So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (3rd Day of Anime)

When I sat down to sign up for the 12 Days of Anime, I knew I had to write 2 posts – the ReLIFE one and this one – based on the fantastic titles I came up with.

Although Tsuritama is named as such due to its climax focussing on the fishing ball in the Enoshima sea, it’s the fish that make Tsuritama what it is. After all, both the act of fishing and fish bring together people in ways only anime can.

To start, because this is set in a town by the sea, people’s family businesses and livelihoods revolve around the sea. This includes Natsuki’s family’s whitebait business, Misaki’s little shop Hemingway (itself referring to a novel said author wrote) and Heihachi’s sea legends. The people of Enoshima both revere and fear the sea, creating a tiny yet vicious circle for someone like Natsuki whose only skills seem to revolve around fishing and snarking. In contrast, it makes Akira – who’s clearly an outsider to Enoshima, and wandering around with Tapioca to boot – look all the more strange, but the raison d etre of the place gives Akira reason to stay and consequently fit in.

Later in the show, Kate’s love of tuna, juxtaposed with her sudden need to go to the hospital, is able to prove both how far Yuki has come since Haru entered his life in both a social regard and in regards to how his fishing skill is. A high quality tuna – one with lots of fat – undoubtedly would be the best gift for someone who just came back from the hospital, so you root for Yuki and Natsuki as they compete to see who can get the biggest tuna, while you can also see the extent of Haru and Yuki’s relationship as emotional support that goes both ways.

Sidebar: I see Yuki and Natsuki’s competition as a way of measuring of their male superiority, without having to resort to them measuring their…uh, “johnnys” (to borrow the term from Eden of the East). But maybe that’s just me reading into things too much.

This all culminates in the climax, where everyone’s skills and quirks are critical in saving the world from the Enoshima dance (see, I told you – only in anime!). Unlike in other stories where the mentor dies to give room for the protagonist to grow, Yuki and Natsuki work together to fish up Urara, with Haru as bait and Akira driving the boat. It’s a wonderful bit of teamwork…if only it didn’t occur with Haru’s clothes coming off in the process…

I’ve been calling Tsuritama “the stupid fishing anime” out of affection. “Stupid” because it’s quite clearly over the top, from characters’ bedhead to what circumstances threaten the world, but “affectionately” because even though it may seem silly to have fish and fishing as a central theme, it still has pertinent things to say about friendship, anxiety, teamwork and small-town camaraderie.

So what’s the most outlandish premise you’ve come across, in anime or otherwise? Certainly, if there’s a way to make everything sound good, there must be a way to make everything sound stupid as well…


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