「ムカついてランディング」 (Mukatsuite Randingu)
There’s beauty to be had in the subtlety of Tsuritama, but with a third of the show past us, I’m starting to yearn for greater strides in the story.
Make no mistake, much like its Noitamina counterpart Sakamichi no Apollon, Tsuritama excels in getting the audience engaged with the portrayal of its lovable cast. This episode reiterates the point with its continued development of Yuki, Haru, Natsuki and the people around them. We see the socially awkward Yuki, for the first time in the series and maybe in his life, really open up to a person besides his grandmother and freely converse with Haru and Natsuki, whom he previously had problems dealing with. He gets so emotionally tied up with Haru that they almost seem like family at this point. The way Yuki got angry, frustrated, and annoyed with Haru, but also realizing that Haru became an integral part of his life, feels almost like the relationship between a pair of brothers; Haru as the well-meaning but clueless younger brother, and Yuki having to be the one to clean up the mess. The scene with Yuki finally catching his first fish and desperately wanting Haru to see it was a nod towards how far their relationship has come to, and it is heartwarming to see how much they have bonded. Haru’s eventual departure from Earth seems to be getting more likely with every passing episode, and I expect this will be the emotional climax of the show.
On the topic of the portrayal of characters, one of the things about the free-spirited Haru was that there always was a certain amount of artificiality to his words and actions, something this episode set out to convey to the audience; his incessant apologies for his mistakes in this episode, while well-intentioned, felt hollow, as if he never really understood or meant his words. Haru’s lack of knowledge of the subtleties in human relationships led him perform deeds he believed were good, but never really carried out with any purpose and meaning to them other than their inherently good nature, such as him trying to make Natsuki patch his poor familial ties. It makes the moments where he really means his words stand out; in the last episode, where he emotionally supported Yuki with his chant, and in this episode, when he genuinely wanted to understand human emotions and subtleties so as to repair his relationship with Yuki.
While Yuki and Haru’s relationship is given the most focus for now, it is also in the scenes involving Natsuki and his family that Tsuritama exemplifies the subtlety it gives to the development of its characters. There are many small details to pick from, such as Natsuki now talking back to the father he had largely ignored in past episodes (possibly a positive result of last week’s cathartic finale), and his father slowly losing the strong front he has tried to keep up after failing time and time again to connect with Natsuki. Little Sakura is also understandably getting more despondent about the cold war as well, and this is starting to show on her face with increasing regularity. There’s a layer of depth to the dynamics of this family unit, with each member having their own set of feelings and emotions regarding the situation, but none willing to really open up to each other. It speaks volumes about both the acting and the animation in Tsuritama to carry across its meaning like this.
But Tsuritama’s strength is also its greatest weakness. Watching Tsuritama is almost like fishing, and the patience of the audience, while watching the characters and the world build themselves, is necessary. We’re a third of the show in, but hardly anything is going on in the overarching plot even though characters themselves are taking great strides in their growth. And as charming as the cast is, the show lacks the sort of strong, overarching developments that I feel are necessary to episodic shows. Perhaps this is more a complaint stemming from my tastes rather than an actual flaw with the show, because with all this build-up, it is likely that the plot will pick up towards the end of the show. As of now however, I cannot help but express my desire for Tsuritama’s story to pick up the pace or give me a new, engaging development in this rather laid-back series.