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Episode 13

by Lauren Orsini,

How would you rate episode 13 of
Tsurune: Kazemai Kōkō Kyūdō-bu ?
Community score: 4.5

Tsurune tends to whisper what other shows might shout. But in its season finale, it used theatrical visuals to make its voice heard. “Irreplaceable” was not your average high-intensity sports anime climax, but a gentle culmination of everything its story had been working toward. Impactful music and visuals drive the narrative toward its rightful conclusion, and only a few of its elements feel forced. This episode manages to bring Tsurune full circle, returning to the beginning of the story in a way that feels perfectly composed to the end.

It's fitting that Seiya and Shu meet once again on a walkway, visually conveying the path they've both taken with Minato. “I'm not chasing him anymore. I'm doing this with him,” Seiya tells Shu in a direct callback to Minato's “mountain climbing” metaphor in episode 9. (Minato's shocked expression to seeing these former friends getting along is pure comedy.) This was indicative of the subtle way that Tsurune quietly and methodically wrapped up each of its narrative threads. The boys' expressions, as Seo pointed out, were very different than they used to look when the team was still coming together. Tommy referred back to his biggest regret as a teacher—asking Minato to take that first shot—and he and Masa commiserated once more over their series-long establishment that even adults are still growing and reassessing their faults. My least favorite resolution came with the twins, who are anime-original characters. Having one of these formerly one-dimensional villains develop target panic at the worst possible time was a surefire way to spark empathy in them, but knowing that the anime shoehorned this in made it feel like an too-convenient wrap-up.

Another aspect that felt forced was just how talented the team has suddenly become. Tsurune has never been about the story of an uncommonly talented team. It's been about each character's relationship to archery and how it helps them to resolve personal trauma. But once I got past that, I found the tournament showdown to be the most visually arresting sequence of the season. It was so satisfying to hear all the different sounds each archer's bow made, as unique as the animation that differentiated everyone's form. The bursts of green leaves—the same color as their headbands—added a visual element to the wind that propels each arrow and ruffles everyone's hair. The swelling soundtrack is the scene's MVP, marking an internal change for each archer who participates. It emphasizes what makes Tsurune so special among sports shows; it soars when it doesn't fixate on taking down that powerhouse rival school. When it instead focuses on the struggle against one's inner demons, the mental battle against your own insecurities, it offers moments of pure magic.

Please don't miss the after-credits scene. It took me some time to realize that the show is not only about Minato and his team, but about the relationship between Minato and Masa, two archers at different points in their lives dealing with the same problem. If you go back to episode one, you'll notice that it's always been Masa in his school uniform standing next to young Minato as he listens to his first "Tsurune." All the quiet and careful planning that has gone into this show feels like it was aiming for that exact revelation. Tsurune isn't loud. It doesn't tell your usual amped-up sports story. But when it whispers its message through music and visuals alone, it can be poetry.

Rating: B+

Tsurune is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.

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