- Genre: Drama; Sports; School
- Studio: Kyoto Animation
We’re actually rounding up the last few episodes of Tsurune (already? this sow has flown by for me) and a few themes are becoming quite obvious. One is the Power of Friendship which, well duh, it is at least in theory a sports anime. But this has been tempered by the repeated and almost ominous insistence that kyudo simply isn’t a team sport. It’s a solitary experience which is more likely to separate you from others than bring you closer together. There’s also an above average importance given to coaching as a responsibility and as challenge unto itself. I may be the only person in the world to feel this way, but Tsurune does remind me in some ways of Hikaru no Go. That’s a compliment in case you’re wondering.
Seiya is still feeling somewhat down after realizing that his friendship with Minato, potentially one of the most important relationships in his life may not only be somewhat one sided but also set to expire. Despite all his efforts, they seem to be growing apart rather than the other way around and he understands it may be time to start making his own way. Just because you understand something doesn’t make it any less painful. In a nice bid of continuity, walking around in the rain without an umbrella has left Seiya with a cold, and acting like a hormonal teenager has left him feeling embarrassed and somewhat baffled by his own actions.
Of course most of this is going over Minato’s head. Let’s face it, almost by necessity, Minato’s been the center of his universe for a long time. His hardships have driven everyone around him to worry about him and his personal pain has pushed other considerations out of the way. I don’t think Minato’s a bad kid at all, he simply hasn’t quite learned how to pick up on what others are feeling yet because he hasn’t had as much chance to practice as most. That’s why although he really does like Seiya and want to help, he’s not sure how or even if there’s anything to help in the first place. Good thing there’s a sensitive guy like Kachan around.
We got a bit more childhood flashbacks and turns out Seiya was actually a sweetheart as a kid. A little shy but otherwise very nice. I’m not saying he’s NOT going to become a serial killer someday but this went a long way to destroying that vibe. It also showed that Seiya changed a lot as well. Trying to somehow shoulder the weight of his friend’s loss and pain has obviously been rather difficult on him.
I have talked quite a bit about Tsurune’s calm and stillness. I was afraid that a focus on a more emotional story arc would take away from the archery and therefore from that quiet aspect I love so much. However, I’m happy to report that both still featured predominantly in this episode. The most striking example I can give is in the first team practice scene. All the boys except Seiya are doing their usual practice while the girls are chiding them for bickering when it’s Kachan’s turn t take a shot. He draws the string and holds it for several seconds. At this point there’s no particular soundtrack, and the image is from a distance so we are not privy to some detailed glamour shot. It simply several seconds of watching the still shooting range before the arrow goes off.
These type of scenes are very rare in general and even more so in anime where they have to be planned and deliberate. It wasn’t as if the actor actually needed to center their shot. So adding it in was a specific choice made on purpose and it both assumes something about the audience and sends a clear message. This is an anime you need to savour slowly, to take as it comes. And the series fully trusts their audience to have that patience. I honestly couldn’t imagine binging this.
On the downside, it made the sometimes overly dramatic soundtrack raher obstructive at moments. It took me a while to notice but this has been a recurring problem with the series. The music is not that suited to the moment and is given a bit too much weight in certain scenes. Considering that I consider the silent aspect of Tsurune to e one of its strengths, this is a very unfortunate downside.
We also got a few more shreds of Masa san’s story. Trying to cheer the boys up and inspire them in their upcoming tournament, he decides to hold a ritual. Turns out the man really is a priest. We knew that already but was still thrilled that they decided to show him in full regalia. I really love traditional rituals and it was nice to see it illustrated. Masa’s own storyline involves his complicated relationship with his mentor and his internal struggle to avoid his mistakes while still obtaining his success. I doubt we’ll have much time to see that particular thread play out which is a shame. It’s a very interesting question (again something that reminds me of Hikaru no Go) and I don’t think the coach athlete relationship gets enough attention.
In the end, sweetness got piled on top of sweetness and everything ended super happily. If you dislike the show you’ll probably find the conclusion to this episode saccharine but I like happy endings and it made me smile. In a nice recall to the last episode, Minato once again drops off a box of “pucky” with a message for his sick friend. Then having finally realized what’s been bothering Seiya, after talking with Shu, Minato decides to confront him head on and clear the air.
I’m a bit like Seiya. There’s something in me that pushes to do things for myself. And just like Seiya it would never have occured to me that the way to solve something was to do nothing at all. Seiya couldn’t find a way to mend his relationship with Minato because it wasn’t for him to fix. It was simply Minato’s turn to make a move. All he needed was to figure that out and he was more than happy to do so.
There was a sight drop of bitterness in all that sweetness when the camera focused beyond Minato for a second to reveal that they were standing right next to where the accident happened but again, it was a momentary cue and then gone again.
We are getting all our little ducklings in a row. Kachan has some faith in his team and is willing to play along. Nanao is getting excited about archery. Ryouhei was perfect to begin with. Seiya has been stabilized and Minato is coming around. I also really liked how Minato stood up to the twins. I’m looking forward to the upcoming tournament.
Tsurune gives me a very itchy screencap finger. I mean Kyoto animation shows are always beautiful so that’s no surprise. Anyway, here’s a zillion screencaps!