I’ll Take My Slice Surreal, Please
Saw the first episode of Tatami Galaxy (AKA Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei). Pretty damn great if you ask me.
This episode got me thinking about the whole slice of life bit that a large chunk of anime fans love. Tatami Galaxy, by many fans’ definitions, would fall into the slice of life genre. We’re seeing relatively everyday events transpire for a somewhat socially inept college dude. We see him suck at making friends. We see him hang out with his even worse off loser friend. We see him meet cute with an eccentric girl who goes to his college.
Tatami Galaxy hits all of the slice of life notes. Yeah, there’s a dude that claims to be a god of matchmaking that makes a rather humorous and ominous appearance, but that sort of stuff is relatively accepted in the genre so long as it’s downplayed. That’s what we get in this series.
The catch with Tatami Galaxy is that despite being slice of life, it’s nowhere close to being mundane and down to earth. The events being portrayed may sound like the sort of shit people do on an everyday basis, but the way said scenes are presented, and the details that are emphasized, don’t come close to being realistic.
I think that may be one of the defining details that distinguish genuinely good slice of life series from the ones that bore people like me to tears. I’m down with being told a story about someone’s everyday life, but I want to see said story play out in a manner that makes said events come off as important.
Tatami Galaxy pulls this off with its visual style. We may see a series of events that are thoroughly normal, but the way said scenes are animated accentuate people’s emotions and exaggerate their actions. When the girl plops down at the restaurant and starts chowing down on food, the way she gulps down the food is cartoonishly exaggerated. Her belly expands when she swallows. She comes off like a Looney Tune in that scene, and I mean that in a good way.
It’s details like that which make a series like this all the more enjoyable since they make the mundane seem extraordinary. When they talk about the girl having a piercing gaze, they make said gaze into eye beams that burn holes into books. She doesn’t actually do that in the reality of the series, but such a visual gag exaggerates her actions to get the point across.
The same goes for the main dude’s buddy, Ozu. He’s just a geeky, loser dude, but the way the main dude describes him, and the way he’s drawn in the series, accentuates his “otherness.” They play up his “youkainess” despite him obviously not being an actual youkai. But that makes his character all the more interesting. He isn’t just some ugly guy, he’s a monstrously ugly guy with shark teeth and a cupie doll haircut. He’s all the more awesome because of that.
And this may be one of the reasons why I tend to not like most slice of life series, since they skew in the opposite direction. They seem to intentionally accentuate the normalcy of the situation. That’s probably a deliberate action, since I can imagine some fans finding comfort in such scenes. They find it relaxing or nostalgic or heartwarming to see an idealized portrayal of everyday life.
I think that’s pretty damn boring, but that’s just me.
So I have a good vibe about Tatami Galaxy. It looks to be the sort of slice of life series that I can get into.
I also totally want to know what’s up with that cowboy in the opening credits. Maybe he’ll be like Maromi from Paranoia Agent and run rampant through Tokyo, shooting people with his death-dealing pop gun. I’d be down with that.