「さよならのフィッシング」 (Sayonara no Fishingu)
“Goodbye Fishing”

Endings. It’s maddeningly difficult to craft a pleasing one, but with Tsuritama I think this might’ve been the perfect note to end it on.

Much like the previous episode, there’re hardly any insights to be offered. What we have here is a vision that had been laid out to us from the start and has now been fully realized. Instead of revelations or answers, this ending encapsulates what much of the series has stood for: The characters. From start to end, the episode was a rollercoaster of emotions, from tension to relief, despair to hope, everything in between, and ultimately the warmth associated with the relationships these amazing characters share. It’s amazing how many times the show has done this over its final few episodes; I’ve said this once as the gang struggled to get back together, another time during their first attempt at fishing up the dragon, and I’ll say once again in this episode where they finally succeeded by a hair’s breadth: Tsuritama keeps delivering these amazing emotional pay-offs for the characters that are extremely gratifying to simply watch because of the emotional synergy involved.

And boy was that final fishing attempt spectacular. I’ve had the sneaking suspicion that when all else failed, they might actually use someone as the bait, but I never thought that they’ll actually go through with it. (I’d also have though Yuki to be the one to jump in, seeing as how he’s the one draped in RED.) It’s nonsensical, surrealistic, and yet completely Tsuritama. Somehow, what would otherwise become a facepalm moment (or maybe it still is) feels completely in line with the show’s tone, and watching Yuki’s proficient angling with Haru as the lure becomes an impressively epic scene, heightened by the evocative score that has so perfectly captured every moment in this series. Feels were most definitely had as I watched this final ENO. SHIMA. DO-N!

The icing on the cake is what comes immediately after, when the fish from the erupting baitball rained down from the sunset-dyed sky as the characters stand dazed at their success. It is a scene choke-full of the surrealism so omnipresent in the series, and at the same time a moment of catharsis for every character and viewer involved, as we finally reach the conclusion of this new legend, and indeed the story of Tsuritama that charted this journey of growth.

Should I say the aftermath was to be expected of Tsuritama? The huge threat to the Earth under the largest baitball ever turns out to be little more than the size of a guppy, with Yuki capturing what everyone had in their mind at the moment: “He’s that small!?” JFX, or as we come to learn, Urara (Sakurai Takahiro), completely defies the expectations I had, quite possibly the only time the show has ever done so. What was the rampaging rogue turns out to be a meek, polite-style speaking alien that constantly fidgets with his hair, and yet to this, I feel that I can only utter: “Well played, Tsuritama.” This show has kept up its whimsy sensibilities right to is very end, even as Haru, Coco and Urara returned to their planet in a feel-good farewell. And when our protagonists separate, it is on a truly positive note that the series ends as we see Natsuki chasing his bass-fishing dreams, Akira still fishing in his relocated area with Tapoica finding a lover, business coming in for the Natsuki restaurant, and even Ayumu finally getting the girl of his dreams. (Or have they become nightmares?)

Wait, what about the main two? Yes! Their separation was short-lived as both “THE ALIEN!” Haru and Urara are back at the school 6 months after as transfer students once again. I can think of no better result for both Yuki and Haru, the two who has helped each other’s growth along the most, and no better ending than those bright, infectious smiles on their faces.

I’ll end off with a rare moment of self-awareness from a show, when Yuki muses on whether he has changed since he came to Enoshima. Here’s a series where in 12 episodes I have seen some of the densest character development ever, and to succinctly close this question off is a simple invitation posed by Yuki himself, to the new transfer student Urara: “Do you want to go fishing sometime?”


Final Impressions

If you’ve been going through the various (END) posts that’s been cropping up you’d probably find the phrase “Best _____ of the season” being tossed about with extreme frequency. And you’re probably thinking, “Oh no, here’s another one”, right? But then, why shouldn’t it be used to this extent? This spring season was a rare miracle, stuffed to the brim with quality series on a level I’ve never quite seen, and probably will never see for years to come. I’m gonna go on a stretch to say here that more than half of these masterpieces will most likely end up on my personal [Best of 2012], and if that doesn’t happen, well, I’d be pleasantly surprised by the increasing level of quality that awaits us in the upcoming seasons. (Fall is shaping up to be a beast of a season as well, from what I’ve heard.)

