“Long ago, a five-headed dragon lived in this ocean. The violent dragon caused much suffering for the people. Eventually, a black cloud covered the sky. Just when everyone had given up and thought the world would end, something happened. A single ray of light shown down from the sky. An unearthly beautiful princess arrived riding a purple cloud. The woman smiled, and her smile illuminated our dark world.”
Looks like Kenji Nakamura is back in top form with one of the most visually enticing shows of the season, the mysterious and eccentric Tsuritama.
But what is Tsuritama? Why is the focus on fishing? Why is it set in Enoshima Island? Why are aliens involved? Why are Indians involved too? Luckily, none of these are answered because we wouldn’t have a show then.
Tsuritama introduces us to Yuki, character who makes it a habit to symbolically drown whenever dealing with difficult social situations. He moves to Enoshima island with his upbeat grandmother and is befriended by a self proclaimed alien boy named Haru. He later finds himself fishing with the moody local “Fishing Prince” Natsuki. By night time the alien boy Haru invites Yuki to the save the world with him, reminiscent of the goddess who descended upon the Earth and charmed the five headed dragon.
Whenever there’s an emphasis on the location, I can’t help but look into the history of that place. The prologue above appears to be a direct reference to Enoshima Engi, a history of the temples and shrines in Enoshima Island written by Buddist monk, Kokei. An extensive study around the myth and its relation to these events can be found here. The study suggests that the myth is in fact, related to real events that transpired in early Japan and shares several parallels with classic Indian literature and the Sarasvati River.
The goddess in Tsuritama who is enshrined in Enoshima is called Benzaiten (Goddess of Eloquence), a Japanese name for the Hindu goddess Saraswati. Tsuritama depicts her as a combination of these two cultures. It doesn’t completely explain Akira and Tapioca’s presence in the story, but it gives a hint as to why there are Indians in the show, given that they are associated with one goddess.
Wikipedia also describes Benzaiten as …”a highly syncretic entity with both a Buddhist and a Shinto side.”
Haru and the Goddess
Haru is a self proclaimed alien. Benzaiten descended unto Earth on a ‘purple cloud’. I’m convinced they weren’t eating suspicious shrooms at that time but Tsuritama’s interpretation of the event is easy: ALIENS. The hilarious thing about this is that the show is running around with this kind of impenetrable logic. Albeit this is giving me Mawaru Penguindrum flashbacks, Tsuritama is a fairly lighthearted affair except we have a five headed dragon and a goddess in the mix.
While many have already complained about Haru being annoying, this is as straightforward as you can get with this kind of character.
The fishbowl motif isn’t lolsorandum as it draws inspiration from Tendai Buddhism’s Uga Benzaiten, where the goddess carries a statue of the Ugajin on her head.
“[A kami is] any thing or phenomenon that produces the emotions of fear and awe, with no distinction between good and evil.” More Wikipedia for you.
It seems that Haru’s kind have been visiting Earth more than just a few times. As Akira and Tapioca discuss the reason behind Haru’s arrival, Akira assumes that he may be ‘just another tourist’, suggesting that he’s witnessed these aliens come and go.
Let’s get real, this wouldn’t be a Kenji Nakamura show if it weren’t rife with all sorts of symbolism. The problem with [C] is the ambiguity in regards of which direction it wanted to take. While that show was clearly regarded as Kenji Nakamura’s weakest work to date, we had Noboru Takagi behind the series composition who I feel should’ve shared some of that responsibility (like Mari Okada!).
[C] woes aside, Tsuritama has this entertaining gimmick of showing Yuki drowning whenever he finds himself in an uncomfortable spot with other people.
Another thing about Yuki is that he has this tendency to search everything on his mobile. He’s gained access to so much information and yet he’s never actually managed to improve his character.
The four main characters are named after seasons and have animals associated with them. Akira is with the duck, Natsuki’s ‘boss’ is a cat and Haru almost always has the fish with him. When Haru first comes across Yuki, a silhouette of a fish is reflected in his eyes.
I’m just saying maybe Yuki’s a fish.
Maybe Yuki’s an alien who can transform into a fish.
With this show you never know.
I still have no idea what kind of show this is going to be. Which is…well– scary in a way. I can rest easy on shows like Uchuu Kyoudai and Sakamichi no Apollon because they’re manga adaptations with more defined directions. Tsuritama on the other hand is chaotic and refreshing but it’s definitely ambiguous with it’s plot.
Other than “We kind of ended up saving the earth.” You have wonder what actually happens in between. Isn’t it strange how the show has conveniently spoiled the ending for us, only to deepen the mystery?
Yes, ponder on those questions my friend. To close this post, have a screencap of the best couple of the season.
If you’re not bringing your duck to Tokyo Sky Tree you need to reflect on your poor choices in life.
Edit: Preview for next episode is up on the website.