In a change of pace, Tatami Galaxy resets this particular love triangle, rather than starting a completely new set. As a result, I’ve held off on making individual posts on each and instead am looking at these following two episodes as one whole – I’ll be referencing spoilers and reveals from both episodes in this post. Like I pointed out in my previous post on English Conversation Circle, each of the three clubs that Watashi joins in these episodes truly reflects the reality of his relationship with these three women – more on this after the jump.

“Hero Show Association” is, of course, refers to the genre known as “tokusatsu” – literally translated as “special effects” shows – live-action shows that feature various masked or full-suited superheroes. The usual commonality is that almost always, the face is hidden, and the use of elaborate costuming is common. The most widespread, and probably only, North American example is of course the ubiquitous Power Rangers franchise (although one could make a case for many American cartoons falling into the genre’s conventions), but in Japan various other series exist, most notably the Kamen Rider franchise.

Mask comes on, mask comes off.

It’s interesting to note how the choice of circle is an apt one. Watashi is a “masked hero” in several senses in Hero Show Association – first, in the completely literal sense to Akashi at the beginning of the episode. Secondly, we have him rationalizing – “masking”, if you will – his actions involved in his kidnapping (or perhaps elopement) with Kaori. This is also present in the tension and duality presented between him and Johnny – a simply, but very brilliantly animated transition. Finally, we have him as a “masked hero” in the metaphorical sense in regards to his relationship with Keiko – filtering his actions and deeds through the mask of grammar – who, fittingly, turns out to have been a composite character ghost-written by Akashi.

anime|otaku gives some insight on the book that is given by Ozu to Watashi in this episode. In the original source material it apparently was a copy of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea – the book that was lent to Higuchi – which dovetails nicely with the title. In this animated version, the director has seen fit to replace the book with another work by the author of the source material.

Particularly amusing in this episode as well were the shoujo styled-affectations surrounding Watashi’s portrayal of himself in the letter, a nice touch that again shows the cleft between perception and reality.

As I noted previously in my post on English Conversation Circle – each of the three women represent a different individual element that I think Watashi mistakes for love – his attraction to Hanuki, also taking into account the context of the English circle, is raw physical passion.

His attraction to Kaori, given the context of the Hero Show Association featured, is the empowerment he feels as her protector (to quote universalbunny, it is “mamorism”, rather than love). His attraction to Keiko, taking into account the Reading Circle theme, is opposite to Hanuki’s – it is the attraction to intellectual qualities and the ability to present himself in an ideal way. None of these traits are present in Akashi – Akashi knows him far too well, and lacks the same stunning beauty that Watashi is looking for, so Watashi believes (and I think believes mistakenly) – that love with her is impossible. In this sense Tatami Galaxy is something of a deconstructive attempt at the romantic comedy genre.