So in a very roundabout way, yes, I do believe Tsuritama also deserves the same label of “Best _____ of the season”, and for me it was the best surprise. What we have here is a rarity, a show which in retrospect displays uncommon consistency in its theme, tone and pacing across the span of its 12-episodes run. Sure, I’ve complained before of the perceived slow pacing in its early episodes, but these early moments are dense with the story fleshing out their characters and the world while giving some of the most brilliantly natural and organic character growth I’ve seen from an anime, especially from Yuki and Haru, the two who had arguably seen the most growth across the span of the show. What’s amazing is how this extremely chartable growth never actually seemed to stop until the very end of the series, and it’s because of the meticulous effort that went into building these characters that their idiosyncrasies becomes synonymous with the audience, forming an emotional connection which makes the pay off at the end that much stronger.

Thus when one looks at the series as a whole, what we have is a perfectly constructed story with a very distinct beginning, middle and end that build into each other without dragging things on or rushing to its conclusion, so as to fully realize the vision it had initially set out to achieve. A vision, I might add, without any fluff or excess to it, reflected not just in the story but the stylized yet minimalistic sense of aesthetics as well. The exposition at the beginning, as we come to connect with Yuki and the gang, along with the build-up towards the climax during the middle, as the situation with JFX grows increasingly tense, pays off in spectacular fashion during the show’s end-game. Tsuritama has become a shining beacon in how to properly do a build-up series, and other shows following the same storytelling format should honestly strive towards what Tsuritama has achieved. Kenji Nakamura san has directed a series while that ambling along at its own pace, ambled at this pace which was developed with its vision in mind, giving us a beautifully complete story on the nuances of friendship which displays an acute awareness of its single-cour length and also maintains such consistency throughout. And for a show to achieve this, Tsuritama already ranks high in my books when most series struggle to deliver such a complete experience, especially in this era of incomplete adaptations and sequel-itis. My message is thus simple: For the people who dropped it during its early episodes due to “the lack of anything happening”, do go back and try the series again as a whole this time without the week wait for each episode, and see just how dense of a story Tsuritama is by its conclusion.

It’s my opinion that this is arguably Tsuritama’s strongest point in what is a list of “things done right”, but really, there are so many other aspects I could also pick from as I try to pin down what exactly makes Tsuritama stand ahead in this spectacular season. I could go on about the brilliant characters who engaged me on a level few other shows had managed, or the amazing voice acting that carried the emotions and idiosyncrasies of the characters across to the audience. Characters, I might add, that see so much exposition to them that I am admittedly surprised by the amount of detail the writing team managed to stuff into a single cour. I could also talk endlessly on the extremely vivid and strikingly bright palette that drapes the show’s visuals as well as the wonderfully whimsical yet evocative score, both which served to give the show a wholly refreshing feel and a tone brimming with endless warmth and positivity that makes it so much fun to watch every single week. I could even rave about the sense of whimsy (DUC-KU!) that works incredibly well with the show’s dramatic moments.

In the end what matters the most is: “Was Tsuritama any fun to watch?” And to that, I give a resounding HELL YES along with a hearty ENO. SHIMA. DO-N! This was truly the surprise of the season, a show that I went in without a single clue nor expectation about, intrigued only by the quirky and original premise. Tsuritama has not only taken those middling expectations and made good on them but also exceeded them in every single aspect.

I’d like to close off my final impressions with something I’ve learned: During a Q&A session on twitter by the production staff, when asked how popular they expected the series to be, the answer was effectively “Pretty Much Nothing.” It is a startling admittance that the show was created without profit in mind, and yet even without their subsequent affirmation, it is blindingly obvious just how much love went into this crafting of this show. So from a consumer to a creator, I can affirm that they got through to me with this wonderful experience.


ED1.5 Sequence

ED: 「空も飛べるはず」 (Sora mo Toberu Hazu) by さよならポニーテール (Sayonara Ponytail)


  1. For me, Tsuritama was in the top three shows of the season and is criminally underrated. And here’s why.

    I have an odd, mostly-love-with-some-hate relationship with Tsuritama. On one hand, you have a core character who was easily one of the most annoying figures I’ve come upon in years paired with a stale recurring joke, and on the other you have a brilliantly told, perfectly paced story with an absurdly creative premise and an extremely strong main and supporting cast. There are no wasted episodes. You can tell that the writers planned this series out, and every episode has value towards the overall plot.

