「俺たちのタックル」 (Oretachi no Takuru)
This was probably the most upbeat episode of Tsuritama yet in a series brimming with endless positivity.
For the penultimate episode of the show, it did a really good job at hyping me all up for the finale. Starting from the standstill last week, nearly the entirety of the episode was devoted to building momentum with every passing minute. For Akira, Natsuki and the Enoshima gang, this was the escape from the evacuation center and the continued escalation of their plan to fish out JFX. I’d even single out Akira, who had mostly remained as the passive observer up until now, as the catalyst for much of this forward action, and the one person who probably contributed the most to getting the gang together. For Yuki, it was his quest to return back to Enoshima, which continued to build towards an emotional confrontation with Haru. What we’re seeing here is literally their tackle; the show takes the increasing momentum of the characters to have them smash through these obstacles in their way. (I never mentioned this in previous episodes, but I really loved how aptly named each episode of Tsuritama is.)
As characters kept pushing forward, the positivity so identifiable with Tsuritama felt more prevalent here than at any other point, seemingly perpetuated through every action. Even the consistently upbeat and lifting score here stood out greatly in contrast to the darker tones used in previous few episodes. It was as though everything happening on screen was getting a push on its back as characters continued to break down every literal and figurative barrier in their path. Throughout the episode, it feels as if the invisible bonds of camaraderie were pushing them onwards and cheering them on, and in cases like Natsuki, this translated onto the screen with the scene of Sakura giving him the bracelet made for their mother as a charm. In Yuki’s case, this also came in the form of an empathetic cab driver providing unexpected aid and encouragement. Haru’s change in his attitude seems to be a reflection of this as well, from pushing people away at his own expense so as to protect them, to tearfully embracing the companionship of his friends after the dramatic heart-to-heart with Yuki.
The pacing in the episode was brilliant in evoking this increasing sense of positivity and finality without ever feeling too rushed, but there was a disorientating jolt of inertia at the shocking cliffhanger. At the close of the episode, we see a DUCK battleship falling under JFX’s control and launching a wayward missile at the shop Ayumu was at, a twist that felt at odds with Tsuritama’s own sensibilities. While I’m of course hoping that Ayumu’s ultimate fate is a positive one, I didn’t feel that it was necessary for Tsuritama to have a development like this purely for its shock-value, especially when the emphasis in its storytelling has always been on predictable, but natural and nuanced reactions.
Despite that, Tsuritama continues to entertain with its brilliant mix of its wacky humor and the strong portrayal of emotions, with the Defensive Universal Confidential Keepers (Yes, we finally learn DUCK’s full name!) continuing to provide some of the best laughs in the series. You thought the Enoshima dance was funny enough already? Wait till you see a bunch of DUCK members do it in their bloated rubber suits! Once again, the humor, like Akira’s kung fu and grand theft auto antics or the poorly staged act by the Enoshima gang, doesn’t seem to detract from the emotional moments in the show, and Tsuritama weaves them together in glorious fashion. This really is Tsuritama’s charm, for it to retain its vividly positive tone even through the most dramatic of moments.
The finale, of course, does seem to be headed in the direction I’d expect it to, with Haru verbally confirming that he would probably be leaving once JFX is caught. But when hasn’t Tsuritama been somewhat predictable in its outcomes? It is the connection with the characters the show has forged with me, the positivity that perpetuates the show, the payoff for all the amazing build-up and growth we’ve seen from our cast that’s been drawing me back in week after week. We’re likely to get a bittersweet ending if it comes to pass, but at the same time, this passage of companionship being traced to its end marks the ultimate emotional culmination of everything Tsuritama has shown in its past 10 episodes.