The Tatami Galaxy
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The Tatami Galaxy (四畳半神話大系 Yojōhan Shinwa Taikei, literally "4½ Tatami Mythological Chronicles") is a Japanese comedy-drama campus novel written by Tomihiko Morimi (森見 登美彦 Morimi Tomihiko), originally published in December 2004 by Ohta Publishing (太田出版 Ōta Shuppan) in the tankōbon format and later reissued in March 2008 by Kadokawa Shoten as a bunkoban. Its first-person narrator is an unidentified upperclassman at a Kyoto university reminiscing on the misadventures of his previous years of campus life, with each of the four chapters taking place in parallel universes in which he is enrolled in a different university society ("circle" (サークル)). As of January 2011, Korean, Traditional, and Simplified Chinese translations have been published.
|The Tatami Galaxy|
DVD cover art
(Yojōhan Shinwa Taikei)
|Written by||Tomihiko Morimi|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Masaaki Yuasa|
|Written by||Makoto Ueda|
|Music by||Michiru Ōshima|
|Original network||Fuji TV (Noitamina)|
|Original run||April 22, 2010 – July 1, 2010|
The novel is the basis of an 11-episode anime television series of the same name produced in (primarily) traditional animation at Madhouse under the direction of Masaaki Yuasa (making it the third such series following Kemonozume and Kaiba) which aired in the latter half of Fuji Television's noitamina programming block at 25:15 to 25:45 from April 22 to July 1, 2010 (i.e. 01:15 to 01:45 from April 23 to July 2). In February 2011 it won the 2010 Japan Media Arts Festival Grand Prize in the Animation Division, the first television program to do so, with the jury describing it in their justification as a "richly expressive work that turns the limitations of TV on its head" and complimenting its "unique scene layouts, characters' actions and color scheme." The series is legally available with English subtitles, having been licensed by North American distributor Funimation Entertainment for free streaming on its Web site, YouTube and Hulu and by Siren Visual and Anime Limited for home video release in Australia and New Zealand and the United Kingdom and Ireland respectively.
The story of The Tatami Galaxy follows an unnamed third year university student in Kyoto, Japan and what he views as his wasted time in a particular club (also called "circle") at his university. He meets Ozu, another student, whose encouragement sets him on a mission of dubious morality. He contemplates his affection for a second year engineering student, Akashi, and makes promises to her, usually of and within a romantic subtext. The culmination of his dubious missions often conflict with his interest in her in some way. The story is one of a number that draw on the author's experience in Kyoto University.
- Protagonist (私 Watashi)
- Voiced by: Shintarō Asanuma
- An unnamed college student in Kyoto who is recollecting his past two years of college life. He entered college dreaming of the "rose-colored campus life" that must surely be his. He wants to meet the raven-haired girl of his dreams, which is why he joins a new social circle in each episode. He is quite shy, and easily manipulated by the other characters. Even though he is the central character, he seems to be the most powerless and normal person in the roster.
- Ozu (小津)
- Voiced by: Hiroyuki Yoshino
- The appearance of Ozu in each episode causes the protagonist considerable distress. The protagonist always expresses how ugly Ozu is on his first appearance, which is often followed by Ozu telling him that he's quite cruel. Ozu seems to be a misfit as well, yet he's often the one manipulating the other characters against the protagonist. He also seems to care for the protagonist, and rescues him on certain occasions from sticky situations. Because he often eats unbalanced meals, he looks very pale and spooky as if he is a yōkai, especially to the protagonist, and is occasionally depicted as such.
- Akashi (明石)
- Voiced by: Maaya Sakamoto
- A freshman student who is commonly (but not always) the center of the protagonist's affections. She acts rationally and even coldly towards most people, but often shows hints of affection or at least helpfulness to the protagonist. Her fear of moths also contrasts with her normally calm demeanor. She often appears in the same club that the protagonist joins, she is a student of the engineering department and a member of Birdman circle.
- Seitarō Higuchi (樋口 清太郎 Higuchi Seitarō)
- Voiced by: Keiji Fujiwara
- Originally introduced as a deity of matrimony in the first episode, but he is depicted in the rest of the series as an eighth year student living in the same dorm as the protagonist. He always wears a yukata and has a wise, distant, nonchalant air about him. He is more commonly referred to simply as Master Higuchi or The Master (Shishō). He often aids the protagonist most directly, though the protagonist may not see it that way. Has an ongoing rivalry with Masaki Jōgasaki called the "proxy-proxy war".
