When it comes to anime produced by studio Madhouse, I tend to find they’re quite hit and miss with me. I like No Game, No Life and Death Parade, but in the same breath dislike Parasyte and Magical Warfare. Now sure, a lot of this isn’t the fault of the studio themselves and it’s more the material they’re adapting, but it has left me instinctively staying away from their series’. That changed when I was given the chance to review The Tatami Galaxy however, which has definitely renewed my interest in Madhouse.
The Tatami Galaxy follows the adventures of an unnamed college student looking to spend two years living a “rose-colored campus life” and naturally, he also wishes to meet the girl of his dreams! At the end of these two years (having spent them in the tennis circle), he realises that all of his efforts have been wasted and that, perhaps, if he hadn’t become friends with the yokai-like character known as Ozu, his two years would have gone much smoother. With these thoughts in mind, time begins to rewind and so begins our next episode…
If I had to describe The Tatami Galaxy in a single word, it would be ‘episodic’. Almost every episode sees us meet our protagonist at the beginning of his college years; every time he joins a different circle but ends up meeting Ozu, ultimately wasting his two years (usually in extremely humorous ways to us, the viewers) and then deeply regretting the whole thing. The series is only 11 episodes and so even if every episode had followed the same pattern, then I’m not sure it would have been a bad thing, but regardless, The Tatami Galaxy decides to move on to ideas anew and everything works well for it.
For every loop that happens certain things stay consistent. Every episode usually features a similar set of characters and each episode will include a fortune teller who informs the protagonist that the chance he’s been looking for is always right in front of his face (and the show even has the self-awareness to put the price up for her services every loop!). As more loops occur our hero begins to get a sense of things he should and shouldn’t be doing, but these thoughts also usually land him in trouble. Despite how episodic all this sounds, it does tie together in a really satisfying way by the end of the series, which was really nice to see as I was worried nothing would make sense by the time I finished.
As previously mentioned, the anime has been handled by Madhouse and is almost completely animated in a traditional hand drawn style, despite the fact it’s an anime which aired in Japan back in 2010. Because of this, The Tatami Galaxy has a very unique and colourful style that is difficult to compare to anything else I have seen recently. Perhaps the only real comparison is that of SHAFT’s Monogatari series, but even that is a bit of a stretch because that has an incredibly unique style in its own right.
Where music is concerned, it has been handled by Michiru Oshima who also provided music for Fullmetal Alchemist, Sound of the Sky and Snow White with the Red Hair. I will say that the soundtrack doesn’t stand out as much as Oshima’s previous works, but it’s by no means bad and gives a lot of life to this wonderful world. The opening for the series is “Maigoinu to Ame no Beat” by Asian Kung-Fu Generation and is really upbeat and a memorable opening to start the show with. Meanwhile the ending is “Kami-sama no Iutori” by Yoshinori Sunahara and while it’s not the kind of music I’m fond of (it’s very… high pitched and modern) I think it does fit the series well.
Voice actors are also a strong point for The Tatami Galaxy. Our protagonist is played by Shintaro Asanuma (Hiroto Maehara in Assassination Classroom, Susanoo in Akame ga Kill and Nishiki Nishio in Tokyo Ghoul) and plays the role with a suitable amount of cynicism for someone who repeatedly wastes years of his life. The other notable role is Hiroyuki Yoshino (Ranta in Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash, Iwaizumi Hajime in Haikyu!! And Seishiro Hiragi in Seraph of the End) who plays Ozu and does so with a lot of fun and obvious passion for the role. It’s worth noting that there is no English dub for the series on offer.
This release comes to the UK thanks to Anime Limited in a collector’s edition. All 11 episodes are collected across two Blu-ray discs and extras include a creator interview, clean opening and ending videos and some trailers. Physical extras include a 60 page artbook and 4 ‘large’ artcards, but do note none of the physical extras have been sampled for this review.
Overall The Tatami Galaxy proved to be an interesting watch. It takes a clever idea of ‘what if’s’ and moulds them into a fascinating story that I wish had gone on just a little bit longer. A truly unique piece of animation that belongs in just about everyone’s collection.
Title: The Tatami Galaxy
Distributor: Anime Limited
Platform(s): Blu-ray Collector’s Edition
Version Reviewed: Blu-ray
Released: Out Now!
Disclosure: A copy of “The Tatami Galaxy” was supplied by Anime Limited, the distributor, for the purposes of this review.