OP Sequence

OP: 「℃」 by (Luck Life)

「夏への矢声」 (Natsu e no Yagoe)
“Summer Calls”

Not resting on their laurels, the Kazemai kyudo team jumps right into practice for regionals at the expense of practice for the sports tournament- much to the ire of Seiya (Ichikawa Aoi). The club members’ earnest desire to improve their craft whenever and however they can, even when the all-important sports tournament dictates otherwise, sets the tone for the season as one in which we’ll see each of the members challenge themselves to ever greater heights.

Seiya makes an important point about burn out. Enthusiasm is a double-edged sword. It’s natural that they would be gung-ho, coming off the high of their big win, but they really need to be careful about overdoing it to the point of mental and physical exhaustion. Especially Narumiya (Uemura Yuuto), who is just starting to recover from target panic. Takigawa-san (Asanuma Shintarou) also urges them to take a break-which makes me wonder if overexertion and burnout will become a hurdle for some members this season, or if it serves merely to highlight their enthusiasm.

Taking a break from kyudo for the sake of the sports tournament is a reminder for the viewers and the characters themselves of just how much these kids love kyudo. Even when playing a different sport, kyudo isn’t far from their minds. Putting their all into other sports showed a different side of the characters. Seiya’s tactical mind at work in the soccer game plan, winning them second place. Seo (Taichi You) killing it in basketball. Kisaragi (Yano Shougo) putting his all into volleyball defense. I was a bit confused when Ryohei (Suzuki Ryota) won the MVP because they never showed which tournament he played in. His kendo victory was saved for after the fact-a total fake-out move on the part of the director/creator.

The sports tournament did more than showcase the characters’ prowess outside of the bow and arrow-it also emphasized the essence of kyudo by the very contrast these other team sports presented to kyudo. As the team reflected on, the sports at the tournament were focused on collaborating as a team, each person with a different role. The emphasis ultimately on directly defeating an opponent (and quite painfully so, from Ryohei’s kendo bruises). In contrast, kyudo is an individual, introspective sport. The opponent is yourself, the emphasis on getting in tune with one’s inner spirit and honing one’s craftmanship more than on team strategy or outwitting another player’s tactics. As Takigawa-san observes, kyudo is not one size fits all-techniques differ from person to person, depending on their eyesight and physique.

Overall, the premiere provided a gentle re-introduction to Tsurune,emphasizing what kyudo is and how much it means to the boys. I say boys, because the premiere also re-introduced me to one of my main beefs with the first season-the girls on the team. Throughout the first season, the girls were a backdrop-they were there and you’d see them shoot, but their character development took a backseat to the boys. In the premiere, too, the girls were in the background doing their thing, but the focus was clearly on the boys and their fervor. Heck even in the OP, the girls are sidelined, appearing for one shot while the Kazemai boys get plenty of screentime.

That aside, this truly was an elegant premiere. One of the aspects I love about this series is the subtle, yet distinct sounds that comprise the kyudo experience-the sound of tabi gliding across wood floor, the bow-string pulled taut, the twang (“tsurune”) as the string is released. It was also nice to see a return of the team dynamics and how the main members play off of one another while focusing on their individual growth. In all, it promises to be a good expansion upon the first season. Kyudo is a sport I find fascinating because of its elegance and roots in Japanese traditions-if ever I were to take up a sport myself, I would probably choose either kyudo or karuta. I look forward to an enjoyable season watching Tsurune continue to unfold as a love letter to the sportsmanship and artistry of kyudo.

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