- Genre: Drama; Sports; School
- Studio: Kyoto Animation
Guys, when does trolling become bullying? First Tsurune basically mocked me for not using the Other Shu title for two weeks in a row. Now, hen I more or less randomly picked “Another String to your Bow” last week, they have an entire restringing scene with emotional significance in the episode… Well, you can’t play a player! So, from now on, I’m just picking titles which I hope will become relevant in the next week. For instance, Straight as an Arrow is a great title for the episode where Minato comforts and conquers his target panic! Ball’s in your court Tsurune!… Arrow’s is you range?
I actually really liked this episode. It was a straightforward competition and the most similar to a traditional sports anime we’ve had so far. It was the boys’ turn at the range as the team competitions kicked off and things started out rough. Kacchan and Minato are the traditional odd couple as Kacchan has absolutely no chill while Minato has way too much.
It was nice seeing each of them get fleshed out through interactions. Nanao finally seems to be settling on a larger personality. I hadn’t realized it before, but he is in fact Team Mom. His gentle and personal prodding of his childhood best friend to bring him to where he needs to be was endearing and revealed a character that sees his value in taking care of others without smothering them. At first glance that role seemed to go to Seiya but I don’t think it fits him that well. Maybe it’s just me but there’s something a little off about Seiya, don’t you think? If this was a different type of show, I would be on my guard for him snapping. At the very least, he seems suspicious. Shu does as well mind you, but he’s our antagonist. That’s his role.
I was pleasantly surprised by Kacchan (I’m never calling him anything else) and Minato’s conversation. One of the aspects I’ve appreciated most about Tsurune, is that it handles situations with a consistently light hand. Nothing is insisted upon too much or overdramatized. We saw a flashback to young Minato and Shu for instance, learning how to shoot from someone I decided was Shu’s grandmother but actually could just have been his coach. I’m not sure if it was explicitly mention. (Loving the mentor grandmas this season – see Dakaichi as well!). At that time Minato was an exuberant and excitable kid full of passion and energy. Quite the drastic change from the stoic and quiet teenager he’s become.
Another show may have gone through pains to highlight and explain the change. If you haven’t watched since the beginning, you may even think that losing a match and his subsequent performance anxiety are responsible for his change in personality. Heck, it’s a stereotypical situation we see in sports anime all the time. But Minato is a teenage boy without siblings who tragically lost his mother only a few years ago and has been forced to fill that void in the family dynamic ever since. Of course, his personality is going to change – target panic or not. In fact, he’s actually surprisingly well adjusted.
A different show would have shown us the funeral, or a distraught Minato sobbing. Tsurune merely mentioned it in passing.
That’s how the traditional last minute “pep talk” went as well. No sweeping speeches, no war cries for victory. Simply two frustrated young men having an honest conversation and coming to an unspoken understanding. That’s all. Blink and you miss it.
Of course, we still had the magical turn around as the boys’ performance is the second half of the trial was dramatically improved but not impossibly so. For instance, Minato is hitting the target but he’s not over his panic, Masa (and the show) clearly points out that he’s still releasing too soon. It’s an improvement but that’s all it is. Same thing for Kacchan. Once calm he’s much better, but it’s not like he can compete with Shu or anything.
This week, we finally stepped into the shoes of the contenders, but we still got the spectator experience from the girls and mostly Masa’s photographer brother. The use of taking pictures as a framing device is actually pretty smart. They should use it in sports anime more often. Not only does it allow you to specifically delimitate the action, but you can even pause it without taking the audience out of the moment.
In the end, the reasonable improvement Kazemai showed was enough to get them to the next stage. Just barely enough mind you. Yeah, it’s a cliché. Making it by the skin of your teeth is the only way any anime sports team makes it at all. But clichés are clichés for a reason. I can’t deny I cheered along with those boys in the middle of my living room. Like I said before, I quite liked this episode.
In fact, the only thing I liked less came at the very end. Tsurune is setting up some type of weird overly emotional triangle between Shu, Minato and Seiya. I’m not exactly sure where they are going with all this but traditionally, these are not the type of storylines I like. I hope they don’t go all Free! on me and have these incomprehensible emotional issues start showing up all over the place.
That’s not going to be a problem though. My post title will ensure that next episode goes exactly as planned.
I really love all the screencaps I took this week. I wish I could have used way ore in the post proper. Here’s a few dozen for you!