Hook, Line, and Sinker: Audible Distinction in Tsuritama

Only these boys know what they're thinking...and even then...

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.

A focused reflection on the day's events.

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.

12 Comments

Filed under Editorials, Tsuritama

12 responses to “Hook, Line, and Sinker: Audible Distinction in Tsuritama

  1. I think this is an accurate assessment. Although, I think you’ve nailed the reason I’m irritated with the writing: why does he have so many inner monologues!! It’s so imbalanced. I get that’s the character, he’ll have to overcome his insecurities, but this turns me away from such a visually enticing anime. And it might not be so bad if there were less of him talking in his head… it becomes quite noisy after a while, like Tatami Galaxy‘s narration, only not appealing for me personally.

    Maddening stuff. And I like your final pondering. I don’t think he’s stopped seeing them as human but has realized he can’t necessarily lose face with them, or wouldn’t mind it. Yuki’s tension with Natsume shows that he has some concern over losing him in the fray of awkward social skills. Well, that’s my thought.

    I know, I said I wasn’t following tsuritama or anything, but I did need to see the second episode. ^ ^

    • Thanks, Ryan!

      You mention Tatami Galaxy‘s narrator, and that’s an apt comparison. While you found him personally appealing, I know a lot of others who were turned off completely to that series because of his rapid-fire narration (their loss, in my opinion). In both cases it shows how being too much in one character’s head can often alienate the viewer. As an aside, have you seen Ookiku Furikabutte? I’d be interested to hear your opinion on Mihashi’s inner thoughts. ^ ^

      I found this piece of direction clever, because it will certainly make me pay attention to who Yuki is speaking to when. In a way, this gives us an even more honest read on his feelings than the privilege of access to his innermost thoughts.

      • I haven’t seen Ookiku Furikabutte, but I’ve been aware of it for a few years (I think because of Totali). If I ever watch it, I’ll be sure to remember this.

        Also, I think the narration in TG was irritating because it was excessively quick. But I could see myself becoming easily annoyed if the dialog was slowed down. I remember some bloggers were under the impression that we weren’t meant to catch everything he was saying, so the words were a kind of noise.

        Damn, I need to finish that show… well, Cheers!

  2. ooooh fun stuff AJ! I do enjoy those moments with Yuki whenever he enters omg panic drowning mode, but I wasn’t a huge fan of it with the first episode…it will grow on my I suppose! I mean eventually he wont do that right after he makes some real “friends”

    Whever Yuki had any inner thought issues it made me think of Shiori Shiomiya from Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai! Because she had similar issues when dealing with people and she hardly ever spoke to the main character, but yeah we have seen this in a few shows through the season.

    So I take it you are following this series for blogging?! I will have to stop by and read more posts! Keep up the good work xD

    Also Turban-kun and his duck for best duo! OH YES <3

    • I loved the “drowning bit” in the first episode. In fact, that was one of my favorite parts, haha. I agree that it will happen less as the series progresses, as Yuki learns to deal with talking to other people, all while using fishing as his method of escape. ^ ^

      You know, I didn’t think of Shiori, since she’s not a main character, but you’re right. We’re privy to a torrent of her innermost thoughts that she never speaks aloud. Most people think she’s just a quiet weirdo.

      The best parts of Akira Agarkar Yamada? He’s voiced by Tomokazu Sugita. Also, the fact that he talks to his duck. ^ ^

      • Hell yes! I always love listening to Tomokazu Sugita he has voiced a few of my favorite male characters xD

        • krizzlybear

          Having read this comment thread in relation to the one I left, I was actually going to use Shiori as my anime example with regards to inner/outer dialogue and its relation to subtext in writing. Seems like both you and AJ are mind-readers! haha!

  3. krizzlybear

    It’s like you’re reading my mind, AJ. A week or so ago, I was considering doing a Fiction Friday post on the separation of inner and outer dialogue in prose, and the subtext involved with limiting what the audience knows about the characters in a scene. I’m glad that you used Tsuritama in this case, since it’s probably one of the better examples to outline this particular concept.

    Keep up the great work. Your contributions to the site alone are enough to warrant a vote from me for the ABT!

    • I look forward to good things from Tsuritama based on Nakamura’s choices in these first two episodes. The third episode (which I just viewed last night) did not disappoint either, especially now that I’m trained (through his direction) to pay attention to whom is speaking with whom. This is easily my favorite show in a very strong season.

      Reading someone else’s mind is a horrifying ability that I would never want to have. I hardly know what goes on in my own mind half the time. ^ ^

      Thanks for the comment!

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