Yojouhan Time Machine Blues: A Surreal Journey into Morimi’s World
Yojouhan Time Machine Blues, based on the work of esteemed Japanese novelist Morimi Tomihiko, is a captivating anime series that has already captured the hearts of many. As a fan of Morimi’s previous works like Yojouhan Shinwa Takei, Penguin Highway, and Uchouten Kazoku, I was naturally drawn to this new adaptation. Set in Kyoto, a city close to my own backyard, this series holds a special place in my heart.
One aspect that caught my attention is the change in director. While the original series was directed by the surrealistic auteur director Yuasa Masaaki at Madhouse, this adaptation is helmed by Natsume Shingo at Science SARU, a studio founded by Yuasa himself. The styles of Yuasa and Natsume are distinct, with Natsume embracing a more minimalist approach compared to Yuasa’s visual bombardment. In Yojouhan Time Machine Blues, the surrealism is not overwhelming but rather a seductive element, revealed through longer shots, frequent pauses, and glimpses of weirdness at the periphery of our gaze. This fusion of the directors’ aesthetics creates a unique viewing experience, although its impact may vary among viewers.
Morimi’s Unmistakable Signature
Despite the shift in directorial style, Morimi’s unmistakable signature shines through in his storytelling. While the dialogue in this particular mythos may not be my personal favorite among his works, the characters always have something interesting to say. This series, however, is not a chronological sequel to its predecessor. It may exist in an alternate timeline or be intended as a side story by Morimi himself. Interestingly, the release of Yojouhan Time Machine Blues in Japan comprises two theatrical films, while it also receives an episodic domestic release on Disney+.
As with the previous entries in the series, the core dynamic remains familiar. Ozu continues to torment the protagonist, known only as Watashi, while Higuchi-sempai maintains an air of mystery and knowledge. Akashi, on the other hand, embodies Watashi’s unrequited longing. Underlying the series is the recurring theme of peculiar occurrences intertwining with the seemingly endless time-wasting that defines undergraduate university life, specifically at Kyoto University. The catalyst this time is the malfunction of the remote control for the ancient air conditioning unit in Watashi’s room, a mishap caused by Ozu’s clumsiness. Life carries on, but the stickiness and sweltering heat of Kyoto’s summer become unbearable.
A Revelation: The Tatami Time Machine
When Akashi’s latest student film reveals the presence of two Ozus in the footage, we witness Morimi’s trademark blend of magical realism and science-fiction. Akashi confides in Watashi, urging him to keep it a secret. Soon after, Jougasaki stumbles upon the hidden treasure hidden within the closet – the titular tatami time machine. Acting upon Higuchi’s orders, Ozu takes it for a test drive, and to everyone’s surprise, it works flawlessly. In a Morimi setting, events never adhere to the constraints of accepted reality, opening up boundless possibilities.
In summary, the premiere of Yojouhan Time Machine Blues may not have been groundbreaking, but it remains an enjoyable experience. While some die-hard fans of Yuasa’s interpretation may be taken aback by Natsume’s stylistic direction, I personally found Natsume’s approach to be refreshing. Morimi’s storytelling prowess ensures that the characters remain captivating and keeps the audience engaged. Although there’s mention of an “extra” episode in the streaming version, its authorship by Morimi remains unconfirmed, yet the talent involved in this production assures us of its quality.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Is Yojouhan Time Machine Blues a direct sequel to the previous anime series?
No, Yojouhan Time Machine Blues is not a chronological sequel to its predecessor. It may exist in an alternate timeline or be intended as a side story by Morimi himself.
2. What makes Natsume Shingo’s directorial style unique?
Natsume’s direction offers a minimalist approach to surrealism, employing longer shots, frequent pauses, and subtle glimpses of weirdness to seduce the viewers rather than overwhelm them.
3. How does the Tatami Time Machine fit into the narrative?
The Tatami Time Machine, discovered by Jougasaki, becomes a catalyst for the surreal events in the story. It allows characters to transcend the limits of traditional reality, sparking intriguing and unpredictable encounters.
4. Will the streaming version include additional content not written by Morimi?
While there are rumors of an “extra” episode in the streaming version, the authorship remains unconfirmed. Regardless, the overall quality of Yojouhan Time Machine Blues is maintained by the talented individuals involved in its production.
5. How does Yojouhan Time Machine Blues capture the essence of university life in Japan?
Yojouhan Time Machine Blues intertwines the peculiar occurrences of Morimi’s world with the mundane experiences of undergraduate life in Kyoto University. This fusion creates a unique narrative that resonates with the struggles and idiosyncrasies of university students in Japan.