There is a specific sound that a bowstring makes when an arrow is released; the more perfect the shot, the more incredible the sound. It’s high pitched, sharp and, for lack of a better term, beautiful to hear. It has an almost captivating sensation to it, making you wish you could hear it again and again. The name of that sound is “Tsurune.” Spoilers ahead.
Kyoto Animation is one of my absolute favorite studios. They’ve produced more than just a few of my favorite anime, including Violet Evergarden, Sound Euphonium, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid and Hyouka. They always seem to deliver masterpiece work no matter what the subject is, and Tsurune (Tsurune: Kazemai Koukou Kyuudoubu; ツルネ ―風舞高校弓道部―) is no exception. The art is gorgeous, the animation is fluid and natural, and the music isn’t ever intrusive or overdone.
And according to an interview with Otomedia in October 2018, they once again pushed the boundaries a little bit to give it that much more of a personal touch. Director Takuya Yamamura noted that the Tsurune is a very important sound in archery, especially considering that all competitions are done in complete silence. That silence emphasizes the Tsurune. In those quiet moments, you can also begin to hear a distinct sound from every archer. In order to capture this, the sound production team traveled to high school clubs and top-ranking archers in order to record their unique sounds and use them in the show. The payoff for this is noticeable.
The reason so much emphasis is given to the Tsurune, both in studio and as part of the show, is because it is the turning point for the main protagonist, Minato Narumiya. That sound is what attracted him to his love for archery to begin with. Hearing it for the first time is a defining moment in Minato’s life, shaping his entire future.
Unfortunately for Minato, he’s eventually struck with something known as Target Panic. Anxiety rules his mind and body, causing him to forget his form, self confidence and self respect. Fear of never being able to compete or produce that perfect Tsurune takes over.
As with many anime (and stories in general), the themes of companionship and self acceptance abound. Minato has to learn to depend on the instruction of a new archery coach, Masaki Takigawa, as well as on the rest of his team (competitive archery can be done both as individuals and as a team). Minato slowly realizes that his only mistake was expecting perfection from himself.
The pacing for this one is a slow burn, and there is a surprising amount of content to unpack for a show with only 13 episodes. While Minato may be the main protagonist for the show, most of the development happens with and around the entire team, pulling them into the spotlight and giving each one a growth arc and unique problem to overcome. All of this is done in a very natural feeling way and by the end of the show there is a genuine appreciation for how far they come together . Don’t watch this one if you’re expecting a lot of quick action and witty dialogue. However, if you’re looking for something with a lot of heart, genuine growth, and inspirational moments, Tsurune is a bullseye.