Mr. Avisch at The Fool wrote a great article on Tatami Galaxy a couple weeks back, ending with a note about the ending theme, calling it “haunting” and “morose” and noting how its mood seems to conflict with the tone of the series itself. That had me thinking a bit more about the song than I usually think about ending themes when I noticed that the strange, conflicting sound of the ED really does make perfect sense.
The visuals of the animation itself play an important role: the video consists of various rectangles with door markings, as with a house floor plan. This motif is used to generate a variety of interesting images - a purple and yellow floor-plan expanding and multiplying through a canvas of red-and-grey pairs, a Fibonacci square of rooms, a yojouhan (the titular four-and-a-half-tatami square room) flitting around, to name a few. The mood is chaotic and unpredictable, with the rooms shifting in size, orientation and place unpredictably.
Perhaps the most fascinating, and the one which tipped me off to the intended symbolism, is the very last: an imposing mass of solid-grey rooms slowly converge on one pale green yojouhan. The music builds to a climax, the camera shakes uncontrollably, and finally the mass closes upon the small room. This nervousness, this “haunting” tone, is Watashi’s internal struggle.
Tatami Galaxy is a show about choices - the interplay of the characters’ decisions with their fates, through however many incarnations, and what those choices can and can’t affect - and about the connections formed between people based on or in spite of those choices. The rooms of the ending, in their tentative exploration and in their frantic attempts to move faster, paint a visual of these connections.
When the rooms move fluidly and cleanly out of each other, they depict tentative, paced explorations, such as Watashi’s choice of club. As they begin to simply appear, one in front of another, as the mass desperately attempts to keep up with the speed of the camera, they depict unforeseen snap judgments - Watashi’s struggle between the three girls in episodes 06 through 08, for example. At a few points in the animation, separate masses reach out and connect to each other via long hallways, marking decisions that connect one person-mass to another.
And that final shot, with a homogenous mass of decision-rooms closing in on a lone yojouhan, mirrors perfectly our protagonist’s apprehension and futile attempts to avoid making commitments or following through with his own decisions.