You Have To Step Back To See What’s Really There

Run With The Wind Episode Review Title

Run With The Wind Episode 9 Review

As much as I hate to admit it, Haiji has a point. Kakeru really can’t see what the point of running is anymore, other than getting a great time and winning, and while I kind of get where Kakeru is coming from, given they are in a competition, I really do get where Haiji is coming from. Besides, Kakeru targeting Prince was a low blow. It isn’t as though Prince didn’t know he wasn’t good at running.

Run With The Wind Episode 9

Kakeru being benched this week on Run With The Wind created a chance for the audience to observe the others from a distance as well. While at first most were reluctant to join Haiji in his dream, and many were coerced, the five who competed this week gave it all they had and those who were on the side were moved by their effort and a desire to cheer them on. All and all, the power of the ‘team’ coming together even if none of the runners were successful this time around at getting an official time.

Run With The Wind Episode 9 - Running

Of course, Run With The Wind wasn’t really content just to give us a ‘go team’ kind of message and working at bringing Kakeru back in with the others, despite him being a massive jerk last week and at the start of the episode. Instead we layer in signs that Haiji isn’t as ‘recovered’ as he’d like people to believe and that escalates as the episode continues. Given we still don’t know what actually happened, I’m curious as to what is going on, but the eventual collapse of the team leader was a suitably dramatic end point for the episode.

Run With The Wind Episode 9 Prince

Where this anime shines is that none of the characters feel neglected at this point. It is quite the feat given the sheer number of characters. And while I don’t necessarily like all of them, they are all feeling very authentic and the group as a whole is becoming more and more interesting to watch.

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

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The Best Revenge: Go Forth And Succeed Your Own Way

Tsurune Episode Reviews

Tsurune Episode 6 Review

Welcome to the world of Tsurune where even the coach with the potentially angsty backstory is calm, collected, and feels that being a better and more understanding teacher than his grandfather was is a way of getting revenge. It mightn’t be the most exciting thing to watch, but these are characters I can get behind and their emotions are real. 

Tsurune Episode 6 Masaki

Minato and Seiya having an actual conversation… not one strained with tears, shouting, or dramatic stances, but simply a sit down in the park with the dog and an actual conversation where they asked the questions they needed to and contemplated answers. Not everything is answered by the way. These characters are too complex for a simple conversation to solve all their problems. But they are acknowledging the challenges and the uncertainty and again, they are doing it in a calm manner where they try not to let their personal dramas inconvenience others or get in their way but they are acknowledging that the personal drama exists.

It is a balance so very rarely found in stories and while I’m not huge on comparing things, I’m finding the boys in Tsurune almost as nuanced as the girls over in Bloom Into You, only without the romance aspect. And the romance really isn’t needed here as we have friendship, ambition, regret and a whole host of other emotions and ideas to explore.

Tsurune Episode 6 Opposition

On that note, we spend a bit of time this episode at the school that Seiya and Minato probably should have gone to with the characters who are most definitely going to shake up the calm of this anime. This week we meet Shuu, a former friend and fellow competitor, as well as two twins who were fun enough this week being a little bit blunter than most characters in this anime but I’m hoping they aren’t going to end up being nasty because that could definitely damage the calm of the show.

Tsurune Episode 6

Tsurune is in no hurry to get where it is going but we are steadily making progress both with the characters and the plot. While I’d love the female characters to get more of a look in and while I’d love Nanao and Ryouhei to get fleshed out a bit, I’m very much loving this show.

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Karandi James
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Tsurune – Kazemai Koko Kyudo-Bu – HG Poster A
Tsurune - Kazemai Koko Kyudo-Bu - HG Poster A

What Happens When Individuals Become a Team?

Tsurune Episode Reviews

Tsurune Episode 4 Review

I guess Tsurune really does want us to wonder how this group of individuals will come together as a team. Anime really has a fascination with team culture, though I guess that really is a direct result of the Japanese culture behind most anime. However, as Onogi points out, generally speaking Archery is a solo effort. Even when you shoot with a team it isn’t as though you can directly assist your team-mates during their shoot. All you can do is your best and hope that you’ve all helped each other enough during training that you are all at your best come competition.

Tsurune Episode 4 - Onogi

The problem facing the boys in this episode is that there are two distinct groups in this ‘team’ and they aren’t meshing well at all (wow, I really wish I didn’t have to use the word ‘mesh’ but it is the perfect fit here so I’ll banish the Hand Shakers trauma and move on). I’m assuming this training camp deal we’re about to start is either going to bring them closer together or tear them apart so they can be rebuilt as a team, but either way it is following fairly standard sport anime protocol at this point.

One thing that did really bother me in this episode was the treatment of the females in the archery club. Masaki introduces himself, all the boys get an introduction or introduce themselves, and then Masaki swiftly declares it is time to get started. Seriously, are the three girls just standing there to fill in the frame?

Tsurune Episode 4

And while they get to compete later and I get they are trying to get the boys to form something resembling a team, it seems a little bit like a dig at them that they are joined by the coach and the teacher in order to beat the boys (one of the boys already sufficiently suffering from target panic that he was never going to get a hit, so technically it was five against four in favour of the clearly stronger teacher team with the back-up support of the three girls who didn’t even get to name themselves this episode).

Alright, sexism in anime isn’t exactly new and this wasn’t really an overt attack on females or their ability at archery, but it all just kind of bugged me as a totally unnecessary element at all. How hard would it have been to have actually given the girls an introduction?

Tsurune Episode 4 - Minato

However, because I do not want to end on a sour note, mostly because this show is pretty great even if it is losing a little of the beautiful edge it started with, I would like to applaud the sound effects and just the ambient sound in this anime. Seriously amazing work and realistically you could just close your eyes during the shooting, hear the creak of the bow and release of the arrow, the whoosh of the arrow through the air and the thunk as it strikes (the target or otherwise). Absolutely amazing and something I can’t get enough of.

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Karandi James

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DRAGON QUEST SMILE SLIME MONSTER PLUSH: BODKIN ARCHER

Tsurune Episode 3: It Isn’t Easy to Overcome Trauma

Tsurune Episode 3

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).

Tsurune3b
I’d like to know too, because that explanation made zero sense.

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.

Tsurune3a

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.

Tsurune3c

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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Karandi James

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SILUCA MELETES

Tsurune Episode 2: Finding Your Target

Tsurune Episode 2

There’s a couple of things Tsurune has gotten very right that makes this anime a fairly solid show and one I want to follow right from the beginning. Comparing to the other sports anime I’m watching at the moment, Run With The Wind, I feel I’ve clicked a bit more with this one. While Minato is also reluctant to continue in his chosen sport, unlike Run With The Wind, the other characters aren’t coercing and forcing him back. They are certainly nagging and encouraging (and a little overly intrusive), but ultimately the choice that he makes in this episode is his own decision that he has come to after his own reflection.

Tsurune  Episode 2 Seiya

The other thing that really grabs me in this story so far, other than just being gorgeous to watch, is that so far Minato, and all of the other characters, don’t appear to have some high minded goal like be the best in Japan or win some competition. The goal so far is to re-establish the archery club and now there’s a tournament they’ve decided to try entering, but ambition is so far being kept in check. Minato has been shown to be pursuing a sound and striving for the form that will given him that, and the other characters haven’t really established their motives just yet. I’m certain that at some point these guys will aim to win something, but so far it is more about pursuing the sport than pursuing victory and I really kind of appreciate that.

Tsurune Episode 2 Minato and Who
Did they really just name the owl W’ho’?

I did however have to do a double take in this episode, literally stopping and video and going back, and I’m certain that’s what they intended, when they suggested Takigawa was actually a ghost. It was a well executed moment because while you don’t really think this is an anime that is likely to actually have a ghost, it leaves you in just enough doubt that when Minato dives to stop him shooting the last arrow you are kind of glad, even if it does all turn out to be a silly misunderstanding.

Tsurune Episode 2

There’s a really relaxed feeling so far to this story but at the same time it feels like these characters have begun moving forward even as we’re only really just getting to meet them. Visually it has been pretty amazing with only a few group scenes where extras have looked a little bit off, and the music and environmental sounds have so far been really solid. I’m really enjoying this so far and I hope it continues as it has so far and I’d really like to start to get to know the rest of the cast a bit better now.

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Karandi James

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NINTENDO LEGEND OF ZELDA RUCK SACK BACKPACK

Tsurune Episode 1: First Episode On Target

Tsurune Episode 1

Well, here’s a second sports anime on my line up for this season, but unlike Run With The Wind, this one I was actually looking forward to because I kind of wanted to see an anime about an archery club. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it, but I was certainly waiting for the first episode, and it has not disappointed (though Run With the Wind is kind of blowing my expectations out of the water so maybe this season is just a season for me to enjoy boys playing sport, who knows).

Tsurune Episode 1

There’s nothing earth shattering about episode one. Minato is starting high school, a friend from middle-school is also going with him and they run into an old friend from elementary school. The school archery club is starting up again and they are getting roped into it but Minato has some past trauma that means he’s avoiding. When he finally gets dragged into shooting it becomes quite clear he’s got a bit of a psychological block going on.

Tsurune Episode 1

All and all, exactly what you would expect from a first episode of a school club anime focused on a sport. The cast are pleasant enough if not yet fleshed out and the pacing was really well done.

So why am I so happy about this episode? Because much like a couple of other titles this season, this first episode is just oozing effort and attention to detail. The sounds particularly are beautifully done but there’s a real care and effort in shot composition and visuals going on in this episode that makes it a sheer delight to engage with even as it goes through the usual kind of set-up. While I stand by my overall opinion that good visuals and animation aren’t enough to make up for a poor story or characters, when the plot and characters are sound, it is amazing how much more vibrant the experience can become with a little care and effort on the other elements.

Tsurune Episode 1

Really looking forward to more of this one and hopefully it can continue to be so beautifully put together.


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Karandi James

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CODE:REALIZE - BOUQUET OF RAINBOWS

Yuri on Ice Guide To Episode 8

At last we’re heading to Russia in Episode 8: Yuri vs Yuri The Horror!! Rostelecom Cup, Short Program. Victor and Yuri overcame a real hurdle as coach and student in episode 7 and came to understand each other a lot more as people but how has that prepared them to take on the competition in Victor’s homeland? Not to mention the long awaited rematch of Yuri Plisetsky against Yuri Katuski.

That said, last week I asked on Twitter which was your favourite free skate routine. Here are the results:

 


Episode 8: 

This episode opens a bit differently from normal as we don’t have an initial narration. Instead we hear the sound of a plane, we get some text that tells us we’re in Moscow and then we hear squeals as Yakov and Yuri Plistesky’s group are walking together. It’s a nice touch and a good lead in to getting some narration from Yuri Plistesky. Despite his fairly lengthy appearances in episodes 2 and 3, we really don’t know much about him nor have we heard his view on things. So the transition here is nice as is getting to see Yuri with his family. Also nice to see how Yuri Plistesky goes from being a much softer more human character when talking with his grandfather about food and then instantly becomes irked when he hears that Victor has arrived in the country. Sometimes it is hard to remember that Yuri Plistesky is still just a teenager and moments like this really help to make sense of some of his more over the top moments.

Yuri on Ice Episode 8

I’m not going to spend a huge amount of time on them, but here we meet quite a lot of the other skaters at the hotel. After transitioning from Yuri Plisetsky arguing with Victor we run into Yuri Katsuki standing in front of the elevator where he is joined by Seung-gil Lee (and I’m just going to point out that if anyone ever wants to make a spin-off anime about Seung-gil I’m 100% for that). Yuri takes the moment to once again show off his social anxiety and mentally notes there is no one in this round that he’s really friendly with making it a very different atmosphere. We then have the elevator door open and are introduced to Mickey and Sala (siblings who have their own dramas that play out as a minor plot point) and Emil. Sala, probably sick of Mickey and Emil’s bickering and possessiveness makes a minor pass at Seung-gil and he turns her down flat before attempting to exit the scene. The storm this causes allows Yuri to sneak off to a different elevator and leave the scene.

You could view all of this as filler but at the same time we’re about to watch these characters compete against Yuri so it is kind of nice that we see a little of their personalities as they arrive in Russia and prepare for the competition. Much like with Minami earlier in the series, despite only appearing for a couple of episodes, each of these characters leaves a mark in the narrative and on the viewers.

Yuri on Ice Episode 8

Of course, Yuri’s plan to avoid drama backfires as Yuri Plisetsky also gets on the same elevator and after a moment of strained and awkward attempted small talk from Yuri, Plisetsky essentially declares war once again. The contrast between the two characters is nicely managed here though unlike in earlier sequences neither is looking down at the other and they are standing side by side. It shows the growth they’ve both had as characters, despite Plisetsky’s sour expression. It also shows that the real rivalry between them is still for Victor’s attention even though Victor has made it pretty clear where he is interested.

Yuri on Ice Episode 8

Emil, Mickey and Seung-gil all skate in the first half and there’s a bit of build up around Mickey and Sala’s relationship and Mickey’s codependency, but I’m not going to focus a lot on that here. Finally we see Yuri preparing to skate and then we cut to Yuri Plisetsky who gets the news that his grandfather won’t make it to watch him skate. Now, all the way through the series Plisetsky’s seemed like the kind who isn’t very sentimental and other than his fixation on Victor doesn’t seem to hold onto emotional connections. And yet, the look on his face and the tone of voice when he realises his grandfather won’t be there speaks volumes and given what we’ve seen on the show so far, it is clear this is going to have an impact on his performance just when he has the chance to face Yuri again.

Yuri on Ice Episode 8 Yuri Plisetsky

After the eye-catch we get a sequence at the hotsprings in Japan where we see the super cute Makkachin eyeing off some plastic wrapped offerings and you just know this isn’t going to end well. I remember the first time I watched this episode and how worried this sequence made me. Even knowing where it goes, I still feel a little sad for Makkachin as he watches the food so closely with that adorable look on his face.

Yuri on Ice Episode 8 Makkachin

But now it is time for Yuri to skate and once again we get a Victor and Yuri sequence to remember on the edge of the rink before beginning. It has been building up since episode 1 when Yuri asked Yuuko to watch him and every time since when he has been more aggressive in asking for Victor’s attention. Episode 1 he asks ‘please watch’ of Yuuko and that is the same request he makes of Victor in Episode 3. By episode 6 he tells Victor to ‘Never take your eyes off me’.

However, episode 8 takes this to a very new level of aggression and possessiveness. Possibly spurred on by the crowd cheering Victor’s name and feeling left out, Yuri forcibly pulls Victor toward him and commands his full attention as he states the performance has already begun. The sequence demonstrates where they are in their relationship as well as the uncertainty that Yuri is clearly still feeling about whether Victor is going to stay with him if he doesn’t make the final. There’s a lot of pressure riding on Yuri for his performance but he knows what he wants here. Even as he skates away we hear him thinking how embarrassing the scene was and yet he admits he’s trying to push back at the crowd and make his own stand. For someone who never had any confidence in himself, he finally wants something enough to overcome that fear and try to grab it and hold onto it.

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Yuri Katsuki follows this with a fairly brilliant performance of Eros. However, as the fourth time we’ve seen this routine, we cut away a lot to the judges, Victor’s reactions, and to Yuri Plisetsky’s preparations for his own skate. There’s a sense of melancholy surrounding Plisetsky and we see him mostly from behind and looking fairly isolated as he prepares and watches the final moments of Katsuki’s routine. However, in typical Plisetsky fashion, he speaks with hostility when he Yuri Katsuki comes off the ice. Still, it is clear the young skater is putting up a tough front here and while he’s trying hard a lot of the usual impact is lacking from both his words and expression.

Yuri on Ice Episode 8 Yuri Plisetsky

I think one of the things that gets overlooked about Yuri on Ice is that it isn’t just the people like watching Victor and Yuri. What really works for both of these characters is that they are genuinely nice people. They both have flaws and rough edges, they clash and have issues, but overall they are really the kind of people you would want in your life. This is evident when they see Yuri Plisetsky take the ice and they note that he’s found his agape and are both overjoyed. Yuri Katsuki is competing against Plisetsky and yet he is still happy to see his competitor has improved and has come a long way. This is just such a great part of the show and a lot of the reason it remains a joy to watch because it doesn’t let itself get bogged down in hostile rivalries that are actually destructive. Whether this is realistic is another story, but it is certainly a lot of the fun of watching.

Yuri on Ice Episode 8 Yuri and Victor

The final skater to take the ice in the short program after both Yuri’s is JJ. JJ is a character we’ve seen a couple of times in news updates but until now we hadn’t actually met him at a competition. If Yuri Katsuki is someone who is overwhelmed by anxiety and a lack of confidence, JJ is his complete opposite. He is oozing confidence both in the lead up to taking the ice and as he prepares to skate. I find it interesting that both Yuri and JJ have songs named after themselves, JJ for the short program and Yuri for the free skate.

Yuri on Ice Episode 8 JJ takes the ice for Theme of King JJ

Everything about JJ’s performance is big. His personality come across through his music that he created that tells his story. He inspires the audience to clap and sing along and he’s working the crowd at every moment. For the first time we see JJ take the ice he leaves a large impression as a character who styles himself as larger than life. As much as you could call him arrogant, it isn’t as though he hasn’t worked to get there, and he isn’t actually antagonistic to the other characters. Still, JJ is the kind of personality I find hardest to deal with in real life and as a result he’s a character I find it difficult to feel anything for other than a hope that he doesn’t get in Yuri’s way. Still, he creates a fairly solid contrast in personality to a lot of the other characters and ultimately he’s a necessary personality in the final mix so he works well in the story.

Yuri on Ice Episode 8

For the most part, Yuri on Ice has avoided last minute cliff-hangers so it when this one came up while it did feel like a slightly cheap way of building some drama, it isn’t as though the event wasn’t foreshadowed earlier. At the end of the episode Yuri gets a call regarding Makkachin and he’s at the vet. This leads to Yuri telling Victor to return to Japan meaning Yuri is going to be on his own for the free skate. And I love this moment as Yuri desperately wants Victor with him but remembers his own pain at losing a pet when he wasn’t there and so tells Victor to leave. He does it without any strings attached and out of concern for Victor.

Yuri on Ice Ep 8o.JPG

While Victor does ask Yakov to take care of him, I think we all knew this wasn’t a great situation and wondered how it would impact on Yuri’s next performance. Not to mention, don’t hurt the dog. I’ll leave you with the final screen before the credits.

Yuri on Ice Ep 8p

My original episode review: Yuri On Ice Episode 8


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Karandi James

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