Gone Fishing! The Wandering Witch Between the Sky and Sea

Posted on Dec 19 2018

Welcome, all, again. My past two reviews have focused upon shows that allude to serious matters, from the challenges of shaping an adult mindset from the normal morass of hormonal adolescent emotions to the displacement of refugees during wartime. So let’s close the year with something a little lighter: Between the Sky and Sea, an identity-crisis of an anime combining elements of both Sci-Fi and fantasy. Now, don’t go expecting much in the way of plot when watching this, as it pretty much boils down to a group of six teenage girls living, training, and arguing together, all under the watchful eye of a chaperone who can’t be more than a decade older than those whom she supervises. They’re working hard to become space fishers so they can keep fish on the table down here on Earth. . .

Space fishers, you say? That’s right! You see, according to the show’s opening, all the fish mysteriously and almost instantaneously disappeared from the world’s oceans at some point. Fortunately, there were enough breeding stock left (from aquariums, fish farms, or research facilities, presumably) to save several species. But here’s where a story that’s already courting exaggerated improbability just runs completely off the rails–instead of investing in terrestrial fish farming, the solution given in this series is that Japan creates spherical fishing tanks in space in which to house the remnant fish populations and then harvest them for food as their numbers recover. Pretty ingenious! Or diabolical. Or something. Definitely absurd and astronomically expensive! Because while I can certainly appreciate the fact that neither governments nor scientists might wish to release our last remaining marine animals into the seas without knowing why the fish previously living there disappeared (that much makes sense), constructing controlled environments for fish farming here on earth would be easier and much less expensive than going into space. (In fact, according to the Animal Welfare Institute–awionline.org–roughly half of the fish consumed globally today are already raised in artificial environments.) So, let’s just clear the air before proceeding: this is not a story that was ever intended to be in the least bit believable, let alone to make sense. Just a bunch of jiggly, giggly, and frequently underdressed teenage girls playing in water and occasionally doing so in space–in other words, what you might get if Leonard, Howard, and Raj of The Big Bang Theory got stoned together and tried to write their ultimate Sci-Fi screenplay.

Of course, this might all seem a bit science-y and dry, so let’s move past our setting to our story. Jiggly, giggly–right, did that already. Space fishing is presented as a relatively recent invention, with only men having been allowed so far. But changes in the law have strengthened clauses about equal opportunity, so some enterprising folks decide to form a girls’ squad and demand that women be allowed to participate. Subsequently, despite the Fishing Union being against the change, the Ministry of Fisheries allows the recruitment and formation of a girls’ space fishing squad. And what a motley crew they are! Five of the recruited six seem to be Japanese but–while all five of them have pronounced dialects–one seems to think she’s actually Scottish. The sixth team member is a late arrival, a petite blonde girl from the United States who immediately proclaims herself as an industrial spy. (I thought that announcing yourself as a spy only worked in James Bond and Austin Powers films; then again, I’ve never been thus employed.) So, the Fishing Union keeps trying to block the progress of the girls’ squad, particularly through denying them access to training. This tends to lose importance, though, as the girls’ squad keeps trying to implode and disintegrate due to personality clashes, misunderstandings, and emotional meltdowns. Oh, and the wannabe Scot doesn’t even want to space fish–she’s there on a much more personal quest. But we do get some relief from this bunch by way of a strong (if criminally underutilized) supporting cast, including shifty politicians, bullying senpai space fishers, and a convincing crossdresser who’s cute enough to melt the macho right off any of the guys in town. Honestly, this anime doesn’t even need a girls’ squad or space fishing!

But it has both, and I’m certainly not complaining. In fact, it also has a fantasy element, gods who are summoned via smartphone to help our space fishers as they battle the giant fish they try to catch. (Guess I forgot to mention that the fish are now giant-sized, presumably from the weak gravity in space or something like that.) This show won’t appeal to everyone–it’s weird, nonsensical, even absurd. But the artwork is pretty, the animation is smoothly fluid, and the characters have a lot of heart. So go on, bite!

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