    Tsuritama may be about weird aliens, but most of the cast is as down to Earth as can be. At first, many of the characters left a horrendous impression on me (most notably Yuki, Koko, and Haru), but eventually they all proved their worth. Although I found Yuki’s drowning face gag for the most part completely unfunny, he proves his worth in spades, coming out as one of the greater characters in the show. And while I did want to punch a hole through Haru’s face and shoot his remaining family members for nearly the entire series, he’s a well developed character with actual depth. On top of that, the rest of the cast is stellar and undeniably human. Akira, Ayumu, Natsuki, and Natsuki’s father are stars.

    A lot of people were talking about episodes 1 through 5 being the boring and slow, but while I’m not exactly fond of them, I disagree. I don’t consider those a slow start due to the amount of character and world development taking place. Episodes 1 through 5 focused on world building and character development, while the rest of the episodes used those tools to cultivate some really juicy conflict. The reason I didn’t like the first five episodes was almost entirely due to Haru, who I still don’t like to this day. Looking at it objectively however, I can’t really deny how much was accomplished in the first five. No amount of groundwork set isn’t wasted and all details come full circle.

    I’d also just like to throw out that the general dualism is shockingly good and what made this show really work for me. Man meets nature, humans meet aliens, mythology meets realism, and catastrophe meets the everyday. The way that everything clashed is astounding. It’s an unique setting which really works.

    1. Fully agree that this show is criminally underrated, as are much of the greats from spring season. (SPACE BROTHERS!)
      Along with the creativity the team has shown and the brilliant pacing of the story, what we have here is a group of characters that ends up feeling more human and alive than any other I’ve seen in a very long while, despite the quirky and surreal tone of the show. I’m glad you had so much fun watching the series just like I did!

      1. Lupin III: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna is another show to add to that list. While the writing is the weak point of the show (Okada Mari script, go figure), the stylish art, music, and vivid sexiness make the show jazzy and fun. Lupin emanates a sense of enjoyment similar to Madhouse’s Redline in the sense that it provides heaps of style and sex over substance and depth. While the latter is decidedly better due lack of the hokey psychological stuff, it remains quite a fun ride.

        While Lupin certainly isn’t best three material, its highly stylized art direction and oozing of sex warrant a watch. I’m fairly sure that only a few people gave it go and it even had a *Included for completion’s sake tag on the season preview. So while I would not consider it the top show of the season, it certainly stays on my list of highlights and tops the list of most under appreciated shows. It’s just so fucking noir.

  2. Tsuritama was really the BEST anime this season. It’s too bad not many people appreciated it since I think this anime offered what other animus don’t have.

    And why are ALL the characters so lovable? Even the “Bad Guys” all turns out lovable. Urara is just too cute with his shyness, and the Duck people so all unique, I wish Tsuritama was a 24~26 episode anime so we may have been able to learn more about them.

  3. Tsuritama personally has earned its spot in my list of top favorite anime series of all time. It has proven that one can masterfully craft a dense and tightly-knit story in 12 episodes, whereas so many series have tried and failed. I had low expectations going into Tsuritama, but in the end I was more than satisfied. I never thought I could enjoy an anime with its main premise about fishing out an alien as much as I did. Although I have found Haru annoying in the earlier episodes, I have too grown to like him as Yuki has, and by the end of Tsuritama, I found each character extremely likeable (despite their flaws that just made them more relatable). The music and color palette wonderfully matched the tone of Tsuritama to a tee. The creators/writer/animators/etc. really understood the vision they were shooting for, and they nailed it.

    Tsuritama also holds a special place in my heart, because, as I mentioned before, I was able to relate to Yuki unlike any other anime character. While many viewers may have found Yuki awkward to watch or just dubbed him as yet another “loser” character, every time I saw Yuki, I will admit that I saw myself. So, for all the times when Yuki tried his hardest at fishing, I cheered for him, and for all the times he succeeded (especially in the finale), I was overjoyed with tears for him. I was beyond elated to see the extent of Yuki’s growth as he boldly asked Urara to go fishing with him. Yuki’s come a long way from that overly anxious boy with that uncomfortable aura from Episode 1. As someone who has been there before and is still trying to work up to Yuki’s level of confidence, I’m ever so proud of him. Seeing Yuki grow over these 12 episodes has been the highlight of my week, and it makes me feel that one day I can be just as confident as Yuki.

    This probably makes me biased in my opinion of Tsuritama, but every one has their reasons for liking a show. This was mine, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget about this show. I wish that I could thank the creators for making this show, as it was quite touching. As I can’t, I’ll instead thank Asobi for never giving up on this show and blogging it to the end. 🙂

    1. You don’t have to thank me, because it was honestly my pleasure to be able to blog this wonderful show every week. And I can relate with you as well, because I used to (and to some extent, still do) share so many of the quirks Yuki displayed, quirks that he could eventually overcome. It’s gratifying to see that you enjoyed the show as much as you did, and I hope it inspires the change in you that you dream of! I’m rooting for ya, Isabel!

