A little behind with the images on this post, they will be uploaded within the next 24 hours (I hope). In the meanwhile however, all the text is done, so for those who do not mind reading blocks of text, go on ahead.

It’s good to see that Tatami Galaxy is beginning to catch on. A sampling of some other coverage so far, including other episodic blogging. It certainly makes covering the series much easier, but also means one ends up spending a lot of time commenting as well.

As for episode 5: once again, Tatami Galaxy shows it’s incredible ability to throw existing theories for a loop. There is a definite shift now in the tone of these episodes, even as they mirror prior ones. Watch carefully – unlike the previous four we get nary a hint of blame placed on Ozu. In all the prologues so far, Watashi is presented in an unfortunate situation, for which he pins responsibility dead on his chance meeting with Ozu. In this episode, however, Watashi places the blame is solely on his own shoulders.

The setup of Softball Circle Honwaka superficially mirrors our first episode – Tennis Circle Cupid. As with the Tennis Circle, the Softball Circle is about sociability first and the sport second. We also get a picture of Kohinata-san – the same name as the girl who dumped Watashi back in Tennis Circle Cupid and made him so very bitter about relationships in the first place. Much like the Tennis Club as well, the Softball Club doesn’t actively attempt to exclude Watashi, in fact, they make an overture out and an attempt, however halfhearted, at an apology.

Who is responsible? Probably me. Just this time…

It is interesting to note, although Ozu is again ever-present, the outward display of regret that Watashi tempers his stories about Ozu seems a little less strong. It might be simply the warm and fuzzy context of the Softball Circle makes Ozu’s biting cynicism all the more palateable, but I hope this represents some sort of development on Watashi’s part.

Watashi’s dilemma has remained consistent throughout all five episodes, with the possible exception of Episode 4 – which is the oddball in the group, as the group was not chosen by him by instead he was forced into it. His continual marginalization from each group stems from the same issue – a desire to be recognized, coupled with stubbornly individualistic streak. As I’ve noted before, what Watashi desires is having things on his own terms; what really is important to him is control.

On another note, this episode also has a wonderful use of style in constructing, especially in regards to the Softball Circle (what an appropriate sport, at that, for a cuddly group), and it’s affiliated Honkawa Group, a delightfully presented synthesis of corporation, cult, and community. The retreat speaker has more than a superficial similarity to the Amidha Buddha so often on prominent display, with a rotund build and exaggerated earlobes. The ever-present bee motif is an excellent metaphor for groupthink and is incorporated in an innovative way, through a multi-level marketing scheme based around honey-based health products.  As a totem the bee is also quite appropriate for the members of the Softball Circle; industrious, communal, warm, and fuzzy, but fearsome when roused.

Kohinata-san presents another illustration of how character design is in part based on Watashi’s perception – a completely blank slate with the most minimal of features. Abstraction in general invites the viewers to project features that they find attractive on to a character, and here it is used to good effect – from Watashi’s point of view, Kohinata is an object of desire, not an actual person – even though it would seem that she has her own desires and goals: for one, she despises appearing at PR events.

The effect is similar to Jougasaki’s introduction in Movie Circle Misogi – although we are more easily able to get a read on the fact that Jougasaki has his own individualistic pursuits outside of how Watashi sees him in part because he actually has a face.

As usual, the ending of this episode again throws all prior theories for a loop. As with previous episodes, various items from previous episodes are set up here – Higuchi’s book (which is confirmed as Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea) and globe, Ozu dressing in drag, and to top it off the appearance of *another* bedraggled, bespectacled, yet clearly much older Watashi provides another shock. Does each episode represent a “different” Watashi? And while we’re at it, are alternate reality copies of the same individual to be truly construed as different entities, or simply different facets of the same existence? I’ll leave that metaphysical can of worms for another episode or two.

I have a feeling however, a very strong one, that everything links back to the character of the dormitory that Watashi is staying in – Shimogamo Yuusuiso, which I spoke at length about in the primer post on the series. I suspect this building, our galaxy of interconnected tatamis, is the key to understanding what is going on. Note that the “other” Watashi, seems to emerge from the wall out in the hallway – and the current Watashi makes every effort to blockade off his four-and-a-half tatami room from the others in the dormitory. There is something about the nature of Shimagamo Yuusuiso itself I think that connects our various Watashis together.

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