Tatami Galaxy Episode #01 (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Saturday, April 24, 2010
Release Date: Thursday, April 22, 2010

The life of a young man searching for love is explored in this visually engaging opening episode.

What They Say
A college dropout in search of ramen crosses paths with a self-proclaimed deity of matrimony. This bizarre meeting sends the young man hurtling through a horrifying flashback to his days as a 'black cupid.'

The Review!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on a novel by Morimi Tomihiko, Tatami Galaxy is most definitely an intriguing show based on its visuals alone, as well as its overall sense of style. Produced by Madhouse, it wants to be very artistic and creative in its approach as it uses a variety of animation styles as well as heavily filtered live action bits to tell the story of an unnamed young college student in search of love. At first it seems like we may get an episodic series about different things but this episode at least goes into the second one as we don't get any conclusion here, but rather a surprisingly amusing cliffhanger.

Tatami Galaxy revolves around a young man who is never named here as he initially meets another man at the Neko Ramen cart who casually tells him that he's a god of the Shimogamo shrine and knows all about this young man. He rattles off a lengthy list of things that hits home for the student and then informs him that he's the patron god of matrimony there. The student's life has been difficult when it comes to love and he's had no luck at all since entering college. Much of that stems from being socially awkward and not knowing how to fit into the various circles, especially in the tennis circle that he joins. What makes his life even more difficult is that he befriended another social outcast named Ozu and the two decided to become the Black Cupid's of the school, spending their time causing trouble for others and breaking up relationships while cutting the red string of fate for them.

As much as he does enjoy this though, he's still looking for his raven haired beauty to spend his life with. What the god, Kamotake, informs him is that he's currently deciding on where the young engineering student named Akashi should end up. The choice said god is making is between Ozu and this unnamed student (and it's terribly awkward never having a name for him!). The first half of the episode revolves around the flashbacks to his life with Ozu and the bad times he suffered through at the school while the second half has him coping with what he's learned from Kamotake and then getting closer to Akashi without even realizing that he is. It's really interesting to watch the two of them, mostly because Akashi has an interesting off beat personality while also having some mild interest in him through her own somewhat awkward social interactions.

In Summary:
The show has a very distinct look to it with a lot of angles, layers and the various animation styles used with it. There's a very flat feeling to it that's quite appealing as it all stands out against the usual sea of familiar shows that look like cookie cutter pieces. The animation for the show is definitely the highlight of it, as the story itself takes some time to get rolling and interesting, largely because of the fast pace of the dialogue that made it difficult to keep up at times. Or at least process it all. This is a show that almost requires a second viewing in order to make sure you get everything. As much as I liked the animation, the first half of the episode had me losing interest at times. But as it picks up in the second half with the ronin student starting to interact more in the present with Akashi, it became more interesting since I wanted to see how it would all play out, figuring it might be a self contained story. I'm pretty ambivalent about the show at the moment as it could go either way, but the overall design of it will definitely have me coming back for more. With its basis in a novel, the structure of the show will not be like your usual manga adaptations or cookie cutter series and that merits spending some time with it to see where it will ultimately go.

Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: NA
Video Rating: NA
Packaging Rating: NA
Menus Rating: NA
Extras Rating: NA
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: All Region DVD
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
Running time: 23
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Tatami Galaxy