Remember when you were young and every story ended in “Happily Ever After”? Remember when you learned about “karma”? At which point you spent the next two weeks being extra kind and helpful because it was all supposed to come back around. Remember when high school sucked and college was where everything was going to go your way? The protagonist of “The Tatami Galaxy”, only known as Watashi (literally I), sure does.
Watashi distinctly remembers the promise of a rose-colored campus life, and two years into his college career he is wondering...where is it? At the beginning of his first year, Watashi signed up for the tennis circle because it was loaded with couples. Instead of finding a girlfriend, he found Ozu, who looks like a demon. Ozu, whose skin is the color of the moon. Ozu, with whom he would spend the next 2 years destroying the relationships of the couples around him. Watashi wanted more than that, though - he wanted love.
On the night of the annual campus bonfire, Watashi finds himself at his favorite ramen stand with a strange-looking man who claims he is the god of matrimony. This god tells him that if he wants to ask out his crush, Akashi, it’s now or never. Unfortunately for Watashi, he can’t gather the courage and ends up flopping his confession big time. Watashi begins reflecting back upon the previous two years, certain that if he had joined a different circle, he would be living the rose-colored campus life. Without warning, time stops and then rewinds. It looks like Watashi is going to get that do-over he wanted...as many do-overs as it takes to get it right.
Similar Anime to Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei / The Tatami Galaxy
- Episodes: 15
- Aired: Jul 2009 - Jun 2010
Third-year high schooler Koyomi Araragi wants to live a normal student life. It’s unfortunate, then, that he’s a magnet for supernatural incidents. While walking through school one day, he sees his classmate Hitagi Senjougahara falling down the stairs from really, really high up. Doing the only thing he can (and confident he won’t be seriously injured since he is a vampire after all) he catches her. To Araragi’s surprise, Hitagi weighs….nothing. Araragi learns that a supernatural, paranormal crab stole Hitagi’s weight and he takes it upon himself to help her get her affairs back in order, along with the next person he meets, and the next, and the next.
One of the first things that puts Bakemonogatari on a list with Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei is the animation style. Both shows use atypical framing, distorted camera angles, and have little interest in filling in the canvas that anime traditionally paints in. A specific idiosyncrasy that Bakemonogatari shares with Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei is the use of real life photo work mixed in with the animation. The beginning of each show is likely to make your head spin, as each opens up with lightning-quick dialogue. The only difference here is that The Tatami Galaxy’s dialogue is rapid-fire speech, whereas Bakemonogatari’s dialogue is rapid-fire text. Both shows were heaped with critical acclaim during their airing seasons and still hold a high MAL score. Whether you loved The Tatami Galaxy for its razor sharp dialogue, its tilted animation, or the morphing love-hate bonds between the characters, you should give Bakemonogatari a try.
2. Arakawa Under the Bridge
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Apr 2010 - Jun 2010
When you’re rich and important, it just won’t do to owe anything to anyone, which is incidentally, Kou Ichinomiya’s family motto: “Never be indebted to anyone”. When life throws you hurdles, you just have to jump over them. Kou’s hurdle came in the form of some hoodlums, and when he tried to jump over the hurdle, he just ended up falling off a bridge. Luckily, Nino lives under the bridge and saves his life. Unluckily, now he owes his life to someone. Kou vows to repay his debt to Nino and asks her what she desires. It turns out her wish is simple. She just wants to “experience love”.
Just like in Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei, every episode of Arakawa under the bridge is a slice of situational comedy. “What would happen to person A in situation B”? In The Tatami Galaxy, Watashi spends every episode in a new situation, trying to deal with the personalities of whatever new circle he has joined. In Arakawa, the protagonist spends every day meeting and dealing with one of the personalities who live under the bridge with Nino. As you would expect from a colony of people living under a bridge, these people are off-kilter, twisted, and bizarre. While wacky characters with wacky actions are pretty normal in anime, the comedy usually comes from the juxtaposition of a standard character role filled by someone a little off.
The motif in both The Tatami Galaxy and Arakawa Under the Bridge is a running cast of individuals who are not only not what they are supposed to be, but often, just aren’t supposed to be there. Here’s an exercise, see if you can separate which character comes from which show: a cowboy obsessed with sex, a 24-year-old self-proclaimed idol, a love doll that the protagonist considers a valid person, a faux nazi bicycle thief, a buff male nun, a small blonde orphan who turns into a giant when she is angry. If you go into that list blind and can tell which character belongs where, well…go watch Arakawa Under the Bridge anyway.
Arakawa Under the Bridge Trailer
3. Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Apr 2016 - Sep 2016
The black thread of fate pulled Subaru Natsuki into another dimension. One moment he was walking out of the convenience store, ready to head back home and continue his all day marathon of gaming. The next moment he’s in the middle of a fantasy marketplace. While trying to figure out what the heck is going on, he walks down what we could summarily call the wrong alley. Except it kind of ends up being the right alley. While walking down this isolated side street allows him to be attacked by 3 thugs, it also introduces love interest front-runner “Emilia”, who gives him a purpose for the course of the show...and a purpose for his life, really. In the course of chasing Emilia’s love, he dies over and over. What he learns through death though, is that he doesn’t have to truly experience it. Subaru can rewind time over and over, trying to get things right. The only thing he has to do, is die.
Studio White Fox once made a great show about time travel called “Steins;Gate”. White Fox has mined the well of time travel again to great acclaim with the highly entertaining (if sometimes inane) show Re:Zero. In Re:Zero, protagonist Subaru chases the affection of Emilia. Every time his choices lead him astray, Subaru either dies organically or finds a way to die so that he can make different choices and get closer to Emilia. In Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei, Watashi repeatedly joins activity circles, finds out that only one person (Akashi) interests him, bemoans the fact that his choices haven’t led him into her arms, and rewinds time to try and get it right in a different club.
