The Tatami Galaxy Complete Series Review

Anime


The Tatami Galaxy Complete Series

Tag Line: Opportunity is always dangling in front of you…
Produced by: Funimation(US) Siren Visual (AU)
Run time: 270 minutes of 12 episodes
Language: Japanese
Genre: Philosphical, School Drama, Comedy
Release Date: 22/06/2011
Available for purchase at
Siren Visual Online Store ($49.95)

Overview:
What is art? It’s a question that many have discussed, but to define it seems to contradict it’s own concept. How does this question relate to The Tatami Galaxy? It’s a question that I found myself wondering many times during watching this series, as the series continuously attempts to outdo itself with artsy expression. Does it succeed or does it fall flat?

Story:
The Tatami Galaxy features what can only be considered a high concept storyline. Each episode tells the tale of an unnamed protagonist through seperate parralell worlds in which the key difference being that each world features the protagonist joining a different club or circle in university.

Sadly this is done in such an unnatural way that there is little legible storyline or true character progression. Which is a shame because the concept is simply oozing with potential. One particular point of interest is in the fact that this is a subtitles only release. Which does not do the show any favours as the characters talk at a break-neck speed and subtitles leave the screen just as quickly. It’s rather distracting and makes it even more difficult to invest in the story of the series.

Let’s not forget the over-the-top art direction which poses another road block in the way of the plot. It just simply takes too much attention away from the story and makes things so muddled and difficult to comprehend without several rewinds to make sure you caught what just happened.

Overall the story is forgettable and left little to no true impression on me outside of the fact that it was almost impossible to invest in and nearly as difficult to comprehend.

Characters:
Like the story, there isn’t a lot going on in the character department. It is difficult to understand these characters and their personalities as for one the story direction changes constantly and the characters designs change just as often, at a completely random rate.

Of the characters worth mentioning we have the unnamed protagonist, his yokai-like friend Ozu and the love interest archetype Akashi. All of these characters are not memorable. Its a real shame because there was so much potential in this series upon the surface. However once going in deeper, you discover that it’s insides are all falling apart.

It’s clear that the creators were unable to get the right balance between the art and the story. They do not seem to understand that in all things balance is necessary. Watching pretty visuals, may be nice for a while, but without a strong story and characters to justify and hold up the artstyle, the viewer may grow tired very quickly. That is unfortunately the case with The Tatami Galaxy.

Audio:
One part where The Tatami Galaxy succeeds is in it’s music. The series features an amazing soundtrack that is every bit as crazy as the show itself. The opening theme is one of the most memorable things about the series. The ending theme isn’t too bad either. What is so great about the music of the series is that it dares to do something bizaare and doesn’t fall flat on it’s face in doing so.

The voice work is decent, but may be difficult to follow for western viewers as characters speak extremely fast in this show. If you aren’t quick with your eyes, you will miss out on a lot of the show. Unfortunately Siren Visual did not add on a slower subtitles feature.

Artwork:
The defining point of The Tatami Galaxy is in the art and animation. The creators have strived for something so bizaare and unique that in doing so they have completely shot themselves in the foot. The artstyle is without a doubt visually pleasing and is indeed something to behold. But beyond the dazzling imagery and flurry of colours lies an empty cold shell of an anime series, that could have been filled with so much more life, if more work had been put into other parts of the production other than the art and animation.

Put simply too much time and effort was put into the artstyle that all other areas of the series apart from the music was really lackluster and felt very empty. Even though they spent so much time on the art and animation a lot of it is just art with no meaning.

This is where I link it all back to the opening question: What is art? It’s a question that perfectly sums up Tatami Galaxy, a show that tries so hard to be an artistic revelation that it instead becomes the opposite, a hollow body void of the slightest hint of artistry.

So much was put into making it artistic that all in all it failed miserably to achieve that. It’s a case of an anime studio not understanding the simple concept of moderation.

Special Features:
This DVD took me by complete and utter surprise, for the first time in a long time, Siren Visual actually put a decent amount of special features on one of their titles. With features such as bonus mini episodes, TV spots, behind the scenes featurettes and more, Siren Visual has finally shown that they can release DVD’s with a little extra added in for those who want some more from their anime besides simply just watching it.

Also in the package is the usual slip-case packaging which is as usual a nice little addition to the DVD and has some nice artwork on the cover. Overall this is a definite step in the right direction for Siren Visual. Heres hoping they keep this up with future DVD releases.

Conclusion:
In closing, The Tatami Galaxy is an anime series that was bursting with complete and utter potential but never truly succeeds in grasping and utilising that potential. It is a true shame that this anime could not have been as good as it looked. Perhaps their is a parallel world in which the creators spent more time on the storyline? One can only wonder. Unfortunately The Tatami Galaxy was sadly a disappointment and an overall unbalanced experience.

Therefore I give The Tatami Galaxy Complete Series:
6-5-capsules-out-of-10

Senior Editor & Anime Specialist

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