The Tatami Galaxy
I recently finished The Tatami Galaxy, directed by Masaaki Yuasa. The show is great, and I just realized why his work is so striking.
In a recent Anime News Network interview, Akihiro Kanayama, a veteran in the anime industry, highlighted how anime has changed in the past couple of decades:
I think the main difference is what’s emphasized most in the animation. I think movement and action was more prominent in the works of those eras. When you look at anime nowadays, you see that the characters and art are very, very intricately detailed… but the actual motion, the animation, looks relatively stiff in comparison to the past. It’s heavily narrative-driven, which means that the characters tend to be speaking more than doing things. Of course, there’s the obvious difference between traditional cels and digital, as well.
Certainly, in the 80s and 90s, action-focused and/or violent OVAs were made and distributed en mass, making motion the most important thing. That’s not as much the case currently in animation, with a higher focus on detailed character designs.
But Yuasa’s work is highly expressionistic, and Tatami Galaxy is a great example of this. The character designs are simple, yet elegant, allowing for much movement without much character deformation. When the show does lose character models, it’s all in the spirit of expressionism, and works wonderfully. Yuasa’s shows are vibrantly alive, making him one of the best anime directors working today.