I know I keep saying it, but I really have been going through a long strain of shows that I’ve just really liked recently. Most of the series that I’ve been going through recently come from the early 2010’s. A place where I used to call a dumping ground of anime where nothing of value came from. I’m sorry about that, I’m continually editing my opinions as I watch more and more anime and that’s great. Now, my thought processes are on the early 2010’s where experimental anime came out and didn’t’ gain traction. That means my quest has been successful. Just like Sound of the Sky, Tsuritama isn’t a show that I knew existed until the rights for its disc form disappeared and many people talked about how they loved it. Call me intrigued because I blind bought this series for cheap. With that, let’s talk about Tsuritama finally.
Gah, these opening paragraphs are getting harder to write. Just skip to the second paragraphs of my posts in the future ok? You might be better for it. I am about to spoil a lot of things about Tsuritama, so if you haven’t watched the anime before you are now warned. That’s it, that’s the warning.
Tsuritama is a series about a high school boy named with social anxiety named Yuki transferring to a school on the Island of Enoshima. An island off the mainland with it’s own sort of society, pride, and warmth. He did this because he lives with his very thoughtful and somewhat sickly grandma Keito for her health. What happens from that point on? Yuki awkwardly introduces himself at school, tries to fit in and act like a normal person, and then drowns himself due to his social anxiety again. That is until a kid who calls himself an alien named Haru shoots him with a squirt gun making him dance and forces himself into living at Yuki’s home. The major reason? He wants Yuki to fish the major game for him and his sister or they can never back to their home planet. Oh, and the fate of the world might be at stake.
All of which starts the main thrust of the first half. Yuki learning to fish and coming to terms with his social anxiety. He can barely talk to people by himself, so this outgoing alien drags him into learning about fishing. With that, we are introduced to another main character of this series, Natsuki. Working at a fish shop and a decent master at fishing, Natsuki haphazardly takes the two under his wing until the three becomes best friends. Yuki and Haru really struggle with all the knot tying and casting aspects of fishing while they struggle with Natsuki too because it’s obvious he doesn’t want to be there. Of course Natsuki helps Yuki with his social problems because Natsuki is a real person that he can talk to and understand. Same with Natsuki taking the two on a summer job fishing. Yuki learns to just be himself around strangers which is the best thing for him honestly. Haru is there too.
All of this happens while under the surveillance of our fourth fishing boy, Akira. A 28 year old fishing Indian man who just causally joins the three’s high school class (completely suspiciously) and works for the anti alien operation called Duck. He also, coincidentally I’m sure, has a animal partner with him who is a duck named Tapioca. Akira starts his operation by simply watching the three boys at first and slowly joining the ranks of their fun himself. His skepticism slowly leaves him and he just has fun fishing with them or driving the boat that the other three are fishing on. His personal journey of being attached to Duck and being a thoughtless drone to someone who learns to actually enjoy himself.
The first half of Tsuritama are some of the most perfect slice of life episodes of an anime I’ve ever seen. My list of slice of life anime list is much smaller then I would like to admit, but I still feel like that this is true. It’s warm and comforting and has good messages like “it’s ok to be you”. It also shares the message of you can always talk to people when you are feeling troubled, though it’s also ok to take your time in doing that until you are ready. We see that when Yuki’s grandma goes to the hospital again and Natsuki just tells him “it’s the perfect time to go fishing”. That’s it, so much innocence and kindness. Fishing was the activity that brought these four boys and their duck together while also helping Yuki to find comfort in himself. It’s an anime that I watched at a right time for me too. I’m glad this anime exists.
The second half was about everyone else’s drama and Yuki reciprocating the help that he received to Natsuki and Haru. How? We dig deeper into the alien life of Haru when he loses his sister Koko. He’s been goofy and confused about human behavior for the first half of the series in a good, cool, and relatable way until a major incident happens which he tries to push the others away to protect them. Same to Natsuki’s very shaky relationship with his father and sister due to their mom’s passing. It’s a complicated relationship that involves a lot of other things to it. Plus, Akira and Tapioca are dealing with betraying Duck when they invade Enoshima to invade the island and it’s interesting. Also, the alien stuff really comes to a head where it involves the four boys out on a boat fishing up an island to save everyone. Believe me when I say it all works and is genuine. I just can’t think of a lot of flaws in it’s writing besides the fact that it’s only 12 episodes. Like seriously, why is this anime so short?
Since Tsuritama is about fishing, of course water plays heavily into the show’s themes. Yuki getting absorbed into his social anxiety (besides his awful expression) isn’t just showing him drowning like Rei in March Comes in like a Lion. Yuki physically gets hit by the surface tension of the water which makes it an even more painful thing to experience. There other things to do this like Haru using his squirt gun getting people to do what he wants them to do at first, water the plants to allow them to live, and watering himself to keep himself alive. All of which pays off later in unique ways. For instance, Yuki and friends getting used to the water and manipulating it in ways that are better for them instead of hurting them. Haru’s squirt gun isn’t used for manipulating in the end, but to help them in achieving their final goal. All ideal elements hitting at the right time. So different from how anime usually treats water imagery. Very much like a fish, which is completely perfect for this show.
I do have to mention that the small amount of the fishing community we meet an Enoshima are some of the best people ever. All very comforting, powerful, and well developed despite the fact that they are side characters and it’s all done through soft actions and lines. Keito, for example, has a very big effect on Yuki because of familial reasons, but she also gives advice to Haru on how to deal with Yuki in very meaningful ways. Plus, the actions of the Misaki the shop owner just casually going “you should teach them how to fish” and left it at that while also giving advice on gear and everything made her feel special and distinct. Same with Ayumi, the captain of the fish boat Yuki and others worked on during the summer casually pushing Yuki into a good direction while also having a very obvious crush on Misaki. I’m not even hitting all of them. It doesn’t take much to make side characters feel like real people. Just a little push is all they need.
The visuals of Tsuritama are what I call, simple, bright, and charming. All the character designs are rather simple, but that allows you to see the emotion in their faces and their body movement in the right moments. Plus, Duck’s faceless troops in the yellow suits from Monster’s Inc is way too silly for the situation they are in, but those suits work because they are in this show. Same for the cityscapes of Enoshima island, the boats, and the water in general. All very brightly colored in a summer sort of way, believably alive, and so much charm in their characterization too. For the animation, Tsuritama is only highly animated in the high hitting moments where the waves move around require some high intensity fishing for the big game. Otherwise, Tsuritama is very safe and still. You know, like a lot of fishing seems to be on tv. While on purpose, the difference between the two scenarios only adds to the situation at large.
So yeah, obviously I am going to give Tsuritama a solid on my list. I feel like it’s the ultimate feel good anime with loveable characters, color, and a lot of nuance behind everything. Yeah, that’s right. All in a twelve episode package which is amazing considering how big the cast turned out to be. That means every action, every emotion, and every response means something to everything else. If you are down and need a pick me up, watch Tsuritama. If you want to watch something you haven’t seen before, watch Tsuritama. If you just need a good anime to watch, then I don’t need to repeat what I said for the third time. If you want to rewatch Tsuritama, then just do it. This was a blind buy of an anime that I just fell in love with and kind of why I still blind buy even if it’s against Takuto’s advice. You never know when you get a show like this.