While Re:Zero was releasing, the internet was abuzz with anticipation over what turns the show would take in the next episode. Was Subaru heroic or cowardly? Violent or peaceful? Weak or strong? He would be each throughout the course of the show in fits and starts. Likewise, Watashi from Tatami Galaxy takes on many roles and emotional stances throughout the course of his storied college career. He is the unbending head of a secret society, the malleable disciple of a master, the bicyclist who gives it his all, and an outspoken pundit for the Honwaka whole foods company. Both Subaru and Watashi change the shape of their character many times throughout the show. Every time their approach doesn’t work, they rewind time and try it again from a different approach. The consensus from both shows seems to be: don’t be an idiot, act like a normal person, and seize your life by the reigns.
Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu PV
Any Anime Like The Tatami Galaxy / Any Anime Like Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei ?
- Episodes: 15
- Aired: Jul 2016 - Sep 2016
If you could write a letter to your 16-year-old self, what would you say? Apply to this school? Don’t get in that fight? The person you love is going to die? That’s the situation Naho Takamiya finds herself in. Orange is a show about preventing a dark future. Naho receives a letter from her 26-year-old self, giving her specific instructions on what she should do to prevent the death of her potential future love, Kakeru Naruse. Naho initially ignores these letters because, c’mon, letters from myself in the future? Yeah right. As it turns out, events predicted by her future self in the letters start to come true and Naho starts paying attention. Naho is an extremely shy girl, but following the advice of the letters forces her to exit her comfort zone, and we get to watch her grow into a confident woman.
The central conceit of Orange is that 16-year-old Naho Takamiya and her friends can readily interact with 26-year-old Naho Takamiya & co., bending time to help guide the future in a positive way. Many anime display side casts in an uninspired or even nonexistent fashion. In Orange, the side cast is the main component of the show’s chemistry. Transfer student Kakeru is naturally depressed and genetically suicidal, but the loving cast of friends in this show all come together to form a support net for Kakeru to fall into. Likewise, in Tatami Galaxy, from episode to episode, one of the most consistent running ideas is that Watashi is always surrounded by a central group of friends. These friends are always ready to help (and hinder) him regardless of the situation he finds himself in and how he chooses to conduct himself. Orange and Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei both swirl around the theme of friendship throughout the framework of their plots, reminding us all of the importance of thinking about others as much as we think about ourselves.
5. Boku dake ga Inai Machi (ERASED)
- Episodes: 15
- Aired: Jan 2016 - Mar 2016
29-year-old Satoru Fujinuma is a Manga writer and pizza delivery guy. He doesn’t connect to the people around him, or even his own emotions. When Satoru’s uncontrollable ability called “revival” activates, he is sent back in time to stop bad things from happening. By his own admission, this doesn’t usually stop bad things from happening, it just causes a different bad thing to happen as life rebounds and continues following its course. While preventing a young girl from being hit by a truck, Satoru is hospitalized, which prompts his mother to come stay with him for a while. During this time, Satoru’s mother solves an 18 year old kidnapping and murder case but is murdered before she can tell Satoru about what she found out. Satoru is accused of murdering his own mother when revival sends him back 18 years to the time of the original kidnapping. If his 11-year-old self can stop the kidnapping of his classmate, maybe he can save his mother and exonerate his future self.
Satoru often says to himself “If I had done this back then…”. Watashi often says to himself “If I had only joined a different circle back then…”. Both of these characters are convinced that their self now, the self that has experience and understands the results of their actions, could do much better than the self of the past. Who are any of us but collections of the consequences of our past? Unlike any of the rest of us, Satoru and Watashi have the opportunity to find out what would happen if their choices were different.
The result? Nothing really changes, as long as you are still you. Watashi has to travel through a universe of endless 4.5 tatami mat rooms before he can see that the thing that remains the same through all his travels is himself. Satoru learns that if you really want to change the course of your life, you have to push out of your comfort zone and be unafraid of connecting with the people around you - especially the ones who seem the most lonely.
6. Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time)
- Episodes: 15
- Aired: Jul 2006
“Oops, I spilled that glass of water. I reeeeaaaally don’t want to clean it up right now. I’ll just go back through time to right before I spilled it. Wait, I only had a set amount of times I could go back in time?! I didn’t know and now it’s too late! Oops.” One day, lead character Makoto Konno gains the ability to “time leap”. She’s 17, so she uses her newfound ability as wisely as any 17-year-old would. She fixes minor mistakes. She corrects her test answers. She spends extra time with her friends.
Makoto Konno quickly learns that fixing a mistake from the past often creates unforeseen problems. Meanwhile, over in The Tatami Galaxy universe (heh heh), Watashi is busy learning that going back to the past doesn’t necessarily get you a better future. Like Watashi, Makoto is heavily focused on her own happiness, and using time to better her own future. In the beginning of Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei, the protagonist is immature and never strives toward a real goal - all he wants is “love”. Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo’s star is cut from the same cloth - she is a senior in high school, but really doesn’t want to think about her future. Ultimately, if you liked Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei, you are likely to enjoy the time travel, character growth, kinship, and repercussions of changing the past on display in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.
Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo Trailer
If there is anything you could learn from basically all of the anime on this list, it’s that you’re not alone in wishing you could change time. We all make small mistakes, and we all regret things. Your salvation isn’t likely to materialize, whether you can write letters to your past self, go back to the past, relive the moments before a tragedy, or whether you feel like you missed your potential for love. If you bundled up all your happiest moments, they probably come at different phases in your life. All we can do is capitalize on the individual perfect moments that make up our imperfect lives.