  4. I know people are going nuts and screaming how good this show was, but…. I just couldn’t watch shows with rainbow hairdos. Moreover, not just rainbow, but neon rainbow! Bloody ‘ell. I have nothing against this show and I’m sure it was good. But it’s not for me. I just can’t take any anime with rainbow hairdos seriously.

    I know the rainbow hair-trend was started to differentiate characters easily back in early 90s since they tended to use generic face designs in anime for the most parts, but this show went all nuts (it’s not the first to do this nor will it be the last).
    Don’t gimme that tired excuses like “but he’s supposed to be a foreigner!” or “but she’s an alien!”. Or “but he dyed his hair!” Right~~. Foreigners with Japanese first AND last name and act like a Japanese person. Everything about him/her say Japanese except for hair color. And aliens went through all the troubles to look exactly like humans (two arms, two feet, two eyes, one nose, etc, etc), but conveniently made their hair color or their eye color into bloody neon-rainbow color. LOL. What a joke that is if that was the justification. And dying hair? It’s again pathetic excuse. It’s perfectly fine to have a scientifically realistic character designs -that means no eyes big as your fist with no nose and micro mouth-hole and no rainbow hair- and recent shows liks sakamichi -which BTW was from the same studio as this one- showed that it’s totally fine in this day and age. Why not let plot and character actions speak for themselves instead of stupid gimmicks?? They get in the way and turn off people like me.

    Summing up, I hate rainbow hairdos. It’s just pure laziness on writers part.

  5. Would I miss my weekly dose of pure happiness, you betcha I would but the finale was so fucking amazing that I wouldn’t have it any other way. Well done, Team Tsuritama! This is truly a work of art that I wouldn’t mind marathoning over and over again.

    Seishun Otoko
  6. Wonderful anime… while I was initially lured to this show by it’s artwork, I never thought I would have enjoyed it THIS much. I wish I could let the production crew know personally how wonderful of an anime they created!

  7. I agree with everything, Asobi, except the “surprise” part. With Nakamura Kenji on-board this always had the potential to be great – though I admit, I was surprised by how upbeat and joyous it is, since that’s not his usual emotional palette.

    1. I have to admit, this was only my second exposure to Nakamura Kenji’s directing efforts after the interesting, but ultimately disappointing [C], so that’s where my “surprise” mainly stems from. But after finishing this, I’m definitely gonna to check out his previous works.

  8. When I finished this series I noted with a small measure of surprise that it was pretty much perfect. What a wholly satisfying finale to a great work.
    Oh, and I’d like to note that shrine girl finally got some story importance as Yuki’s future prom date… which was actually forshadowed in the first episode. Damn, Tsuritama.

    Bio D
  9. So the fish tht I accidently killed years ago is a JF!? OMG! (I kid I kid)

    So the JF aliens are alien fighting fish!? Tht turns to human when dried!? The dragon is a shy blue hair with pink undersides and good trap!? Sunny with a chance of FISHES XD WACKY

    OH YES its a fun ride with a good story & charac development. Along with those paint-like visual feast.

    Hands down. BEST MIB IN ANIME: DUCK. Best/Most Wacky ZB Apocalypse EVER.

  10. I think this was probably the best show of the season for me.

    I really liked Yuki’s foreshadowing at the end of each episode which was really effective in keeping my interest in the show, since as you said – nothing much happened at the beginning. However, the show always hinted that there was some serious development to come and it did not disappoint. You are right – other series can learn from this approach.

    Also Akira was the best and funniest character in the show. Similarly to the show itself, he started off pretty insignificant but at the end his role was the most interesting from all.

  11. Does it bother nobody that no explanation was given for Urara’s actions? Even one line of dialogue would have been enough to satisfy me. Maybe I missed something.

  12. Did anyone else catch the wrong colouring of Natsuki’s bracelet during the scene where he pulled back Yuki?

    It was blue, but the blue bracelet was under water in Haru’s mouth at this moment.

    I was like, what? Tsuritama, with its love for details, got it wrong? Really? Or… was it on purpose? Huh?

