The scene flashed by, but if you were paying attention, you may have caught the nod towards Ernest Hemingway. The renowned author was also a dedicated angler who devoted quite a few of his writings to the art of fishing. You may have even read some of his works in school; the first one that came to my mind was The Old Man and The Sea. ajthefourth wrote a fascinating piece on the first episode over at Altair and Vega, complete with her own personal experience with fishing, and I would like to jump from that into my own views of this new anime and its aquatic theme.
Anglers have a way of romanticizing their battles with fish and of forgetting that the fish has a hook in his mouth, his gullet, or his belly and that his gameness is really an extreme of panic in which he runs, leaps, and pulls to get away until he dies. It would seem to be enough advantage to the angler that the fish has the hook in his mouth rather than the angler.
Introduction to S. Kip Farrington Jr., Atlantic Game Fishing (1937)
There’s an interesting duality with the roles of angler and fish in Tsuritama that extends beyond the sport and includes the very positions of our characters. Yuki’s first experience hooking onto a fish is indeed romanticized. He is literally yanked into reality as the fish uses all its force to wrest the pole away from Yuki. He doesn’t have the time to panic if he wants to reel the catch in, but must act immediately. We’re supposed to cheer Yuki on, not sympathize with the fish! It may sound selfish phrased like that, but that same mentality applies to the strange relationship between Haru and Yuki.
If you think of Haru as the fisherman and Yuki as the trout, the way in which Haru pursues the friendship doesn’t really seem as odd as they make it appear in the show. Self-proclaimed alien Haru is merely finding joy in the struggle that is life. Yuki is merely putting up a fight to remain in the water to which he has become accustomed. But the funny twist is that his water doesn’t give him oxygen so much as it just drowns him. Humans aren’t meant to breathe underwater as much as fish aren’t meant to fly. Yuki’s fear of public attention and ridicule prevent him from becoming the angler that he should be.
With only one episode for us to go off of, it’s hard to tell what direction the anime will take–will it go, forgive my pun, into the deep end with a fishing-centered plot, follow a more goofy, slice-of-life, coming-of-age, comedic romance story, or will Haru turn out to be a true alien? We’ve been introduced to a slew of possibilities very early on, all of which excite and worry me. The characters are interesting, the art style dynamic, the music quirky, and the storytelling engaging. I am puzzled by why Yuki’s grandmother so easily let Haru move in, but I’m trusting the show will impart that little detail later on.