Tsuritama

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ThePatches's avatar By 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
dionkeykong's avatar By on Apr 30, 2016

Having seen most reviews i have to say...REALLY?I tried,i tried so hard to watch this but in the end my mind couldn't take it. HAVE U PEOPLE TAKEN LEAVE OF YOUR SENSES????This has to be the most boring,mind numbling anime ever.Οh yes u might say,but it's warm and fuzzy and cheezy and...Frankly who cares?If i need 2 tons of red bull to keep me awake what is the point?Story?As far as i can tell some kids after school go fishing cause masturbation was really a hard task to pull through if u have alien friends.And how can fishing be interesting?IT CAN'T,how can it?It is as interesting as catching herpes is interesting.

Animation?Helpless..My niece can make a better animation and she is 3!!!Sound?Well i can make better sounds when i am taking a dump..Characters?Don't care.Seriously might as well say that Paris Hilton is an intelligent being and has a very very intriguing personality..Is she?NOOOOOOOOO she isn't..That's it..Don't even think about watching this piece of garbage unless u are suicidal or thing Germany is a tropical place

1/10 story
3/10 animation
3/10 sound
1/10 characters
1/10 overall
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Whiterabbit13's avatar By on Mar 7, 2016

Really worth the watch.

It's quite the light hearted anime and the characters are captivating enough to hold one's interest.

The animation itself is beautiful because of the vivid art style. 

5/10 story
10/10 animation
9/10 sound
10/10 characters
9/10 overall
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RoseRyuzaki's avatar By on Sep 23, 2015

Let me just start off by saying I don't normally do reviews. However, after just finishing the final episode I feel strongly compelled to do so. 

I seen this anime appear on recommended lists many of times, however based off of the sypnosis, I passed it off many times. Now that I've finished it, my only regret is the fact I never watched this sooner. You can read this as it contains no spoilers. 

Characters:

The very first thing I noticed about this anime right off the bat was the characters. Not once was I ever bored with a single one of them. Infact, I found myself highly intrigued with every single one instead of just a select few like I do in most animes. What caught me off guard was how unique and quirky they all were. Most animes tend to do so in a way which I find annoying and repetitive, however in this one it wasn't bothersome at all and made me grow to love them even more. From Haru's usual antics, Yuki freaking out from his social anxiety, to Akira and Tapioca being downright ridiculous, they helped pull me out of my depression just for a while and laugh for the first time and days. I highly recommend this series if you need something to pick you up. 

Sound: 

The music was great. I grew to love the opening as time went on, and by the end of the series I found myself singing the Enoshima dance song, and even wanting to do the dance myself! I didn't notice a flaw with it as I was so into the story and characters. 

Animation: 

Another thing I noticed right away was the anime style. Though I typically am not picky with that, I did like it and found it very pretty with how simple and relaxing it was. As far as I could tell the animation was fine, I saw no mistakes and again, was too enraptured in the characters and story to notice. 

Story: 

I expected it to be a boring show solely about fishing. I never expected it to turn out the way it did! And when Haru was talking about certain things at the beginning I never actually took him seriously! Well boy was I proven wrong. I've never seen an anime like this, and I've watched over 200, so I'd say in my perspective it was quite original. The plot twists were unexpected and every episode just had me wanting more and more. If theres one thing that this anime has taught me, it's to not judge an anime based off of its sypnosis! In other words, things aren't always what they seem to be.

Overall:

I give this anime a 10/10. I enjoyed it and there wasn't a second that I wasn't bored with it. I found myself ignoring messages just to keep watching more! This here is a hidden gem in the rough, that you'll never find unless you stumble upon it. Since you have now though, I hope you too can watch it without judgement, I promise it'll be worth your time! 

10/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
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CaptainSlow's avatar By on Aug 11, 2015

What I Liked: The characters, who were nuanced and given ample room and time to develop. Yuki, and the series' portrayal of anxiety. Colourful backgrounds and character designs. Final "friends and loved ones save the world from the Big Bad" arc manages to help develop characters further and show how far they've come in the show's runtime rather than rely on "because friendship" reasoning. Keito. The soundtrack and sound design were pretty good.

What I Didn't: Backgrounds and animation were average most of the time and kept simple to the point of feeling flat occasionally. Haru's Japanese VA may deter some viewers. Final "friends and loved ones save the world from the Big Bad" arc still feels a little contrived even in the context of this show.

Final Verdict: Don't let the quirky stylings and bizzaro elements of this short fishing-themed series fool you - this is a competently told and charming coming-of-age story about a group of kids wrestling with their own fears and doubts bonding over one alien's incessant need to fish (kind of). While the animation is simple and the alien Haru can be a bit hit-and-miss, this show is still a worthwhile watch. On my Favourite Anime of All Time list.

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
8.5/10 overall
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