We knew from the end of episode 3 that Minato was going to return to the archery club, and as expected things aren’t exactly easy. He still can’t shoot the way he wants, one friend keeps looking at him like he’s worried he’s about to bolt at any moment, another at first makes the casual assumption he’s over his whole trauma thing just like that, and new acquaintances are generally hostile given they perceive his actions as taking the whole thing flippantly (given he left the club and came back in seemingly a matter of days).
However, Tsurune may be wallowing in teenage drama this episode, but it feels like it is worth it. Minato’s problem isn’t an easy one and has left quite the mark on him and right from episode 1 this anime has played his trauma straight and given it the respect it deserves while not becoming self-indulgent by falling into angsty-back-story territory. It is a fine line to walk and one that this anime has the emotional control and strength of writing to navigate, or at least it has so far.
When the teacher takes a back seat and simply says he is observing the conflicts with interest, I had to nod along as I was also very much enjoying being the spectator for the goings on. It isn’t that Tsurune is doing anything we haven’t seen before (admittedly, this is the first time I’ve seen it in an archery setting), it is more that it is doing what it is with such incredible competence and an unhurried hand.
For all that I would love to see these guys shooting together, and I’m sure we’re moving toward there after the end of this episode given we’ve now got the hot-owl-carrying archer, Masaki, invovled as a coach, the time it is taking to really look at the starting point for this club feels like there’s a lot of care put into these characters. And while the lengths some of the friends seem to have gone to in order to help Minato might seem inordinate from a practical point of view, it makes for some fairly compelling watching and some fairly strong relationship building.
Three episodes in and I must say I am definitely enjoying this one so far.
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