Fishing as a Way of Life: Tsuritama Episode 1

My father first pressed a fishing rod into my hands in the summer before I started first grade.

It wasn’t out of romance or passing on something to his daughter; in spite of being a nature-lover he hadn’t fished much in his life. No, I had begged for this fishing rod and reaching the age of six meant that my parents had considered the hazards of an accidental hook-through-body-part injury and had weighed in favor of my increasing common sense.

I received a beginner rod. One with the reel attached to the rod, encased in plastic so you couldn’t see the spool of the reel at all. In a brown paper bag my father handed me a tiny box filled with tiny hooks, tiny metal sinkers, and a tiny plastic bobber that was a poor mimicry of a red and white mooring buoy. As soon as he handed it to me, I ran out to our backyard and practiced casting. We were to leave for Maine the next day, and I wanted to impress my friend Robb who, in spite of us being the same age, had the advantage of an older brother to steal fishing equipment from.

Upon arriving in Maine, I risked the inevitable scolding from my parents, skipped helping them unpack the car, and ran down to my friend’s cabin. His was situated down by the dock where a large pine tree loomed over the lake, creating the perfect hideaway for fish. Ignoring the fact that it was two in the afternoon, brilliantly sunny, and probably around 90 degrees Fahrenheit, I plopped myself down on that dock, grabbed a squirming nightcrawler from the dirty styrofoam container that I had begged my parents to pick up at the general store on the way, and began to fish.

After about an hour, Lisa Sweet, the pretty teenage daughter of another family friend, stopped by to say hello. I was nice, but spoke quietly as to not scare the fish away.  After another hour and a half, Robb stopped by to politely tell me that I should probably wait until later and suggested baseball instead. I politely refused.

My memory is hazy on how long I resolutely sat on that dock, determined to catch a fish. (I know I went through several waterlogged worms and narrowly avoided a sunburn thanks to my mother’s forcibly rubbing suntan lotion on me as I sat.) Following what seemed like an eternity, it happened. My first fish. A tiny perch to go with my tiny rod, reel, and paper-bag tackle box.

After that, and please pardon the pun, I was hooked.  Fishing became a way of relaxing. I could focus on the “whirr-click-plop” of the lure hitting the water and pause life to organize and channel my racing mind. In Tsuritama fishing is used the same way, literally pulling protagonist Yuki out from drowning in his own social anxiety. As soon as the fish tugs on his line he is forced to focus on the task at hand instead of being consumed by his own fears of inadequacy.

Tsuritama‘s debut episode also shows how alluring fishing can be due to its unpredictable and often (when framed within the context of our own minds) whimsical nature. In spite of the local “Prince of Fishing” Natsuki telling Yuki that he’s using his lure wrong, against the odds much like my six year-old self, Yuki gets a bite immediately. Further proof that, whether you have a boat with multiple downriggers or a bamboo pole with a day-old worm cemented on the hook, there’s an aspect to fishing that will always be out of one’s control.

Lack of control is something that both of the respective protagonists in noitaminA’s two offerings this season struggle to come to grips with in their restless lives. Both jazz and fishing encapsulate those off-beat pieces of life that confound us as much as they fascinate. Now that Yuki has been forcibly jerked from his panic attacks I’m curious to see what fishing has in store for him.


Filed under First Impressions, Tsuritama

16 responses to “Fishing as a Way of Life: Tsuritama Episode 1

  1. I also loved how fishing (literally) pulled Yuki out of his drowning misery–I thought it was a really clever way to help him break out of his shell (not to mention, a wonderful visual).
    I’ve only fished a couple times in my life, but I did actually manage to catch a fish. It was so unexpected, that I didn’t know what to do at first! But I did manage to reel it in, and we let it go afterward (though I’m not sure it survived). The act of fishing makes for a fair representation of life I suppose–the vast majority of it isn’t too exciting… but like you said, you never know what’s going to happen! Even the best-laid plans can yield no reward, but on the other hand you can get really lucky in some rare occassions.

    • I wanted to add–I rather liked how Yuki was able to get a bite, but didn’t actually manage to reel in the fish successfully. It would have probably felt too easy, for one thing–but I think it also shows that Yuki still needs to grow some more (ie form real friendships with his classmates) before he can begin to confidently “catch fish.”

      • Agreed. In fact, one could argue that it was a necessary decision (it was at the very least a conscious one, in my opinion) for developing Yuki subtly. I doubt we’ve seen the last of Yuki’s panic attacks; however, that entire scene where he was literally jerked out of his funk and forced to focus on the task at hand was beautiful, and highlighted that there was something that could occupy his mind long enough to keep him from drowning in his own thoughts.

        You really never know what’s going to happen in life, and it’s hard (for both me and Yuki) to accept things that are beyond our control. I’ve learned, and hopefully Yuki will learn as well, that sometimes the most important thing is to keep casting your line out there. As you said, you never know what you might catch! ^ ^

        Thank you for these lovely comments.

  2. Growing up by the ocean, time with my parents quite often revolved around different seasons of fishing: red salmon, silver salmon, king salmon, halibut. Even winters weren’t safe as my dad would drag me out to the lakes for some good ol’ ice fishing. Watching this episode reminded me of what it was that I enjoyed about the sport, and its colorful effects and creative narration made me almost forget what it was that I hated about fishing.

    I also laughed when I saw the door to the fishing shop with the name, “Heming Way”. What a wonderful tribute to a man who loved fishing perhaps even more than writing.

    • I also grew up near the ocean, but didn’t do much in the ways of saltwater fishing. My fondest memory of anything like it was scrounging up broken lobster traps and catching crabs in them with pieces of hotdogs.

      It’s interesting that it was your father as well who seemingly (and please correct me if I’m wrong!) introduced you to fishing, albeit with a completely different attitude. I’m sure that enthusiasm/forcefulness definitely played a role in each of our developing attitudes towards it. Hopefully you have some fond memories of fishing as well. ^ ^

      I too loved the Hemingway tribute. Thought that was great. Thanks for the comment!

  3. My own fishing experience is much different. I was probably too fargone into modern entertainment to be able to do anything about it unfortunately. It was my teenage years and my father wanted to relive part of his childhood, hundreds of miles away from home so I ended up on a lake in the middle of nowhere trying to catch fish though I had never actually had a reason to do so up to that point. So I spent an entire week on docks, out on a boat and anywhere else I could cast a line into water unable to catch a thing. It also didn’t help that the only people around were multiples of my age at the time.

    Anyway, I don’t know if that’s entirely relevant to anything here, but I figured I’d share my fishing experience on a show that seems dedicated to it.

    • I’m so old. ^ ^

      I believe I mentioned this in my Twin Spica post, but I’ll reiterate that I
      did have very strict parents who did not allow me to watch anything but sports, PBS, or the news until I was in high school, so going outside or reading were both very attractive options for me growing up.

      Your story sounds a bit humorous (perhaps in hindsight only?). Neither of my parents have tried to relive their glory days of anything, so I still have that to look forward to.

      Thanks for the comment!

  4. I feel like watching this show with my dad since he loves fishing and will go fishing whenever he has the opportunity. On top of that he watched anime too, albeit all shounen. Maybe this one can intrigue him as well.

    • It’s always the dads, hunh?

      My dad will only watch the Ghibli stuff, but he likes that so I’ve been thinking of trying to expand his horizons. Best of luck to both of us in getting our fathers to watch anime. ^ ^

  5. Well, that’s a cute story. I don’t remember the first time I went fishing, but I do remember the first time I went fishing on a boat, I ended up casting so hard I judo-flipped into the water… bass boats are difficult to climb back into when you’re five.

    I didn’t realize tsuritama was going to be about fishing, literally. I actually hope it’s not too focused on the sport because what caught my attention was the cinematography over everything (and the characterization was kind of.. irritating I guess). I was even more impressed with the ‘shots’ than the art and visual eccentricities, which I felt were similar to Ponyo in palette. It’s that the framing of characters and background have a fresh feel, almost illogically so, and that inspires me to keep watching out of curiosity… but maybe not every week.

    Thanks for sharing your memories!

    • There definitely is a Ponyo vibe to this in the brightness and color of the series (the red hair against the blue of Yuki’s uniform and the sea definitely reminded me of Ponyo herself) although the messages are
      quite different.

      It sounds like you were a very energetic five year-old. ^ ^ I always had trouble with casting far, but was fairly accurate. When my friend and I would have competitions, he would always get it farther because he was a lot larger than I…

      The show is quirky, for sure, but had a lot of great moments in this first episode that made me want to watch more. ^ ^

  6. krizzlybear

    I dropped my gameboy into the water, and it still worked. Fishing is a-ok in my book, and I liked your story at the beginning. It was cute and full of energy, which is why I can imagine why you jumped at the chance to use it for this post.

    And those puns! I am reel-y amused.

    • krizzlybear

      err, my oldest memory of fishing involved dropping a gameboy. I hope that clears things up. I was really hasty in writing, and was thinking only of the pun.

    • Apparently those old Gameboys were built to last! Meanwhile, I think if I dropped, say, my PS3 into the water, it would be well-beyond saving. ^ ^

      I’m not sure if I jumped at the chance to use this memory here as much as it jumped out at me from the gigantic filing cabinet of my mind while watching this episode.

      Thanks for the story. I absolutely love how this has become a place to share fish tales, heehee. ^ ^

  7. Pingback: Aniblog Stuff Day 12

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