Anime Editorials

Why you should care about The Tatami Galaxy

I’m totally hyped about seeing the first episode of The Tatami Galaxy (Yojohan Shinwa Taikei). It finally aired this evening in the beloved noitaminA block and is already streaming on Funimation‘s video site, but… I’m region blocked! It’s been a while since I’ve been excited enough about a series to feel as frustrated as this, but, alas, rather than implode, I’ve decided to start writing this post instead! (However, if you’re based in North America, you can stream The Tatami Galaxy for free, like, right now! You guys are so lucky!)

For those not sure about why they should care, The Tatami Galaxy is the latest from director Masaaki Yuasa. In the last four years, he’s directed three anime series; 2006 brought us his Kemonozume, in 2008 we had Kaiba and this year’s offering is obviously The Tatami Galaxy.
Yuasa‘s style is best described as surreal, in fact, he’s probably the most visually eccentric and daring of all anime TV directors, barring perhaps Trapeze and Mononoke auteur Kenji Nakamura (who is, incidentally, yet another noitaminA regular.)
Each of Yuasa’s TV series embrace a vastly different aesthetic, especially when compared to the more conventional anime style. Kemonozume has a scratchy, gritty look, Kaiba is more akin to an Astro Boy-era Osamu Tezuka (when it first aired, many automatically assumed Kaiba was a children’s anime, and how wrong they were!) and The Tatami Galaxy has a clean, minimal and ‘flat’ feel.
Suffice to say, he’s a really creative and exciting director, but, like most, he’s not without his critics either. Much like last week’s debutee House of Five Leaves, the feeling I get from others is that Yuasa is just too eccentric to ever enjoy the truest adulation of the anime community. I used to lament it, but I’m now more accepting of the fact that he’s just an acquired taste.

I suppose the feeling I value most of all when I’m watching anime is when I realise what I’m seeing is something new, and after nearly 10 years, that’s a rare feeling indeed. There’s an energy and a sense of adventure to this guy’s anime that’s as refreshing as it is daring, and while I know I can’t exactly recommend the first episode of a series I haven’t even seen for myself yet, I really hope you’re willing chance it with me?

6 replies on “Why you should care about The Tatami Galaxy”

Just finished watching it myself, also region blocked but luckily someone has torrented the .flv at the usual place along with the next ep of House of Five Leaves!

my god that piano scene why did you have to make me cry again ;_;
eccentricity is a rarity in anime now, and more Yuasa is always a welcome. Another rare trait of Yuasa’s work is that it’s so visceral. We don’t need anime that just talks and talks about oh I had such a tragic past and I feel so sad, just looking at that masterpiece of piano scene shows that a GOOD animation can be so much more concise and powerful than bunch of dialogue mechanically taken out of script and plugged into generically(lol) drawn panels.

Yeah, I saw that. I’ve ended up going for the 550+MB version, just because I want to see it in as fine a quality as possible!
Indeed, that’s pretty much why I’ve included a bunch of videos with this post instead of just a bunch of static images. Yuasa’s a master of the moving image and even out of context, like the clip above from Kaiba, his anime exudes such an evocative feeling. I still remember how I first saw that piano scene, because I saw it before the episode itself; I was stunned, and it’s still as brilliant now as it was back then.

Just seen the first episode and I’d obviously somewhat built this up in my head over the last few weeks, yet it was every bit as good as I wanted it to be. I had no idea what the story was about going into it, but I’m already hooked on these characters and really excited about how things might go. A surreal, epic, feel good love story awaits! I think if people can get past the surface level idiosyncrasies, they will find some surprisingly heart-felt romance and some delightfully bitter dialogue. This was the best first episode of anime I’ve seen for the longest of times. Very highly recommended to people that are maybe falling out of love with anime; this is the show that will bring you back.

Oh what, Kemonozume has a sense of humour? Adding that to my summertime to-do list.
Genius Party, episode 6, ‘Happy Machine’, 14 minutes well spent.

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