Tsuritama

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ThePatches's avatar By ThePatches on Sep 24, 2012

Story

Most anime is some form of coming of age story. Heck, a large chunk of literature is about growing up. From Journey to The West (Dragon Ball those in the know) to Guilty Crown to Catcher in the Rye, it’s all about how a boy (or a girl. Anime likes to tell this story about girls a bit, too) learns to accept himself and then change the world.

Tsuritama, surprisingly, manages to highlight both intimate, personal growth and a world-saving adventure in a way few anime pull off. For the most part, a show focuses on its action portion as a catalyst for the main character to grow (see: Yuuko in Denno Coil or Alice's growth in Tweeny Witches) or keep itself close-hewed to interpersonal stories and stay mainly in the realms of the mundane (like Toradora! or Kimi ni Todoke which both concern themselves with high school romance). Here, on the Island of Enoshima, we meet a bunch of boys who can save the world because of the lessons they learned about friendship and themselves. Not since Stellvia have we seen a show get this right.

In three acts neatly bundled into twelve episodes Tsuritama tells the story of how a lonely boy starts making his first best friends in high school, and then how he eventually saves the world with their help. Precisely how this "goes down" is of little relevance (and would spoil), but suffice it to say that the show revolves around fishing and aliens. In the first act, Yuki works through his introversion, getting close to the island’s “Fishing Prince” Natsuki in order to comply withHaru's (who claims to be an alien) desire for Yuki to learn how to cast and reel. Here, we see a pretty typical story of a boy learning how to open himself to friends and what it means to move from letting life pass you by to actively living it. But things brew in the background. Natsuki has problems. Haru is hiding the truth. And the show manages to both deal with these issues in the foreground while hinting at what’s to come in the corners of establishing shots or during incidental moments of character building.

The result of such careful shepherding of the story is that we as viewers get to see both Yuki’s development and how he uses his personal growth to help his friends out. That the show does it in defined steps both heads off the “sudden change” trap that many shows fall into and also gives provides massive payoff when a confident Yuki steps up to help his friends save the day. We believe in his growth because the series made us watch it. In the end, it helps us cheer wholeheartedly for the teen loser in the final episodes.


Animation

What Tsuritama lacks in beautiful vistas and mind-melting action sequences, it makes up for in solid character design. While adhering to a consistent aesthetic, each character’s personality can be read from his or her appearance, from the fanciful pastels of Haru and Koko to the weathered joviality of Tamotsu. This extends into body language as well, as Yuki oozes awkward insecurity in comparison to Akira’s confident remove. Given that most of the show hinges on the interactions between its expressive cast, that the show focus on realizing its characters over giving a memorable portrayal of Enoshima shows that the anime has its priorities set correctly.


Sound

So, it depends on how much you like Haru’s voice. Longtime readers should know that I have an affection for characters with borderline annoying voices in the name of extra-fun. Haru is one such character. Miyo Irino’s portrayal of his vivacity and the complex nuance of learning emotion helps sell the oddball alien and stands out as the best performance in the cast. Beyond him, Yamada and Akira's dad, Tamotsu, were probably most memorable. Like the character designs, each person’s speech pattern and mannerisms help further the ensembles development and camaraderie.


Characters

On a scale of “this guy probably goes to your school” to “only in anime”, the cast ranks Natsuki, Yuki, Yamada, Haru. As the series straddles the realm between the mundane and the fantastic, having a smattering of believable personalities to go with the outlandish ones helps keep the series grounded, even when crazy alien antics dominate in the show's back half. The series' protagonist, Yuki, serves as the viewer's entry point as a generic introverted teen. He manages the correct mix of sullen, easygoing, and insecure that accompanies adolescence and has plenty of room to slowly but surely develop a shy confidence without becoming a different person--no small feat for a “lonely teenager” type. Natsuki, a surly fishing prodigy, spends most of the anime sullen due to family issues, placing him in the role of reluctant mentor to the group. During the course of the early episodes, he shows just enough compassion and warmth that his eventual blossoming seems like him returning to himself, not a change into another person, which helps make his eventual reconciliation with his father feel more seamless and natural.

