Just so you know, this was yet another show that was on my list for Otaku Theater when it came out in the Spring 2020 season. I only really knew it for its Japanese name (Houkago Teibou Nisshi), but I think Diary of our Days at the Breakwater is just an excellent a description of what this show is about. Just as adaptations of isekai manga and light novels are the trend in the anime industry right now, more relaxed slice-of-life works (or iyashikei) are also becoming more and more visible. I’ve been following slice-of-life shows for a long time, and I’ve really grown to love the iyashikei sub-genre. The more I watched Diary of Our Days at the Breakwater, the more iyashikei vibes I felt.
Hina Tsurugi and her family move from Tokyo back to their hometown in Kyushu. As she enters her new high school, she aims to join the Handicrafts club, with it being a hobby of hers. However, circumstances make her meet Yuki Kuroiwa, the president of the school’s Breakwater club. When she later learns that an old childhood friend, Natsumi Hodaka, is a new recruit in the Breakwater club, she gives fishing a try, even if she has plans to reject Yuki’s offer of joining the club. After a try at it, she decides to take part after all, and over the course of the show, we get the usual slice-of-life stuff. With fellow club member, the more sensible second-year Makoto Ohno, the four girls can enjoy themselves by the coast and have fun. I think this is where the iyashikei vibes kick in – the moment where we get to see all of these club members out on the tiny pier and fish. They can just sit out there and watch life go by. If they get a bite, then that’s great, but if they don’t, then that’s great too, because they’ve spent their time out there by the shore.
A little interesting fact I discovered while I was writing this review: Diary of Our Days at the Breakwater premiered in the Spring season and released 4 episodes before it was announced the show would be delayed due to the pandemic. It then went on to restart in the Summer season. As well as this, the mangaka Yasuyuki Konata, would go on hiatus because of the Kyushu floods last year. I will say that it makes a very refreshing change to see a show that isn’t set in Tokyo. Kyushu is somewhere in Japan that I know next to nothing about; the other one being Shikoku. This is all because all of our favorite shows all seem to take place in cityscapes like Tokyo. The town the show is set in, Ashikita in the Kumamoto prefecture, is right on the western side, and fishing is apparently a very big thing there (though more for specialist fishing on sail boats instead of on the shore).
Considering I know nothing about fishing, Diary of Our Days at the Breakwater was also quite an educational watch too. Just as Yuru Camp was educational in teaching viewers all about winter camping, this show shows all sorts of things, like how to cast a line properly, how to hook bait on, how to untangle reels, among other things. We learn more about all sorts of fish, like flatheads, horse mackerels, and rockfish. We learn about rock fishing, and how they need to get a permit to fish in the river closer to town. And even if fishing isn’t my thing, it was still pretty cool to watch.
Diary of our Days at the Breakwater doesn’t go out of its way to be a show that stands out from other slice-of-life shows. It isn’t like Yuru Camp or Non Non Biyori, where a lot of focus is on the character design. Focus here shifts to the fishing itself, and going directly from the manga has meant that watching the girls fish is something we look forward to as each episode goes by. None of the characters are unlikeable, we don’t get anything in the way of crass jokes, and the town itself is pretty to look at as well. Dogakobo don’t want to make the show stand out from its own shows either, let alone other slice-of-life shows, and that is a good thing, I think. The studio had only just brought out two shows that had made people look twice: one being Asteroid in Love, a show I covered for Otaku Theater and loved, and the other being Sing “Yesterday” For Me, which saw Dogakobo go in a different direction that didn’t win everyone over. Maybe one could call Dogakobo ‘playing it safe’ with them bringing Diary of Our Days at the Breakwater out, but that wouldn’t be fair to say at all. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this show; it doesn’t turn critics’ heads like their two past shows, and that’s just fine.
Fishing still stays something that has never interested me though, and that might well have been something for me to selfishly criticize here. I say that, but this is still a very sweet and charming show to watch. These four girls work together on screen so well; the two new recruits along with the lazy president and the knowledgeable second-year. They are just sitting on the pier and enjoying life but I can understand why the iyashikei sub-genre is something that hasn’t won over some anime followers. A lot of people come into anime to watch their favorite characters get into some action, whether it be fighting each other in battle, or falling in love, or both. So when a show like Diary of Our Days at the Breakwater comes along, they can’t really find much to be entertained by.
In my recent review of Glasslip, I put out the idea that, if it wasn’t for the annoying Kakeru, it might have been a fairly average and maybe okay slice-of-life show. I also mentioned how I liked my iyashikei shows to have real substance to it too, and not just be a combination of pretty images, animation and soothing score. Well, I think Diary of Our Days at the Breakwater does have that substance. These four kids are fun to watch, and we get to learn about recreational fishing as well. A win-win for me.