Haven't we had this conversation before?

Episode 2 has completely blown my expectations out of the water, but in a good way. If anything, this show has me hook, line, and sinker. It does mean however I have a lot to talk about, so this may be a long entry. Compared to the first, this one is much slower as well, with less reams of exposition. Let’s talk Tatami Galaxy again.

First Contact. Again.

In Episode 2 we are presented with what seems like a completely parallel universe tale. Watashi meets Ozu not in the Tennis Circle, but the Movie Circle, having chose to join it instead. But nevertheless he meets Ozu in similar circumstances – after a humiliation at the hands of others in the club.

Recall the previous discussion about the Japanese title – Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei – “Mythological Tales of the Four-and-a-half Tatami Mat.” Here we see this title realized in all it’s fullness. We do have a “mythological” set of stories here – a mythos does not occur on a continuous chronological timeline, but rather is a retelling of similar themes and archetypes. We start with Watashi joining a new club, at first experimenting and trying out different things, then eventually being humiliated and excluded from the group, at which point he meets Ozu and turns his resentment into villainous action. Along the way we have several repeated segments – flashbacks and impressions of Akashi, a meeting with a fortune teller, the Castella cake, Akashi calling Watashi an idiot, Akashi’s missing charm, the promise Watashi made to Akashi, the moth, and many other small affectations.

I suspect this will be a pattern over the next few episodes – we shall see, rather than a chronological story, a repetition of the same story themes, and archetypes over different circumstances. The new characters introduced here I am sure will likely reprise their roles but in different clubs, yet with the same archetypal characteristics. In myth one finds several cross-cultural archetypes: the Norse trickster Loki is analagous to the Native American Coyote or Raven – and perhaps, analagous to Tatami Galaxy’s Ozu.

As I mentioned earlier, Ozu makes his first appearance once again in similar circumstance. And much as in the first episode, Watashi repeats his regret. Yet the word-for-word repetition here feels rather routine – it seems the sort of grumbling one reserves for particularly close friends. Even though Watashi claims that he despises Ozu’s company, the fact that he remains with him seems to imply his true feelings are somewhat different and that he actually values him as a friend.

Ozu is at once both antagonist and assistant.

Again, Ozu plays a similar role as in Tennis Circle Cupid, expressing resentment and giving voice to sentiments that Watashi does not express. Watashi seems to value Ozu’s company precisely because Ozu can articulate what he cannot; he is bold enough to hurl insults and do absolutely crazy things, which Watashi can then pin the blame on it being “Ozu’s idea” and thus participate without actually being responsible. The absolute convenience of Ozu’s character, along with his character design, actually makes me wonder if he is a complete figment of Watashi’s imagination; perhaps the resentful and darker side that Watashi dares not acknowledge – that is one potential twist that might be coming.

Deja vu, definitely.

What’s very clear from this episode and the previous is that Watashi is very much the picture of inauthenticity, a topic that ghostlightning has extensively commented about in regards to anime. It seems he cannot be honest with himself, both in terms of expressing his dissatisfaction, as well as his relationship to Akashi. For the former, he is content to show some passive-agressive resistance by following Ozu’s lead. As for the latter…

hnnng.

Akashi is the only one who laughs at Watashi’s films. Much like the first episode, there is an immediate chemistry between the two, and Watashi is caught between his pride and desire for revenge at being excluded, and what Akashi thinks of him. This episode illustrates the choice he is caught between much more sharply than the first in Akashi’s pointed conversation after Watashi shows the expose on Jougasaki’s personal habits, humiliating him in front of the entire club.

hnnng. No really, that's all I can do when she shows up.

Again in this episode, emotionally charged depictions are rampant, and in a much more active way. Consider the depictions of the underclassman “charmed” by Jougasaki’s charisma, or more tellingly, the shift in depictions of Jougasaki below:

What other people see.

What Watashi sees.

The way Jougasaki is visually depicted – with it’s alternation between “reality” and “perception” here allows us to experience how Watashi must be feeling, versus what Jougasaki sees: Jougasaki believes he is offering helpful advice, but Watashi instead takes it as an insult – again, this is a method only afforded by animation. I’m going to hold off speaking more about Jougasaki until we see more of him (and we most certainly will), but it would seem he is another resident of Watashi’s dorm, the Shimogamo Yuusuiso.

THE WHEEL OF FATE IS TURNING!

The clock scene at the very end, transitioning into the ED, is a very nice touch and confirms for the viewer that we are seeing a repetition of events with different circumstances. It also seems to imply, as I said before, that Ozu seems to be a psychological manifestation of Watashi, Watashi’s “dark side”, if you will. Will Watashi break this vicious cycle? I have no idea, but I’m off to give this episode another watch – so far the execution has been masterful.

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