Tatami Galaxy Episode 7 – I Will Always Love You
Finally, the Tatami Galaxy episode I’ve been waiting for ever since episode 4. Well, not literally, since this episode is heavily focused on the main character’s relationship with a love doll, which is, frankly, extremely disturbing, but in the sense that it’s going in the direction that I hoped this show would go.
I’d always hoped that this show would develop outward more, to tell complex plots rather than just broadening its characters. But the requirements of Tatami Galaxy’s repetitive structure means that certain scenes have to be included: hopeful dreams of a rose-colored college life, explanation of the misery of the club, meeting the fortune teller, etc., even if they don’t do anything to tell the current episode’s story. The introductory segment, for example, usually takes up the entire first act of the show.
Well, fortunately, this episode does away with most of that, and in a way that plays with the nature of the show.
At the end of last episode, the main character, rather than wishing he could have the last two years of his life back, wished he could return to the point where he chose Hanuki over the other two girls. So that’s where this episode begins. It covers the same events up to that decision point, showing a different one of the three clubs he joined: the Hero Show Association.
I don’t want to explain what a Japanese hero show is right now. Basically, it’s like a live performance of a Power Rangers episode, with costumed heroes fighting against equally costumed villains, and justice prevailing.
The hero our hero plays here is Mochiguman, the mascot character whose dolls Akashi is collecting. The joke is that Mochiguman doesn’t actually save anyone; but everything ends up alright in the end, anyway. Mochiguman sounds, looks and has the same basic concept as Moochie, the monkey superhero I invented when I was a kid, whose every battle was a moral victory, rather than an actual one. I was a weird child.
Anyway, our hero’s Mochiguman ends up saving the day anyway. During a performance, he saves Akashi (there because she’s a fan, of course) from being assaulted by a couple of punks. This earns her thanks, and an invitation from a shadowy figure to be a bodyguard to a certain love doll.
The figure, of course, is Jougasaki, and the doll in question is the meticulously crafted and creepily personified Kaori.
Jougasaki wants our hero to babysit Kaori when he is off shooting a movie, both to keep her company and to protect her. There’s hints that someone is after Kaori, which might be Ozu and Higuchi making their smear film against Jougasaki.
Our hero, of course, falls in love with his charge, starting to imagine her voice (provided by the main character’s voice actor talking in a falsetto), and having impure thoughts about her.
This all comes to a head on the night he goes out to drinks with Hanuki, which is also Kaori’s last night at his apartment. Everything plays out as before, except instead of passing out in Hanuki’s toilet, he speeds home to run away with Kaori.
That doesn’t go well, of course, ending with a massive Jougasaki drop kick and our hero pining for his pen pal Keiko.
So, no club-related filler at the beginning and a continuation of last week’s excellent refusing to come of age story? If you ignore the inherent creepiness of the sex doll plot, this is the best episode yet. It’s the first one where I’ve felt that the writers took full advantage of the show’s potential for unique narratives. Most of the shows so have fallen into the formula of introducing the club in the first act, have some crazy thing (usually related to Ozu) happen in the second to make the situation worse, and then the force the protagonist into making a choice in the third, one which he will inevitably screw up and regret.
It’s made for some pretty decent episodes so far, but there’s so much else you can do with a show that repeatedly relives the same events in the same world in multiple ways. Things like explore several different outcomes of one decision, like this episode does, or have choices you’ve made in previous episodes affect the world of the current episode (which the show has done, to some extent).
Or, if the main character is in control of this time rewinding, as now seems to be the case, have him use his ability to relive events to grow as a person. I think that’s what’s happening here. Trying to save Hanuki’s honor, challenging Jougasaki to a drinking game; the main character seems to be getting more self-confident, even if it usually end in disaster.
This episode, even though his choice this was creepy and led to him being drop kicked into the mud, the main character made a pretty bold move, one that’s very out of character for him. Episode by episode, iteration by iteration, I think he’s growing up.
Watch this episode here (age gated, probably for creepiness reasons).