Yonjouhan Shinwa Taikei: The Tatami Galaxy
A couple weeks ago I watched the anime adaptation of Yonjouhan Shinwa Taikei (四畳半神話体系 or, roughly, The 4.5 Tatami Mythos), which is officially called The Tatami Galaxy in English, and was originally published as a novel in 2004 (the anime came out in 2010). With a few caveats, especially that there is definitely nostalgia for Kyoto at work here, I was very into it! It was unusual and pretty and frenetic--its art and animation, the dizzying speed of the narrator's speech, and the storylines it leapt between every episode all felt hyper-vital and energetic. It also has a pretty fun opening song:
I picked up the book out of curiosity. I don't remember the anime's narration exactly, but just from some glancing through I wouldn't be surprised if most of it was lifted straight from the book, which is hardly a bad thing, though it does reduce the fun of discovery a little bit. The narrator has a kind of formal-in-grammar but frantic-in-content speech style that's amusing to read but hard to capture. He's a student at a high-ranked university and is in some ways smart, but comes across as highfalutin. Here's a quick ("quick") translation of the first few paragraphs of chapter one, which establishes the basis each story starts from.
Let's go ahead and declare here that for the two years leading up to the spring of my third year in college, I have done absolutely nothing of any practical value. I have completely rejected healthy interactions with the opposite sex, devotion to my studies, discipline of my body, in fact any number of strategic moves toward becoming a worthwhile member of society, in favor of flailing away with singular focus at shunning the opposite sex, neglecting my studies, letting my body go soft, and other such "strategic moves" that deserved to be smacked off the board--and how did it come to this?
FUN! not sure if I'll keep going with this book yet, we'll see!
Favorite word/phrase I learned: 三つ子の魂百まで (mitsu go no tamashii hyaku made).
Literally: "the soul of a child of three (is the same) at 100."
Figuratvely, any number of English idioms: the child is the father of the man; once a(n) X, always a(n) X; the leopard cannot change his spots; etc.