Josee, the Tiger and the Fish

July 19, 202173/100161214 min
Alt. Name
Josee to Tora to Sakana-tachi
Release Date
December 2020
Run Time
1 hr. 39 min.
Overall Score
Rating Overview
Art Style
Animation Production
Rating Summary
For an adaptation that had already been created nearly a decade earlier, this version is worlds better. The story is charming and easy to get into, though not perfect by any means. The art in this film is magnificent and stunningly beautiful, which for a movie with fish is always a plus. If it's family night and people are trying to figure out what to watch, this would be an excellent choice for people of any age.

Josee, the Tiger, and the Fish is a 2020 Slice of Life Romantic Drama anime film by arguably one of the most famous Japanese animation studios, Bones. While the studio is under one name, don’t be confused because there are technically five studios within the studio. The one responsible for this film so happens to be Studio D. Though Bones has made a relatively large amount of series and movies, Studio D hasn’t created anything that wasn’t a sequel. That was the first season of Show by Rock!! Hopefully, this subgroup within Bones can push the continued expectation that fans and newcomers are looking to watch.

Marine biology student Tsuneo dreams of studying abroad and diving in tropical waters. But his plans for the future are disrupted when he happens to collied – literally – with a girl in a wheelchair who calls herself Josee. Seemingly on a whim, Josee’s overprotective grandmother hires him as a part-time caretaker. And although Josee is demanding and willful, she and Tsuneo broaden each other’s horizons. When tragedy strikes both separately, they are forced to question just what they want from the future.
Life can be one hell of a ride with as many ups and downs as we make of it, and sometimes life doesn’t go as we planned. Josee teaches Tsuneo about life beyond normality, and Tsuneo teaches Josee about everything he can and sometimes what he doesn’t even know. Together they learn that fate has a strange way of working in this world and that little red string may have different plans than what they’re hoping.

Throughout this film, the viewer will begin to notice many positives within this type of story. For instance, the viewer may enjoy that the story is better than what one may expect. The romance is not overly done, which is a plus to some who aren’t into the cliché boy meets girl instantly fall in love trope. The writers seemed to seamlessly take a healthy amount of the Slice of Life, Drama, and Romance genres and do a pretty decent job tying them together. Though the most significant tie-in to this aspect is that if one is not interested in romance, then this may be a good area for them; for most of the film, there are bloops of romance but not enough to turn anyone away.

Another positive aspect of this story was that they had a solid use of a timeline of events, especially when events get a little tragic. When the story starts getting a little dark and gloomy for the characters, the pace is in a way that isn’t too overbearing towards the viewer, but still hard-hitting that it doesn’t take much to show. Don’t think that this story is all sunshine and rainbows because sometimes life gets dark, and we must live on through the darkness.

Outside of the positives mentioned, this film had a few glaring problems within this story that must be mentioned. The biggest one was that the film’s pacing seemed to be off throughout the entire movie, but what makes this even more strange is that the film had areas that moved way too fast or too slow. Nothing ever fit into place once the movie got going. Another negative that this story had was that there are significant events within this film, but they have no substance. This was a clear shot at attempting the “A Silent Voice” audience but failed to do so by not getting the viewers’ teeth into something juicy.

Though for a story based on a short story from the 1980s, this doesn’t seem to have anything outside of a run-of-the-mill made for television adaptation. For instance, in one portion of the film, the two main characters are happy doing something, then suddenly skip, and bam, tragedy suddenly happens. While that might be acceptable for some, this story could have been so much better if the story flowed together—there is not anything, just empty shells of what could have been excellent levels of emotional scenes.

However, what Josee, the Tiger, and the Fish do better than expected was that its art style is magnificent. Though not perfect and by no means its nothing but realistic, what makes this style work better than if they went towards a flashy smooth design is that it lacks that pop! The real greatness comes when the viewer realizes that this is a modern-day story, with a modern style that’s down to earth, from its dullness of colors and realistic outlines of characters to its beautifully crafted and created watercolor effects. Everything that’s taken in this world is on a better plane than anything else, and that’s a true shame to have wasted it on such a lackluster story.

While the art style was very pleasing to the animation, production was a mixed bag of sorts. However, please don’t get confused that this is a negative view of the film, which it isn’t. the music they played throughout the film was beautiful, though they could have put more in to give some scenes a better impact. The minor details like blurring the background foliage to simulate water for the main character’s love of the ocean to the character designs themselves are incredibly pleasing to the viewer’s eyes. But what sets this production apart is the music composition by Evan Call and the performances by Eve. These two are fabulous and hopefully won’t be the last the two will be working together.

When it comes to the characters within this film, they seem to do great on paper, but for whatever reason on-screen, they somehow don’t. Tsuneo Suzukawa is the main male protagonist; he’s a college student who works at a diving shop with his friends Mai Ninomiya and Hayato Matsura. Outside of that, there is not anything worthy of mention within his description. Of course, his personality is a little bare, like he’s smart, making him a little too cocky. Though he is a very kind person, he tends to think less about other people when it comes to achieving his goals, but this is a trait that isn’t negative and is shown quite well throughout the film.

The next character is the eponymous character, Kumiko, but she goes by Josee. She has a slender figure and fair skin with a slight blush on her cheeks. She is 24 years which would make her older than Tsuneo. However, the most glaring aspect of this character is that she is disabled, which the film did an extraordinary job of portraying. She loves the ocean and the smell of the salty air that goes with the sea breeze. She is at first a potential Tsundere-type character, but as the film progresses, she becomes more of a sweet person that has a hard time trusting new people.

Outside of these two characters, there is not much to share about the other three side characters, which is remarkable since the film is over an hour and a half and the other characters are highly forgettable. However, the biggest shock to the character side has to be that they rely on stereotypes and tropes but more or less in a good way. The film showcases that no one is perfect, yet these characters are far from it, but they still try to live their best lives. Shocking, but it is true.

Throughout the viewing of this film, the viewer may or may not enjoy this Hallmark-style Slice of Life anime. But I’d be hardpressed to think it doesn’t have something for everyone. There is beautiful scenery – especially when it comes to the aquarium. There is also a tremendous emotional connection with the two main characters, and of course, there are more, but that would be spoiling a few of the significant parts of this film. Though this film did have some positives, it also had its problems that shouldn’t be taken lightly. This film does have the potential to be a great film, but they missed significant opportunities and instead went with a cheaper, less eventful outcome. Overall the viewer may enjoy this film, but they’d probably enjoy the 2003 Live Action version a lot better.

Cody Senpai

Cody Senpai is the creator of BakaNow, an anime review website that specializes in spoiler-free reviews for everyone. He is an avid anime watcher who has traveled to Japan numerous times to not only experience the culture and history but also to build friendships with people through a common interest. He is an avid animation fanatic from birth and even went on to major in communication to help share the importance of the stories we love to watch and listen to. Cody lives in Denver, Colorado and loves to do anything adventurous.

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