Posted on 29 June 2012 with categories: Anime Reviews, Tsuritama



Back in 2006, Kenji Nakamura surprised probably everyone with his three episode masterpiece that was Bake Neko, part of the Ayakashi-television series. It was trippy intense and brilliaantly written and built up, Together with Kenichi Kasai’s adaptations, it defined and popularized Noitamina and brought it to a mainstream audience. Ever since, Kenji Nakamura has been releasing a new series every now and then, with 2012’s installment being Tsuritama, at which he completely diverges from the types of shows he normally does.

I loved all of his previous works, but they collectively all had one downside: the characters. Relatively little time was spent on fleshing them out, and most of them were pretty one-sided and didn’t really come to life. Tsuritama is entirely dedicated to attempt to do this correctly, and it works. The plot is simple on purpose exactly to allow the characters to play themselves out naturally. There are relatively few action-packed climaxes in this series, but all of them have clear meaning and kick ass and ultimately make it a really fun show to watch.

And even though this series takes it easy in terms of pacing, it definitely doesn’t take it easy in terms of the ideas it has. This series really thrives on originality: it may have a teenaged cast, but within that it has many fresh ideas, like an alien with a watergun, a duck named Tapioca, or how about an entire series dedicated to fishing? Especially in the second half of the series the scenarios get particularly creative.

A downside is that this series does take a while to get going. The first half of this series contains a lot of build-up and is pretty much fishing 101 as it drills the necessary fishing skills into the main charachter in order for him to function properly in the second half of the series. While this can get a bit boring at times, I can’t deny that this series has a really well written structure: it knows exactly how much story it should have to not get rushed, it knows how much time to spend building up an make its characters feel alive, while stil having enough time to actually deliver on the fun and action-packed bits. Noitamina-series are infamous for their pacing issues, but Tsuritama is a series that gets the balance and format just right.

Storytelling: 8.5/10 – Fun to watch and a greatly paced out structure and a creative scenario.
Characters: 8.5/10 – The series is fun because the characters are fleshed out well and get to play themselves out naturally.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Not as trippy as you’d expect from Kenji Nakamura, but still has a unique and colourful look and wild animation where it matters.
Setting: 8.5/10 – Really tries to be original amidst all of the teenaged series that try to see who can rip each other off the most.

Suggestions:

Posted on with categories: Tsuritama

The animation of this episode was slightly rushed, towards the end some distorted faces popped up. But still, this really was fun. Perhaps not as fun as the build-up that preceded it, but this definitely was a worthy way to end this series.

Really, this season is full of interesting endings (not counting the ones that cut off for another season). There is a lot of refreshing stuff amongst them that tries to do things differently from the norm. The best examples of this were Fate/Zero and Lupin, but Tsuritama also had a great climax that was full of emotion, yet avoided hammy drama completely. The big bad guy turned out to be completely different from the evil overlords you usually see. We already knew that he was of Haru’s kind, but for it to be such a fidgety guy is completely different from what I expected.

The epilogue was great too, but I have one problem with that one. This is a series that thrived on originality, and yet one cliche slipped through: the one where a lot of drama is created around the characters saying goodbye to each other. The characters had a great time together, but now it’s time for everyone to move on and go their own ways and… wait never mind! They just return as random transfer students!

Overall, Tsuritama was Kenji Nakamura doing something completely different, and succeeding at it. I wouldn’t sy that it was his best work: Bake Neko still stands out as his masterpiece, and I’d also consider Mononoke to be more interesting. And ultimately C’s ending was more interesting because of how well things came together. Despite all that though, it definitely trumped all of those series in terms of characterization and fun: the character in Tsuritama really felt alive and the plot feels complete and not rushed at all.
Rating: *+ (Great)

Posted on 23 June 2012 with categories: Tsuritama

Again: Sakamichi no Apollon may have stole the show in its first half, right now I really consider Tsuritama to be the better of the timeslot. This episode was just so much fun, and the build-up just continues to increase and the more I watch, the more I get convinced that the slow build-up at the beginning was totally worth it.

This episode perhaps wasn’t as creative as other episodes of Tsuritama, but everything just came together. I loved how this episode revealed small details that I didn’t even notice yet, Haru’s fixation with red things standing out the most. I also loved the climax of this episode. Usually episodes like this are all about defeating mid-bosses. This episode however saw the cast completely failing in their last-ditch effort to catch JFX, right at the point where the typhoon hits.

This series really understands its own hype: everything about JFX is still filled with mystery: both what he is or what he looks like, along with the absolute doom scenario of what would happen when the typhooon hits Enoshima at its center. That’s all going to be in the final episode. Seriously, the two endings I’m looking forward to the most in the upcoming week are Lupin and Tsuritama, just because of how much they spent on carefully building them up.

