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Tatami Monster

June 16, 2010

Since I fell in love with Tatami Galaxy, I decided to look into other series by the same director since I heard the guy has a distinct style to his work. It’s cool to see more anime “auteurs” who have a general vibe to their shit, opposed to the mercenary “we’ll do whatever manga you throw at us and make it look as much like the manga as possible” directors you usually get. The anime world needs more Satoshi Kons and the like.

I’m working my way through Kemonozume at the moment, and I think I may have a new anime to add to my all-time favorite list.

I’m roughly halfway through Kemonozume at the moment, and the thing that strikes me the most about it is the similarities I’m seeing between it and Tatami Galaxy. It could very well be my expectations at play, since I expect series by the same director to have “themes” or whatever in common, but I’m seeing similarities between the ways the two series deal with relationships. Mainly in the way people pursue such bonds.

Both series play up the idea that you rarely go for what’s right before your damn eyes. Someone could be right smack dab in your face all but saying “take me, you man-stud of a man” and you’d be off dreaming about that imaginary raven-haired beauty that doesn’t even exist in your dreams. The main dude in Tatami can’t see Akashi to save his life/lives while Toshihiko from Kemonozume runs away with a man-eating doppelgänger.

The catch is that I don’t think either series is really judging either character for this “mistake.”

The reason why the dude in Tatami is Groundhog Daying on us isn’t because he’s refusing to accept Akashi. The way I’m seeing it, she’s just one possible outcome. He could grasp what’s right in front of him, but I don’t get the feeling that’s what he really wants or needs. What he needs is to find some sense of contentment. He needs to come to the realization that he needs to accept his mistakes and move on rather than dwelling on the proverbial woulda coulda shoulda bullshit he’s been going through up to this point.

The same goes for Toshihiko. He has Rie waiting for him back at the dojo. He knows that she loves him, but it doesn’t matter. All he cares about his is primal lust for Yuka. His elopement with Beauty as the Beast brings out a hell of a lot of pain and suffering for those around him (For instance, one of his former subordinates mirrors his monster lust and gets eaten in the end.), but his plight to be with her is played off as being fairly romantic. Their sex may seem pretty harsh and ugly, what with the handcuffs to keep her from gutting him in mid-orgasm and all, but there’s a genuine sense that these two people really love each other. Sure, there’s obviously some Oedipal stuff going on since we now know that she could be the daughter of his adoptive mother, but that doesn’t really take away from the fact that the series portrays their affair in a comparative positive way. We get to see it from all angles and there’s no real judgement cast upon their actions.

More often than not, whether it’s anime or movies or whatever, the notion that one should pay attention to what’s right before his eyes is usually emphasized. If you don’t see the person that “really” loves you and you choose to reach for some unattainable goal, you’re usually made to be an object of contempt. Movies and anime series basically yell out “You’re doing it wrong” and try to steer the characters in the “right” direction. While there’s some degree of this in both series, since Tatami makes it a point to emphasize the cellphone strap in the main dude’s room and Kemonozume shows the ugliness that erupts in the wake of Toshihiko’s flight, I don’t think either series wants its main character to follow a set path to romantic redemption.

Essentially, the main characters have a choice, and what matters most is that they accept their choice as their own and don’t look back once that choice is made. Consequences be damned.

That’s the Romantic way, after all.

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