Yuki is an introverted teenager whose intense fear of public speaking makes it difficult for him to make friends, so hoping for a fresh start, he moves with his grandmother to the small island of Enoshima. Shortly after his arrival he encounters Haru, a strange youth claiming to be an alien - and what's more, the otherworldly visitor requests his help to catch a strange being that inhabits the local waters! Along with fellow classmate and local angling celebrity Natsuki, the boys must now form a bond in the hopes of saving the town from the force that is threatening it. With a mysterious organization also lurking about and posing potential danger, Yuki must put his best face forward and protect the island... with the help of a fishing rod?!
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. AnimationWhat 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.SoundSo, 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. OverallI 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.
Story Tsuritama's story is truly absurd. Absurd in all the right ways, that is. We are presented with Yuki, a student who transfers school consistently where he eventually lands on Enoshima. Here he meets Haru who claims he is an alien. But there is some credit to his story. Haru holds in his possession a little plastic water gun that, when fired, has the ability to control whomever the water hits. That's not all. There's a fish in the ocean that is so powerful that it can control human beings and force them to dance. Why the fish wants them to dance is beyond me but I find it cute and adorable. The only way to stop this fish? Fish him out of the water and that is the ultimate goal of the main characters Yuki, Haru, Natsuki and Akira along with the rest of the supporting cast. I thought that this story was excellent. Consider me a sucker for the absurd but I was truly impressed with how well the story was executed. From the heartwarming relationship between the characters to the recurring theme of fishing. Fishing is what brings all of the characters together and is a prominent theme in the anime from the very first episode. An anime about fishing? Absurd. And that is why I love it. Animation The animation in Tsuritama is excellent. Tsuritama features bright, popping colors that is truly a sight to behold. The landscaping is very well done as well and I truly felt as though I was visiting Enoshima and viewing all of its beauty. Everything down to how the characters moved and danced was done exceptionally. In short, the animation was beautiful. Sound How could anyone not be in love with the music in Tsuritama? I found myself dancing the "Enoshima dance" several times as the opening credits rolled. The opening theme was called Tsurezure Monochrome by Fujifabric. If you have not heard it I strongly suggest a Youtube search. The music that played during the anime was apt as well. Everything felt put together smoothly and I was never distracted by it. Characters This is where this anime shines. The characters. The relationship between the main characters and supporting cast is excellent. The four main characters band together to learn and teach each other the ways of fishing. While it took a while for Akira to really shine I could understand why he was portrayed as a main character although at first I was extremely confused as to why he was portrayed as a main character in the opening credits. But Haru is the real champion here. He may be an alien but he learns to be as much of a human as any of the rest of the characters. Overall This anime was excellent. Everything was done, in my sense of the word, damn near perfectly. I would strongly suggest this anime to anyone who has a heart as Tsuritama will be sure to melt it.
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.
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