Sunday 23 May 2010

The Tatami Galaxy - Episode 5

So, the time has come for Watashi to join yet another new university circle as his life is rewound once again, and this time our protagonist chooses a decidedly friendly-looking softball club with a decidedly tempting male to female ratio (not that he'd make a decision based upon that alone, oh no). What could possibly go wrong in this kind of lovely environment?

Quite a lot, as it happens, as Watashi soon discovers as his particular take on the world sees him shunned by the environment-conscious and health food-addled members of the club. Oh, and did I mention that this softball club is run as a PR exercise for a health food company?

While Watashi would normally run a mile from such things, he finds himself drawn in to the circle's true purpose by the beautiful daughter of the company president who he ends up yearning for, to the point where he buys huge amounts of pointless health food made from Royal Jelly to the point where the amount of time he spends working to pay for the stuff makes him ill. Nonetheless, his dedication to the cause sees his role within the softball circle elevated to the point where is eventually invited to company headquarters, only to find himself slap-bang in the middle of some kind of cult; a bizarre mix of Christianity and Scientology that have even built their own "ark" in the form of a hot air balloon for the forthcoming end of the world. Ironically, it's that ark that both allows Watashi to escape but also causes him all sorts of trouble courtesy of Ozu (who else?).

To an even greater extent than the last episode, this instalment of The Tatami Galaxy diverges from the status quo set up by the first three episodes - Yes, we start out with Watashi joining a different club, but Akashi's influence here is minimal to none and even Ozu's impact is negligible... until he crashes the "ark" into the Honwaka headquarters. Thus, Watashi's problems are almost entirely self-created (as has been more and more the case every week), before we reach an ending that is both utterly bizarre yet, I would wager, another point that will be used to inter-link episodes as the series progresses.

Still, this instalment was an improvement for me over the past episode, with its relatively amusing take on over-zealous near-pyramid selling, obsessing about healthy living and its natural progression towards some kind of cult when you combine the two. On the other hand, it still hasn't succeeded in climbing back up to the dizzy heights of those opening episodes when this series was fresh and the jokes seemed funnier, which leaves me wondering whether it has the steam to make it through eleven episodes. At least things seem to be shifting and changing as the series progresses, which is enough to keep my curiosity piqued for now.

1 comment:

Vendredi said...

It's notable in the prologue that Watashi accepts that all his problems are of his own making; unlike previous episodes he does not blame his association with Ozu here. I wonder if this really represents genuine development or is simply an aberration.

I'd also note there seems to be a bit of Buddhism sprinkled into the cult; the retreat speaker bears a remarkable resemblance to certain statues.