I should’ve posted last week this before all of the new autumn anime started premiering. Never have I felt more out of sync than right now, writing about a series that finished so many months ago when every other anime blog is posting about the here and now!
Tsuritama‘s premise is actually pretty simple: alien recruits local boy to retrieve a fellow alien who’s been wrecking global havoc. That’s it; once that goal was completed, the aliens leave.
But retrieval is a multi-step process. The alien, Haru, believes that the only way to retrieve his alien compatriot is to fish him out of the ocean. Haru can’t fish on his own, so he befriends Yuki to get it done. Yuki doesn’t know how to fish either, so he has to get lessons from Natsuki, the local teen fishing prodigy, on the basics of the hobby. All this time, Akira, an agent of Duck — an alien investigation agency — is keeping tabs on Haru’s activities on earth and figuring out what brought him here in the first place.
Tsuritama comes out dressed as a light-hearted sci-fi which fails to hide its real nature as a sappy coming-of-age. Haru’s original goal may have been to find and get back the other alien, but once he got to know Yuki and Natsuki and the rest of the small community in Enoshima, fishing became the excuse for adolescent bonding. It became the fait accompli for Haru to keep stalling, because once he accomplished his goal, it would be time for him to leave. He didn’t need to pick Yuki; Natsuki could’ve done it just as well. Haru’s reasoning for even picking Yuki was just as arbitrary, he picked Yuki because of his red hair, which he liked.
I got a kick out of watching another anime set in Enoshima. Even more than Tari Tari, Enoshima is just as much of a character in Tsuritama as the four boys. The mythology, the culture, and the depictions of the people were all necessary to make this story work. I thought it was sheer brilliance to use Enoshima dance to show when people were under JFX’s mind control. You know that I hate using the term “slice of life,” but it’s a mostly appropriate way to describe how the creators of Tsuritama were able to present the local color of this (mostly unfamiliar) setting. It presents the local culture earnestly and straightforwardly; nobody flinches or grimaces with all the variations of whitebait cuisine, from rice bowls to ice cream.
My impetus to check out this show over any other anime that I could’ve checked out last week was because of an AMV. When I mentioned my interest in the show was piqued by the AMV, even if it had nothing to do with the actual plot of the show, people commented that the video was actually an accurate representation. After seeing the entire series for myself, I disagree, but hey, it got me to watch and finish the show in two days — which is a record for me, I think.
As I mentioned earlier in this post, I don’t think this series would’ve worked in a setting another than Enoshima. The four heroes — Haru, Yuki, Akira, and Natsuki — converged on that place at the exact time when they needed to be there. Prior to their meeting, they really were all four lonely boys, broken in some way but didn’t know or want to show it. If it wasn’t for Enoshima’s magic, they wouldn’t have met each other, they wouldn’t have gone fishing, and they wouldn’t have saved the world.