Sunday, 20 June 2010

The Tatami Galaxy - Episode 9

After finishing its previous triangular story arc last episode, The Tatami Galaxy is once again free to reboot itself in whatever direction it desires, and within a minute of this latest instalment opening we see a money-obsessed Watashi stealing an entry to a birdman competition and getting a well-deserved slap from Akashi into the bargain.

What on earth has brought about this change in personality for our protagonist? This time around we see Watashi joining the "Lucky Cat Chinese Restaurant", a college circle which has little to do with either food or fortunate felines. Instead, this secret society is just that... a shadowy organisation that handles everything from terrorising those who don't return library books to the mass theft of bicycles. Despite his misgivings Watashi joins the organisation, and perhaps unsurprisingly numerous disasters follow, usually caused in some way, shape or form by Ozu, who soon manages to get promoted within the organisation while Watashi languishes.

Eventually however, Ozu usurps his direct superior to take control of the "Lucky Cat" for himself, putting Watashi in charge of the bicycle corps and leading to the money-grabbing person we see at the beginning of the episode. Once again then, Watashi sees the error of his ways far too late, although this time around we don't see the clock reset at the end of the episode, and our protagonist also has a most enlightening conversation with the rather odd and hugely-chinned Master of previous episodes, which suggests that pursuing this so-called "rose-tinted campus life" if nothing but an impossible folly which has caused more misery than the sparkling happiness it promises. Is it these revelations that have prevented the clock turning back, or is something else going on here? With a series like this, I wouldn't dare hazard a guess.

No matter whether you "get" where this series is headed or not (and I'm not entirely sure myself beyond the obvious ending where the protagonist ends up with Akashi), you can't help but marvel at it sometimes - This episode in particular is almost beautiful in the way it weaves in aspects of the previous eight episodes and the stories that they've told into its narrative to an almost head-spinning degree if you try thinking about it too much. This gives us a story that, by this juncture, has seen Watashi play a part as virtually every hero and every villain as his and others roles chop and change - Indeed, Akashi seems to be the only constant in the whole affair, although even she was implicated in Ozu's plotting last time around.

While this episode of The Tatami Galaxy felt pretty light on humour from my standpoint, you can't help but be drawn to the series as whole like a moth (sorry Akashi) to a flame - It's so innately confident in its own delivery and its final destination that I end up finishing each episode simply trusting this show on faith alone that it will deliver come the end of it all. I can't even entirely put a finger on why it fascinates me so beyond its intriguing concept and the way it depicts said concept, yet here I am singing its praises yet again. I would imagine The Tatami Galaxy is an acquired taste (even I wasn't always so sure of its charms), but its certainly threatening to become quite an exquisite dish as it reaches towards its finale.

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