When I turned to my friend and said “I think I may write one of my overanalyzing mock essay about Katamary Damacy and capitalism”, I expected the usual rebuke of “stop bringing up capitalism about everything”, but something weird happened. Instead, they said “yes, of course, it’s well known”.
And indeed, it seems that the creator Keita Takahashi declared that his game was about mass overconsumption. And there is a fair amount of analyses that detail how it goes about tackling this theme. A very nice once is for instance this video:
Katamari is a game about working hard at cleaning a mess that isn’t yours in systems that belittle you just to get through the day.
But even though this topic has already been tackled, I still believe that there are a few thoughts that I haven’t seen brought up, so I’d like to bring them to the table!
- The market doesn’t respond to logic
Why are there dice and batteries lying on the floor everywhere? It doesn’t make sense! But the rules of the game demand it. The market doesn’t always respond to an obvious sensical logic.
- Currency puts everything on the same unique scale
And it yields some… curious comparisons.
- You have to both consume objects and produce growth. In fact, the consumption is precisely your means of production.
- Your katamari thirst for growth is obviously at the expense of the environment.
- Everything is absorbed by the market.
Everything goes into the katamari. Literally nothing can stay “outside the system”. Anti-system movements get absorbed into the system.
- Shallow celebration of individuality to make you buy in
Look how special you are! This is your very custom katamari! You get to express yourself within a well defined boundary in the system! You even get a token custom reward (nothing much, just a minor title). Except well, there isn’t that many items in the level, so how different can anyone else’s be? Not to mention everyone also made a katamari.
- You don’t know how well you’re doing and it’s never enough.
Dues to the logarithmic scaling and the timer, it’s pretty hard to gauge if you’re going to meet your goal or not. You’re in a constant state of uncertainty, which pushes you to do more. I have no idea how people can describe this game as relaxing. As an added bonus, though, whatever you do won’t be appreciated by the king, of course.
- The workers are alienated and spoiled of the value and credit for their work
Everything goes back to the investors.
- I have a theory that the name “damacy” (魂) was in part chosen to make a wordplay with damashi (騙し) meaning deception, cheating, tricking.
- Katamari Damacy is obviously inspired by the practice of rolling balls of muds that some children do in Japan, but also by beetles rolling poo.
What you’re consuming is literal shit.
- But you know who else rolls? Sisyphus. So is all this over consumption just a distraction from the absurdity of our existence?