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
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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eclipsewalker's avatar By on Mar 11, 2015

For me this anime was one of the best i have ever seen. It was colourful, fun, different and a joy to watch. Now i'm not a fan of Sci-fi normally but this anime hooked me from the vey beinining with its werid and colourful world, so i didnt really care about the sci-fi aspects. It  has great charaters and a fun plot, he messages of the anime is quite nice to. 

I will warn you, they do talk about fishing alot (it is about 80% of the dialogue, and works its way into the plot), but i think thats what makes it fun. They bring so much energy into something that many people dont know much about and explain itin a way were your not over faced or bored with the information which is being thrown at you.

the world its self is beautiful, and the design for everything are amazing. for me the opeing is so much fun and enjoy that everytime i watch this anime i have to watch the opeing all the way through (which i never normally do) 

There are some problem with this anime. to started with the main character is a pain in the ass, and you wil get mad at him. but the anime makes up for him with a great supporting cast of fun people how will make you laugh 

i hope that you liked it anime as much as me and that this review has made you want to wtach it if you were unsure. 

please enjoy 

8/10 story
10/10 animation
7/10 sound
8/10 characters
9/10 overall
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ZetsubouKaiji's avatar By on Jun 25, 2014

Tsuritama is the story of four boys, one of whom claims to be an alien. However, it's really a story of growing up. The main character Yuki suffers from severe social anxiety and more than anything this is his story of getting over that fear. The amount of character development in these 12 episodes puts most anime to shame. Not just the main character but all of the secondary cast gets a chance to develop. The character growth is always consistent and makes sense. There's never a moment where things feel forced or inorganic. 

The plot of the anime is about catching a legendary fish. The plot is usually in background until the final few episodes, but it's present enough that when it comes up at the end it doesn't feel rushed. Instead it flows very well and gives all the characters a chance to show off how much they've grown throughout the series. It's a cute and charming story, but more importantly even when things become dramatic the series always maintains it's sense of humor so there's no dramatic change in tone which can sometimes ruin a series. 

The real meat of this series are the characters. Each character has an obstacle they must overcome in their life. Haru must learn about human emotions. He wants contact with people but he doesn't understand how they feel. He learns through his conversations with Yuki's grandmother, a charming old lady that just wants her grandson to have some friends. She does her best to explain human feelings to Haru in easy to follow terms. It's fun watching as Haru tries to put her lesson into practice with varying results. 

Natsuki has family issues. This story provides the heaviest drama with Natsuki not being able to accept that his father has moved on from his dead mother and has a new woman in his life. Natsuki sees it as a betrayal of his mother, but he doesn't understand his father, even if he has someone new is his life hasn't forgotten about his former wife. It's a touching story and provides some good drama as Natsuki tries to find his own way in life. 

Yuki is the main character and the most interesting. He suffers from severe social anxiety. The great thing is the way his anxiety is presented. Unlike a lot of other anime that overdo it, this anime gets it right. Yuki is fine when dealing with his grandmother or someone he feels comfortable around, it's when he's around strangers that he feels like he's drowning under the weight of not knowing what to do. His development is the most dramatic throughout the series. His development provides the heart of the series. Although my favorite thing about Yuki is the way that he is able to go through the events of his life almost like watching a film when he's trying to make a decision. It's a good visual metaphor that explains how he processes the things in his life. 

Akira is the last of the group of friends. He's a colorful character that must choose whether to blindly follow his organization Duck, an alien hunting group. He is hesitant about joining the group at first but once he joins his becomes one of the strongest members of the group. He has to learn to trust in others. It's a slow process. However, his greatest friend is his duck Tapioca.

The series also a robust secondary cast of colorful characters that all make their own contributions to the boys development and the overall plot. These characters all have strongly defined personalities that make them easy to identify. They don't just blend into the background but give the series a sense of life. Tsuritama uses these character to build a living breathing world. These character all have their own lives and don't feel like they are there just to serve the plot. 

However, talk of the character development and plot don't really do this series justice. What really makes it great are it's sense of comic timing as well as it's charming relaxing atmosphere. The show takes a boring thing like fishing and makes it interesting. It's a calming activity, but it's also very intricate. The easy flowing nature of fishing matches up perfectly with the easy going atmosphere of the series. It's just a joy to watch these characters and it's better to watch it than just to read a description. Watching an episode of this is very relaxing. You'll laugh at bit but you'll also be engrossed by the characters and come to care for them. The comedy is funny and it's always present in everything that happens. Toward the end when things get a bit zany the easy going comedy that's always been present makes it feel more plausible. 

The colorful art style look great and enhances the experience of watching the anime. The animation is just what it needs to be and the faces the characters pull are quite often hilarious, especially Yuki. The OP and the OST are very solid as is the voice acting which really brings the characters to life. 

Overall this is a great series that's very easy to fall in love with. Great character development, drama that makes sense and is driven by the character, comedy that remains consistent throughout and a zany plot that is fun to watch. This is a series I would recommend to anyone looking for something that's a bit different and a little slower paced. It just gushes with charm and it's one that I won't forget for a long time. 

8/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
8/10 characters
8/10 overall
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