“At Wit’s End”

「矢も盾も堪らず」 (Ya mo Tate mo Tamarazu)

To Lose Oneself

In Minato’s time of need, it seems a tad convenient that he was able to stumble across a Kyudo Training Shrine, and meet the man who might hold the solution to alleviating his problems. However, I’m hardly fazed. I believe that any good stories require a chance encounter of sorts, and the meeting between Minato and Masaki feels foundational to the setup of Tsurune. One would be careful to divulge their dark secrets to a stranger, as Minato demonstrated. However, he soon warms up to Masaki, telling the latter his tale of woes. Whereas no one else had the time of day to listen to Minato beforehand, Masaki might just be the first in this regard. Having been through target panic himself, Masaki also knows Minato’s concerns inside out, and properly hears out Minato in an empathetic manner. He steadies the uneasy youngster, and demonstrates great persistence and patience in getting through to Minato’s heart.

After speculating about what might have caused Minato’s target panic, I suppose it might simply have come down to a bad experience at the prefectural tournament. I doubt that the audience would know what it feels like, so Takigawa-sempai weighs in and paints the canvas to help us understand: pressure from the inability to hit, the mockery endured, the loss of confidence, and most importantly, feeling like you don’t know yourself anymore. The first three I had vaguely guessed, because they had been mostly alluded to in flashbacks. But the final point was one that I had failed to consider and it proved the most interesting to me, because it went way beyond the surface, diving deep into the murky depths of Minato’s troubled self.

What’s so fascinating about seeing someone at their lowest point? Well, I like to believe it’s because they can’t go any lower, meaning they can only start to climb up. As Minato works to rediscover himself, we will be there, cheering him past every step of the way. That said, it is also quite easy to see why he feels so jaded. Not only did he abruptly lose a talent that helped define him as an individual, but he also lacked emotional support during these hard times. First off, his deceased mother is no longer there to comfort and cheer him on. Secondly, his father seems like a nice guy but always seems busy with work, meaning he doesn’t have enough presence in Minato’s life to be an effective source of comfort. And then there’s the issue with his friends failing to step up at the right times, if not driving in the final daggers themselves.

Et tu Seiya

Seiya decides to bury the hatchet by outright blaming him for the tournament loss, which was an extremely low blow in my opinion, even if it was meant to prove the absence of pity or compassion. Perhaps I’m a tad sensitive, but Seiya’s conduct was unacceptable. I hold a complex disdain towards him, because his recent actions have caused nothing but harm and he’s unapologetic in the way he goes about wilfully hurting Minato. Yet in more private moments, he makes vulnerable admissions that he feels responsible, perhaps guilty for the things that he’s done. I get the impression that we as viewers are missing a whole layer of context that has yet to be revealed, which would explain why Seiya is being this way. So I’m incredibly intrigued to see where Seiya goes as a character, because his vicious candour with Minato shatters my prior image of him being the mundane, goody-two shoes model student.

The Man Who Fired 9999 Arrows

We’ve probably all had that experience of not wanting to let go the things we hold dear, and watching it play out on screen was not easy. Minato’s plea served as the episode’s climax, with the high-schooler professing his love for Masaki’s archery form, and that he could not bear to lose it all. But fortunately, that won’t be the case here. Thankfully, Masaki is here to stay. Might I quickly add it’s an even greater source of relief that Tsurune won’t be veering down a supernatural route. Anyhow, if channeled in the correct way, guidance can be a positively transformative effect on one’s development, and things are only looking good for Minato here. They form a verbal pact stating that neither will quit archery, and Minato firing Masaki’s 10,000th shot symbolically marks a definitive beginning to their joint venture. I might have been in denial the previous episode, but now it’s become rather evident that the relationship between Masaki and Minato is quite… gar. There’s certainly a hint of homo-eroticism that flavours the budding brothership between these two, and I’ll be a heretic in hoping that things will stay platonic for the most part. I’m pretty confident this relationship is going to be something special by fictional standards, and I look forwards to seeing how things develop.

