“There’s a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore looking like an idiot.” – Steven Wright. 

With reference to the above quote, here is an anime that deals with both angling and people who are rather bonkers. This probably the only story around to combine fishing and mind-controlling aliens.

tsuritama (note that it starts with a small “t”) begins with high school student Yuki Sanada, a guy who suffers terribly socially. Whenever he is in a situation that involves talking to people he sweats profusely, creating a mental image of him drowning himself with worry, and ends up pulling a strange demonic face that actually makes him look to other people as if he is angry. He and his grandmother move to the island of Enoshima, and upon arriving at school he learns that someone else is also transferring on the same day: a guy called Haru who claims he is an alien, loves fishing and is armed with a water pistol which allows him to control anyone he fires at.

Haru pressures Yuki into taking up fishing, under the guidance of a fellow classmate Natsuki, who is dubbed the “Fishing Prince” for his skill. He – reluctantly – teaches the boys about how to fish, but gets easily angered by their lack of ability, until Yuki manages to overcome all his fears and successfully lands a big fish.

Yuki would prefer to leave it at that, but then Haru decides to move into Yuki’s house. What is worse is that Haru and his sister Koko want Yuki to learn how to fish in order to catch a gigantic fish which actually belongs on their home planet. Yuki and Haru also find themselves spied on by another classmate: a 25-year-old turban-wearing Indian named Akira Agarkar Yamada, who is always accompanied by his pet duck Tapioca. Akira is, it turns out, a member of an organisation called DUCK (Defensive Universal Confidential Keepers), whose job it is to monitor and remove alien threats.

Akira becomes friendly with Yuki and Haru, and together with Natsuki they become even fonder of fishing, with Yuki developing real skill. However, Yuki’s skill is needed when the alien fish that Haru wants him to capture begins spreading its influence around Enoshima – in the form of making everyone do the same comic dance.

It is clear that tsuritama is rather bonkers, with its story of aliens in the sea, dancing, dangerous water pistols and a guy who sweats so much that he gives Lee Evans a run for his money; but it also combines this with actual information about fishing. You learn quite a lot about how to fish from the show. It does make fishing fun, which is quite remarkable given its reputation for dullness, with people sitting by riverbanks waiting for a single bite, only for either nothing to happen all day or managing to catch one old boot. What tsuritama does is that it takes a mundane activity and makes it fun. 

The characters themselves are also entertaining. Haru is especially fun, with his strange alien behaviour. This is a character who walks into school with a fishbowl on his head, carrying a rod, wearing a spotted peach waistcoat with his school uniform; you get a laugh out of him with just about any line.

It also says a lot about the differences in humour between Japan and the UK. In Japan most of the comedy comes from the surrealism and character. If it was British it would probably end up full of Carry On-esque double entendre, with characters asking each other to grab their rods or check out each other’s tackle.

The music – from Kuricorder Quartet – is also pleasing and makes for easy listening with calm tunes. “Tsurezure Monochrome” by Fujifabric and “Sora mo Toberu Hazu” by sayonara ponytail are both fine songs. 

In terms of extras, they are very limited. Just textless opening and closing, and some trailers of other anime.

This show is a jolly, fun romp. It plays out in a nice and relaxing way for most of the time, but there is the odd moment of tension too. It is a bit like fishing itself.

8 / 10

Ian Wolf

Ian works as an anime and manga critic for Anime UK News, and was also the manga critic for MyM Magazine. His debut book, CLAMPdown, about the manga collective CLAMP, is available now. Outside of anime, he is data specialist for the British Comedy Guide, is QI's most pedantic viewer, has written questions for both The Wall and Richard Osman's House of Games, and has been a contestant on Mastermind.

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