Tsuritama – 08 & 09
「嬉しくてファイティング」 (Ureshikute Faiteingu)
Family. Love em’ or hate em’, blood-related or not, they’ll always be there for you. Tsuritama, as I mentioned before, excels in its character subtleties and interaction nuances, in what would otherwise be ordinary exchanges you’d find in a typical anime. And perhaps, nowhere else has this been more exemplified than this episode’s focus on the meaning of being family.
Much of the episode dealt with the resolution of the Usami family conflict, but even so it was by no means a protracted affair. Some might even find that the conclusion of this plot thread to be slightly on the short side, what with the Sakura debacle and misunderstandings being cleared within the first few minutes of the episode. But that’s exactly why I liked the way it was resolved so much, as there wasn’t a need for any lengthy expositions or prolonged developments between the characters. The show has done such a great job at connecting the audiences with its cast that little has to be said about the emotions and personal thoughts of each character, paving the way for the acting to carry entire scenes through and for the audience to interpret them as they will.
The whole affair made me nostalgic for, of all things, the old Chinese dramas I used to watch on local television that always featured stories centering on the theme of family. Certainly, the dramatic events in those shows always played out the way people expected them to, and Tsuritama wasn’t very different in this regard. While I might have once complained about predictability in the past, I have a newfound appreciation for this as a very natural and realistic progression of events that few shows manage to achieve. And achieve this, Tsuritama has. The family’s emotional reconciliation upon finding Sakura. Tamotsu and Natsuki, who cleared thing up with a terse but genuine conversation regarding their thought and intentions. Nothing about scenes felt particularly out of character, and the reactions had a very grounded and realistic nature to them. Certainly not what you’d expected out of a series I initially called “whimsically zany”, no?
The overarching theme in the episode also carried over to the vastly different family structure of Yuki and Kate, in a heartfelt conversation that affirms the familial bond between them. The missing parents trope; certainly one of anime’s classics, but never addressed in all but a few works. While that certainly isn’t much different here, Tsuritama smartly puts the spotlight on Yuki sorting out his thoughts on the matter, and it was touching to see how he had come to terms with it.
The episode also touched on Haru’s own dynamic with Yuki and Kate. It’s almost inevitable that Haru would leave Earth at the end of the show, and while Yuki might want the current status quo to continue for as long as possible, Kate seems to knows all too well that the time for parting is soon at hand. A possible explanation for why Haru has been hurting so much since the meeting with the dragon could be that he knows that the issue must be confronted, but once that happens, he would have to part with the people and the place he has come to love. It also explains his childish attempts to delay the inevitable, but upon seeing how the dragon’s presence is adversely affecting Enoshima and its inhabitants, Haru resolved to tackle the issue regardless of how much it might pain him to do so. The private conversation he had with Kate about properly saying goodbye when the time comes really hammered the significance of the bonds he had formed during his time in Enoshima.
My only complaint was that after 7 episodes of keeping us in the dark and slowly building hype, the reveal of the story’s great mystery, that the dragon was a rogue alien from Haru and Coco’s planet, turned out to be rather simple and underwhelming. It certainly makes logical sense when one considers the various hints dropped across the last few episodes, but still far less dramatic than I had expected. The closing moments of this did make up for this, with the scale of the impending disaster being far greater than what I could’ve expected out of the show. And how did that play out? Well, you probably already know, so scroll on down to the next episode! (Did someone ask for character development? ;) I can’t stop laughing at Natsuki’s haircut.)
Full-length images: 01
-Screencaps for episode 8 are provided to you by Moomba.
「衝撃のアンダーウォーター」 (Shougeki no Andauota)
“Brilliant”. Because sometimes, that’s all that really needs to be said to sum an episode up.
Picking off right from episode 8, we see Duck occupying Enoshima in a bid to capture Haru and find out how to stop JFX, the rogue alien that has been Haru and Coco’s target all this time. In a return to the show’s whimsical roots, which has taken a backseat amidst all the drama, the antics of Duck are hilariously wacky and visually entertaining. I need only to point to the squeaky rubber suits and the massive blow-dryers they are wielding, amusing visual gags that feels in line with the show’s own sense of humor. Indeed, this episode revels in it; from the mass Enoshima dancing and Akira fumbling around in the unwieldy suit to the jokes made at the expense of the incompetent Duck henchmen, this was probably the funniest episode of Tsuritama yet. (I enjoyed the curry scene way more than I probably should have.) What’s brilliant is that this humor, which was largely absent in the last few episodes, doesn’t feel out of place with more dramatic parts of the episode, and works really well to keep the episode entertaining throughout.
That’s not to say the episode was lacking in other departments. In many ways this has been the darkest Tsuritama’s ever been, and at one point the show even threatened to undo all the development we have seen from Yuki up until now. But at the same time, we’re seeing the characters affirming their resolves, and understanding what really is important to them.
Haru, after failing to subdue JFX and losing Coco in the process, drives everyone away from Enoshima in order to protect them from incoming disaster at the expense of his own feelings. Yuki, after some eye-opening advice from Kate, resolves to return to Haru’s side and be there for him, just like Haru did for Yuki at the beginning of their relationship. (I gotta say here, Kate really is an amazing and wise character, with the most of the best written dialogues in Tsuritama being attributed to her.) Akira, who realised the significance their friendship to him, defies his superiors in order to protect the bond that is more valuable to him than the safety of the Earth itself. And Natsuki finds himself in a similar position to where Yuki was during the family conflict, and wants to help his friends in the same way. (Notice as well how he and the rest of the Usami family are wearing the bracelets Sakura made, a clever little touch by the creative team.) The show has done an amazing job building up these four characters to this point, and watching the resulting payoff here has been nothing short of spectacular. The stage now seems set for what would be the culmination of everything the series has done; the four of them teaming up to fish JFX, and honestly, the anticipation is palpable.
Tsuritama has been on a heck of a roll since its midpoint, not just by ramping up the developments and the excitability of its plot, but also in pushing its already well-grown characters further, and further, and even beyond that. I said at the start of this whole series that it has the potential to become something wildly unique, and it really seems to be living up to that notion, with the realistic portrayal of its cast and their emotions, as well as the refreshingly unique tone the show has consistently carried across the episodes. Can this series truly achieve greatness? I’m eagerly awaiting the last few episodes to find out.
-You’re probably wondering why this post took as long as it did, so I’ll try to explain the situation. My exams last week delayed me in writing about episode 08, and I was initially planning on having this double post out on the 9th had I not (and I kid you not here) spilled an entire cup of water over my laptop. I had to wait until the laptop was functional again (Today) in order to get the post out.
-For people following my AKB0048 posts, these are also the reasons why you haven’t seen a post for episode 06 or 07 yet. I am working on it now, but the next two days will be very busy for me as it concern my job placement in the coming academic year, so please bear with me during this time, and the double post should be out on Thursday (14th) if not earlier.
-I know people have been concerned about my lateness in the last few weeks, and I’m regretful about this whole debacle. I’m really appreciative your patience during this whole examination period, and hope this outline gives you a clearer picture on what’s happening at the moment.