Finding the ideal anime to view can take patience, and it's not always easy to make a decision from just a description or some promotional imagery. “Cruising the Crunchy-Catalog” is here to help. Each week we provide additional info and cultural context to help anime fans decide whether they've hooked a winner, or whether they should try casting their nets elsewhere.
Tsuritama is a 2012 original TV anime with direction by Kenji Nakamura (Gatchaman Crowds) and animation by A-1 Pictures (BLEND-S). The series originally broadcast on Fuji TV as part of the noitaminA anime programming block. Crunchyroll describes Tsuritama as follows:
“The setting is Shonan, Enoshima. A town where the nostalgic and the fresh coexist. All his life, high school student Yuki has never had a friend of his own, because he's freakishly inept at communicating with others. Haru, a self-proclaimed alien from outer space, is trying to get him to go fishing. Natsuki is a local boy born and raised in Enoshima, who always seems to be annoyed by whatever's going on around him. Akira is a mysterious Indian boy who watches over them all, while maintaining a cautious distance. These four angst-filled teenagers meet and go fishing; and their tiny island takes center stage in an epic story... This is where it all starts - their SF (= Seishun Fishing) story!”
Written using the Kanji characters for “blue” and “spring”, “seishun” is the Japanese word for “youth”, and Tsuritama is definitely a story of youth, albeit one with a mixture of comedy and drama as well as an overarching science fiction plot-line involving ancient legends, aliens, secret agents, inadvertent mind control, folk dancing, and the Bermuda Triangle.
Drowning in Visual Metaphor.
The main character of Tsuritama, Yuki Sanada, suffers from crippling social anxiety, and this problem is expressed through a pair of visual metaphors. When Yuki becomes anxious in public, his face contorts and discolors so much that people say he looks like a “yaksha”, a type of guardian deity in Japanese Buddhism that possesses a fearsome or demonic visage. People assume he is angry, when in fact Yuki is simply nervous and afraid of how people will view him.
When Yuki is overwhelmed with anxiety, his overactive imagination expresses his feelings as the room filling up with water until he is completely submerged. Fishing is the first activity that helps him deal with his problem, literally yanking Yuki sideways out of the waters that are his worries. Yuki also possesses a photographic memory, which Tsuritama indicates by having him replay troubling events in his memory as if he's watching a reel of film. The series is full of vibrant colors and clever visual metaphors.
The Allure of the Lure.
The best sports manga and anime are ones that set fire to their audience's imagination, highlighting the intricacy and nuance of an activity that the inexperienced and unfamiliar may otherwise never give serious consideration. Tsuritama does this with fishing. As Yuki falls in love with the gear, the lingo, and the techniques that unlock a deeper understanding of fishing as a hobby, as a sport, and as a profession, the audience accompanies him on his journey of discovery.
For all its outlandish scenarios, Tsuritama is ultimately a story about family and friendship and the effort that goes into nurturing relationships with loved ones. Yuki struggles to make friends and to get along with his grandmother, his only immediate family member after his parents passed way. Similarly, Natsuki bickers with his father for various reasons, and Haru, an extraterrestrial, doesn't really understand how human friendships work.
The One That Got Away.
Crunchyroll currently streams Tsuritama in 61 territories worldwide, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Africa, just to name a few. The series is available in the original Japanese language with subtitles in English, Latin American Spanish, and Portuguese. The series is also published on Bluray in North America by Sentai Filmworks.
Whimsical, weird, and visually imaginative while still being firmly grounded emotionally, Tsuritama is similar to dramas such as The Eccentric Family or sports anime such as Ping Pong the Animation. If you're in the mood for a big fish story with a science fiction twist and the show is available in your area, please consider giving Tsuritama a try.
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Paul Chapman is the host of The Greatest Movie EVER! Podcast and GME! Anime Fun Time.