Tsurune Ep. 1: When a hot boy inspires you to shoot your arrow straight

I’m not exactly sold on this show just yet, but… eh, let’s see how long I can stick with it. 

— So this is an anime about archery. It’s also produced by Kyoto Animation, so I expect to see some pretty high quality work. And right off the bat, the studio lays it on thick. If you’ve been following my posts on SSSS.GRIDMAN, I recently griped about that show’s lack of music. Well, Tsurune certainly isn’t afraid to overwhelm us with its soundtrack. Sometimes, it almost feels as though the anime is trying too hard. It’s like they want every scene to be heartrendingly dramatic.

— The OP has at least one unintentionally funny moment. Oh no, my hands! This is a visual metaphor for my inability to shoot an arrow! But ah, senpai’s steady hands will free me from my mental bondage! I-I never knew your hands were so soft, senpai!

— Anyways, Minato appears to be the main character of this story, and he’s in his first year of high school. It also sounds as though he specifically picked a school that would allow him to escape his past. This is why he looks so annoyed when he learns that Seiya will also be attending the same school. He also refuses to accept the guy’s towel. That’s kinda petty. We’ll learn later that not only did they used to be friends, they were also in the same kyudo club in middle school.

— Oh look, he has a scar. It probably has a backstory reserved for future episodes, I’m sure.

— Like I mentioned on Twitter, I don’t like these character designs all that much. The uniforms are too big for these kids.

— Minato and Seiya eventually bump into Ryohei, who is yet another former friend of theirs. The tall kid then introduces them to Tomio-sensei, an old man who dreams of resurrecting an old club.

— As a result, Tomio-sensei leads the three kids to this absolutely beautiful archery range. And amazingly enough, it is currently not in use. It’s in such tip-top shape. Everything looks immaculate, including the grass.

Girls?! Ew! I-I thought this would be Free! but with archery!

— Like I said, Tomio would like to revive the club, and what’s a better way to kick this off than by recruiting Minato and his two friends? It even helps that our protagonist and Seiya used to compete in middle school.

— Right off the bat, Minato confesses that he has no intention of joining a club. Hold up. This is anime, buddy. Are you even allowed not to join a club?!

— Our protagonist then makes up an excuse about how he just doesn’t have time for archery anymore ever since his mother passed away. I only say it’s an excuse, because Minato’s not being upfront about the exact reasons why he doesn’t want to join the club. I also notice him gripping his torso a lot throughout the episode. What’s up with that? Does he still feel some sort of phantom pain?

— Still, I’m kinda annoyed by the story’s all-too-familiar setup. These sports-related anime too often rely on a main character who used to love <insert sports here>, but due to <insert past trauma here>, they are now reluctant to pursue their passion any further. Last season, it was badminton, and now it’s archery. Yawn.

— Even though the kid no longer intends to fire another arrow, he apparently carries his “treasure” around with him wherever he goes. Well, that bag’s obviously too small for either a bow or an arrow, so it must be carrying his gloves.

— The next day, Ryohei tries once more to convince Minato to join the club. At the very least, he thinks his friend should at least drop by and watch the recruitment demonstration. Man, Ryohei really goes all out by trying to tug on Minato’s emotions, but what kind of weirdo can’t eat pineapples?

Ew, girls!

— So we get to the club, and shockingly enough, there are girls present. But I mean, these three aren’t even listed as characters on the official site for the anime, so I dunno…

— We’re introduced to two more boys: Nanao and Kaito. Unlike the three previous girls, these two are definitely listed on the official site, so you know that they’re important. Not only that, Nanao apparently has a fan club of squealing girls, and they like to follow him wherever he goes. He probably has kpop good looks or something. I’d say jpop, but I honestly think kpop stars — both guys and girls — are more attractive than their jpop counterparts.

— Look at all these potential recruits. The old man then singles Minato out. Man, I’d be so pissed at my so-called friends. Especially Ryohei! Did he drag Minato here knowing exactly that this would happen?

— You guys know how it is: when you’re asked to do something in front of a crowd, it just makes that much harder to say no. This is why public marriage proposals are usually a bad idea. You’re putting your partner on the spot. Not only that, Tomio plays dirty when Minato continues to hesitate. In the end, Minato gets peer-pressured into doing a demonstration in front of everyone.

— I don’t think I would have the patience for kyudo. You gotta bow, you gotta take sliding steps, you gotta get into your stance, blah blah blah. I’m not saying that I think it’s stupid. I’m saying that I am an impatient person. I pretty much wing everything I do, and all the pomp and circumstance surrounding kyduo would quickly frustrate me.

— Again, I think the show’s use of music bit too overwhelming.

— Whatever made Minato quit archery in the first place, he’s hoping that it is now gone. Unfortunately, his first arrow misses the target completely. When he tries to fire the second arrow, his hands start trembling super bad. I almost wonder if Tomio should’ve said something. He must have noticed Minato’s nervousness, right? In the end, however, the show must go on, and unfortunately, our hero’s second arrow falls woefully short.

— Minato immediately changes back into his uniform in order to leave, but Kaito starts getting into his face. Dude, you don’t even know this guy. Chill.

— According to Seiya, Minato has target panic, which is something akin to the yips. It’s a mental issue, and well, you know how that works in anime. Screw therapy! We need the power of friendship!

— Still, this makes Seiya look even worse in my eyes. He knows that Minato has a mental hang-up. He knows his friend bombed out of their last competition so bad that the guy was literally in tears. So with that being said, why would he still want to make the guy perform in front of everybody? Talk about insensitive. If he was a true friend, he should have put a stop to this farce. Yes, he wanted Minato to return to the sport he loves, but this should’ve been done in a pressure-less environment.

— Minato bikes and bikes and bikes. He’s just trying to tire himself out so that he doesn’t have to feel all the pain, frustration, and humiliation that he just went through. But as fate would have it, the kid manages to stop himself near an archery range. The distinctive sound of someone firing an arrow then draws him closer and closer until he stumbles upon a guy practicing kyudo under the moonlight.

— Man, this guy is cool. He’s not cool because he’s got long, flowing hair, anime perfect good looks, or a supposedly perfect form. Naw man, he’s cool ’cause he has a pet owl. Eat your heart out, Harry Potter.

— And that’s the end of our episode. Minato quit archery, because he has the yips. But what now? Is this new guy going to somehow inspire our hero with his perfect form? Is this… this love at first sight?

— Most KyoAni works have a pretty high floor. Even if a show isn’t my cup of tea, I can be assured that I’m not going to watch a trainwreck. They don’t generally have high ceilings, though. It’s too early to say whether or not Tsurune will continue to hold my interest, but I have yet to be blown away by anything KyoAni has put out. Will Tsurune be the exception? The premise isn’t very exciting, and none of the guys are all that interesting yet. But for now, it’s fine.

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