    Another thing: Wow, fish!Haru is quite plain in colouring! Compared to JFX and… wait a minute… that fish during the beginning Haru was running around with, and was sometimes shown in the fishbowl in Yuki’s home… was Koko! (Me, realizing it just now, yes. o.0;;)

  13. It’s sad to see Tsuritama end. It was unique experience, a new style completely different from other animes.

    I feel it weird that Urara didn’t get punished for his actions? Or maybe I was expecting like a more angry reaction from the cast… but even though I wanted this, I don’t think Tsuritama would have that kind of scene during that moment, I guess.

    Even though, great finale. It’s actually awesome to see an actual change in how they all act.

  14. I waited for the show to wrap up before diving in, and I checked out the ending reviews. For me, a series is only as good as it’s ending. After that, I powered through the entire show last night and this afternoon on Crunchyroll, and I feel the better for it.

    Honestly, the only way I can describe the show is Ponyo and ET with Oh! Edo Rocket. No other explanation could be more precise, and even still, that misses out on the wonderful handling of the show.
    I think, if I had come in three months ago expecting a scifi tour de force, I would have left after the second episode. If the producers offered anything other than the universally-relatable characters and personality tics and photo-filtered backgrounds and well-timed music, I wouldn’t have liked it. It used production funds and efforts well, making sure each episode did something, vital for a twelve episode season. It had a balance of advances and setbacks, but at least a character was moving or changing. I actually liked the divided pacing- if the production team had tried to move the plot-central points towards the middle, it would have felt like too long for anything to happen. If they moved some of the character arcs latter, it would have been crowded. But instead, it gives a soothing, effortless-to-watch fractal to the story- starting out small and narrow, to the stylized, to the realistic, to the fantastical, and weaving development and changes and contrasts all the way. And frankly, If they had somehow made the first half contain the plot development of the second, I wouldn’t have cared. No, this was always a story about the characters, and how they needed to change from flat lines and stock reactions to individuals with backstory, independent thoughts and actions, and eventually, the will to move the story forwards. It’s easy to get caught up in the surface details like aliens or dragons or fishing, but I never felt like the creative team was just dragging the audience along the scenery on a bus. Instead, I felt like I just walked side by side on a short but important journey with four very interesting people. It’s a wonderful, almost physically moving piece, unspoiled by extraneous details.
    I also like how they made sure to show what scenes were really key to the story, using exaggeration or metaphor to show when things needed to be remembered, often a little more than expected. And it did it in a way only the show could do- even if it wasn’t literal, Yuki’s fear of interaction just wouldn’t have been as understandable if we had just seen him making a stupid face, or flailing his limbs around. I like how they used periods in between for rest, because all the enthusiasm will have anyone out of breath in too high a dose. They did a great job of showing the characters making small efforts that turn into large changes, and then progressing to checkpoints to show the progress allready made. It’s a little crazy, a little fantastical, a little high-octane sucrose, but that’s the palette the producers made, and damned if they didn’t use every little bit.

    I’ve been studying a book called Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, a specific pattern for making a developed movie, and I’ve been thinking about how it could be adapted for other media like animated shows. It’s interesting to see how little things that show up, like the primary and secondary stories merging into a third-act chimera, or the raised stakes at the midway point, or the scent of death and danger just before the characters burst forth into the finale. It almost matches up perfectly to an allready strict pattern. I also noticed a couple other cues from some of Scott McCloud’s books, like the balances between intensity and simplified designs to draw attention or mark special points, and make them seem more passionate. I won’t say anything like they must have used these as references of any kind, but these are universal constants in storytelling, and it only shows the pedigree the producers gave it.

    I love anime, because I love stories. if I want, I can dive archives of rich works, where every possible element is under control of a (hopefully, but no always), competent team. My favorite feeling is the few minutes after the final episode, and thinking about where it started. if it’s a short series, perhaps I’ll immediately watch it again, just to get a second layer of understanding. If it’s really good, I can watch it over and over, and still feel something new. Without a doubt, this show pulled that off, and with it’s own signature charismatic style. My only regret is that I didn’t pick it up sooner! (although, I did like barreling through it in one go.)

    Also, I’m pretty convinced Urara is the Beta fish i had as a little kid. Mom always did say he ran away from home…

  15. I can see the series was made without profit- a few backgrounds in the last episodes didn’t stay consistent with the rest of the style and were simply painted sketches (the DUCK device placed in the middle of the civilian shelter, the backdrop Yuki runs past right before reuniting with Haru again). But it was a PERFECT example of how to write a story in only 12 episodes! Unique, brilliant series!


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