Tsuritama: Melding the Mechanics of Fishing with Comedy

Tsuritama is a science fiction comedy from 2012. It was written by Ono Toshiya and produced by A-1 Pictures. Yes, the studio that brought us Kuroshitsuji, Sword Art Online & Boku dake ga Inai Machi among others. In other words, their quality varies quite a bit. I haven’t really heard anything about this anime, so I’m going into it pretty blind. Let’s see how well it compares to the other A-1 anime I’ve reviewed.

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Story:

Yuki is a highly introverted lad who moves a lot. After moving to Enoshima, his life turns around. Another transfer student, Haru, comes into class and introduces himself as an alien. He then insists that Yuki go fishing with him to save the world. Shenanigans incoming.

The first noticeable issue with this series is that there’s a lot of technical talk on the mechanics of fishing and it’s all really tedious and completely uninteresting. Look, I know that your comedy here is using fishing as its method to save the world but that doesn’t mean there’s anything comedic about long explanations of how to catch mahi mahi or the proper way to cast. I would go so far as to say that that time could have been better spent on amusing hijinks. Another issue is that the series doesn’t really take full advantage of the comedic possibilities of its premise. This is a series about aliens who can control humans with water and an alien teaming up with some humans to save the world by fishing. That’s a premise that’s so patently ridiculous that it shouldn’t be that hard to make laughs happen. But they downplay the comedic elements in favour of teaching us the mechanics of fishing.

That being said, those moments where they do embrace the absurdity tend to work pretty well. The funniest scenes all centre around Haru too. I will also say that some of the quieter, emotional moments are, surprisingly, really good. The scene where Yuki tells his grandmother how much she means to him in particular.

Characters:

Tsuritama is a bit unusual in the regard that the major characters really vary. Haru is good for comedic scenes but not so much for anything more serious. Yuki can work in both, but has his strongest scenes in the more serious moments. Natsuki largely plays the straight man in the comedic bits and works better for the more emotional moments. Akira is just a flat, predictable character. The side characters largely exist to play off of the main cast and provide them with strong moments. The only ones who really stand out are Yuki’s grandmother and Natsuki’s father & sister.

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Art:

The artwork is pretty well done. There’s a lot of effort put into making the water, fish and fishing equipment look polished. The character designs are a bit lacklustre, but functional. The animation is solidly done.

Sound:

The acting is pretty solid. We’ve got the talents of Irino Miyu, Osaka Ryota, Sugita Tomokazu, Uchiyama Kouki & various others. The performances are generally good for what they’re doing. They can carry the comedic parts and sound like they’re reading from the world’s dullest instruction manual when explaining the mechanics of fishing or repeating them to show us that their character understands them. Osaka Ryota does a great job with the emotional stuff. The music is okay. Probably not anything I’d listen to again, but it’s functional.

Ho-yay:

There are some moments betwixt Yuki and Haru where I question whether they’re really just friends but there aren’t many.

Final Thoughts:

Ultimately, Tsuritama is a series that has its charming and funny moments but it’s also a bit of a slog with stretches of tedium to get through before reaching those moments. In the end, its good moments elevate it above mediocrity, but it’s not a superb series. It’s just okay. My final rating is going to be a 6/10. If you really love the mechanics of fishing, you’ll probably like it better than I did. Next week I’ll look at Palme no Ki.

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