The boys are back on their home turf and I have to admit I found I a little comforting. I have always been a homebody. Even if I’m away on vacation somewhere, there’s always that moment when you slink back to your hotel room, absolutely exhausted and crumbled unto to your bed. Complete relief. That’s what seeing that familiar shooting range was like for me.

Tsurune Episode 9 review
not that he competition wasn’t fun

I have long suspected Seiya of being a young serial killer in the making. He’s always been a little off and a little too attentive to the point of creepy. Of course, this means he’s my favorite character. My tastes in anime people are as bad as my preservation instincts. My continued survival is really proof that natural selection does not work.

So, when last week’s episode ended on a cryptic reunion between an already overbearing Seiya and a difficult t understand Shu, I got a little scared. I thought I recognized those melodramatic chords that really annoyed me in Free! Here we go again I figured. My surprisingly calm and down to earth boys are going to start acting menopausal for no reason. I was already pretty confused by Seiya’s obsession with Minato to tell the truth. Ryohei I get, he’s the lovable lug type who just wants everyone to be together and happy. But why would Seiya care quite that much?

Tsurune Episode 9 review
they’ve been friends since they were kids, stop being such as cynic!

Why can’t I just learn to trust series. I went into Tsurune so full of apprehension and it worked hard to win me over. It’s been steady, relaxing, well produced and even keeled (as far as I’m concerned) so why can’t I just give it 5 minutes to tell it’s story before I jump right back o assuming the worst? It’s cause t’s so pretty. Never trust the pretty ones!

So the episode started out innocent yet ominous. Minato had a hospital visit so he would be running late to the club and asked Seiya to relay the message. These were simple, quiet scenes. From Seiya’s steady and slightly distant point of vue. Tsurune has always been somewhat still except in those moment of elation. That’s how it brings across the whole “Tsurune” feel. But this week, it seemed almost frozen.

Tsurune Episode 9 review
Seiya also uses his dog as his icon!!!!

Seiya’s world is organized, neat and a little cold. He has few friends, few interests and tends to take life in from a certain distance. But Minato has a way of sending ripples across that smooth surface. The independence Minato has been gaining lately is also making him drift away from Seiya and that’s very difficult for the latter.

I figured he would lash out in all directions unfairly or smother Minato. Seiya’s pretty smart though, he did neither. The situation is getting to him, and he’s having a tough time hitting his mark but he’s still clear headed. His disdain is firmly centered on Masa who really is the most likely to take Minato from him. Smart boy…bad sign.

Tsurune Episode 9 review
run man, he’s little but I bet he’s good with poisons

Now you see, this soap opera subplot is exactly the type of thing I find annoying. It makes no sense for a teenage boy to react that way without any reason. If they want to keep the story naturalistic, they have to at least give us an explanation…. And just like a light summer rain, that explanation trickled in.

Minato has a check up with is doctor, he also has a horrible scar, we saw it in the first episodes. Seiya mentions that it’s from a bad accident and that Minato was in a coma for 10 days. That’s really bad. And now they finally tell us. Just like Tsurune has been doing up until now, it doesn’t dwell on anything. In fact, the flashback mostly concentrates on how the charismatic and charming little Minato (so different from the fragile young man he’s become) and the reserved and lonely little Seiya strike up a sweet friendship. There’s some hero worship going on, you can tell, but it’ nothing major and never directly referred to. But then, one rainy day, Minato goes to bring his Mom an umbrella at her work so they can walk home together. He bumps into Seiya and they chat a bit. As Minato and his Mom are walking away, Seiya calls back for no real reason. There’s no sound effect, no big explanation, all we see is a shot of Minato’s shoe and crumpled bicycle. And that’s all she wrote.

Tsurune Episode 9 review
painfully dissonant

The incident isn’t discussed and nothing else about it is shown in the episode. However, it’s plainly obvious that Minato’s mom was killed that way and Minato himself gravely injured. She didn’t die of disease in a hospital, she was run over while holding his hand. That has got to mess you up. And there’s no way Seiya isn’t blaming himself. He’s the one that called out to them and made them stop in the middle of the street. The guilt must be unbearable.

Of course, Minato is now withdrawn and of course Seiya has made I his personal mission to look after him. How could he not? It’s a really reasonable reaction. It sounds like I’m damning with faint praise but reasonable is actually the biggest compliment I can think of for a drama. Tsurune is being really reasonable! And that’s awesome.

Tsurune Episode 9 review
see, reasonable!

The grim end scene mirrored the flashback climax, with heavy rain falling on one of those dingy grey afternoons where you just one to bundle up and block out the world. It was sad. Seiya doesn’t know how to handle the situation. He cast himself in a role he’s just not ready for and he has no clue what to do now.

You know what else I really liked. This episode made it very clear that Minato losing his mom is not related to his target panic. It should have happened years before. I really like that. Sometimes you just lose it. No reason, it just happens. And if you want to get it back, you need to work really really hard.

 I haven’t seen the last season of Free! Tsurune is making me think that I should. It’s really doing a great job to bring the drama in a measured and enjoyable way. I look forward to seeing it unravel.

Tsurune Episode 9 review
thank you!!!

Have I ever mentioned how much I love okonomiyaki? Anyways, I took a million screencaps!



7 thoughts

  1. I guess I’m not the biggest fan of drama, but this show has had very restrained and realistic drama and I’m all for it. It’s just so good.

  2. I am loving the way this story handles drama. The story is dramatic and interesting enough without them making everything over the top and annoying with hysterics. I do suspect we might get some hysterics at some point, but when they finally get there it will feel worth it because these characters have been so level and reasonable for so long. And yes, I agree Seiya is potentially a serial killer in the making. Also my favourite character so far.

      1. Probably that I am not a nice person.
        Seriously though, Seiya is incredibly observant and organised, extremely together and good at working people. He’s also slightly distant from most of the other characters and fixated on Minato. And now that that emotional connection is unstable he’s starting to lose it. Really interesting character but written just slightly differently, the potential villain of a horror story in the making. If I was Masaki, I’d be worried.

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