reality that a rose-colored life can never be in this world, he refrained from selecting a group altogether and was instead content with secluding himself from the rest of the world. As a recluse, he argued upon the merits and the perfection of the 4.5 tatami room compared to rooms with a lesser or greater number of tatamis. He first describes the existence of certain rooms made up of one, two, and three tatamis, although this was done with apathy and even subtle derogation: the one who resided in the three-tatami room could be assumed to be another hikkikomori, and those who resided in the one tatami room disappeared mysteriously.
These rooms are contrasted with the perfection of the 4.5 tatami room: it was a beautiful square and it was spacious; however, it was not as spacious as the seven, eight, or ten tatami rooms, but Watashi questions man’s ability to rule over these spaces. He believes that humanity only has the ability to rule 4.5 tatami rooms and smaller spaces. I personally believe it was just his cowardice taking over him once more: sour graping was but a mask to dissimulate the reality of the situation, as the intricacies of his excuses could not hide his present discontent. At the end of this introductory montage, after all, Watashi asks: ‘where is the one responsible?’
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Higuchi Seitarou is an anachronism.
Dressed in a yukata, he introduced himself as a god of matchmaking the first time we (the viewers) saw him. Quite a few immediately deduced that he was of dubious scruples when he made a mistake in the repetition of his name: instead of Kamotaketsunominokami, he repeats it as Kamotaketsunominokamo. From a recognized Shinto god, Kamo Take-tsunomi no Kami (Mikoto), he became an uncertainty. Kamo in Japanese elicits an uncertainty from the person speaking it: it’s akin to the English ‘maybe,’ more or less. The dubiousness of his character further persists with his comprehensive information regarding Watashi’s life. There seemed to be an aura of omnipotence around him. Maybe he was a god, after all?
Future episodes have served to debunk this belief: he was neither a respected god of Kyoto or the Yatagarasu who led Jimmu in the union of Japan. He was just another human being with ways of obtaining vast amounts of information, as the ninth episode explicated. I recognize that a lot of viewers (myself included) looked upon Higuchi with derogation until the previous episode: he seemed to be a loafer, a dilettante, and an indolent.
Nothing much really changed in our perceptions through the next seven episodes: it seemed that our preconceptions were confirmed, even, especially with Higuchi’s presence as Master in the Disciple Club. There’s something I recently noted, however, after revisiting the first episode: in his own way, he was already trying to help Watashi (even before his cerebral speech in the ninth episode) and was wise. He asked Watashi in the first episode:
And why have you spent these two years in such a timid state? […] But that’s not all, is it?
A more visible example is the fact that it was Higuchi who exhorted Watashi to talk to Akashi during the Obon festival, but he dismissed her in his cowardice. (One can assume Ozu was also heavily involved with this and may have been the mastermind behind the plan, but it doesn’t change the fact that Higuchi helped Watashi recognize his feelings for Akashi.
More of his personality was revealed in the most recent episode, and it was illuminating, to say the least. Aside from the fact that he challenges Watashi to face reality and live in the present, the entirety of his personality was also encapsulated with this short statement of his:
Speaking of which, a few days ago, when I left the university I ran into an old friend. They [sic] were not looking so comfortable at all, and hurried off somewhere. […] Why would they be embarrassed? It’s not them who had to repeat classes.
He simply takes life with its vicissitudes in stride. He takes life as it is: he has dreams, but they’re not impossible to achieve; he even has a beautiful girlfriend (Hanuki). He does not feel envy towards those who have succeeded before him, or anger that he’s been in university for a long time.
What’s the matter? Are you asleep?
He asked Watashi that when he was mumbling about his ideals, before he went on his philosophical and intelligent speech that was purposeful and direct. In contrast to the lofty idealism of Watashi, he is the pinnacle of grounded realism. Take life as it comes and as it is, and enjoy it to the fullest, because no one ever gets out alive. I hope Watashi listens to him, because he’s a very sensible man, come to think of it, despite everything.
