Diary of Our Days at the Breakwater
Hina Tsurugi (voiced by Kanon Takao) has just moved to the countryside from the big city. Hina prefers the relaxing air of indoor activities and isn’t much of an athlete. One day, while near the coast, Hina meets Yuuki Kuroiwa (voiced by Yuu Sasahara).
Yuuki, an avid angler, manages to demonstrate the draw of fishing to a sheepish Hina. Thanks to a bit of trickery, Yuuki succeeds in getting Hina to join the Breakwater Club.
Although Hina has no real intention of pursuing the club’s down and dirty style, she can’t help appreciating the calming nature of fishing. Upon meeting the club’s other members, Natsumi Hodaka and Makoto Oono (voiced respectively by Natsumi Kawaida and Satomi Akesaka), Hina decides to see where this journey outside her comfort zone may go.
Well, this was pretty damn pleasant.
Although not as powerful, Diary of Our Days at the Breakwater (Breakwater) ran in the same vein as 2018’s Yuru Camp. The two series created an enduring sense of calm. As such, I suggest not marathoning either show, with the intent to finish, before going to bed. They will put you to sleep, but not because they are boring. On the contrary, they are incredibly relaxing, which, given their content, is both fitting and proper.
On a personal note, I recognize I gravitate more towards Yuru Camp rather than Breakwater because I enjoy camping more than I do fishing. Still, I am always hard-pressed when I have to say “no” to a fishing trip. Thus, begging the question, does the idea of sitting beside a lake, river, or ocean for potentially hours, often with nothing to show for it, sound like a good time for you?
If the answer to that question is yes, then you’re on your way to already liking Breakwater. If the answer is no, then I get why you might need a bit more convincing. And if so, not to worry, this series was much more than a solid idea.
Besides its easy-going atmosphere, not to mention its well-timed comedy, Breakwater understood what it takes to deliver an outstanding slice-of-life anime. Since these types of shows typically don’t employ a central narrative filled with exciting twists and turns, there is only one place left for such a series to focus on – the characters.
First off, Breakwater’s cast was small. I have seen far too many slice-of-life anime think in terms of quantity; how many people can we shove onto the screen at one time? Often, this strategy backfires, especially when a show is only twelve or thirteen episodes. There is not enough time to get to know everyone in a significant way. Therefore, many characters are regulated to the background, making you wonder why they were ever introduced.
Breakwater focused all its attention on only four primary characters, Hina Tsurugi, Natsumi Hodaka, Yuuki Kuroiwa, and Makoto Oono. Although the group met and interacted with others, this show’s real heart always remained with the Breakwater Club. When a series can’t rely on a narrative to hold its audience’s attention, it needs to have likable and fun characters. Something Breakwater did spectacularly.
Of the four, I have a lot of things I liked about Natsumi and Yuuki. But before we cover them, let’s quickly acknowledge Hina and Makoto.
Hina was easily the most average aspect of this series. I don’t say that negatively. When something came up or an obstacle got in the way, Hina usually had to deal with it. And why not? She was the one new to fishing, as well as the person who was most out of her element. Hina was the constant in an ever-changing environment. Her averageness made sense.
Makoto was the group’s rock. She served as both a cheerleader and teacher to her younger club members. Whenever Hina, for example, needed someone to understand how much she didn’t like creepy crawly things, she could always turn to Makoto for sympathy. Of course, Makoto was completely comfortable with all the more gruesome aspects of fishing. She didn’t share Hina’s crippling fear of anything gross. Still, Makoto, unlike Natsumi and Yuuki, would never exacerbate Hina’s discomfort.
Hina and Mokoto’s roles were critical in turning Breakwater into the show that it was. However, they were overshadowed by their other two clubmates.
I liked Natsumi because she was a character I haven’t seen in a long time. Natsumi was energetic, outgoing, and loved to be outdoors. In most any other series, she would be considered a tomboy. I wouldn’t go that far here. Although Natsumi enjoyed things that have often been portrayed as boyish, she was also as stylish and every bit as cutesy as Hina. Natsumi was a girl with a personality that many other shows would have split into two characters. Breakwater had no issue with the notion that – surprise – someone can be both.
In any other situation, someone like Natsumi would have been my favorite character. However, Breakwater gave us Yuuki. She couldn’t have been on screen for more than five minutes before I knew that she was shaping up to be one of my top anime characters of 2020. I loved everything about her.
On the one hand, Yuuki could be manipulative. She had no qualms about stacking the deck in her favor and was more than happy to give an already flustered Hina a hard time. Yuuki was a slacker, mooch, and schemer. But, like, in a playful, non-malicious way. She never crossed a line.
On the other hand, Yuuki was the Breakwater Club’s ideal president. She was passionate about fishing and aquatic life. She knew when she could push her club members hard and when she needed to lend a helping hand. When Yuuki was in teaching mode, she never criticized; she never made fun of someone because they didn’t know something. She understood that everyone has to start from the bottom and work their way up.
Still, if someone left themselves open for a good jab, Yuuki wasn’t just going to let an opportunity slip by her.
Thanks to Yuuki, Natsumi, Mokoto, and Hina’s combined work, Breakwater managed to establish a lighthearted atmosphere. It was that atmosphere that allowed this series to be something special and worth watching.
If you go into this series thinking it’s going to be a bunch of cute girls doing cute things, you wouldn’t be necessarily wrong. However, I feel that attitude is unfair. There was a ton of charm to this series, and yes, the characters could be on the adorable side.
That said, it did sting every time Breakwater went for a low hanging joke or observation that helped confirm the stigma given to these types of slice-of-life anime.
There were never any cringy moments in this show, which was nice. Nevertheless, there came the occasional comment I wish could have found its way to the cutting room floor.
Be that as it may, I must admit that Breakwater was solid. There was never an instance when the series lost my interest. That’s saying something since I feel it’s becoming much harder to do that these days.
However, I guess Breakwater did get a bit heavy-handed with its fishing explanations – to give a more specific criticism. Now and then, the series would take a second to explain a particular type of rigging and why it worked best on a specific kind of fish. If you’re coming into this show hoping to get to know the characters and maybe even squeeze in a hearty laugh, these instances don’t do that.
But, if you do enjoy fishing, then these segments might be well-received. Speaking for myself: Thanks to Breakwater, I wouldn’t mind pulling out my gear and heading out to the water for a relaxing afternoon. So, maybe, this show knew what it was doing.
This series knew how to create an atmosphere of tranquility; it really grasped the pull of its subject matter. To help achieve this feat, we were given one of the most interesting and fun groups of characters yet to come out of 2020. That’s a pretty big accomplishment in my book.
Diary of Our Days at the Breakwater has earned itself a massive recommendation.
Diary of Our Days at the Breakwater: A Trophy Catch
Writing - 7/10
Plot - 7/10
Character Development - 8/10
Production - 8/10
Music - 7/10
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