by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 3 of
Tsurune: Kazemai Kōkō Kyūdō-bu ?
Anime creators know about the “three episode test” just like fans do. In seasonal anime, episode three can often be the place where an introductory arc wraps up and sets new plot threads in motion for the ongoing story. In this respect, Tsurune is working very much by the book. Minato's struggle isn't over, but his initial protestations have quickly become a thing of the past. Meanwhile, his world is expanding to showcase archery buffs outside of his immediate social circle and new character dynamics to match. The result is a fairly standard checklist of what viewers expect to see in episode three, so maybe now we can stop playing it so safe?
Masa's encouragement really did a number of Minato. Bow in hand, he showed up bright and early to swallow his pride and ask to join the team—and then proceeded to show up even earlier each day after that. It's great to see that he's not wallowing, but his newfound confidence still feels pretty formulaic in the “It's already episode three? Let's move!” sort of way. Minato previously seemed moody and reserved, but now nothing gets to him. Neither Ryohei's insensitive comment to the tune of “So you're cured now?” nor Onogi's general antagonism seems to have much effect on him. Meanwhile, Seiya, who I previously saw as a source of tough love in Minato's life, has toned it down to fit neatly into the “supportive best friend” category. This is why his blow-out fight with Minato felt ill-timed; it was so early that it exposed a more dramatic facet of Seiya's personality before we knew how he behaved from day to day. Perhaps Ryohei's characterization is the most consistent of the three, as he earnestly attempts to make Minato feel better, even doing target panic research in his free time.
Fortunately, as prospective members drop out of the club, it's become much easier to differentiate between the kyudo club's outsized personalities. There's charismatic Kisaragi, (pretty much just Nagisa from Free!) who takes it upon himself to placate prickly Onogi—whose own mission seems to be attacking Minato whenever possible. The female trio has their own vibe going, between “prince” type Seo, peacemaker Noa, and no-nonsense Hanazawa. Tommy-sensei continues to delight with his laid-back, hands-off approach to handling his boisterous students. And to no one's surprise, Masa-san is joining the team as its coach. Add a rival school in the powerful Kirisaki High, and we've got ourselves a lot of reasons to keep watching aside from simply following along to see if Minato will recover. By episode three, the show's character beats have been succinctly established, and it's worth watching just to see how these increasingly endearing characters clash and interact.
More than anything else, “Just as They Met” telegraphs a building conflict between Onogi and Minato. What sort of secret hurt is Onogi hiding that makes him pick on somebody who's already down? And we know why Minato knows Masa, but why does Onogi know him too? It's clear he's not a real antagonist (he's already starting to show his soft side by using a chat icon of his cat), but the second stumbling block for Minato to overcome now that he's finally gathered enough strength to join the team. It's a very typical third episode that wraps up one storyline and launches into the next. It's not the most creative progression, but thanks to its lively characters and swiftly moving story, Tsurune passes my three-episode test.
Tsurune is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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