I hate to admit defeat, but I must confess that I don’t know what to make of this anime. As a result, this post will just be a collection of loosely-related thoughts on the first episode.
• So what’s the deal with that water gun? Really, it’s like tripping out on a psychedelic drug. I’ve heard about people overdosing on bizarre compounds sold on the internet. When they finally regain consciousness, they’ll have bought a new piano, broken a few ribs, and even lost their girlfriends all at the same time. The scary part? They have no recollection of any of the events during their blackout. At the very least, Haru’s water gun doesn’t quite screw over his victims, but the effects are similar. What if it was some form of therapy, then?
Yuki faces crippling social anxiety. It causes him to worry constantly about how others might view and think of him. In other words, he’s way too self-conscious for his own good. Well, what if you could temporarily allay a person’s self-consciousness by literally ridding them of consciousness? Just temporarily, though–we wouldn’t want to turn Yuki into an id-dominated shell of a human being.
So what about Natsuki? What does the water gun do for him? He’s a grumpy, taciturn fella. Basically, he’s got a stick up his butt. Drugs can lower one’s inhibitions. Maybe the water gun serves to free Natsuki from, uh, the stick up his butt. Don’t look at me–I’m just speculating. In any case, the water gun does allow Haru to drag Natsuki away to go fishing, which the latter was unlikely to agree to normally.
I’m not saying that there’s literally drugs in the water gun. I’m just saying that the water gun has drug-like effects, regardless of whether it’s alien technology or magical Japanese pixie water. More importantly, drugs aren’t necessarily bad, especially when you consider how modern society loves to regulate its own behavior by ramming a cocktail of mind-altering pills down its own throat. Some drugs just happen to be sanctioned by pharmaceutical corporations, and some aren’t. As a result, the “good” drugs get the privlege to be called medication. Oh well, this is getting off-topic.
• So why does the grandmother just allow a strange kid to move in with her and Yuki? It’s almost like the whole thing was planned. The show’s littered with similar plot-related questions that I assume future episodes will (hopefully) address:
(1) Is Haru really an alien?
(2) Why does he instantly recognize and pursue Yuki?
(3) Why are people spying on him?
(4) Why are said people talking to a goose?
(5) What’s with Haru’s triangular halo that appears from time to time?
…so on and so forth. But the most important question of all is how the show’s characters will somehow end up saving the world (from what?). Really, were it not for this last minute revelation, I probably would have written Tsuritama off as another random, wacky slice-of-life series. It’s still that, but at least I can now expect a plot to follow.
• Comparisons will be made to noitaminA’s other show, i.e. Sakamichi no Apollon. Like how this show is just the former on crack. Both anime even have a protagonist suffering from crippling society anxiety albeit with slight variations: Yuki feels as though he’s literally drowning while Kaoru suffers from nausea. In a lot of ways, though, Tsuritama resembles an amalgamation of previous anime.
The theme of play is one such example. The brief fishing excursion at the end of the first episode gets Yuki, Haru and Natsuki to bond. By having fun, Yuki and Natsuki can get over their own character flaws, which allows them become friends or at least begin the process of forging a friendship. Playing music essentially accomplishes the same thing in Sakamichi no Apollon. I want to bring up Arakawa Under the Bridge, too, an anime about an uptight Japanese guy who learns to loosen up by hanging out with the screwball residents under a bridge. By goofing around, Riku learns to stop worrying about success and perfection all the damn time.
Another way Tsuritama reminds me of anime besides Sakamichi no Apollon is Haru himself. He’s like a clown. He’s carnivalesque. He’s a fart. No, I don’t mean that insultingly. Let’s say you’re having a quiet but boring dinner with your family when someone suddenly lets loose some gas. Laughter’s gonna break out, right? I’d be kind of scared if it didn’t. And that seems to be Haru’s role so far. Yuki keeps freaking out whenever someone so much as looks at him. Natsuki sounds like a real jerk. In most anime, these two would be ostracized by their peers. You wouldn’t have to look far: in Sakamichi no Apollon, Kaoru’s social anxiety turns other students against him.
But before the same thing can happen to Yuki, Haru rolls up and makes everyone laugh. With his water gun, then, Haru is also like a trickster who challenges society’s view of the world. We’d normally mock “losers” like Yuki, but that doesn’t happen here. I’ve written about tricksters before, too. In Level E, a so-called prince plays that same trickster role. Hell, he even calls himself an alien like Haru. Haru doesn’t seem quite as malevolent as Level-E‘s Baka-oji, but I think the similarities are there.
• So what else can I say about the anime? Both visually and aurally, it’s really goddamn busy. I’d just like to contrast Tsuritama with Sakamichi no Apollon real quick. Color is so much more saturated in the former than the latter. More importantly, there’s almost always background music in Tsuritama. As I wrote in my previous post, background music plays a pivotal role in Sakamichi no Apollon. As a result, music only plays when something meaningful occurs onscreen. On the other hand, I wouldn’t really know if there’s any special reason why there’s always a music track playing in Tsuritama. If I had to venture a guess, I’d say that there isn’t any. I just find it interesting how the two shows, while similar in a lot of respects, appear to be quite polar opposites in their presentation. Of course, each anime’s tone plays a large part in determining in how they’d both look and sound.
• Initially, I enjoyed Tsuritama more than the other noitaminA show. After rewatching both shows, however, I’ve flipped the two. It’s not as though they’re in competition or anything. Tsuritama does offer a nice change-up to Sakamichi no Apollon‘s more contemplative nature.