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.
4 out of 5
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