It’s like this show is daring me to use that “other Shu drops” title. Mocking my lack of gumption and failure to follow through with my dumber instincts. Why show..why?…

Adding a string to your bow is an odd expression which means acquiring a new skill or figuring out another option. I believe the alternative saying is adding an arrow to your quiver which makes a lot more sense. I chose the weird one. I consider it a compromise… I do prattle on a lot in these preambles, thanks for putting up with it!

the other Shu in question

Continuing it’s one week tradition of personally trolling me, Tsurune jumped into the Kyudo tournament at surprising speed. Just when I praised the show for taking the unusual route of emphasizing meaning and personal journey over competition, the show goes : nuh huh girlfriend, let’s get our competition on!

Two of Tsurune’s weakest points were on full display this week, at least in the opening scenes, before the start of the qualifications. Then entire Kyudo team arrives at the grounds but the boys stay back with the crowd as the girls and coaches go get ready for their qualifying round. I hadn’t really noticed before but since a reader mentioned it, I paid special attention to the score. It really does get a bit overbearing in places and seems unnecessarily dramatic and sweeping. I do enjoy atmospheric noise in this series but the soundtrack is hit or miss.

look, it can get better

Second is Nanao. Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve nothing against the poor boy. I think he’s sweet and I’m glad he’s there. However, of the main cast he’s the least developed and fleshed out by far. Despite having a pretty strong presence in the first half of the episode, it was glaring that his only purpose was to be a foil for Kachan. By himself, the character is uninteresting and hollow, so far. I’ve really no idea why he’s supposed to be so popular with girls.

The characterization was also a little off with Shu and the twins. Sen and Man went from plucky troublemakers to downright jerks for no reason I could find. While Shu is your classic unattainable golden boy rival. You even had Seiya’s mom gushing about how beautiful a boy he is (even though Seiya’s is clearly a supermodel in his free time). What is it about talented attractive people that makes us instantly wary? Don’t answer that. Point is, it’s a little disappointing that our first true rivals are so onenote for now. This is just an introduction however, and the captain of Kirisaki Kyudo team is still a very sympathetic character, so I am hopeful for some layering to come.

yeah…what happened…

The qualifying rounds consisted of each archers shooting 4 arrows at the target one at the time. We were cheering for Rika, Nao, Yuuna, Nanao and Kaito, the rest of the boys being only part of the team competition, they didn’t need to qualify individually. Only Rika made it to the tournament, while Nanao and Yuuna got knocked out in the second round of qualifications. A somewhat lackluster result which we only learn after the fact while Masa is cheering up the team.

What caught me by surprise was that despite everything, the lack of proper rivals or competitive build up, my personal appreciation of the calm mood of the series and how I was enjoying the lack of confrontation…. I got really invested in those qualifications. The series remains mostly voyeuristic and the experience was presented through the eyes of Seiya, Minato and Ryouhei in the stands, rather than any of the participants. As such our experience is clearly as a spectator rather than participant which renders the whole thing more measured and less frantic. I got caught up in the road of the crowd and vicariously nervous for my Kazemai teammates, which is very different from zooming down a court while the world around disappears!

you can do it!!!

And so, even in what was arguably the most action packed episode so far, this is still a slow and calm series. In fact, very little actually changed. The tension between Shu and Minato was a new element, and a surprisingly effective one, but otherwise it was still basically the same episode as what we’ve been seeing all season. The impact though, was completely different.

There’s a fundamental difference between practice and competition. You might be doing the same old moves you’ve done a thousand times, but the air is just not the same. It’s not just a question of doing something well, you have to keep doing well under pressure. That’s a whole new skill, and in a way, a whole different show.

As soon as you throw in the concept of winners and losers, it changes everything. For the archers as much as for us. Now let’s see who’s going to come out on top!

I have so many pcs for you…so many!

9 thoughts

  1. This was my favourite episode so far. Twice, there was no music whatsoever when someone was shooting a boy (Shu’s master/grandma? and the opening shot of the trounament). It’s almost as if, they know that archery demands silence, but when there’s story (i.e. characters) you have to emphasise the beats (and also do fancy stuff with arrow/camera effects…).

    I don’t have that problem with Nanao, but then I’m not invested in any characters in this show. In any case, I feel the boys almost perfectly match the Chinese elemental system, with Kacchan being fire, and Nanao being Water. (Minato being Metal, Seiya Earth, and Ryouhei Wood). Also, I find Kaito horribly annoying, so I’m glad Nanao’s there to temper him. I find the Twin’s heckling easy to ignore, but Kaito’s reaction to their heckling annoyed the hell out of me.

    Finally, I feel like Minato might have shown Shu an outsider’s enthusiasm, and might be responsible for Shu coming to love archery for reasons of his own. I feel they set it up like that, but not sure.

    See I had actual thoughts about the show this week.

  2. You are right about Nanao. He really hasn’t gotten much in the way of development and is the character I’d like to see fleshed out more.

  3. You know, I think that some of the best and most enjoyable character development I’ve seen in a sports anime–and I watch very few–occurred in kendo-themed Bamboo Blade. (Probably much more and better out there, I’m just not a big fan of the sports genre.)

    1. I loved Haikyuu for characterisation. I think it has some of the best large cast representation out there – sports or not….

Leave me a comment and make my day!