Monday, July 23, 2012

Anime Review: tsuritama

One of the two noitaminA shows for this season and the one I was drawn more towards at the beginning (since I seem to always be drawn more to the "underdog" of the two shows, odd) and while there wasn't a lot of information about the show (in English anyway) the one thing I did know made me simultaneously interested and hesitant: the director. The director was one Kenji Nakamura, a man who has worked on five other noitaminA shows (and directed at least part of all of them) who has created several well-acclaimed works but his only work I had seen previously was [C] Control from the previous spring's noitaminA line-up which, while it had an interesting concept, had some major pacing issues by the end (and budget issues as well but that's another problem entirely). The general consensus seems to be that he's a rather good director, indeed he worked on part of Ayakashi: Samurai Horror Tales and not only was his part considered the best by many people it recieved it's own spin-off, Mononoke, so I was really hoping that [C] was only a slip-up and that with an extra episode this time the pacing would be much better. 


Summary: High school student Yuki and his grandmother have recently moved to the small island of Enoshima to help with her health and Yuki is resigned to once again being the new kid and school and not making any friends (since he makes, unusual facial expressions when under pressure). But there's another new kid in town, the upbeat and claims-to-be-an-alien Haru whose taken a shine to Yuki and is determined to make friends with him and for both of them to learn how to fish. And after being dragged around a bit Yuki begins to make friends and discovers that fishing is a lot of fun, a good thing considering there's an even bigger reason Yuki want him to learn how to fish.

The Good: Well damn, aside from a bit of a wobbly opening this show was paced perfectly and told a complete story in 12 episodes, that's not easy to do! It pulls off the "first half character development, second half plot heavy" set-up quite well and the four boys all develop quite a bit by the series end. As a non-fisher I didn't find some of the more technical parts fascinating but I didn't find them tedious or boring either which is good sign. In short, it was a fun show that did both comedy and drama surprisingly well and isn't afraid to be silly, something which many shows don't do.

The Bad: This show is both serious and silly at the same time during it's climax (serious in that well, it's the climax, it's a tense time, and silly because when you step back and think about what's going on it's a bit ridiculous) and you need to have the right mindset or you won't enjoy this show at all. It does build up to that point well and pull it off well but it is such an odd scenario the characters find themselves in that I wouldn't recommend it to every anime fan I meet. The show also takes a couple of episodes to get into it's groove, for the first two I really wasn't sure if I would continue with it or drop it, but if you get through the third episode and like the show then you'll like the rest.

The Audio: The tsuritama opening song was hands-down my favorite opening song of the spring 2012 season. Perhaps it was also because the song had a cute and silly little dance that went along with it (psst, Japanese staff, EVERYONE wants to see the full version of that dance as a DVD extra, just saying) but regardless that song made me perk up and grin every time. For once I wasn't even bothered by the fact that the crunchyroll stream didn't have the song subbed, The Anime Network has subs for it and the lyrics fit the show alright as it turns out, and the ending song was cute as well (although I'm of two minds whether or not the lyrics fit that show, for some lines they do and others they don't). Continuing with an odd noitaminA tradition of sorts, Yuki's voice actor is a newcomer but he does a bit of a difficult role quite well and that's true of all the characters (I've heard some people say that Haru's voice annoys them, which I can see since he is pretty high pitched, but that wasn't the case for me).

The Visuals: The show is amazingly colorful; the promo image above gives you an idea but isn't nearly as saturated as the actual show is. It manages to be vibrant and eye-catching without feeling childish which is rather impressive and I didn't notice any decrease in quality as the show went on (then again the show wasn't as detail heavy as some other shows to start with so that must've helped). The ending theme was done in an interesting cut paper look, which I suppose fits in with another (unofficial) noitaminA tradition of sorts (ie, making sure that either/or the opening or ending sequence looks different from 99% of the other shows airing at the time) and while I didn't find that as interesting as the opening with it's silly dancing it worked fine.

tsuritama has been licensed by Section 23/Sentai Filmworks for the US and Canada and can be viewed either on their website or on Crunchyroll for free. I plan on picking up a copy of the show when it comes out here (probably sometime next summer) and then seeing how many of my friends I can get hooked on the show as well.  

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