- Masaki Jōgasaki (城ヶ崎 マサキ Jōgasaki Masaki)
- Voiced by: Junichi Suwabe
- An eighth year student who leads the Film Circle Misogi. Regardless of his bad GPA, he is a handsome man and adored by members of his circle but he harbors a secret fetish for breasts, and keeps a love-doll (Kaori). He often takes an antagonistic role relative to the protagonist, and Ozu often assists Jōgasaki in some way, usually a way detrimental to the protagonist's progress, in spite of the fact that Ozu is helping the protagonist at the same time. Has an ongoing rivalry with Master Higuchi.
- Ryōko Hanuki (羽貫 涼子 Hanuki Ryōko)
- Voiced by: Yuko Kaida
- A dental hygienist who is close to Higuchi and Jōgasaki. She likes getting inebriated, at which point she drastically loses her sense of judgment and flirts with whoever is around. Aware of this, she is cautious about choosing who she goes drinking with. She serves as a formal love interest for the protagonist in episodes 6–8.
- Kaori (香織)
- Voiced by: Mamiko Noto, Nobuyuki Hiyama
- The love-doll owned by Jōgasaki. In episodes 6–8, the protagonist develops affections for her after being given the opportunity to keep her in his room. She seems to speak to him but it is unclear whether the speaking is truly hers or whether it is simply the thoughts of the protagonist projected through her.
- Aijima (相島)
- Voiced by: Setsuji Satō
- A shady sub-leader of the Film Circle Misogi. He acts as a yesman of Jōgasaki in the circle but he leads the Secret Society Lucky Cat Chinese Restaurant on backstage.
- Keiko Higuchi (樋口 景子 Higuchi Keiko)
- An elegant girl the protagonist is in a correspondence with. She has the appearance (in his daydreams) of the raven haired maiden he's always dreamed of. In episodes 6–8, she writes an ultimatum to him asking to meet or end their correspondence. The letters are revealed to be originally written by Ozu as a prank, and later by Akashi, who takes them more seriously.
- Fortune teller (老婆 Rōba)
- Voiced by: Ako Mayama
- An old woman who appears in every episode, almost always along Kiyamachi Street, and tells the protagonist (often but not always at his behest) to seize the opportunities before him (or a variation thereof). She increases the price for her services by ¥1000 in each subsequent episode.
- Ramen stall owner (猫ラーメン店主 Neko rāmen tenshu)
- Voiced by: Atsushi Miyauchi
- The owner of the neko ramen shop the protagonist favors. He is mostly silent, occasionally putting in a short, new insight into the protagonist's current conversations or problems. He occasionally takes on a more active role in the protagonist's adventures, always on a helpful note. He appears to have some ties to Higuchi.
- Johnny (ジョニー Jonī)
- Voiced by: Nobuyuki Hiyama
- A character representing the protagonist's sexual drive. He is shown as a cowboy. He constantly bickers against the protagonist, his only goal to receive sexual pleasure. He appears in episodes 6–8 and 10.
The Tatami Galaxy is a novel written by Tomihiko Morimi. The novel was originally published in December 2004 by Ohta Publishing as a tankōbon volume and was later re-published on March 25, 2008 by Kadokawa Shoten as a bunkoban volume. The novel was translated into Korean by Viche, an imprint of Gimm-Young Publishers, Inc. in August 2008, traditional Chinese by China Times Publishing in December 2009, simplified Chinese by Shanghai People's Publishing House in August 2010.
The television series is a production of the Tokyo-based Madhouse animation studio series-directed by Masaaki Yuasa, with the screenplay throughout adapted from the novel by Yuasa and playwright Makoto Ueda (writer of Summer Time Machine Blues). The series first aired on Fuji TV's noitamina programming block on April 22, 2010. Funimation Entertainment streamed the show for free on its website with English subtitles concurrently with the series' airing in Japan; this is part of their mutual agreement with Fuji TV with regards to Noitamina distribution rights. The series uses a combination of 3D and 2D graphics, and heavily filtered live action film, portrayed in a variety of color schemes. Two pieces of theme music are used for the series: one opening theme and one ending theme. The opening theme is "Maigoinu to Ame no Beat" by Asian Kung-Fu Generation, composition and lyrics by Masafumi Gotō and the ending theme is "Kami-sama no Iutōri (神様のいうとおり, "As God Dictates") by Yoshinori Sunahara (composition and arrangement), Junji Iwatashi (lyrics), and Etsuko Yakushimaru (vocals). The series' soundtrack is composed by Michiru Ōshima. At the 2010 London MCM Expo, British anime distributor Beez Entertainment announced that they have licensed the series
Three seven-minute anime shorts were released with the DVD/BD releases of the series. The first DVD/BD volume was released on August 20, 2010 and contained the first anime short; the second and third shorts were released on the third and fourth DVD/BD volumes on October 22, 2010 and November 26, 2010, respectively.