The more one is intimately connected with a series, the more information one can glean from it. Take Quarkboy, for example. He was the one who proposed the four-and-a-half mat hypothesis, but in light of the recent episodes it seems apocryphal at at times incoherent with the flux of the series. Leave it to him, however, to propose an alternative solution that attempts to answer these statements I made in my post about the episode. I said:
Nine is twice of four-and-a-half. While that hypothesis seems pretty difficult to substantiate now, there is still credence in the fact that things have been quite cyclical, although they have interacted with one another a lot more than what I initially thought. This [the ninth episode] seemed to be the episode that tied together the first five episodes: it seemed as if it really was the 4.5 episode, and not the Honwaka one. Everything is now interwoven and interconnected with everything else, and the presence of the different characters now have coalesced: itâ€™s as if their basic characteristics are known by us. It is the episode that ties everything together. The previous arc seemed to be a diversion from the original path which were the first five episodes, and this was its connection.
I was thinking of a uniform path for the first five episodes, with Watashi’s divergent choices among the women in the sixth, seventh, and eighth episode. At the time, it made a whole lot of sense to me. The first five episodes were tied with one another, with the previous arc the divergence, once again resolving in the ninth episode. (I’ll be using Paint, so pardon the ugliness.)
Put into an image, this was my initial interpretation of the Tatami Galaxy’s timeline:
There are some instances that would support my interpretation: the sixth and the eighth episode always culminated differently, and Akashi would never meet Watashi as Keiko if he chose either of the two choices left.
It still makes a lot of sense to me.
In contrast, this is Quarkboy’s interpretation:
In my interpretation: Everything that happens always happens in each timeline.
The only difference is the role of Watashi in the events (and sometimes the roles of the other people filling in for him).
Akashi is always in the cycling club and movie club, then changes to birdman and disciple in her second year.
Ozu always meets Kohinata-san in his first year in the tennis club and then joins the secret society to get close to her (as Honwaka is one of their branches). He also always does the fireworks to get revenge on the tennis club (or perhaps as part of a plot for the secret society). Ozu’s greatest loyalty always seems to be with the Master, however.
Higuchi always reads 20,000 leagues way past its due date and then decides to go on a journey after his generation of the proxy proxy war is finished.
Ozu and Higuchi always create the film on Jougasaki’s private life using the hidden camera footage captured by Aijima which was made in order to discredit Jougasaki so Aijima could impress Akashi, but ends up being used by Ozu as an attack of the proxy proxy war.
Hanuki always goes out drinking with Jougasaki after hearing that her boyfriend, Higuchi, has decided to go on a journey after the proxy proxy war is over, attempting to drown her sorrows, and is helped home by Ozu.
Ozu always infiltrates Honwaka the night of Gozan, steals the blimp intending to take away Kohinata to fly over the mountains and see all 5 giant pictures/letters at once, is always brought down by Aijima, then chased all the way to the bridge in the first episode, where a furious Aijima and Jougasaki (who thinks it was Ozu that stole Kaori, I think) are trying to get him.
Each of these parts of the story (and probably many others I’m forgetting) are basically constant… Although sometimes Watashi would be involved or replace one of the character’s roles (like being Higuchi’s successor instead of Akashi, or being the CCCC’s leader instead of Ozu, etc…)
It’s a more comprehensive interpretation than mine, indeed, and it does answer quite a few questions that the series proposes. Put into an image, the timeline of the first nine episodes are linear, with changes only occurring upon Watashi’s intrusion into the picture with his different choices. It’s a very brilliant one.
This is Quarkboy's interpretation.
In fact, it was through this interpretation that I discovered that Watashi’s entire oeuvre of films in the second episode acted as foreshadowing for the entirety of things to come. The first suggests his transcendent and endearing battle with Ozu no matter what choice he made; the second is his predicament in the previous arc: he was King Lear; and finally, as I’ve accurately predicted, the third film really reflected himself in the future: in the next episode he entraps himself in the tatami galaxy of his room. It’s wonderful stuff, although there are some pertinent questions with this interpretation especially in the previous arc: Akashi would have never been saved by Watashi if he wasn’t in the Hero Show Circle, and the events of the previous two episodes suggest this. I cannot think of someone else who would save her except Watashi. Other than that, however, I can’t find any criticism for his interpretation and I even think it’s more consistent than mine for the most part: everything is indeed interconnected.
The brilliance of this show presents itself in the ever-changing point of view we have of people. It was something I and others noted as early as the second episode with the Movie Club, but the ninth episode lends gravity to this perception: Higuchi is not only an aloof dilettante; Akashi is not just a cold maiden; Ozu is not just a fool; Aijima is not just a blind follower; Hanuki is not just a drunkard. Everyone is given depth through the evolution of the show and it is done in such a novel way.
Thank you, Quarkboy!