Tsuritama – 01 Review
I would feel better about the future of the series if the narrator wouldn’t have remarked at this point that they’ll actually save the world in the end. That dangerously sounds like a cheesy melodramatic finale to me…
Tsuritama 01 – Fishing Is Still Not Very Cool
Kenji Nakamura directs another series for Noitamina and this time it doesn’t seem like the epic deep thingy I would like to see him make. I mean he directed Mononoke and Kuchuu Buranko but C which was the epic deep thingy ended up killing itself by taking more on than it could chew in its 11 episodes. I doubt this will happen in this series since this is the simple laid-back slice-of-life story of Yuki and his strange friends.
Yuki is a unsocial kid tormented by having to constantly change places and schools. At the new place Yuki somehow manages to attract Haru’s attention who’s a self-proclaimed alien and Haru starts to live in the same house as him and his grandmother who also made Haru vow to be Yuki’s friend. After that Haru is following Yuki around and well… the usual wackiness ensues.
Now that was really suspicious… Getting to live in such a house makes you ask what kind of work Yuki’s grandmother is doing.
Thankfully with Tsuritama and Sakamichi no Apollon Noitamina has two great series again that are actually worth watching for their quality and not because of how ridiculously bad they are. Apollon clearly had the better start of the two with a top-notch direction and a great animation-style. But Tsuritama already has established its own style in the first episode and while it may not be so dazzling as Apollon’s it certainly has some needed individuality.
The story of Yuki isn’t the stuff of what drags people in front of the TV. Yuki is the awkward outsider constantly moving around who has no friends but now after the latest change of place he’s about to make friends and to have the time of his life. His friends are wacky people, though, which makes it a growing-up story and a comedy supposedly. At least that’s what one would gather from the first impression. I didn’t laugh during the episode but it wasn’t bad or anything, it’s more like the episode wanted to make the characters to be endearing instead of funny. Sure, there’s a lot of weirdness and absurdity going on with Haru but the plot was mostly about Yuki making a first step towards being a happier person. The strangeness isn’t overwhelming in a sense that transforms Yuki into the straight guy of a comedian duo. The story stays with Yuki’s problem and the weird elements are rather subtle in that they just set up the stage for a scene but never directly control it. Because whenever Haru uses his “Mysterious Water-Gun” the characters end up in a different situation after forgetting how they came to be there but after that they act like themselves. Therefore the plot interestingly focused more on showing off the characters instead of starting lame joke-routines which is I think for a series with an actual story a far better move. The Cthulhu-Moe-series for example just rushed through the exposition and tried very hard to turn everything into a joke (or a crappy parody) but forgot to really bother telling a story. In the end the story seemed so generic that none of the jokes relating to the story and its themes worked. This episode of Tsuritama seemed to me more like it set up the stage for the comedy and in that regard it was a good episode.
When it comes to Yuki the series has a good visual style of showing the character’s emotions. The question is only whether it will become repetitive at some point or if the series has the imagination to make that part of the series’ character.
Another thing that really helped getting the story across was the visual style of the series. And it also tied into the water-theme of the series which really helped giving the series a certain personality. Whenever Yuki is nervous the series shows him imagining himself drowning in water which is a nice metaphor and conveys the feelings of the character without cumbersome dialogue and interestingly it’s also used to show his development away from this awkwardness as he’s fishing together with Haru and Natsuki. This is the sort of wackiness that I prefer and Shaft (or Shinbo, most of the time there’s actually no difference between those two) in contrast goes for a more overbearing route where weirdness just exists for the sake of weirdness. Well, I guess there are enough Shaft-fans out there trying very hard to interpret every visual decision in a Shaft-series but that one has to do that is just distracting if interpreting the wackiness and following the story become two different things. It’s just not enough to do things out of the ordinary. This stuff must have a clear purpose as a plot-device and not be just some kind of trademark.
Now the question for me is where Tsuritama goes from here. Beside Jormungand this is probably the series where I’m most interested in seeing how the second episode will play out. This series has the making of becoming another Denpa Onna that at some point simply gives up telling a story and just starts rambling about weird shit with the hope that people laugh about it (I’m one of those who didn’t really like Denpa Onna as you can gather). The humour was good in the way of making the episode an enjoyable experience but it didn’t have the hilarity of Seto no Hanayome, Level E or Cromartie High School. Therefore I hope that the series concentrates more on character-development and actually telling a real story about Yuki. Of course that doesn’t mean I would like to see some cheesy melodrama introduced to the show. Anyway, Tsuritama is off to a good start.
Tsuritama starts with a very enjoyable episode that has an interesting subtle style of showing the story as much as telling it with the characters and the animation. Other than with Shaft the wackiness isn’t overbearing but rather adds something to the slice-of-life plot of Yuki finding friends. The only thing missing is the exceptional spark which would make it not just a very good series but a great one. But as first episode it did its job of getting my interest.