Josee, the Tiger and the Fish

Josee, the Tiger and the Fish ★★★★

I have a type. Slice-of-life, coming-of-age, emotional, beautifully drawn, romantic anime films have a way of making me feel so strongly. So here we are; it's happened again.

This lovely, albeit predictable, story of a young man and woman finding each other (and themselves) is absolutely wonderful. There's simply nothing wrong with familiar story beats so long as they are executed well. What makes this somewhat unique is that both main characters, Tsuneo and Josee, are in their early to mid twenties. He is working multiple jobs and saving money to move abroad and follow his aspiration of studying ocean life and diving. She is confined to a wheelchair, being taken care of by her elderly grandmother, and has talents and passions of her own. The film handles Josee's disability with such grace and never treats her as needy. In fact, she's one of the more headstrong characters I've met in this genre. She has agency and is capable, never a vessel to be pitied.

Of course, they go on a journey and learn much because of one another. It's heartwarming at times, heartbreaking at others, and always wholesome as can be. There are also a pair of close friends to Tsuneo that factor into the story in a really nice way. The story being about adults was such a plus for me because they are at an age where this is reality for so many - learning to overcome fears and be independent and take risks and chase dreams and accept change, and the best part, open yourself up to the power of relationship with others. The art style is not as immediately striking as something like Makoto Shinkai's work but it's still decidedly modern and gorgeous in its subtlety. The characters emote so well and the landscapes, especially the water, look splendid . It also has a lovely score and superb English voice acting in the dub.

I know that I'm a mark for this and it probably is hitting me harder than it will others, but understanding what kind of film you emotionally respond to is important. Because why not seek out that which has a good chance of affecting you in a positive way? This feels like a mash-up at times of something like "Your Name" and "A Silent Voice", both favorites of mine, and this sits in that same pantheon of beloved anime movies for me now.

2021 Awards Cycle Ranked

Ranked: Top 20 Anime Films

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