From skimming through the list of upcoming anime releases one could be forgiven for thinking that Japanese animation is nothing more than perverted harem shows and endless Shounen fighting cartoons. If you are “fishing” for something a little different I would recommend checking out Tsuritama – a science fiction series that has a heavy emphasis on angling. This twelve-episode anime, created by A-1 Pictures, appeared on Japanese television back in 2012 and can now be purchased in the UK courtesy of MVM Entertainment.
Tsuritama stars a teenage boy named Yuki Sanada. He’s one of those poor kids who is constantly changing schools due to the work commitments of his parents, or rather the grandmother that is raising him. Due to his nomadic existence, plus the fact that he is an only child from a small family, Yuki isn’t the best at social interactions. He especially struggles when put on the spot, as evidenced on his inaugural day at school shortly after moving to the tiny island of Enoshima. As is the custom in Japanese high schools, Yuki starts his first day by introducing himself in front of his new classmates. The realisation that everyone is staring at him causes Yuki to clam up in a nervous cold sweat. Looks like a poor first impression may have scuppered his chances of making friends.
Luckily for Yuki a fellow transfer student named Haru gets rather attached to him and insists on becoming his new best pal. Haru is rather eccentric to put it kindly. He’s hyperactive, eternally chipper and claims to be an extra terrestrial. Are those merely the ramblings of a loon? Perhaps, but the brainwash inducing water pistol he carries does add some credence to his assertions. For some reason Haru insists that Yuki learn the art of fishing – with the fate of the world supposedly hanging on Sanada’s skill with a rod. After much persuasion, classmate Natsuki Usami (a local celebrity known as the Fishing Prince) hesitantly agrees to coach Yuki in the ways of catching aquatic life. Armed with an assortment of lures and fishing rods the trio head to the seaside… from the shadows the mysterious Akira Yamada keeps tabs on their activities.
Wow, what a breath of fresh air it is to see a show fronted by a quartet of guys. Much as I may love the ladies, it does get tiresome seeing animes dominated by females just because the fairer sex equals higher merchandise sales. Tsuritama bucks the trend and delivers a light-hearted sci-fi romp that oozes charm. The amiable cast all have their faults, which they overcome through the bonds they make through fishing. As mentioned above Yuki suffers from panic attacks and Haru’s behaviour is downright odd (which can be attributed to him literally being a fish out of water.) Natsuki is more composed than his chums, but has a tumultuous relationship with his dad. What’s Akira’s problem? Well aside from taking his duties way too seriously he is also an anime Indian. His voice actor spares him from the stereotypical accent, but he cannot escape the cliché of wearing a turban and working at a curry house.
A-1 Pictures have done an exemplary job animating the series and I really appreciate the colourful art style they went with. Tsuritama is not one of those shows were you need to crank up your TV’s brightness settings just because the action takes place in complete darkness. Hardcore anglers may be disappointed that the show doesn’t have enough fishing (it’s primarily a coming of age story with some wacky science fiction elements) but the fishing that does feature I found quite interesting. Natsuki’s lessons include techniques on how to catch different types of fish in addition to correct usage of fishing gear. Overall I was so impressed with what Tsuritama accomplished in a dozen episodes that I am awarding it four stars. Yarrr Tsuritama, yah truly are the catch of the day.