The Tatami Galaxy, at first glance, doesn’t seem like the unconventional anime Ping Pong is; but here’s the refined truth: it is… rare and different. Why? The director is Yuasa Masaaki, of course. This director is one of the few whose work you can recognize immediately. Why again? Because of the way he frames his scenes. Here are some examples:
Notice the exaggeration, the collapsing background and the interesting choice of colors? Really artistic; and this anime shows some of the things that can only be done in animation. I mean, how can a camera frame the first image from the left of the mosaic above? The art style is unconventional but it looked nothing like the MS Paint art of Ping Pong (sorry for hating on that art) and the art actually suited the atmosphere of the show and also. Rather, the art was in low detail and resembled Ghibli art; and what does low detail art mean? Yes, good animation. It’s exaggerated at times but smooth overall.
Story & Characters: The protagonist of this show, Watashi- has a personality that resembles mine and almost all the s.a.d. (socially awkward d**ks- I know the full form is not that). But it is not otaku pandering like *cough* Haganai and Re: Zero *cough*. Rather the first nine episodes are disconnected (after each one, at the end, time is rewound and the character restarts from freshman year -like a visual novel or a game- and chooses a different ‘flier’) but they are not- they are all connected by tata- and let me leave it at that. Because the anime has some story/stories to tell. Let me tell you that this anime and one of the most subtle of plots. The comedy is also spontaneous and witty- and that’s what I like about the comedy, it doesn’t wait for you to laugh. The pacing is… masterful; the arcs transcend from one another like flowing water. The episodes seem to have a structure without the recycling of scenes.
It is interesting how the writer and/or director tricks us into thinking that the characters are one-dimensional cardboard cutouts but, in fact, their interactions with each other and quirks add dimensions to their characters- if you think about it. The anime itself points it out, here’s a screen cap:
Watashi reminds me of me (except he is more funnier) because I also dream of abandoning the shell I have grown over my school years and live a ‘rose colored campus life’ in college: but I guess some dreams stay dreams (or not).
I really like the monologue moments of Watashi because those resemble Araragi’s habits in Bakemonogatari (I should be reviewing that soon). Frankly, there are times when I carve out similar monologues when I am bored, of course, they are less literary, less funnier and definitely more slower (Come on, a lot of people talk to themselves). So, for not once I thought:
Since I already gushed about the art and animation let me talk about the… Sound: I love the OP (it’s Asian Kung-fu Generation, people!) and the haunting techno ED is literally music to my ears. I don’t have anything to say about the background music because it didn’t stand out to my ears.
In short, frankly, to put it plainly, honestly, saying it without any reservation, I love this anime- not just because of the director, not just because of Watashi, not just because of the OP, and not just of the plot, but also because of the message Higuchi tells me and I am not going to quote it: watch the anime to find out. This anime earns the highest level of recommendation.
As always, thank you for reading this review.