|#||Title||Storyboard artist||Episode director||Original air date|
|1||"Tennis Circle "Cupid""
"Tenisu Sākuru "Kyūpiddo"" (テニスサークル「キューピッド」)
|Masaaki Yuasa||Masaaki Yuasa||April 22, 2010|
|One night, at a ramen stall behind Shimogamo Shrine, the main character meets Higuchi, who claims to be a god of matchmaking (who gives his name as Kamotaketsunuminokami and then Kamotaketsunominokamo moments later) and who tells him that Akashi will be bound to either him or Ozu. As a freshman in college, he had joined the tennis circle, which was filled with couples. Lamenting over his failure to get in a romantic relationship, and encouraged by Ozu, he spends his next two years concentrating on foiling his fellow student's romantic relations. He came to like Akashi, and had promised her to take her to the ramen stall behind the shrine. Prompted by the matchmaking god, he confronts Akashi during the O-bon that night, but fails to invite her.|
|2||"Film Circle "Misogi""
"Eiga Sākuru "Misogi"" (映画サークル「みそぎ」)
|Akitoshi Yokoyama||Akitoshi Yokoyama||April 29, 2010|
|As a freshman in college, the main character had joined the movie circle, encouraged by the promise of friends and the joy of filmmaking. Treated poorly and having his ideas struck down by the president of the circle, 8th year student Jogasaki, and encouraged by Ozu, he devotes his next two years to making movies on his own, culminating in a documentary exposing the worst aspects of Jogasaki's character. He takes a liking to Akashi as the only member of the circle who takes an interest in his movies. Having sneaked his exposé in and having it shown before the circle, Akashi is unsatisfied with his movie, and leaves.|
|3||"Cycling Association "Soleil""
"Saikuringu Dōkōkai "Soreiyu"" (サイクリング同好会「ソレイユ」)
|Ryōtarō Makihara||Ryōtarō Makihara||May 6, 2010|
|In his freshman year, the main character joined a cycling club, Soleil, in the hope of attracting a girlfriend. He finds himself too frail to bike, and quits the club, but refuses to quit cycling, saving up for a better bike to compensate for his weak stature. The bike is stolen and the main character ends up depressed. Akashi, formerly of Soleil, recruits him to pilot the plane she is designing to be entered in the Birdman contest, wherein human-powered one-person planes are launched out over Lake Biwa until they fall. To please Akashi, he trains himself, believing further pedaling ability to be key to victory in the contest. His increased build excludes him from piloting the plane and he leaves. He finds Ozu, who is stealing Akashi's plane on a cart. The cart the plane was on begins to slip down a grade towards a pond. He tries to pedal the plane away only to discover that the plane was to be entered in the free-flying category and has no pedals. The main character laments all the effort he has wasted over these years as he sinks with the plane into a pond.|
"Deshi Motomu" (弟子求ム)
|Akitoshi Yokoyama||Akitoshi Yokoyama||May 13, 2010|
|The protagonist signs up as a disciple of Higuchi, but discovers that he is 15 minutes too late to be the first disciple, the position having been usurped by Ozu. Higuchi makes him and Ozu do several meaningless tasks, and the main character is not sure what training he is receiving. Akashi is also a part of the disciple group. The protagonist receives a task to find a mystical tortoise brush that can clean almost anything, and he's helped by Akashi in this quest. When he does find the brush, his master reveals that he has been chosen as a successor in the proxy proxy war with Jogasaki, and Jogasaki chooses Ozu as his proxy. Ozu was playing as a double agent all along. The master then leaves, and the main character becomes the next in the series of proxy proxy wars, the original cause of which has been lost in the mists of time.|
|5||"Softball Circle "Honwaka""
"Sofutobōru Sākuru "Honwaka"" (ソフトボールサークル「ほんわか」)
|Hiroshi Hamasaki||Tomoya Takahashi||May 20, 2010|
|As a freshman in college, the protagonist joins a softball team. His reason for joining it is that they do not seem to take softball too seriously, and the guy to girl ratio is in his favor. He also thinks the people in it are nice, though soon he changes his opinion of them being too nice and unaccepting of any differing views. He soon finds out that the group was in reality a group that promoted natural foods made by one specific corporation, and whose owner's daughter occasionally visits them. The protagonist develops a huge crush on the daughter, and tries his best to sell the products the best for the next 2 years. As a result of his efforts, he gets invited to the secret building where these products are made along with several others, where the leader of the corporation reveals that he's built a Noah's ark since humanity would come to an end in 2012. The protagonist finds he cannot fit in here either, and escapes when someone sabotages the ark and crashes it into the building. The saboteur turns out to be Ozu, and they run away together, and they are rescued by the ramen stall owner from Episode 1.|