But Haru’s progression towards humanity probably traces the most interesting character arc in Tsuritama. His playfulness and insecurity serve as a pretty good proxy for how an alien might come to make friends with humans. Moreover, his extraterrestrial nature allows us to hand-wave away his slowness, while also providing a the show’s actual plot. Of course, he only works as a character because he’s compared to his buddies who the series takes care to make consistent. Akira, by comparison holds the most obvious character arc (from suspicious antagonist to earnest conspirator), and he lines up well with Haru, since he is a stand-in for the series' other bad guy. However, his underlying motivations don't get the excellent treatment of the other boys.


Overall

I have problems scoring Tsuritama. When watching it, it didn't FEEL like great anime, but when I think about it... Here's the thing: The show nails its pacing, character development, and design. It has a sense of drama when it needs to, and can be exciting and intimate in turns. While the show didn't cause me to breathlessly marathon it, I enjoyed each episode. In short, if you even remotely like slice of life anime, watch Tsuritama. You'll be glad you did.

8.5/10 story
7/10 animation
7.5/10 sound
8.5/10 characters
8/10 overall
keibo's avatar By keibo on Jun 28, 2012

I give this animation a big heart-felt perfect note! It was fun. A simple story, but the kind of story that makes your heart sing. Highly recommanded!

10/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
TheStampede01's avatar By TheStampede01 on Jun 28, 2012

The first episode of this anime set my expectations of this anime way too high. I was really amazed at the animation, vibrant colors and detailed backrounds of this anime. It was like nothing I had seen before and so it really effected my viewing experience of this. Maybe if I just expected a typical bishie, fanservicy anime with no real plot ,my score would have been higher, but yeah what came after this was just a complete mess.

*spoilers ahead*

Story- The story is about these four guys who fish... yeah >_> Oh and one of them is an alien and his ancestor is in the sea and causing ships to steer off course and they can mind control people with water. So yeah its a slice of life so they just do slice of life things and learn about fishing. Most of the episodes are just episodic and don't really add much to the main "plot" the last few episodes are just filled with plot holes. Like just for an example it goes something like first Haru is an alien and then hes actually a magical fish lure and this organization that worships ducks(parody of Hinduism? Really Japan? I infer this because we can assume that all the characters are indian/middle eastern because they wear turbans, but the main reason for wearing a turban would be if your part of the sikh religion and they would know this if they did even a little bit of researth >_> gah I don't really want to get into this) The dragon alien ancestor thing just turns out to be this giant blob of black cg and then he turns into another bishie and everyone becomes his best friend and yeah...

Animation- The one redeeming thing about this anime. The backrounds especially are very detailed and vibrant colors are used to really bring it to life. This design was really unique to this anime and it was nice to look at. What wasn't nice to look at however was the CG used in the latter episodes, in the water and with the fish and the alien dude. Also the char designs are very simple and kind of boring. Apparantly pink is a really popular color for guys to wear in Enoshima.

Sound- Haru's voice.... yeah, if you've seen this you know what I'm talking about. A lot of the time it got so annoying I just muted the vidoe and listened to other music. The op and end themes are pretty generic J-pop stuff and the OST didn't really stand out for me.

Characters- Haru is so frikin annoying. I was constantly wishing someone would brutally murder this character whenever he was on-screen. His sister is not much better, she pretty much does nothing throughout the seris and is just there for fanservice, since she doesn't seem to have any other clothes besides a bikini. Yuki is another one of the main characters. I liked him at first but as the series progresses I feel like he turns more into the stereotype shounen/bishie anime guy thats just really positive and all "YEAH HELP MY FRIENDS!". Prince is another one of the mains and he just plays the stereotype of the "cool guy" he has some problems with his dad because he remarried, but I feel like they never really developed that well, instead he just learns to get a long with his sister again. Then theres Yamada... oh Yamada.

This is actually favourite character in the series so its such a shame that he has to be portrayed as such a stereotype of Indian/Middle eastern culture due to a few things like the turban, which makes little sense. Hes shown eating curry more than a few times throughout the series and for some reason he likes to use engrish. The Duck organization is just one big joke, but my most hated character is this tan, blonde pink shirt guy that all the MC's in the show respect for no reason and he keeps calling Yamada, Indian like its some sort of insult. Honestly he acts like a jerk and hes supposed to be good at fishing but we never even see him fish and at the end of the series he gets married to one of the shop keepers and everyone is happy, but I don't understand why anyone even cares about this guy.Also its alluded to in some episodes that Yuki's grandmother may have some sort of illness and pass away, but that never happens and shes just as healthy as ever at the end of the series. Also we are led to believe this blonde guy who dresses in drag is the leader of Duck but then this old guy with a beard comes out of nowhere in the last ep and hes the actual leader... which I felt was completely pointless.

