The Final Draw of The Match But Not The End

Tsurune Episode Reviews

Tsurune Episode 13 Review

If I was to have one complaint about this final episode of Tsurune, other than the fact that my weekly bliss and chill session has finished, it would be that this final episode seemed so incredibly dense with character moments. For something with such a languid pace and calm nature, there was so much to walk away from in this final episode and yet nothing felt rushed or forced but it makes processing the episode complicated.

Tsurune Episode 13 Minato and Shu draw the final arrow.

It isn’t just Minato or Shu who have their moment, we have the twins finally getting some development outside of being twerps as one of them begins to buckle under pressure and we with have a continuation of the Seiya and Shu conversation from earlier in the season where we see clearly the impact of Seiya’s growth. There’s the general team dynamic including how each of the boys deals with the pressure of the finals, and there’s the support from the girls. Tommy Sensei reflects on his role as their teacher and in making Minato shoot during the briefing to Masaki paralleling Masaki’s earlier worries that he’d made a mistake with Seiya. And lastly the anime comes back to Minato and Masaki and also returns us to the first scene where Minato first fell in love with archery and we see the Masaki was there during that scene as well connecting all the threads of this story beautifully.

That’s a lot going on in one episode. And to handle each of those characters and moments without feeling rushed or forced, and to give each moment the consideration it deserves, is a narrative feat well worth applauding even if the tone and subject matter isn’t to your taste. Everything in this anime has come together superbly in this final episode even though it felt like they’d reached that point last week when the team got their act together. For an anime that isn’t really about sensationalism in sports but rather quiet contemplation, they managed to up the ante with this final competition without compromising on tone, and again that was an impressive feat to behold.

Tsurune Episode 13 The Girls

Yet despite the sense that things have all come together what I don’t get a sense of is that these character journeys are at their end. For each of these boys their journey is ongoing but it doesn’t matter if we see that or not (though for the record I’d love a second season). What it means is that over thirteen episodes all of these characters became real to me and they feel like they have a life before and after this story and that again is something of an achievement.

Tsurune Episode 13 Minato lines up his shot.

I’ll do a full series review of this but if you didn’t give it a shot this Autumn season I’d strongly recommend it.

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Karandi James
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DRAGON QUEST SMILE SLIME MONSTER PLUSH: BODKIN ARCHER
DRAGON QUEST SMILE SLIME MONSTER PLUSH: BODKIN ARCHER

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Clearing the Air With The Help of Friends

Run With The Wind Episode Review Title

Run With The Wind Episode 13 Review

The episode begins with a punch but not the one we expect after last week. Instead, we see Kakeru punching his high school coach. Then, after the OP, we return to the present where Kakeru’s punch is brought up short by his teammates.

It is a powerful start to what is a fairly well directed episode even if the overall subject matter ends up being less impressive. I’m going to be honest, Kakeru’s drama has dragged on so long and ends up being able to be boiled down to angry teenage boy acted impulsively after not doing anything about regulating his emotions over a long period and then had to deal with consequences that came down across the whole track team. For people who were directly involved I guess it would be a big issue but as an audience member at this stage I’m kind of indifferent to Kakeru’s issues and mostly just wanted him to get over them so we could get on with the rest of the characters who’ve proven to be delightful.

Run With The Wind Episode 13 Kakeru's old team.

That said, despite the story itself not being all that great, the cuts back and forth between Kakeru’s high school days and his present moments training with the team build up a sense of a climatic reveal regardless of how you feel about the reveal. The use of static over the flash backs, with more interference and noise the closer we get to the punch, is highly effective at conveying Kakeru’s mental state.

Run With The Wind Episode 13 Kakeru's catalyst.

Why we needed a sit down with the whole team to ‘confess’ everything is something I’ll never quite understand but the team’s reactions are predictable and suitably amusing. It does feel though like the end of this episode has brought a breath of fresh air with this whole Kakeru’s mysterious past finally being out there and so I’m very much looking forward to next week. Particularly when the preview at the end of this episode shows we are going to get some more time with Prince.

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Karandi James
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Run With The Wind Original Soundtrack
Run With The Wind Original Soundtrack

Is It Time For the Team To Get It Together?

Tsurune Episode Reviews

Tsurune Episode 12 Review

Tsurune as a sports anime has remained a bit of an oddity. Sure the boys do spend a lot of time drawing their bows and practising but realistically whether they win or lose in this tournament has been made utterly irrelevant by their character journeys and their own desire for self-improvement. Seo, as the only female character getting any kind of time with archery, says herself after getting knocked out that she’s satisfied that the result reflects her current level of ability and leaves it at that.

Last week the episode left us with the bomb-shell that Masaki had been in a car accident and after a tense week of waiting and hand wringing to find out if he was okay, the start of this episode leaves us with a big, we don’t know. It’s a realistic answer but it means that stomach squirmy feeling that we’ve had all week while waiting to find out what has happened continues and it colours every sequence of the tournament until the end when they finally tip their hand (note to every other anime ever, this is how you use an emotional cliff-hanger).