|6||"English Conversation Circle "JoEnglish""
"Eikaiwa Sākuru "Joingurisshu"" (英会話サークル「ジョイングリッシュ」)
|Shingo Natsume||Shingo Natsume||May 27, 2010|
|More determined than in previous episodes, the main character decides to join three circles during his freshman year, one of which is the English Conversation Circle (notably, the other circles and his exploits therein are explored in the following two episodes). He meets Hanuki, another member of the club, and becomes closer and closer to her, while living with Kaori the love-doll, and writing letters to an elegant girl named Keiko. Hanuki asks him out to drink, Kaori is about to be taken from him, and Keiko asks him to meet her in person all on the same day. After much deliberation, he goes after Hanuki, and finds himself dragged back to Hanuki's apartment. He undergoes an internal discussion with Johnny, the personification of his sexual desires, as Hanuki, inebriated, begins to flirt with him, and he attempts to not take advantage of her. In desperation, he flees to Hanuki's bathroom and further debates his situation with himself. He makes no decision, save not to act, gets out after Hanuki has gone, and returns home. Although things haven't turned out for the worst, the main character still feels dissatisfied and proclaims his desire to relive the past few hours.|
|7||""Hero Show Association" Circle"
"Sākuru "Hiro Shō Dōkōkai"" (サークル「ヒーローショー同好会」)
|Michio Mihara||Michio Mihara||June 3, 2010|
|Another one of the three clubs the main character joined in the previous episode was the Hero Show Association, wherein he dresses up in a hero costume and performs shows for kids. Jogasaki hires him to take care of his love-doll Kaori, who he falls in love with. In the meantime, he corresponds with Keiko and gets close to Hanuki. In a single day, Hanuki asks him out for drinks, Keiko asks to meet in person, and Jogasaki says he will take Kaori back. He goes after Hanuki, gets dragged back to her apartment, and ends up in the bathroom, as before, but now decides to run out of the bathroom and elope with Kaori. On his returning home, Kaori starts asking him to rescue her from Jogasaki, and he tries to elope with her (the voice of the doll is suspiciously similar to Ozu, who might have instigated the whole sequence). Again he is torn over whether or not to take advantage of her, all but doing so at Johnny's insistence, until Jogasaki, informed of the main character's exploits by Ozu, finds the protagonist, kicks him away, and takes Kaori back. Though the main character acknowledges this is probably for the best, he remains regretful, and proclaims that he should've gone out to meet with Keiko.|
|8||"Reading Circle "SEA""
"Dokusho Sākuru "SEA"" (読書サークル「SEA」)
|Hiroshi Shimizu||Junichi Fujise||June 10, 2010|
|Another one of the three clubs the main character joined in the previous episodes was the Reading Circle Sea, where the protagonist finds himself in a silent club full of reading. Ozu lends him a young adult novel to read for his club. Inside the cover of the novel the protagonist finds a name and an address of the previous owner, Keiko, to who he begins to correspond with. After taking care of the love-doll Kaori, the protagonist goes out drinking with Hanuki. He realizes his feelings for Keiko and rushes out to meet her as had been agreed upon earlier. He heads off to her apartment, but finds Ozu instead. Akashi then explains the truth behind the letters, revealing that it was a prank started by Ozu but later taken up by her. She then thanks him for rescuing her back in the previous episode under the superhero guise. He then returns home arguing with his Johnny, claiming that she wanted the superhero him; which he was not. He regrets his actions and wishes to find victory in his love life, suddenly the clock of time begins to move backwards again.|
|9||"Secret Society "Lucky Cat Chinese Restaurant""
"Himitsu Kikan "Fukuneko Hanten"" (秘密機関「福猫飯店」)
|Akitoshi Yokoyama||Akitoshi Yokoyama||June 17, 2010|
