If Minato wants to climb his way back to the top, it’s going to take baby steps.
— Right off the bat, we learn that the man has dedicated himself to firing 10,000 arrows over 100 days. He doesn’t keep score either. Is he punishing himself? Is there a point to such a momentous task? Nope, this is nothing more than a man’s whim. Well, I suppose that’s one way to do it. You could argue that Minato is too results-oriented. Because he worries too much about how well he’s doing, he loses sight of, well, everything else. And by that, I mean the preparation, the form, the art of kyudo.
— After all, nobody says that you have to be good. Do I like to write? Yeah. Am I good at it? Probably not. But even though I won’t be winning awards for my blog anytime soon, that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop writing. It would be a shame for Minato to quit archery just because he’s not good at it. Winning provides one meaning to what we do, but not the only meaning.
— When the man keeps insisting that Minato should take a shot, the kid snaps and causes the owl — aptly named Who — to fly off. And with that, our protagonist takes his leave. I’m not sure what Minato is blushing for, but I guess it’ll take more than a day for a hot guy to get through to him.
— The next morning, the kid can’t help but daydream about the man and his beauteous form. Meanwhile, relations between him and Seiya remain ice cold. I can’t say I blame Minato either. Like I said last week, I think Seiya wasn’t being a very good friend by allowing the main character to embarrass himself in front of everybody.
— Ryohei is annoyingly cheerful. Plus, it sounds like these guys can’t take a hint. They’re going to keep hammering away at Minato until his defenses fall. Sorry, but I really dislike pushy people. I know they have good intentions, but no one deserves to be emotionally guilt-tripped into anything, which is what Ryohei pulled in Minato last time.
— Besides, even without the main character, the kyudo club will continue.
— Well, Kaito sure is unpleasant.
— Minato couldn’t resist, so he finds his way back to the other kyudo hall. As as expected, we now sit and watch as these two characters focus on everything but the results.
— Like I said last week, I think KyoAni overdoes it with the soundtrack. They also tend to torture their metaphors, so I expect to see examples of that as the story unfolds. The studio just can’t help itself.
— Meanwhile, the kyudo club at school is already talking about an upcoming tournament. Jumping the gun a bit, aren’t we?
— So you need five people to compete as a group, and since there are only three girls on the team at the moment, they’ll have to compete individually. The boys would have to do the same, but Seiya insists that they should compete as a group. You already know what he has in mind; he’s still hellbent on recruiting Minato. This guy is kinda exasperating, but at the same time, the outcome is inevitable. You just know that they’ll win the main character over eventually. Sigh.
— I kinda hate this kind of nonsense, because Tomio is standing right there. He’s the goddamn teacher. But is he going to admonish Kaito for his bad behavior? Of course not.
— Apparently, Seiya thinks he’s atoning for a past mistake by persistently pursuing Minato. And right on cue, we get a flashback from ten months ago.
— Minato was brilliant back then. He would hit the center of the target with every arrow. He was in the zone. Not only that, he had fans simply because he wasn’t a spoiled rich kid. That’s, uh, something…
— All of a sudden, Minato started missing, but nothing that we’re seeing right now explains why Seiya is at fault.
— We quickly snap back to the present and see that the flashback was from Minato’s perspective. No wonder it didn’t tell us why Seiya is at fault. Hell, he might even be at fault at all. He might just think he is.
— Minato is still at the local kyudo range, and he asks the man what the latter intends to do after he’s doing firing 10,000 arrows. The man simply says that he would quit. Really? That’s hard to imagine.
— Minato then opens up about his mental hang-ups. He picked up archery just to hear that distinctive sound that comes from firing an arrow, but for some reason, it has disappeared from him.
— Finally, these two introduce themselves to each other. The other guy is named Masaki. It’s kinda weird that they interacted for this long without knowing the other person’s name.
— The soundtrack is so overbearing.
— Masaki proceeds to play sports psychologist, and he identifies the loss of self as Minato’s worst affliction. Why does he know so much? Obviously, he’s had target panic before.
— Okay, so Minato has to find himself. But where do we start? Do we have to start all the way from the beginning? Do we have the drag his domestic issues out into the open as well? After all, he’s still dealing with his mother’s death, and his father is never around. Could those play a factor in Minato’s loss of self?
— Meanwhile, Seiya is at home, waiting for Minato to return. He’s kinda like an annoying mosquito, huh?
— A f-feather? Are you cheating on me, Minato? Have you been seeing another man’s pet?!
— Dude, no lead-up or anything. Seiya just comes right out and says it. That’s so dumb. Yeah, I know you have target panic, and you don’t want to humiliate yourself in front of everybody… but how ’bout a tournament in front of everybody.
— Seiya then claims that no one will complain about the results. Yeah, tell that to Kaito, the resident jerk. You think if Minato misses the target even once, Kaito won’t be there harping on and on about how you need to be manly man to fire an arrow?
— I think the worst part is that Seiya isn’t even trying to understand Minato’s feelings. He’s just doing this to “atone,” i.e. he’s trying to assuage his own guilt. Now, if you want to talk about cowardly, there’s cowardly for ya.
— Finally, Minato fires back that Seiya didn’t offer any support back in middle school, so it’s too late now. So what does Seiya do? He goes, “When I get serious, I have no need for compassion?” Uh…
— What kind person would say something like this?
— Afterwards, Minato retreats to his room and cries into his pillow. But then he thinks back to his conversation with Masaki, who had revealed that he still hasn’t fully recovered from target panic. There’s no quick-fix solution. Again, this emphasizes that life is about the journey, not the destination.
— But then Masaki said something that made me roll my eyes: in order to cure his target panic, he needs a team. Give me a break.
— We finally get to see Minato’s father this week. They also make plans to visit his mother’s grave.
— When Minato tries to pay the local kyudo hall yet another visit, he finds it brimming with people and activity. More importantly, a lady informs the main character that the person he’s looking for had actually passed away a year ago. She can’t be talking about Masaki. There’s no way. She’s probably referring to a family member with the same last name. I just can’t see this show having a supernatural element.
— Is it just me or does that the sound of the arrow firing not remotely resemble “tsurune”?
— At his mother’s grave, his father casually remarks that he wants his son not to live with regrets. So naturally, the kid visits the local kyudo hall once more. This time, he finds Masaki about to fire his 10,000th arrow.
— All of a sudden, Minato dashes forward and holds onto the guy. Man, the kid actually thinks he can see dead people.
— So yeah, the person who’s dead is actually Takizawa.
— Masaki then tells Minato to take the last shot. The kid does so, and he still misses. But like the man said, this is a process. You can’t cure target panic overnight. Moreover, the main character gazes at the bow in his hands, and he feels… he feels good. He doesn’t feel like an abject failure just because he missed the target completely.
— Minato thus turns to Masaki and says that he won’t quit kyudo either.
— Alright, so he’s pretty much going to join his school’s kyudo club in next week’s episode. But where does Masaki figure into all of this? After all, he’s one of the main character. Since he’s way too old to be a high schooler, the only other option is if he somehow ends up joining the club as their coach. Man, that would be predictably lame.