“One autumn evening at a mysterious ramen stand behind the Shimogamo Shrine, a lonely third-year college student bumps into a man with an eggplant-shaped head who calls himself a god of matrimony. Meeting this man causes the student to reflect upon his past two years at college—two years bitterly spent trying to break up couples on campus with his only friend Ozu, a ghoulish-looking man seemingly set on making his life as miserable as possible. Resolving to make the most out of the rest of his college life, the student attempts to ask out the unsociable but kind-hearted underclassman Akashi, yet fails to follow through, prompting him to regret not living out his college life differently. As soon as this thought passes through his head, however, he is hurtled through time and space to the beginning of his years at college and given another chance to live his life.
Surreal, artistic, and mind-bending, Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei chronicles the misadventures of a young man on a journey to make friends, find love, and experience the rose-colored campus life he always dreamed of.” – MAL Synopsis
I’d been meaning to watch Tatami Galaxy for a long time now. This anime’s praises have been sung from the mountain tops and the heavens. I kept telling myself I would watch it for years, and after hearing a good friend of mine say it was one of his favorite things just ever and me not having anything lined up to watch. It was the perfect time to finally watch this masterpiece. And yeah spoilers for the rest of this review, I love this anime through and through.
It’s hard to go into anything blind in this era of the internet, especially if you spend a lot of time online as I do. Somehow I avoided any and everything Tatami Galaxy for 11 years now. I had no clue what this show was even remotely about and I didn’t read the synopsis until episode 3. The story is pretty straightforward. Every episode is a different scenario with our main character starting his college life and him picking different clubs and choices leading him to spend his college days in various ways. In every loop we learn about different aspects of the world, different characters get more depth added to them. While also having a few recurring gags that are great. As an aside right here, this anime was also very funny. All the comedic moments hit. Back on topic, each episode is fun and unique, but they ultimately end up all the same with Watashi wishing he spent his last two years different and the loop starting him again at the beginning of his college career. It’s that last part of every episode, the central theme, that heavily resonated with me and most likely a lot of other people.
Life is about decisions. Pretty much from the day, we’re born we are faced with and make various decisions. Miniscule ones, gigantic ones. Something as mundane as what we’re gonna eat today to life-changing decisions. That’s what life is. Unfortunately, we can’t go back and fix things or choose differently, we have to live with it. So this story hits really hard especially because I’m in the same age range as the main character and have often wished I could go back and pick a different path. But seeing Watashi have all these wild and fun adventures, meet and interact with such colorful people, and yet at the end of it all not feel satisfied. It’s sad in a way. I love the way the tail end of the story, specifically the last two episodes, tackled all of that. It was genuinely beautiful in the message that’s sent. It’s one of the many aspects of this show that succeed in what it sets out to do. It seems like the creators of this anime had a clear message about not just living life, but enjoying it and learning to accept the decisions you make. And the vehicle in which they chose to use to get this message across was super effective.
I’ll be real, I love the main character. He’s very relatable, funny, could definitely slow his speech down at times but for the life of me, I can’t remember his name. He’s the only character in the show who it seems like his name was barely said at all. Everything I just said above directly relates to him. His pursuit of a perfect rosey college is constantly leading him to miss the details and not enjoy life as he should.
Ozu is a menace. When I think of just purely menacing characters, he’s definitely in that conversation with the likes of Dio and others. Always plotting, always scheming something, a devil forever tied to the main character as he anchors his life down as low as the Marianna trench. I loved him. There’s a lot of fun to be had with every episode and every loop, but most of the fun comes from seeing what type of shinanigans Ozu is up to.
Higuchi, the mysterious wise man was just that and played that role perfectly. He was a show-stealer in every scene he was in. He and Ozu were the most mysterious characters in the show so it was really interesting to me whenever more is learned about him and how he thinks.
Akashi was great as well. Her personality is very enjoyable to watch because it really doesn’t seem like she’d be the person to hang out and partake in the rest of the cast shenanigans but here she is most of the time. Also, I can heavily relate to her disliking of moths.
There is a lot of other characters here, all of which are great. This goes for every character in the show. I was very pleased that what you see is not what you get with everyone. With each loop and new scenario more is learned about particular characters that by the time it’s all said and done I took a step back and was just amazed at the character depth.
The animation is phenomenal. I don’t know if this art style has a name already. The best way I could describe is fluid, expressive, and somewhat abstract. The color palette is just amazing. Everything the main character describes verbally is also visually depicted and everything is so smooth and flows so well. Then there’s a lot of surreal elements that feel natural because of the art style. I don’t think I’ve ever watched an anime prior to this where every frame could be a piece of art that I’d hang on my wall. So many unique and downright beautiful moments. I wish more anime tried something more out there with their art style. The closest art style I can even think to compare to this is Devilman Crybaby, which I loved the art style there too.
The voice acting was amazing. Watashi talks very fast in some scenes, a good thing has I’ve been watching anime for over a decade so it wasn’t too hard to keep up but there was some rewinding. Everybody killed it. In particular, Ozu’s va and Higuchi’s va really stood out. I really felt the menace to society that is Ozu in his voice. While I loved the calm and wise tone of Higuchi’s voice. Which he also had one or maybe two, singing scenes which were beautiful. Which also the music was amazing all around aswell.
So yeah Tatami Galaxy is amazing and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It manages to consistently weave an overall very relatable theme with somewhat episodic episodes. With every episode always adding to the whole. Alone the story is a 10/10. Adding in a unique and breathtaking art style, that’s just so pleasant to look at. Top-tier voice acting. I didn’t even touch on the soundtrack which is also stellar. Genuinely this anime is a work of art and one of the best anime of all time.
Tatami Galaxy – 10/10