Tsuritama at a Glance – The Mystery of Enoshima Island

“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.

Enoshima Engi

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.

Furthermore,

“[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.

Proper reaction.

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.

WORSHIPING ALIENS.

S-S-SYMBOLISM!

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.

Overall Impression

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.

No related content found.

10 Comments

  1. Excellent post! I figured there was some kind of connection through Buddhism, and apparently the tale at the start of the episode is told in both India and Japan. Thanks for sharing this research on the setting.
    I’m wondering if the aliens are (uber) fish, and can somehow take human form? I also wonder if the fish with Haru is the aforementioned goddess? I suppose we’ll be finding out more very quickly, since it’s apparently only an 11-episode show. Should be a fun show to blog, at the very least. (I’ll be writing stuff on it at Sea Slugs.) I think what I like most from ep 1 was the cast of characters–they’re so lively, and the protagonist’s central conflict is easy to relate to. I also like how friendly everyone is, which works nicely for a slice-of-life. (If you can really call it that… There may be more of a sci-fi plot than I first expected.

    • Thank you!

      There’s no guarantee about the nature of the aliens in the show but I found it amusing that the fish in the fishbowl calls Haru ‘nii-chan’. Luckily we only have a few episodes which will lessen the strain of a rather confusing premise.

      Yuki’s a really fascinating character because his issues are simple yet severe. I also like how despite being weird, he wasn’t treated harshly for it. It feels more natural in that way.

  2. Hmm, this show is a lot denser than I thought at first glance! Good to hear that most of the crazy stuff so far holds up to scrutiny.

    I don’t have much else to say except that you nailed down a lot that I was feeling about this show but wasn’t sure how to express. Hoping that Nakamura will hit this one out of the park, and that you’ll be writing more on this show in the future! This is a very good start.

    Also, if Mawaru Penguindrum is the sole member of the “penguin mystery” genre, and Tsuritama is the sole member of the “sci-fi fishing” genre, could we combine these two together into an “aquatic magical realism” genre?

    • Good to hear that most of the crazy stuff so far holds up to scrutiny.

      Which is something I personally find enjoyable when it comes to chaotic, unconventional shows like these.

      I’ll definitely pick it up if it plays with more of the magical realism we’ve seen in the show. And judging by this episode, things could potentially go that way.

      Also, if Mawaru Penguindrum is the sole member of the “penguin mystery” genre, and Tsuritama is the sole member of the “sci-fi fishing” genre, could we combine these two together into an “aquatic magical realism” genre?

      …A new genre is born! I like how Nakamura is actually indirectly influenced by Ikuhara through Hosada. Tsuritama might be more light hearted though– but there was this scene with Yuki saying he was going to forget everything soon that felt out of place and rather ominous.

  3. Thought I’d check out some sites with the AniBlog Tournament coming up and I can honestly say, I love how you put effort into actually searching up and researching before writing up your thoughts on a episode (even though this is the first one I’ve read on your blog).

    What I love about discovering other blogs is what information they can provide for you that you wouldn’t have known before and I can definitely say that is evident in this post on Tsuritama ^^ I had Mawaru vibes running all over me in this episode. Can’t entirely explain it from my perspective but it might be due to how colourful and vibrant the colours WERE in the first episode of Tsuritama. It feels fresh and fishing? Really? That’s completely new and it works! I myself will definitely be watching Tsuritama from start to finish (unless they pummel downhill real fast..). Keep up the good work Mira! I’ve found another site to follow ^^

    • I thought it would be great to share a little about what I’ve read up on the island because you can really tell how everything come together.

      I really love the way the colors used and I guess you could say that it does give off Mawaru Penguindrum flashbacks, but my guess is that this show will probably be more laidback but somewhat reflect the more lighthearted side of things. I’ll keep an eye on the show because its definitely gotten my attention now. Thank you for dropping by! I’m glad you liked my little post on Tsuritama!

  4. Wow, you put a lot of work into digging towards the heart of this show, and it’s only the first episode. I never even thought to look up what kind of place Enoshima might be like for more information. Excellent post!

    I like the animal connections, but I’ll have to watch more to know what it MEANS for them to be associated with a duck or a cat. Or if it has any meaning at all (It’s Kenji Nakamura. I’m sure it does). The only obvious connection so far is connecting fish to Yuki’s drowning scenes, the fishing, and maybe the water gun.

    Fishing literally pulled Yuki away from his anxiety, so it’ll probably play an important role in making Yuki less passive and fearful. Can’t wait to see him become at least SLIGHTLY less of a neurotic breakdown in motion. He really does need to stop looking up trivial stuff on his phone instead of trying to socialize and learn things through asking people himself!

    • Wow, you put a lot of work into digging towards the heart of this show, and it’s only the first episode. I never even thought to look up what kind of place Enoshima might be like for more information. Excellent post!

      Aww shucks, now I’m all flattered. (I see Dr.Irabu on your icon!) The location definitely intrigued me, so I wanted to look it up. I like how Kenji Nakamura is all about telling the story through the visuals. It really gives of this ‘nothing is what it seems’ vibes.

      The screen is littered with so much color and activity that makes it fun to watch.

      The animal connections remind me of Trapeze right after the patients are injected. Hopefully in a few more episodes we’ll have a better understanding of what their purpose is. Some versions of the myth about Enoshima say that in order to appease the dragon, the goddess actually married it. In the prologue, you can see the heart turning into a UFO spaceship– makes me wonder if Haru is actually a direct descendant of sorts.

      He really does need to stop looking up trivial stuff on his phone instead of trying to socialize and learn things through asking people himself!

      Poor Yuki. Pople are actually nice towards him, but he’s completely unaccustomed to socializing. I’d love to see how fishing will change him and how that’s going to save the world.

  5. This is one of the most detailed post of Tsuritama I’ve came across and I enjoyed it very much. I would vote for you because of this post unfortunately I kinda owe Valence a vote. but yes, you are now in my blogroll! Not that it’s anything special >_>

  6. Great post, very nice infos you got for us here and with an awesome formatting :)

Leave a Reply to Tofu Cancel reply

© 2017 Hachimitsu

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

%d bloggers like this: