It’s an odd world, the one that most of us carry inside of our own minds. We may build things up and tear them down in the next instant. As viewers, we are often privy to the thoughts that flicker through our protagonists’ minds, with the idea behind this being one of furthering our understanding of the lead character’s motivations. Why, exactly, are they doing what they are doing? More often than not, we are given this information freely, and don’t think on it too much. It’s a style of direction that’s tried and true, expected, and natural to a viewing audience.
So what happens if the director of a series suddenly decides to point this out?
In the second episode of Tsuritama, director Kenji Nakamura decides to bring this very idea to our attention through a thought by Natsumi Usami; simply “He spoke.” This draws our focus to the fact that, up until this point, Yuki Sanada hadn’t actually spoken to Natsumi aloud.
Having been privy to lead character Yuki’s thoughts from the opening scenes of the first episode, hearing Yuki speak his mind is common to us. We always hear his responses to others, in spite of him rarely speaking them aloud. Episode Two shows Yuki ever-so-slightly beginning to open up to supposed-alien Haru and his wacky sister, Koko, if only because they are two characters who constantly and continuously speak to him regardless. (Their discourse is also a bit suspicious since they, through the way the dialogue is arranged, appear to know Yuki’s inner thoughts as well as we do.) Unfortunately, when Yuki does attempt to speak his inner thoughts to others, he clams up and has panic attacks where he is unable to speak or think at all.
Instead, what he should have said comes to him during flashbacks much later in his day. There, in the comfort of his own room, he is able to yell out what he should have said following his flight from Natsumi’s (harsh) criticism, “You don’t have to go that far!”
Retracing our steps a bit to Episode One, Yuki does in fact, say a few things aloud to Natsumi before fully opening up to him at the end of Episode Two. They are almost always in the heat of a dramatic moment, when Yuki hands and mind are too occupied with reeling in a fish to over-think what he is about to say. His first words to Natsumi are an audible plea for help during his first potential catch, “What am I supposed to do?”
Natsumi also remarks to himself, “So he can speak.” in Episode One, but it appears more of an off-handed observation, as anyone would make in his situation. Reiterating this stance in Episode Two brings the difference between Yuki’s thoughts and his audible words into clear focus for us, the attentive audience. Natsumi has only heard Yuki speak a few times, and always when his mind was concerned with something else. Otherwise, to Natsumi, Yuki is simply a really weird kid who makes angry faces all the time and never speaks.
This gives the viewer pause to think on the difference in what Yuki is thinking, and what he is saying; who he is responding to in his mind, and who he is responding to aloud. It’s a fantastic piece of direction, and forces our attention on what Yuki will think or say in the future.
A few other thoughts:
Yuki’s audible responses to Haru and Koko come much more freely than they do when he is attempting to speak with others. This could be that Haru and Koko are so incredibly out there that he doesn’t recognize them as “normal.” It also could be a subtle hint that he has subconsciously stopped seeing them as human.