2 Jul 2012

tsuritama (Anime) Review

tsuritama (2012)
Format: TV Series, 12 episodes
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Director: Nakamura Kenji
Character design: Uki Atsuya
Score: 3 stars
Summary: Strong start and a great cast of characters, but some awkward writing and bromance, as well as the production committee's inability to maintain a budget spoil the rest of the show.

tsuritama has a bright colour palette and an equally colourful cast of characters. Everyone there adds flavour to the charming little island of Enoshima. As Haru and gang develop, find a direction in life, and learn how to confront their fears and difficulties of life, the audience can't help but love them more and more. This is probably the strongest part of the series and hardly one to scoff at. Even the side characters like Natsuki's dad and sister have a decent amount of development.

Story-wise, it's pretty intriguing in the beginning, constantly foreshadowing much bigger events to come, in contrast to the carefree and happy atmosphere of our protagonist's improving life. While the eventual twist was exciting and tense in its own right, the actual animation and direction did not do a very good job of reflecting that. Moreover, the bromance in this series reaches awkward levels for me, especially with Haru's androgynous nature. With that said, most of these problems are with the 2nd half of the show; the first half had a laid-back vibe but was relatively well-paced for what was essentially the "training arc".

Imagine my delight to see such strong stylistic visuals in the opening animation, retelling the legend that is core to the entire plot. Imagine, yet again, my delight in seeing Ponyo-level of traditional animation quality in that scene where Yuki is pulled out of his imaginary underwater world. Everything in that first episode was so finely tuned, timed, and scored! Then imagine the disappointment that started to sink in week after week as that level of quality was never met ever again. That's not to say it was ever really BAD. I did not spot any animation errors, or at least none as obvious as those in Shaft-produced anime. I can only sigh and wished they had a higher budget or better budget planning.

At the end of the journey, things still came to a rather satisfying conclusion, but one cannot help but feel that so much potential was lost. Nakamura Kenji is such a mixed bag, its hard to recommend his works without many caveats. Still, he is an interesting director, one with personality and style. I would recommend 2 of his other works, Mononoke and Kuuchuu Buranko, over this any day, unless you are allergic to alternative art styles in anime.

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