Failure. That’s a word that we all don’t like to hear, especially since it’s usually associated with something negative. Failing a test you studied hard for, holding a public speech that doesn’t go over particularly well, or even a blog post that you poured your heart and soul in but that eventually no one ends up liking very much. Usually failure can come forth out of putting too much pressure upon oneself. By having unrealistic expectations for something, or wanting something to go so perfect, that your mind pretty much explodes straight from the start. But of course there’s also outside pressure, which is even worse. Nobody wants to fail in front of a crowd, or when being part of a team end up being the weak link. That’s why I always hated sports. I was never good at it, and when I had to play at school as part of a team, I always knew I was going to fail and get shouted at. Good times. Well, today I am under a different kind of pressure. You see, I’m writing a review for someone who pretty much never fails. Her blog is loved by many, and she herself has achieved legendary status amongst the anime community. I’m talking of course about the amazing Irina. So why this pressure? Well, I know that the anime I’m about to review is one that she loved quite a lot. That’s why I don’t want to fail at this one. So, let’s hope that this post will hit the target. Yes, that was a pun.
Minato Narumiya is a young man who has become fascinated by the martial art known as kyūdō, a form of Japanese archery. When as a child he first heard the sound of the arrow being released from the bowstring, his face lit up. Asking his mother what that sound was called, she answered by saying it’s known as Tsurune. Since that moment his life changed and he worked hard to make himself skilled at this unique sport. But then an incident occurred which caused him to lose faith. Ever since that moment he quit kyūdō, becoming under the influence of what is known as target panic. We meet up with Minato at the start of a new schoolyear. There he runs into two of his childhood friends, Seiya Takehaya and Ryouhei Yamanouchi. Both of them are trying to get him interested in joining up for a new kyūdō club that the school has just started with. At first he wants nothing to do with it, but eventually he buckles under the pressure and takes a look. However not soon thereafter, after taking his first shot and once again succumbing to his target panic, he leaves much to the dismay of his two friends. Just when all seems lost though, Minato runs into a mysterious archer in a forest who eventually inspires him to take up the bow once again. Will he be able to overcome the shadows of the past though, and learn to live his life again?
I guess a lot of you, after having read this brief description of what this show is about, are wondering if this is actually me who is writing this post. Where are the robots, monsters, action, and heck this is a show about a sport right? Didn’t I just say that I hated sports? Well, yes I did. I did say that, but kyūdō although technically a sport, is what I would more accurately describe as a form of art. I have always stated that I have the utmost and deepest respect for Asian culture. It’s many rituals and customs are one of the reasons for that. And this series is full of those. Just like Minato I have become completely spellbound by this beautiful sport and all of it’s many aspects. This anime feels like you are walking along one of the prettiest countrysides you can think of, with a hot summer breeze blowing through your hair and filling you with joy. It’s one of the most soothing and relaxing shows I have watched to date, and with all of the misery and awfulness that is currently going on in the world, this gives you a much needed breath of fresh air. There are many reasons why I love this show so much, but obviously I can’t go into all of them as that would take thousands of words. But I can at least get into some of the most important ones.
The series is chock full with charismatic characters, that each have their own flaws. I have always loved series that contain flesh and blood people, instead of beings who seem perfect. The main lead, Minato, is the centre of the show. In the beginning he’s this insecure highschool teenager, struggling to overcome his target panic. Throughout the show, with the help of his friends and fellow team members he begins to grow again, and while that might come of as cliche, it never feels forced in any way. Seiya, Minato’s best friend seems like the rock that holds the group together, but in fact he’s dealing with his own insecurities. There’s a reason why he’s practicing kyūdō, but it’s not the reason one might think. My favorite character most assuredly was Kaito Onogi. When we first meet him, he’s this loudmouthed guy who shouts at everybody, and takes the sport very seriously, something he demands from others as well. This is all a front though as deep inside the guy has a heart of gold, and I’m sure most of us have someone like that in our own lives as well. Masaki Takigawa is the teacher of the group, and has this calm presence that inspires everyone. But even he has battles of his own, and that only shows that sometimes everyone walks through life wearing a mask.
There are many more characters in this anime, I haven’t even gotten to the rivals yet for instance. You see eventually Minato becomes part of a team that has to compete against other schools in a tournament. But as I said before, there is only so much space in one post, so I’m moving on. Another huge part of why this anime works so well is the animation and music. While one could argue that there are better looking animes out there, I found the techniques used here very beautiful. Especially during the archery scenes combined with the often truly amazing background music it all fit together perfectly. As has pretty much become clear now I loved this anime. Sure one could say that some of the themes and execution of those themes at times felt sappy or cringy, but this is all done so well that it’s hard to hate this series. If you want to step out of your comfort zone for a change, and want to watch something different then your usual action packed animeseries, I highly recommend starting with this. In this hectic world of today, we can all use some feelgood moments, and relaxation, and this anime serves up plenty of those. It also shows that we don’t always need to put pressure upon ourselves, but with help of a few good friends we can pretty much achieve anything. And hey, that’s a message that I certainly like!
I give Tsurune a 9 out of 10 score.