- Genre: Drama; Sports; School
- Studio: Kyoto Animation
I really considered naming this week’s review “the other Shu drops”! I’m depressingly and unreasonably fond of that title. It’s pretty stupid and doesn’t fit the tone of either Tsurune or this post. And I love it.
If this is your first time here: welcome, I believe that little preamble just told you everything you need to know about me.
I’m just going to disclaimer this in order to spare my readers some frustration. I continue to enjoy Tsurune quite a bit and this episode review is going to be another one of those gentle and unfocused praises of the show.
It almost seems silly to review Tsurune in terms of what actually happened. The show is like taking a slow walk on a beautiful afternoon. Sadly, I don’t really have the skills to go about it any other way, so here we go. The team is back from training camp and the boys are finally allowed to practice again much to their delight. Everyone has their own small goals and although they are overflowing with passion, a peaceful atmosphere reigns.
Despite playing it tongue in cheek, it’s starting to become glaringly obvious that the irreverent Masa is enjoying being a teacher as much as his students are appreciating the dynamic. The story is giving some room for coach Masa to become his own character with a personal arc and struggles, rather than a simple father figure. Another departure from the sports mold and one I particularly appreciate. It’s nice when adult characters get a bit of development as well.
As I watched the first half of this week’s Tsurune, I realize that the subversion of classic sports anime tropes runs deeper than simple character adjustments. The entire dramatic drive is different. Kachan wants his arc to spin. This simple event is a sign of progress in his technique and that’s what he’s working towards. The much less experienced and generally less talented Ryohei can get the spin but needs to gain confidence and just generally practice.
It’s an introverted experience. Each striving to get better in their own right, rather than being “the best”. At this point it hit me that in many respects, Tsurune was treating Kyudo as art rather than sport. The goal is mastery and not conquest. There’s still a notion or rivalry but no true opponents. As such, in construct, the characters look inwards rather than to each other or even straight ahead. I like this idea. It works well with the meditative mood of the series.
Masa summer it up as such. A beautiful shot doesn’t always hit but a proper shot is a thing of beauty.
But then the second half hit and I thought I would need to throw everything away. We are transported to the prestigious Kirisaki High and the spirit of competition is certainly much more present. With the members of the Kyudo team vying for a tournament spot,this was starting to look much more familiar. I did appreciate the appearance of red headed twins though.
We also meet the aforementioned Shu. An old classmate and Kyudo team mate of Minato’s, whose presence is bound to stir things up. Back to competition, I thought to myself. And then Senichiand Manji, my future favorite characters I’m sure, laid it all out for me.
There are no enemies in Kyudo. It’s only you and the target. No one to readers against, no opponent to stand in your way. When it’s your shot to take, whatever fight you have to go through is against yourself. Sure you compare scores once it’s all said and done but there’s no actual confrontation.
Is it possible that Tsurune is not purposefully written as a relaxing and calm sports anime but rather Kyudo itself dictates the mood? Here (in Canada) archery is very different. It’s a hunting sport that’s both violent and swift. You can’t afford ceremony which could alert and scare off prey. Form and beauty are completely irrelevant. Only speed and strength (bears have tough skins) are important. And the cold whether favours shorter bows as thin long ones will quickly deform with the drastic temperature changes.
I think I like Kudo better. I know I like Tsurune.
I’m not sure I got around to mentioning this yet but Tsurune is a pretty good lookin show. A good chunk of the budget obviously went to art. That’s probably why I always end up taking way too many screencaps!