Really, I’m trying to think of the last Noitamina series that understood the one-season Noitamina-format as well as Tsuritama. Un-Go overall was better than this (after all, it delivered immediately), but it still was a bit rushed, same for Ano Hana, which brings me back all the way to Yojou-han Shinwa Taikei. Speaking of which, Masaaki Yuasa should show a bit of himself again.
Rating: **+ (Excellent)

Posted on 15 June 2012 with categories: Tsuritama

You know what? I’m actually enjoying Tsuritama more than Apollon at this point. This episode was all the fun that I hoped it to be, and it was a really creative calm before the storm episode. Just about everyone here made this episode exciting and I love the work that was done on the screenplay.

I have to say that Yuki’s little trip to Nagoya was a really creative way to get him out of the picture for a while, so that this show could focus on all of the side-characters instead. Yuki himself racing back to Enoshima also was really fun to watch. On top of that, the great thing about Duck is that even though they look silly, they were actually quite competent. They just had the bad luck that their target was absurdly powerful in the water. And they had a couple of very gullible goons, okay, but there is nothing wrong with their thoroughness.

In any case, Tsuritama is a series that is really built around its finale. Every part of it is meant to built up to these episodes, and this has its advantages and disadvantages. The biggest disadvantage is that the first half tends to be rather boring. I don’t mind build-up as long as it satisfies two conditions:
– This build-up actually pays off and gets used.
– It is actually building up, and not dragging out and delaying the inevitable.

Tsuritama at this point satisfies both. The whole first half of the series really took its time to flesh out the characters and show a bit of drama around them, while it gave Yuki a crash course in fishing so that he would be able to take on JFX in the upcoming final episode. I don’t feel like it has rushed or dragged on at all, and these episodes all played out very naturally. Because of this these past episodes have been so believable and engaging. With this, I can really see that the creators put in a lott of time to make sure that the pacing of this series works, and I congratulate them for that.

The reason I wasn’t optimistic during the build-up part is because I have been disappointed a little too often by series that promised to build up… only to fail to deliver, or ending on some rushed finale. This didn’t just happen in manga adaptations, but also anime original series like Tsuritama. If the finale also ends up delivering however, then Tsuritama really is a great example of a series that got things right.
Rating: **+ (Excellent+)

Posted on 7 June 2012 with categories: Tsuritama

Yes! This definitely is a start here! Best episode of Tsuritama so far!

This episode kept the light-hearted nature, added the epic “the world is doomed”-effect, increased the pacing, used the build-up of the rest of the series, and really got fun and exciting. The balance between comedy and drama especially was brilliant.

It’s also here where it really shows how creative this show is, because once again this episode thrived on it, and it had a ton of these nice finds that made this episode really interesting to watch, ranging from the bizarre bunny suits that the members of Duck wore and their hilariously direct ways of taking control of Enoshima to the use of hot curry and Haru’s idea to send Yuki to Nagoya of all places. It’s a really neat idea to have the cast make the main character make a little side-trip.

What’s more: this episode flowed really well into each other. For one the members of Duck are hilarious, but they were also very effective in rounding up the city despite that. It’s here where you can really see the build-up paying off, because Enoshima really feels alive, especially now that it has changed so much because of the evacuations. All the events in this episode also flowed really well into each other, and nothing felt forced. Come on, Kenji Nakamura: you can do this. Continue this upward trend for two more episodes and we’ll actually have a really great series here.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 31 May 2012 with categories: Tsuritama

The explanation behind this series… actually turned out to be pretty simple: there is an alien who controls people using water. Haru and his sister are out to stop him. Duck investigates both of them. That’s it, and I’m impressed that the creators managed to make an entire series out of just that.

What this show did was very risky, but still: I like how it didn’t force anything here to put in extra tension. This episode pretty much explained what was going on. There will be one point of confrontation with that alien: the typhoon. The characters took a while to venture out to its location because in the first half of this series, they had no reason to, and they’re not going to go back again because they’re not stupid. This show is about fishing: being patient and letting things come naturally. The downside of this is that you also don’t know if you’re going to catch something.

And that’s the double edge of the series structure that this show picked of letting everything evolve naturally, compared to the series that start out action-packed: I’m not advocating action, but rather characters and storylines who show themselves off and bring up emotions. Having a slow pacing either works out really well because it allows us to really get a feel of the characters, or become completely boring because nothing happens. The trick I use in an attempt to guess how well a series will end up based on just the first few episodes is by looking at its potential: what is it building up to? Is the characterization good? How do the characters work together? And this is where Tsuritama scored really high.

all that’s left now is the pay-off: these final episodes have the daunting task of using all that build-up and delivering a very memorable finale. You can have amazing characters, but if they don’t do anything or don’t get pushed to their limits, then it’s a bit of a shame. The one thing I noticed in this episode was the impact that the scenes about the Bermuda thingy made to me: I got really excited there when the music started playing. Keep that up.