|As a freshman, the protagonist joins the Secret Society Chinese Restaurant, not suspecting it to actually be a secret society. The Society appears to be a syndicate of sorts which has organized most of the dubious campus activities from the previous episodes, in particular the Cheery Cycle Cleanup Corps which stole bikes and planes from episode 3, the Library Police from episode 4 and the Print Shop which had provided the protagonist with papers in episodes 6–8. The society is led by Aijima, who sets the protagonist and Ozu on various missions for the organization, several of which were alluded to in previous episodes. Ozu rakes up a string of successes, and the protagonist several failures. Eventually, Ozu ousts Aijima and the Protagonist rises through the ranks, eventually to the point where he is the one who steals the plane Akashi made in the third episode. Akashi catches and scolds him, much to his dismay, though he can't understand why. Master Higuchi meets the protagonist and explains to him the central concept behind his dissatisfaction: that he is always convinced that it was possibility which would send him to an ideal life – a life that doesn't exist. In the depths of his depression, he discovers that Ozu has a girlfriend who turns out to be the raven haired maiden he had once joined the softball club to be with. Ozu steals the dirigible from the Honkawa group but fails to rescue her. Nonetheless the Protagonist is shocked to consider that Ozu, who always seemed to have wasted even more time than the protagonist had truly enjoyed his college years. In a major change from every episode prior, the protagonist declares he should simply stay in his 4½ tatami room and time does not appear to rewind.|
|10||"The 4½ Tatami Ideologue"
"Yōjōhan Shugisha" (四畳半主義者)
|Choi Eun-young||Choi Eun-young||June 24, 2010|
|Disillusioned with any form of campus life, the protagonist joins no clubs as a freshman in college, choosing instead to spend all his time within his 4½ tatami room. He awakens after 2 years to find that he is surrounded by an infinite number of seemingly identical rooms beyond every door, window, and wall. He sustains himself on castellas he finds in the rooms, and explores, collecting bits of money. It becomes clear that the rooms are not in fact identical, but bear slight variations corresponding to the choices he could have (and has) made throughout the rest of the series. He has only a vague memory of what he had done, but finds that for all his complaints before, all of these lives seem fun and interesting to him. He proclaims that his true despair lies in his loneliness, and that such cannot continue. Again, no time rewinding animation is shown.|
|11||"The End of the 4½ Tatami Age"
"Yōjōhanki no Owari" (四畳半紀の終わり)
|Masaaki Yuasa||Masaaki Yuasa||July 1, 2010|
|The protagonist, still trapped within the 4½ tatami world of the previous episode, continues searching for a way out, to little avail. After much exploration he eventually comes back to the room he started from and despairs, thinking of how fervently he wishes he'd done everything he did in the past episodes. He realizes that in every room, Akashi's lost mochiguman is still hanging from the ceiling, finally admitting to himself that he had loved Akashi. He proclaims his intent to seize this opportunity, and a swarm of white moths appear, which he moves back to avoid and in doing so ends out tripping out of the tatami world back into reality. It is the night of Gozan shown in the first episode, and Ozu, dressed in woman's clothing he was shown getting into in episode 6 is standing on the side of a bridge being threatened by Jogasaki and Aijima, while Akashi watches among the crowd. The protagonist runs to Ozu, followed by the swarm of moths, and saves him from drowning in the river. He finds Akashi, still petrified from the moths, gives her the mochiguman, and asks her out to the ramen shop, which she gladly accepts. Jogasaki finally gets a job. Master Higuchi leaves town to travel around the world with Hanuki. And though not explicitly stated, as the protagonist claims such details would be boring, it is understood that he and Akashi become a couple. The protagonist finds a new 6 tatami apartment, wanting never to go in another 4½ tatami room. He visits a hospitalized Ozu with Akashi, pokes fun at his having a girlfriend and offers to help him out in much the same way as Ozu has to the protagonist in every other episode. Ozu, thoroughly embarrassed and awkward much the same as the protagonist has been, asks why he does this, and again quoting Ozu, he responds that its how he shows his love, to which Ozu responds quoting the protagonist "You can keep that icky stuff to yourself!"|
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