Tsurune Episode 12 - Seiya is best boy

That makes the reasonably mundane events of this episode all take on a certain urgency and whether it is Minato’s initial plunge into self-blame immediately cut off by Seiya (who after his own brief bout of self-pity a few episodes ago has come back even stronger as best boy). But it is the girls, whose names I don’t even remember because they’ve had so little to do in this series and so little development, that actually really step up to the plate when the boys are all staring at their phones and panicking. It is a fantastic scene and one that was definitely needed. It also really makes me wish the female characters got to be more than emotional support or commentators more often in this series even though I know the focus is the male team.

Tsurune Episode 12
You rock even though I cannot remember what your name is.

Kaito then tries to rally them and reminds them to use what Masaki has taught them in the tournament. This gets them motivated but they still struggle through the early rounds. Ultimately it is an insight by Minato that turns it all around but as usual his poor communication skills almost blow the team apart (fortunately he holds his ground and makes himself heard).

Tsurune Episode 12 - Kaito

The final round of shooting this episode is a sight to behold and it is one of those moments in anime where you can cry an cheer simultaneously with the episode ending out on the team and audience finally finding out what is up with Masaki before the episode ends. With one episode left to go, I’m just kind of hoping this gets a follow up series though all things considered I don’t know that it will. I do know that I’ve loved following this anime this season and I love this team.

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Karandi James
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TSURUNE ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
TSURUNE ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

You Have One Shot: Seize The Moment

Tsurune Episode Reviews

Tsurune Episode 11 Review

Did you know, adulting is hard. I think most of us who are trying it already know that, but it is something seldom explored in anime in a realistic way and even less often explored in a high school based sports drama. Adult characters occasionally offer guidance or criticism or are simply faceless beings, but seldom get explored as characters. Tsurune has defied this trend all along, but episode 11 takes it another step as we get closer to Masaki.

Tsurune Episode 11 Minato and Seiya

While I won’t say that it is a flawless episode, there’s a heavy reliance on coincidence to keep events rolling, the fact that in the preparation for a tournament rather than seeing the boys practising and falling out or some other contrived drama the story instead chooses to focus on the coach and the weight he’s been carrying, is a pretty solid choice. It feels quite refreshing compared to so many other sport anime that would have the characters doing last minute cramming and perhaps some sort of block to overcome right before the tournament. Here the boys are ready to go with their usual training regime and they even ask their coach to trust in them. It is lovely to see.

Tsurune Episode 11

However, we are going through a few contrivances. Minato overhearing Tommy-Sensei discussing Masaki’s motivations at the dojo in the first place is pretty coincidental. I love how anytime a character overhears a conversation it is always some incredibly emotionally important topic and never a discussion about what the characters are eating for dinner. They follow this up with Minato visiting his former coach at the same time that Masaki visits her because she knew his grandfather. That’s definitely pushing coincidence.

Tsurune Episode 11 Masaki

Despite that, it is hard to dislike how the episode plays out as everything happens as it needs to and the same beautiful attention to colour and detail fills every scene. From the opening shots where we see Masaki trying to shoot (and can we see more of this please), to the sunset when Seiya and Minato are talking, the episode is gorgeous and does everything it needs to do.

Tsurune Episode 11 Seiya

Admittedly, the climax kind of made me want to roll my eyes because it does seem like contrived drama for the sake of it, but I trust Tsurune enough that I’ll hope it deals with this next emotional blow with the same deft handling it has taken on all of its other trials.

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Karandi James
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Tsurune – Kazemai Koko Kyudo-Bu – (Anime) Original Soundtrack
Tsurune - Kazemai Koko Kyudo-Bu - (Anime) Original Soundtrack

Shots Fired: Seiya’s Being Jealous And Lashing Out

Tsurune Episode Reviews

Tsurune Episode 9 Review

Tsurune continues to be consistently good at building up the individual drama for characters. This week the anime turns its attention firmly to Seiya, Minato’s childhood friend. Last week Shu taunted Seiya a little bit and apparently his words have shaken up the usually calm and stoic character as his shots are now all over the place.

Tsurune Episode 9 Seiya

However, there’s more than archery on Seiya’s mind as he deals with Minato’s sudden resurgence of personality and energy. This episode is one long and slow breakdown of Seiya’s character and the walls he’s built around himself and by the time we get the confrontation between Seiya and Masaki, beautifully understated as usual, it is clear that Seiya is either mourning the distance that has opened up between Minato and himself, or he’s upset that he wasn’t the one who was able to help Minato get back into archery in the end. Both are pretty understandable and given Seiya is only a teenager, his inability to deal with this kind of emotion makes perfect sense.

Tsurune Episode 9 Seiya at the range

When you throw in that the episode weaves in some of Minato’s story showing him getting a medical check up in the present and a little bit of the accident, what you end up with is a fairly affective episode, provided you don’t mind feeling like ending on a little bit of a downer because we kind of leave things at an extreme low point.

Tsurune Episode 9 Team

Another nicely done episode and one that was pretty to watch as we’ve come to expect. The Okonomiyaki cooking scene was great fun and the inclusion of the girls here was good, though as normal they get a few lines and then end up on the periphery. Still, even though the focus is Seiya the rest of the team are not neglected and we continue to move steadily toward the next hurdle for the boys.

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Karandi James
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Why Run With the Wind is An Outstanding Example of How To Use Sound

Run With The Wind Episode Review Title

So it turns out Run With The Wind is going to have a gap between this episode and the next so this is likely my last episode review for the year. Therefore it is kind of fitting that this episode so clearly demonstrated one element of this anime that has been amazing from episode 1, because I really haven’t talked much about it: the sound.

Run With The Wind Episode 11 Sakaki

Before I get into that though, I want to address the character focus this week Takahashi. Now he has been in all the team scenes and working away in the background since the beginning, but like many of his team mates, I’d kind of overlooked him as a character despite his contribution.

Run With The Wind Episode 11 The Team

However, this episode really brings his contribution and his strengths to the forefront and I absolutely loved it. As Kakeru points out, Takahashi was the first of the reluctant housemates to embrace running, he’s been to every training without skipping and a tireless worker at recruiting supporters. This is a character who well and truly deserves more time and attention, and yet I’m going to leave him here and get back to the sound design of this episode and why it is the real star (sorry Takshashi).

Throughout this whole episode the external scenes are filled with rain. It is a persistent down pour and visually this makes the episode quite dark but it also means that each of these scenes is filled with the background sound of rain. Unlike so many other shows, Run With The Wind finds the perfect balance of sound levels that the rain is pervasive but it doesn’t drown out the dialogue or other sounds. It is all beautifully executed.

Run With The Wind Episode 11 Rain

What also works is the fantastic contrasts. The episode cuts back and forth between running or training in the rain and that heavy downpour, and interior scenes where the rain is muted or absent and the audience and the characters find relief. In these scenes other incidental noises (the bathhouse sounds or the sound of the treadmill, the clicking of keys on the computer) take centre stage and manage to fill the void while not being over-whelming.

All of this leads to the final scene of the episode where the rain has ended and we see the dog playing in the yard with the bird chirping in the background. It is a relief from the sound and carries the audience to the perfect emotion for the ending.

However, this episode wasn’t the first where the sound was masterfully done. This is a consistent positive in a series that is just getting better as it goes. Still, I’m glad that I had the chance to focus on this aspect this week as I really do believe it is a reason to watch the anime.

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Reaching The Target With The Help From Friends

Tsurune Episode Reviews

Tsurune Episode 8 Review

I don’t think I’m ever going to get tired of the animation they use in this for when Minato fires a beautiful shot. Admittedly, we haven’t seen much of it due to his target panic, but this episode really did convey perfectly just how beautiful his shots can be. I was right with the spectators sitting in awe after watching that arrow fly through the air, the feathers spinning, before it struck in the centre of the target. 

Tsurune Episode 8 - Minato

To say that Tsurune maintains its status as an incredibly beautiful anime is an understatement even if most of the time it isn’t rubbing your face in it. It’s the small details that keep this one pretty even as we see some fairly mundane sequences of characters sitting and talking.

Tsurune Episode 8 Masaki

Though, it would be a mistake to believe that prettiness is all this anime has going for it. In eight episodes Tsurune has managed to really make me care about these characters, and this week even Nanao, who has been by far the one I’ve known least about or cared least for, managed to make me pay attention to him as he played his role within the team. The fact that Nanao is aware he’s playing a role makes him an even more interesting character and I have to wonder why he is so fixated on Onogi and what happens when Onogi doesn’t need him anymore to help balance himself. Of course, the same questions can be, and should be, aimed at Seiya in regards to Minato.

Tsurune Episode 8 Nanao

Despite this episode focusing largely on the team shoot at the tournament, which the boys first did fairly poorly in and then, through some team bonding and self-reflection improved for the second half, really the story here is about the characters.  We get excellent moments for Ryouhei, between Onogi and Nanao, Nanao and Minato, Minato and Onogi, and finally Seiya and Shu. Each one slightly revealing and each on interesting on their own.

Tsurune Episode 8 Shu

The boys did qualify for the next round but it was nearly beside the point by the time that was revealed. The progress they individually made and made as a team made everything worth it and honestly I don’t think I’d have minded if they just had to start again next time. Still, looking forward to what they do next because I’m really enjoying getting swept away by these characters.

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Karandi James
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