The Tatami Galaxy show takes a break from the weirdness by focusing on its namesake, tatami mats.
What They Say
An unusual young man with no interest in the outside world tries to survive the college experience by refusing to step foot outside his room. Will it be extreme hunger or a desire for female companionship that forces him out first?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the tenth episode of the series, Tatami Galaxy turns its focus onto the actual world of tatami mats, to good effect at that. It opens to a lovely sequence where our lead discusses the variety of tatami sized rooms and why each of them are different and how he views those differences. There's a few quirky nods to it when he talks about people disappearing over the single tatami rooms that may or may not exist, as well as their friends disappearing. He also can't understand why people would want larger rooms than what he considers the ideal 4.5 tatami room as in those places, you can get lost easily and you almost feel like the room is alive in its own way where it would stalk you.
So, unlike past episodes, our lead spends the next two years of his college life spending the majority of his time in his room rather than joining circles and going to events that would lead him to all manner of trouble as we'd seen. It's a good life and he enjoys it thoroughly, but as time goes on he starts to do a bit off the deep end. He's not exactly paranoid, but there's a sense of things going on around him and he starts to hunker in a bit more than before. This part of the sequence is fun as it draws in more live action shots and backgrounds than we've had before to good effect, especially when we see him opening the curtains a bit to look outside. I've liked some of the live action bits brought in to previous episodes, but they were mostly minimal in how they stood out. Here it's more prominent but because of the small space it works very well.
Where the show takes an odd but interesting turn is when he steps outside of his room to deal with other rooms in the building and it seems like an endless stream of things and odd worlds in each room. Food and the desire for women, something that has driven him from the start of the series, does eventually overpower him but he's already on the downward trend by then when he sports the start of a beard and eventually a full on one that makes him look half crazed. That actually adds something good for him since there's not the usual fresh faced insanity or disbelief we see him wearing. And it's a perfect look for him as he discovers the reality of his reality in that each of these rooms are actually, in his mind, the parallel worlds he's lived in as seen in the other episodes. It's the kind of hook that's really intriguing and you want to see how it all comes together and works, but coming this late in the series has made it lose some of its impact in a way.
The frustration of the repetitive nature of the show has likely caused me to miss some of the potential hits about this twist earlier on in the series, but I definitely like it as it's made real here. The realizations that our lead has here are definitely good ones and having the concepts really hit him makes for an engaging episode as he now has to figure out exactly what it is he's caught up in, the way small differences can mean huge changes and where he can go from here. With this new revelation to the series, which again I'll easily concede I should have seen earlier, I find that the whole concept and idea is one that I think would have worked better in a theatrical format rather than a TV format. There are many pieces to Tatami Galaxy that I like, but this is the episode that reminds me of the frustration of it overall because it's taken a concept I love and made it difficult to get into because of the execution itself.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
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.