As fun and almost nauseatingly vibrant as Tsuritama is, there really isn’t much depth to it. Sure, there are interesting themes touched on like social isolation and the way most close relationships are an awkward amalgamation of codependence, but past that the waters are so shallow that diving in would leave me with a proverbial gaping head wound and at least one of my proverbial lungs flooded with proverbial water. I’d write on those themes, but I’d just be vomiting up the same things that have been said better (and first) elsewhere. With that said, and at the risk of running this horse into the ground prematurely, enjoy my attempt at analyzing and contextualizing the dynamics between Natsuki and his father.
The idea of an unsupportive father isn’t exactly a radical concept to fit in an anime series. At this point, the ratio of healthy paternal relationships to unhealthy ones is ridiculously skewed toward the unhealthy side of things, and it will likely stay skewed for as long as impressionable children live by the words of Will Smith’s powerful anthem, “Parents Just Don’t Understand”. It’s a well known anime fact that for each healthy relationship between a father and his child, there are at least three fathers that get some sadistic pleasure out of seeing their child in pain; they don’t cover their pancakes with maple syrup, they make their own out of their children’s sweet, sweet tears. And this isn’t even when fathers have the lack of consideration to be dead just because the plot decides to kill them off, the unsupportive fucks. No longer having a pulse isn’t a good enough excuse for nonexistent parenting, anime dads!
At this point, I’m inclined to believe that this trend toward horrible parenting was really trail-blazed by Gendo Ikari, and every other anime father since has made him their role model for achievement in the field of child neglect and/or verbal abuse. I’d find it more shocking for a series to have a fit father sharing a tender moment with his son than for a crappy dad to throw empty beer bottles at him in a drunken attempt to relive his old days of winning carnival games.
I never expected Tsuritama to fall into this dangerous line given the lighthearted nature of the show, but it seems that Natsuki sure did, given the fact that he treats his father with the same open hostility that he would a giant spider with dripping fangs. A neat trick is played where his father comes across as a wholly amiable person, friendly to everyone and more than willing to lend a helping hand, but he seems to be hiding something behind his cheerful facade. Even with his almost unbearably jovial demeanor, there’s a faint undercurrent of remorse; if he did somehow screw up the relationship with his son with finding a new flame, he wants to make amends for it. And if he didn’t, he just wants to stay on his son’s good side so he isn’t completely alienated. Though their exchanges are often accompanied by the same whimsical recorder music that follows everything else in the show, there’s far from a happy relationship between the two.
I actually really like the father, considering that he’s not one of the many bastards rampant in the medium that treat their spawn like something found on the bottom of their shoes. The situation may be tense at home, but he knows it and either wants to lighten the mood or to set things right again. No matter what he may have done, and I think it would be more than just finding a new woman after his wife’s death, he wants to stay on his son’s good side to preserve order and happiness in the house, and at the very least I find that pretty far from despicable. Then again, when you’re up against Gendo Ikari for Father of the Year, anything shy of kicking crutches away from crippled orphans ranks pretty highly.