Overall- I know this review is biased, because I had my expectations high, but I really felt let down with this series. I'm sure theres an audience for this sort of anime, however it really wasn't for me. I guess my advice would be don't get your hopes too high for this anime.

4/10 story
7/10 animation
4/10 sound
2/10 characters
5/10 overall
snakebrain's avatar By snakebrain on Jun 28, 2012

To be fair, I probably shouldn't review a series minutes after finishing it.  Right now I'm very much on a "Tsuritama High," which means that the outrageously high scores above are potentially more reflective of my gut reaction to a stellar final episode than to the quality of the series as a whole.

Of course it's just as possible that this show is just that good.  I have never, ever purely *enjoyed* an anime series as much as this one.  The last one that came close was probably Ouran High School Host Club, but that was more a guilty pleasure than anything else.  Tsuritama is not quite like anything I've seen, which, granted, isn't saying a lot, but still.  The story revolves around -- get this -- fishing, and the bond formed by three (later more) friends as they attempt to learn to fish, and then get to save the world.

The series begins slowly but delightfully, with Yuki, a shy boy who's forced to come out of his shell by Haru, who claims to be an alien, learning how to fish from the "Fishing Prince" Natsuki.  The series takes its time forming the bond between these characters, and while the initial episodes are fairly episodic in nature (no real connective tissue between them except the characters and general premise), the wonderful characters, quick pace, and gorgeous art will keep you glued to your screen.  Yuki's growth as a character and the growing friendship between the three leads is simply fun, and uplifting in the best way (happy without being cheesy).

Actually, you could describe the whole series like that.  There are moments of darkness as it goes along and the plot becomes more important, but throughout the tone is kept light and the characters are always allowed to shine.  Speaking of the characters, they're all fantastic.  Yuki is a wonderful twist on the shy anime boy, because the guy actually manages to get stuff done as the show progresses.  Natsuki is chilly at first, but as his exterior melts he reveals a genuinely kind heart, despite his conflicted feelings for his father.  And Haru -- Haru annoys some, to be sure, but I enjoyed every minute he was on screen.  He's a delight, and his innocent and earnest nature is incredibly endearing to me.  Other characters come along as it goes (I'm trying desperately not to spoil anything here) who are surprising and fun in their own ways, and beyond just the leads, even the supporting players are vibrant and compelling.

The story is great and highly original (remember, this is a series about fishing, and that carries through to the end in big and often surprising ways), and remember that it does turn into a "save the world" situation by the end, which allows for plenty of big dramatic moments.  Also, as I said, this is one of a select few anime that manages to stick the landing completely with a tremendous finale.  The story, though, is ultimately really about the friendship these kids form, and how it helps each of them grow.

The animation is gorgeous.  The show is about fishing, and it makes full use of luscious blues throughout for both sky and ocean.  Even better, the fishing scenes themselves are so dynamically animated as to make a sport than many might find inherently dull extremely exciting, and as the show goes into the final stretch this dynamism helps maintain both momentum and tension.  The character designs are not particularly original, but are bright and cheerful enough to effectively match the tone, and the DUCK suits are hilarious.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the soundtrack.  Soft at first to illustrate the relative innocence of the first episodes, it gradually swells into a dramatic crescendo as the series reaches its climax.  The score is amazing, and really sets the feel for the entire show.  The opening and closing themes are less interesting, but certainly serviceable.

Overall I adored this series, as I'm sure you can tell.  It's fun, funny, dramatic, exciting, has great characters, a great plot, stellar animation and music, and a perfect ending.  I honestly can't recommend this highly enough.

9/10 story
10/10 animation
9/10 sound
10/10 characters
9.8/10 overall
DJCooL4's avatar By DJCooL4 on Jun 28, 2012

This is a pre-review and is gonna change drastically in the future

The animation is the stronegest point about the show. everything else falls by the way side 

6/10 story
8.5/10 animation
6/10 sound
6/10 characters
5.5/10 overall