Tatami Galaxy Episode 8 – A Mystery You’ve Already Solved
So, this is it: the finale to the closest thing Tatami Galaxy has had to a multi-episode arc. Is this going to be a return to status quo, or will our hero learn something, grow as a character, like he has in the most recent episodes? Is it time for him to finally grow up and accept his fate?
Not yet. There’s still three episodes after this, so we’re not quite at the climax. But by now it should be clear that Tatami Galaxy is building towards something; some resolution, some epiphany, or even as resignation to one’s fate. The plot is definitely thickening, even if it’s not becoming any more linear.
Because of this, most of the episode is rehash. We see things from the perspective of his relationship with Keiko, but there’s a lot of reused footage, and most of the episode consists of summarizing the plot of the previous two episodes.
Keep in mind that the main character’s relationship with Keiko plays out entirely over letters, which doesn’t exactly make for exciting television. The scenes of them reading letters are mostly still frames showing a stylized version of the events depicted, with voiceover from the letter’s text.
So this episode was made on the cheap. In the frugal world of late-night anime, the budget always catches up to you sometime. The best you can do is to offset the loss with sheer artistic creativity, and that’s where Tatami Galaxy impresses. It may be voiceover over still frames, but it’s the by-now typical rapid-fire delivery of Shintarou Asanuma, the main character’s voice actor, over a stylized tableau of sparkling, high-class imagery, the products of the imaginary jet-setting, English-speaking persona of our hero.
The rotoscoped live action is here in force, too; mostly for establishing shots or SHAFT-style interstitials.
But really this is just a way of dolling up what you’ve already seen. It’s not until the end of the episode that things start to pick up. Fortunately, once they pick up, they put the main character on the precipice of real change.
For me, the real question going in was the identity of Keiko. The whole premise of a romantic pen pal interested in the main character seemed way too good to be true for a show like Tatami; it had to be a setup, and if it was a setup, it was probably Ozu.
So it is Ozu. The show goes out of its way to make that clear from the beginning. It’s Ozu setting it up, playing yet another prank on the main character for his own twisted reasons. Ozu led him along, making him fall in love, all the while cruelly mocking him.
Except Ozu got bored of it early on, leaving only the person he had gotten to write the thing. Someone who couldn’t bear to see the main character hurt, or to have Keiko die. The only character in this show caring and patient enough to keep up the charade for two years. Someone who has been interested in him ever since he saved her from a couple of punks at a Mochiguman show the year before. That’s right, Akashi.
So, the girl who’s very obviously the intended love interest just admitted to carrying on a fantasy relationship with him for two years. Does that spur on our hero to act? Does he ask her out?
Of course not. Passivity and cynical self-defeat aren’t defeated that easily. And there’s still three more episodes left. So, still angry at being deceived, he tells himself Mochiguman was all she was interested in and trudges back to his apartment, where he devours an entire castella with the spirit of a demon.
But that’s not the end. He’s not going to resign himself to a loveless life so easily. No, he may have struck out with three separate women on three separate timelines, but most of them were imaginary, anyway. He’s going to win the game of love, darn it! He’s going to take control of things and find the future he is searching for. The future that’s been dangling in front of him all this time, waiting for him to see it.
In some other timeline, maybe. But not now. Not yet.
Watch the episode here.