“Make it emotional”, that’s what writer Nathan Baugh said in his tweet about storytelling. Nailing the emotional goal is one of the earliest tips any content writer will get. What do you want your reader to feel? Is it curiosity? Relatability? Or amusement? You could make an elaborate hook like a good opening paragraph or the “clickbait” title to invite new readers in. Yet, a hook is a mere invitation. In an era where new content is created every second, it’s the emotion that makes the connection.

I need to mention this because sometimes, people forget that there are many ways to enjoy anime. Different people have different motivations for consuming media. An anime like The Tatami Time Machine Blues can be confusing to some people, but it also can be entertaining to some people who are driven by curiosity. In this anime, half of the fun is figuring out what happens in the story. The audience will stay on the edge of their seat, waiting for that “Aha!” moment. The Tatami Time Machine Blues is a puzzle box, and it invites its audience to solve it.

©2022 Tomihiko Morimi, Makoto Ueda, Kadokawa/”The Tatami Time Machine Blues” Production Committee

Not to mention that The Tatami Time Machine Blues is the sequel of Tatami Galaxy, another anime that treats its story structure as a puzzle box. Tatami Galaxy used a Groundhog Day-esque style structure, where the protagonist (who is simply called “I”) is trapped in a repeated time loop, to tell a story of a person who is trapped in a cycle of regret. The narrative structures are different but still aim for the same emotional goal: to pique the audience’s curiosity. Both anime also uses expressive animation to tell the story. You should know what to expect if you’ve already watched Tatami Galaxy.

Compared to Tatami Galaxy though, The Tatami Time Machine Blues has the upper hand because it’s shorter and the story is more streamlined. Tatami Galaxy is 11 episodes long and the viewers have to watch through 10 episodes before earning their “Aha!” moment. Tatami Time Machine Blues, however, is only 6 episodes and its story is more akin to Avengers: Endgame than Groundhog Day. It’s a time travel story that’s easier to understand compared to its prequel. In just a few episodes, you can understand what’s happened and why certain events happened in a certain way. But just like its prequel, there’s a certain plot twist that will make you reconsider your past interpretation.

©2022 Tomihiko Morimi, Makoto Ueda, Kadokawa/”The Tatami Time Machine Blues” Production Committee

I’ve mentioned that half of the fun is in figuring out what’s happening in the story. The other half is simply enjoying the execution. The animation of The Tatami Time Machine Blues is like freestyle jazz. It’s wild, different, energetic, expressive, and almost experimental. The most interesting thing is that the anime is not directed by Masaaki Yuasa, who directed Tatami Galaxy and its spin-off The Night is Short, Walk on Girl. The Tatami Time Machine Blues is directed by Shingo Natsume, who’s known as the director of One Punch Man‘s first season, Space Dandy, and Sonny Boy. People won’t realize the director change, because Natsume captures Yuasa’s directorial style very well.

©2022 Tomihiko Morimi, Makoto Ueda, Kadokawa/”The Tatami Time Machine Blues” Production Committee

You can still enjoy The Tatami Time Machine Blues without watching Tatami Galaxy. But watching Tatami Galaxy first helps me to appreciate The Tatami Time Machine Blues more. I can get behind the protagonist’s quest for romance because I understand what he went through in the Tatami Galaxy. What surprised me most is that returning characters like Ozu, Master Higuchi, and Jougasaki became likeable here. In the Tatami Galaxythey’re usually the cause of the protagonist’s downfall. In The Tatami Time Machine Blues, they’re your normal, everyday dorks. Here, they’re part of the conflict, not the cause of it.

If you’re already a fan of Tatami Galaxy, then it’s easy to recommend The Tatami Time Machine Blues. They have the same characters, the same animation style, and the same emotional goal despite the differences in story structure. The Tatami Time Machine Blues will satisfy those who are looking for more The Tatami Galaxy content. If you’re not a fan, the question will be: What is your motivation for consuming storytelling media? Because if you’re looking for a show that encourages you to think, or if you simply want to be awed with excellent animation experience, then The Tatami Time Machine Blues will provide your brain with that dopamine shot.

©2022 Tomihiko Morimi, Makoto Ueda, Kadokawa/”The Tatami Time Machine Blues” Production Committee

Facts and Figures

Alternate title(s) Yojouhan Time Machine Blues
Source material Novel by Tomihiko Morimi and Makoto Ueda
Casts Chikara Honda as Tamura-kun
Hiroyuki Yoshino as Ozu
Junichi Suwabe as Jōgasaki
Kazuya Nakai as Higuchi
Maaya Sakamoto as Akashi
Setsuji Satoh as Aijima Senpai
Shintarō Asanuma as “I”
Yuko Kaida as Hanuki
Director Shingo Natsume (One Punch ManSonny Boy)
Scenario Makoto Ueda (The Tatami Galaxy)
Character design Nobutake Io (KaibaLu over the Wall)
Shouko Nishigaki
Opening theme “Demachiyanagi Parallel Universe” by ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION
Ending theme “Time Machine Blues” by Chloe Yhun and Phil Matthews
Studio Science SARU
Official site https://yojohan-timemachine.asmik-ace.co.jp/
Twitter @4andahalf_tmb
Broadcast date 14 September 2022

The Indonesian Anime Times | Review by Dany Muhammad | Image source: The Tatami Time Machine Blues official Twitter account.

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