Unfortunately, I want to point something out which might not seem so obvious right now. Once Minato is able to conquer his target panic, I highly doubt that Masaki will continue to play an integral role to the story. Of course, that’s not to say he won’t be an important person to Minato, but Masaki himself even proclaims that he is a mere side character in the grand scheme of Minato’s journey. I expect the rest of the archery club to eventually take up the position of co-leads. But for now, I’ll pre-occupy myself with focusing on how this connection between Minato and Masaki will unfold — there’s much to gain from the journey itself, even if we know what awaits us at the end. Where I’d been expecting five pretty boys to partake in an archery club together, it’s become a pleasant surprise that we have the journey of a boy to overcome his personal problems, so that he can reclaim his rightful place within the sport that he loves.


  1. Just when I think I’m about to die of moe overdose, Kyoani swoops in to shove its tongue down my throat and shoot a syringe of sensitive boys into my veins, and it’s like I’m alive again.

  2. Masaki is exactly what Minato needs at the moment. Even before his own target panic is revealed, he is there to just listen to Minato, no baggage, no expectations, no judgement. That’s something Minato couldn’t get from anyone else, with his mom being dead, his dad absent and his friends sucking at giving moral support.

    I have hopes for Seiya to actually be the complicated character he has been hinted. A guy who is so used to be perfect that he can’t own up his mistakes, even when he is aware of them and it hurts his friend. At least he should use that sharp tongue on Kaito more often.

  3. The characters are very interesting, but if there was anything that kept catching my attention for those 20 minutes, it was the background music. I even replayed a couple of the scenes over after I finished the ep just for the music.

  4. Tsurune’s been getting some criticism on the basis that it’s Kyoani’s “same old, same old” strategy of making dramatic youth SOL stories. They felt from a creative standpoint, that Kyoani’s very inhouse approach of adapting and controlling their own IPs with a specific theme makes them creatively limited and trend-ignorant, compared to most commission-basis anime studios; taking on a diverse array of anime genres and titles (whose IPs belong to outside production committees) and thus expand their thematic range.

    Others say it’s in line with Kyoani’s corporate strategy, emphasizing long term business survival over transient creative trends – keep to their strengths, greater destiny control and not overstretching their abilities. By sticking to inhouse IPs, they get more creative control over their projects instead of being at the mercy of external committees. Plus they get to build their own distinctive lush-animation style of which they have their committed fans, and a more consistent workplace structure like having proper paid staff over commission-based freelancers.

    My question is – is Kyoani right or wrong in its current structure? Granted their strategies mean they won’t go bankrupt like Manglobe and IMS anytime soon, but did they pay too high a price in terms of thematic growth?

    1. @zztop I see that you are asking this question in a few places. Just in case that you jave not seen my response to that question in the ANN forums, here’s a cut-and-paste from there:

      Neither. You’re coming from the angle of creativity. KyoAni is looking long term business survival. They are approaching it textbook-like – keep to your strengths, have greater control of your destiny, and don’t overstretch your capabilities. Push at the boundaries where possible but don’t overstretch it. Doing mainly properties that they have ownership of lets them have control to do what they want without production committees to stymy them. Thus far by going their own way after establishing themselves have made them into a very viable business now.

      Expecting them to abandon that for viewers and critics gratification that are transient? That’s just being short-sighted. As long as they produce anime and associated products that sell well, they will stick to their knitting, so to speak.

      1. @leongsh – I’ve seen your response in ANN, thanks for the reminder. 🙂

        I’m just asking around so to get a wider range of opinions across various forums/blogs on what they think on this issue. I recall asking on a personal blog once and the site owner said they’d prefer Kyoani diversify creatively over what they’re currently doing.

    2. KyoAni have kept the IP rights, but they’re not taking advantage of them fully. Maybe manufacturers don’t think their characters awould be popular, but there isn’t much merchandise from their recent shows.

  5. Where I’d been expecting five pretty boys to partake in an archery club together, it’s become a pleasant surprise that we have the journey of a boy to overcome his personal problems, so that he can reclaim his rightful place within the sport that he loves.

    That’s where I see this going to as well. The martial sport that he loves has hurt him deeply when he crumbled and failed at the prefectural finals. Ate him up and spit him out. It’s now about starting the journey to find his way back in. Sounds run of the mill. It all comes down to how well the story is told and tbus guving it the benefit of the doubt for now.


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