Week 8: 四畳半神話大系 (The Tatami Galaxy) 🎓 Advanced Book Club [END]

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四畳半神話大系 :mortar_board: Home Thread

Week 8


Start Date: May 27
Previous Part: Week 7


Week Start Date End Phrase End Page End Percentage Page Count
Week 8 May 27 end of book 397 99% 100

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Okay, I must admit I couldn’t stop myself, and I have already read up to about 88%. :see_no_evil:
I made this thread a little earlier than usual, partly because I wanted somewhere to record my thoughts before I read on.

General thoughts, contain spoilers up to, I don’t know, halfway through the chapter? maybe earlier:

So this chapter is different after all. And the book’s title finally makes sense!

It seems to me like we’re dealing with parallel universes rather than resets, or maybe just all the infinite possibilities in the Narrator’s student life. Infinite they may be, but their differences are not particularly striking. At least in all three we saw in detail, he spends a barren first two years before ending up with Akashi every time.

So now he’s trapped in this universe of infinite possibilities, seeking a way out. Why and how, I have no idea. But each room seems to represent one variation of his life up to now. I found it interesting that he found his underwear in the washing machine instead of the bear. Was this an early sign that all realities are starting to merge?

Time flows strangely in the Tatami Galaxy. He mentions his hair and beard growing, so time must pass normally for him, but food seems unspoiled. Not sure how 魚肉ハンバーグ are stored (maybe they’re frozen?), but the cake at least should have gone stale after a few days. Meanwhile, I’m very curious about that rice cooker that was mentioned last chapter without any explanation. I’m convinced it has something to do with what he’s doing now, but no idea how.

At least I think I have an explanation for the huge swarm of moths. There is one in every one of his rooms, right? So maybe when he finally breaks free, they all escape? An infinite number of moths from an infinite number of rooms. In all chapters, that was the moment his “fate” changed.

Will コロッセオ, whatever it will turn out to be, be the key to his way out? I guess we’ll find out soon.

I found the part about the geological eras hilarious. I need to look up the etymology of 二畳紀 and 三畳紀. I can’t think why the 畳 character is used, but it’s so fitting!

Edit: I had a sudden thought: What about a cat showing him the way out? In two chapters there was an apparently needless scene with a kitten wandering the corridors. He lets the kitten in for a bit, cleans its eyes and lets it out. Might he come across that kitten again? Everyone knows cats are half-magical and can find their way in and out of anything.


Unforgivable! Well I started reading when you posted the thread, I figured it was legit then :stuck_out_tongue: (and I had a three hour train ride). And I’m all done now!

Spoilers up to half. The bear thing was so cool! It’s been moving from universe to universe in reverse order. In chapter 4 he puts it in the washing machine and it disappears. In chapter 3 it appears in the washing machine and he gives it to Ozu who is heading to the 闇鍋. In chapter 2 it’s found in the nabe and somehow (don’t remember the details) falls off the bridge. In chapter 1 Ozu picks it up at the foot of the bridge and gives it back to Akashi.

Spoilers up to the end. I agree that it’s basically parallel universes that are somehow leaking or something weird is going on, which is not really explained. But we do get some closure for the bear and for the swarm of moths, and MC finally realizes that his club choice might not have made such a big difference. And those 80 days in isolation seem to have done him some good. I’m not surprised he didn’t want to sleep in that room anymore lol. I wonder how much money he got in the end…


I also finished. It seems the turbo speed was quite manageable after all :slight_smile:

Wow, while I had noticed a vague connection, I didn’t realize it was so well structured. Thanks for pointing it out, that really is cool. (After the 闇鍋, Hanuki drops it off a bridge upstream from the bridge Ozu falls from. I had even calculated the distance, but then forgot to make the connection). And as we learn in the final chapter, the bear was originally dropped by Akashi on the last day she worked at the used book store, and picked up by the Narrator who wanted to give it back to her but somehow never did.

Thoughts on the whole book and ending

So I feel that with each repetition the narrator was gradually moving from obnoxious, deluded and self-pitying to a more balanced version of himself. Up until he spent his 80 days travelling the 4 and a half tatami world, he still blamed Ozu and his club choice for his life. The only thing that changed after these 80 days was the way he viewed his life, and not the life itself (well, apart from the money and him getting some exercise). He realized that he was in fact surrounded by interesting people and was living a lively student life full of craziness. He finally recognized in Ozu his one true friend who had always stood by him (in his own absurd way), and actually for once went out of his way to help him out in return. It’s nice how their dialogue at the end is completely reversed. And while he ends up with Akashi every time, this time he admits from the start that it’s something he’d been wanting, and doesn’t regret all the “lost time” before it happened. All in all, it was a journey to self-acceptance, with lots of crazy shenanigans in between.

So overall, the book’s message was a simple one. But it was certainly conveyed in a unique way. I enjoyed all the club craziness (the last chapter’s huge secret organization being my favourite, with the story of the neverending prank war a close second), the Kyoto sightseeing, and even the claustrophobic feel of the endless tatami galaxy exploration.

On details, I still wonder what that rice cooker in the hallway was all about (wait, was it from when he didn’t want to go into his room any more and basically lived in the hallway until he found new accommodation?). The repeated コロッセオ in the fortune telling was also apparently far less important than it seemed. And I’m relieved that no cats were harmed in the making of the ramen (that we know of).


Good job us! It helped that the last chapter was quite engaging ^^’

I have to say I haven’t been paying much attention to the numerous locations in the book, or even how the names are read. If I ever re read it (or watch the anime?) I’ll try to pay more attention. I only just now looked at a map of Kyoto and it sure would have helped if I’d done that earlier ^^’

I didn’t really get the feeling that the narrator was improving through chapters 1-3, but there was definitely some positive change in chapter 4 and yeah, the very end was kinda cute.

Did you know there’s a sequel called 四畳半タイムマシンブルース? I might read it.


I was looking at the map most of the time, and it really made a difference. And I now feel like I have walked the streets of Kyoto, which is an added bonus! :smile:

No major noticeable improvement, to be sure, but I found him gradually more likeable (which may be just because I was getting to know him more), and it seemed like he engaged a bit more with his environment instead of just rejecting everything.

I did know about the sequel. I wonder what it could be about - okay, I checked, and it apparently combines the characters we already know with the plot of the play (and movie) サマー タイム マシン ブルース (Summer Time Machine Blues). It’s, no surprise, about students and time travel.

I’ll definitely watch the anime first since I already have it (and it was the trigger for looking up the book and deciding to read it first), but I might get to the sequel later. It sounds fun.


I finished the book! :partying_face:

After a very bewildering start, and with a bit of bemusement setting in after all the repetitions, the last chapter was really good!

I hadn’t noticed that the bear’s journey was so well plotted, I’d only noticed 2 of those instances. Really interesting way of showing the interconnectivity.

I feel like there’s a lot left to be explained, but I’m very okay with that! It fits the mood of the book, and the whole reading experience for me.

In the end, I’m glad I hung in there! It was worth the rough beginning. :slight_smile: