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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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

Emotions Run High This Week And Are Handled Beautifully

Tsurune Episode Reviews

Tsurune Episode 10 Review

It isn’t just Seiya who is having to deal with his emotions this week. We see the ripple of Seiya’s absence as well as his words to Masaki go through all the members of the team and each one has to deal with it as well as their own issues. Of course Tsurune is up to the challenge of dealing with this much drama and doing it with style. While this might be the most emotionally charged episode yet, it still feels genuine and that is reinforced through so many small moments that are instantly relatable to viewers.

Tsurune Episode 10 Masaki and Tomi-Sensei

As someone in my 30’s, Masaki’s moment was probably the one that hit home the most. He regrets what he said to Seiya, he remembers how it felt to have a similar question asked of him, but he doesn’t know how to fix the situation. He feels let down because somehow when you are a kid you kind of feel like adults have it together and have the answer and then you become an adult and realise just how much you just pretend to have it together because it is expected you will. This moment between Masaki and Tomi-Sensei when they sit and drink together after the students have left is a quiet moment but all the more powerful because of how true it rang.

Tsurune Episode 10 Onogi and Minato

And that moment wasn’t the only one. This episode has Onogi talking to Minato about Seiya and while he frames his concern as self interest (he’s worried about the impact on the team in the upcoming competition), it is clear that Onogi is looking out for his team-mates. The conversation between Minato and Onogi is fantastic because Minato becomes clearly aware that he’s dropped the ball with Seiya and then spends the rest of the episode thinking of how to fix things.

Tsurune Episode 10 Seiya

And even then, it isn’t some grand gesture that ultimately works. A return to childish form of writing a message on the chocolate box gets Seiya out of the house, though heavily prompted by the dog (and does Kuma get an award for most valuable player this week). Still, it is Minato’s absolute honesty, using Seiya’s own words, and just being there for him that eventually gets things back on track.

I loved the ending when Masaki apologises to Seiya and Seiya tells Masaki again that he hates him, only the tone of the scene is so different from just one episode ago where the same words were said. It is amazing how different the two scenes feel even though Seiya’s dialogue is identical and that shows just how much impact the events of this episode have had on Seiya.

Tsurune Episode 10 Shu

Of course, I do need to mention the shrine visit where the two teams encounter one another. While the twins and Onogi seem determined to have some kind of rivalry going for whatever reason, the rest of the team members seem content just to get on with things. There’s some interesting dynamics between individual characters and Shu remains and enigmatic but interesting part of both Seiya’s and Minato’s pasts.

Very much looking forward to more of this.

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Karandi James
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Play Asia Exclusive
Play Asia Exclusive

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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Game Soundtracks CDJapan

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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Play Asia Exclusive
Play Asia Exclusive

Autumn 2018 Week 9

Update: This will be my last weekly overview post. I’m not sure what will replace this but I feel like the post in its current format has outlived its usefulness.

Here we are at week 9 and with only three weeks to go on some of these anime we know it is time to start voting for the best and worst of the season. The polls are now open and I’ll soon put out a post with more details about the vote, but just remember the top three from this round of voting will join the top 3 from the rest of the seasons this year to be voted on for anime of the year.

I’m excited. 

But for now, let’s look at what happened this week in each of the shows and as always I’d love to know your thoughts on the anime that aired so leave me a comment telling me what you liked, what you hated, and what just made you ask ‘what’.

A Certain Magical Index Season 3

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 9 Touma and Misaka

Episode 8

Almost as much as Conception, this anime is the one where as we continue along I just wonder why I am watching it. I’ll admit, this one is still more appealing in terms of content than Conception, but from a narrative execution point of view, it is more or less on par. Really not enjoying this right at the moment.

Banana Fish

Banana Fish Episode 22

Episode 22 – Not Reviewed


I’m heart-broken. I’m a crying mess. I kind of knew this couldn’t end well but with two episodes remaining I didn’t expect to have my heart ripped from my chest and then stomped into the ground this week. Oh wow, that was harsh. This show makes no logical sense but it hits you in the feels every single time and I love it for that.

Bloom Into You Episode 9

Episode 9


The sports carnival really got our characters fired up, but more than that it made it clear where Yuu is standing. Her firm denial of her own emotions, or at least her misunderstanding of them, is incredibly heartbreaking to watch and I’m really wanting to know how this will end. Patrons can access the post using the link, password on Patreon.

Conception

Conception Episode 9

Episode 9

Conception seems to realise that it isn’t really playing its A game. Or even it’s B or C. And while it might be fine to focus on humour, that might be easier to take if I actually found it amusing. Then again, I guess someone is finding it funny. I’m committed to finishing this one but it is getting a little harder each week to muster enthusiasm for viewing.

Dakaichi

Dakaichi Episode 9

Episode 9- Will be reviewed with Arthifis

Episode 9 takes us back to Japan and Takato’s play is now on. However, he’s starting to feel a change in how he is performing and it all comes down to his relationship with Junta. Really loved this episode even if it looks like it is leading to an upsetting episode next week.

Goblin Slayer

Goblin Slayer Episode 9 Goblin Slayer and Sword Maiden

Episode 9 – Will be reviewed with Arthifis

The brave adventurers have attracted the attention of the goblins after their explosive end to the beholder last week. High Elf Archer is visibly shaken but the team come together to repel the hordes in a fairly understated and matter-of-fact kind of battle. But then it is time for Goblin Slayer to figure out what was actually going on and the episode gets a little less interesting.

Jingai-San No Yome

Jingai San no Yome Episode 10

Episode 10- Not Reviewed

Another fairly pointless episode. Apparently it is white day and so the various ‘wives’ are receiving various gifts and being all happy about it. And as usual, that’s it. There’s nothing else going on in the three minutes we have here. So, cute enough but fairly pointless, as normal for this one.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 10 Nodoka in Mai's body

Episode 10

This anime just remains consistently solid. While this episode did feel like it had a bit more roughness to its story, it also feels very much like it was supposed to. There’s a lot going on with these characters and they continue to be consistently interesting and the writing here continues to be fairly impressive. A definite must watch from the season.

Release the Spyce

Release the Spyce Episode 9

Episode 9

I think the problem with episode 9 is it gave us a taste of what this show could have been if we hadn’t spent so much time just fluffing about. However, this one does give us some fun moments with the current cast as well as a flashback of Hanzo’s mentor so all and all it was pretty fun.

Run With The Wind

Run With The Wind Episode 10 Kakeru and Prince

Episode 10

Who would have thought that Kakeru would finally get caught by team spirit? It was a marvellous transformation and one that actually feels kind of earned, even if we did have the cheap plot ploy of another character collapsing to trigger it. It worked, it was fantastic, and Prince is most definitely still the MVP.

Skull Face Bookseller Honda-San

Skull Face Bookseller Honda San Episode 9

Episode 9

Skull Face Book Seller Honda San continues to be entertaining enough without actually having much in the way of substance. Still, those who love books will find plenty to relate to this episode and will probably have a great time with it. While not overly memorable, this one remains pleasant enough.

Sword Art Online Alicization

Sword Art Online Alicization Eugeo

Episode 9

The Eugeo focused episode is really welcome as I’ve been wanting Eugeo to get a chance to spread his wings a bit. While at this stage he is still very much guided by Kirito, it is cool to see the gears starting to turn in his head and I wonder just how far Eugeo will go as a character. Really looking forward to finding out as the series progresses.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 10 Gobta

Episode 10

New characters keep pushing this story along but at the same time it feels like we’ve barely gotten anywhere. I know, that’s a weird contradiction, which seems to be what this show is full of tonally. It feels like stuff should seem dire but it is so casual about it all. I’m enjoying it but it is a bit of an oddity.

Tsurune

Tsurune Episode 7

Episode 7

This show hits some fairly solid emotional notes this week as they team go into their fist match. While there’s lessons to be learned by all the characters, this episode still tries to maintain the sedate tone, though that actually makes each moment somewhat more poignant and uncomfortable to watch. It is an odd mix, but one that works.

Voice of Fox

Voice of Fox Episode 8 Hu Li on phone

Episode 8

The drama continues this week but I’m really enjoying it. Hu Li continues to be a character with just enough tragedy about him to be sympathetic, without crossing the line into completely pathetic. Not to mention, he’s working hard even though he doesn’t believe he deserves anything. I really just want him to have a happy ending at this point. Really enjoying this.

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Episode 10 Zhao

Episode 10

I finally caught up and these past three episodes have really been something. Very much enjoyed the turns in the plot and wondering now how this series will end (fingers crossed it does end and doesn’t just stop mid-story for a season two that doesn’t exist). While this one is hard to recommend due to the rough animation, the story has really been great so far.

Character of the Week

Dakaichi Episode 9 Takato
I’ve been loving Takato as a character since the beginning, but episode 9 really did an excellent job with him. Dakaichi has its issues, but Takato is fantastic.

Episode of the Week

Bloom Into You Episode 9 Yuu and Nanami
For the second time this season, Bloom Into You has delivered an episode I just can’t fault and it even managed to over take Bunny Girl Senpai in my personal enjoyment ranks. Beautifully done.

Dropped or On Hold

  • Anime Yell!
  • As Miss Beelzebub Likes
  • Bakumatsu
  • Between the Sky and Sea
  • Himote House
  • Hinomaru Sumo
  • Merc Storia
  • Ms Vampire Who Lives in My Neighbourhood
  • My Sister, My Writer
  • Radiant
  • Space Battleship Tiramisu Zwei
  • SSSS.Gridman
  • The Girl in Twilight
  • Ulysses: Jeanne d’Arc and the Alchemist Knight
  • UzaMaid
  • Zombieland Saga

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Karandi James
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NENDOROID NO. 1041 RELEASE THE SPYCE: YUKI HANZOMON
NENDOROID NO. 1041 RELEASE THE SPYCE: YUKI HANZOMON