NB: holy crap Natsuki looks different now!
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 25 May 2012 with categories: Tsuritama

I had this entry all typed up, but I’ve got plans and am quite busy today and I wanted to also get Eureka Seven’s entry out before I have to leave again. So I decided to first watch Eureka Seven’s episode, publishing both entries afterwards at the same time. It’s more efficient that way. And ah? What could happen?

And then my laptop crashed. Right as I finished typing up my thoughts of Eureka Seven. That’s two entries lost when I’m under time pressure. I’m not going to retype both, but here are the gists of my thoughts:
– Tsuritama had a slow start again after last episode which worried me a bit.
– Ending made up for it, and the dynamic between the cast was fun.
– Something went wrong with the outsourcing.
– That ending had better be awesome!
strong>Rating: *+ (Great)

Posted on 17 May 2012 with categories: Tsuritama

Tsuritama’s true colours have finally come to the surface. After all of the build-up, it definitely was great for the stakes to be raised, things to change, and that legendary water dragon to come into play. And I love the way in which it did so.

The big reason why I was a bit apprehensive about Tsuritama’s direction was balance. Putting a lot of time into build-up is nice. However when you don’t get to the point that you’re actually building up to then all that buildup is for naught. This episode showed that the creators definitely have things in store for the second half. The question is how far they’re willing to go.

Nevertheless, the change felt very natural because of all of the build-up: we got to see Yuki learning to fish, the characters getting to know each other, and now that they’re sufficiently advanced they start heading into the parts of the waters that house that water dragon. The change was made even better with how that dragon also loved to use brainwashing. It’s here where the direction really shined again. The past episodes didn’t really take advantage of Kenji Nakamura’s talents as a director, but this episode really made up for that with the vibrant colours, great camera angles and creative action. The Enoshima dance indeed was wonderful.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 10 May 2012 with categories: Tsuritama

I still have no bloody clue about what exactly this series is building up for, but I did enjoy this episode strangely enough. The series is still in its “crash cource fishing”-stage, and this time we head into the ocean in order to show the next step in fishing. On paper it again was a very standard episode with not much happening.

Still, the character development is starting to kick in now. Whereas the character development in Apollon is very forceful, Tsuritama is the complete opposite and the characters evolve more gradually. With this episode, the characters again have warmed up to each other more and they’re a lot warmer towards each other, and the chemistry between them has also increased. This kind of praise is about the complete opposite that I imagined I’d give for a Kenji Nakamura-series, though.

The one thing that really caught my attention is how absent his typical style of direction is in this series. The only part of this series that really reminds me of him is the dreams that Yuki has, and that film roll flashes across the screen. That is something that’s typical of his style, with that heavy emphasis on sound effects.

In any case, it’s great to see how well the characters in this series are fleshed out, but this show isn’t there yet. Something memorable has to happen now. It’s a waste to have good characters, and yet not use them well beyond that. This is something that Kenji Nakamura is particularly good at, and I’m really wondering what he has in store for the second half of this series. But at the same time at this pacing it’s also entirely possible that this series will keep its unambitious tone for the entire rest of the series.
Rating: *+ (Great)

Posted on 3 May 2012 with categories: Tsuritama

When it comes to series that are about characters who are practicing a certain thing (in this case fishing), I generally tend to prefer watching experienced characters: the characters who already know the basics, and use that knowledge to tell their story. This compared to series like Tsuritama, which are a beginner’s guide instead. The thing with basics is that they tend to be boring, and they take away time from when things get really interesting. As for Natsuki, the supposed “Fishing Prince”… has he actually caught a fish before in the past episodes?

The thing with Tsuritama is that out of Kenji Nakamura’s series, it has the most fleshed out characters, but the least exciting plot so far. What I mean by that is: I’m missing something in this series, especially considering how this is a Noitamina series. This episode again was build-up, making it all the more important for the second half of this series to be balanced well. At the very least, this episode closed off the introduction. Yuki can catch a fish now, the brainwashing device is gone, and Yuki has warmed up to his new friends. Now it’s up to this series to develop that and turn things into something special.

The best part in this episode came from Natsuki. He is both a very good catalyst between Yuki and Haru, but this episode also revealed his own issues. His relationship with his father has the potential to, again, become very good if well developed.
Rating: * (Good)

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