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Literature / Tsurune

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From left to right: Ryohei, Seiya, Minato, Nanao and Kaito.
Minato Narumiya used to be part of his middle school's archery club until a certain incident in his last middle school tournament caused his team to lose and him to run away from archery for good. He advances to his local high school, Kazemai, where his childhood friends Seiya Takehaya and Ryohei Yamanouchi are also attending. They try to get him to join the school's archery club, but still haunted by his middle school trauma, Minato refuses and runs away on his bike and into a forest, where he stumbles into a lonely archery range with a mysterious man practicing there. Despite his previous vow to never touch a bow again, Minato can't help but be mesmerized by the man's beautiful tsurune (sound of bowstring), and ultimately decides to overcome his past issues and join his school's archery club.

Now, along with his old friends and new teammates Kaito Onogi and Nanao Kisaragi, Minato and his team aim for winning the prefectural tournament. However, the journey there isn't easy...

Tsurune: Kazemai High School Japanese Archery (Kyudo) Club is a two-volume light novel series by Kotoko Ayano and illustrations by Chinatsu Morimoto. The first novel won the Special Judge Award at the 7th Kyoto Animation Awards in 2016. It was adapted into an anime by Kyoto Animation which ran on NHK from October 22, 2018 to January 21, 2019. The show was directed by Takuya Yamamura (making his directorial debut), with Michiko Yokote serving as series composer, Miku Kadowaki serving as character designer, Nobuaki Maruki serving as chief animation director, and Yasuhiro Takemoto serving as supervisor. The series is legally available on Crunchyroll.

It was announced on October 2020 that Kyoto Animation would be producing a film adaptation. A full second season was later announced with the subtitle -The Linking Shot-, and it began airing as part of the Winter 2023 season.

Tsurune provides examples of:

  • Armor-Piercing Response: Shu to Seiya's conversation in episode 8:
    Shu: Seiya, I want to ask you something. Why did you go to Kazemai?
    Seiya: Why? To bring Minato back to archery.
    Shu: What an odd thing to say. Minato would have come back without you. Am I wrong? Why don't you stop chasing Minato already? You can't keep up with him anymore, anyway.
    Seiya: What do you mean by that?
    Shu: Because you don't love archery.
  • Art-Shifted Sequel: The illustrations for the second novel look different from the first one in terms of style because the illustrations were credited to Kyoto Animation and Animation DO instead of Chinatsu Morimoto (who is only credited for original character design).
  • Ascended Extra: Seo, Shiragiku, and Hanazawa were given more appearances in the anime compared to the novel.
  • Birds of a Feather: Ryohei and Nanao get along right away due to their similarly cheerful and chatty personalities.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: To the point that even Masaki, who is older and more muscular than the boys in the kyudo club, is still just as pretty as his juniors, if not more.
  • Chekhov M.I.A.:
    • In the first chapter, Minato mentions an upperclassman in middle school who also had hayake and eventually quit the kyudo club. He shows up in the second volume as a major character.
    • In the second chapter, he also mentions a teammate who was with him during their disastrous final tournament in middle school. He is later revealed to be Shu, who is at Kirisaki.
  • Childhood Friends: Minato, Seiya, and Ryohei knew each other since kindergarten, but Ryohei ended up going to a different middle school than the other two. They reunite in high school.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Right before the prefectural finals, Masaki gets severely injured protecting Minato from lumber that had fallen off a truck.
  • Dark Horse Victory: Kazemai wins the Prefecturals, which is shocking as not only do they have a team full of first-years, they won against Kirisaki, a kyudo powerhouse school.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The three girls of Kazemai's kyudo club have episode 6 of The Linking Shot dedicated to their participation in a local tournament with demonstration of their own team skills and friendships being formed in the same way as the main boys.
  • Early Installment Character-Design Difference: Every single one of the main characters gets a design overhaul come the anime.
  • Gender Flip: The teacher who teaches young Shu and Minato archery is male in the novels, female in the anime.
  • Going Home Again: In middle school, Minato causes his team to lose in the finals of a tournament due to his hayake. This frustrates him and causes him to quit his old club (which belonged to a private middle school) and the sport. He then goes to his local public high school and eventually joins the archery club there, reuniting with his old friends begins to regain his confidence in archery and aim for that same tournament again.
  • Gossip Evolution: When Masaki gets hospitalized saving Minato from lumber falling from a truck, the news spreads across school to ludicrous degrees. When Minato returns to school, a classmate approaches him about it with the facts obviously exaggerated, such as the lumber being iron pipes and that the accident had destroyed the nearby stores.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: A non-death example: Manji starts out Trash Talking Minato for having target panic, but he ends up having target panic himself during the group match, which is partially the reason why Kirisaki ends up losing the prefecturals.
  • Odd Friendship: Shu and Ryohei of all people eventually have this in the second book. Shu is an aloof person who does not talk much unless spoken to and has an intimidating presence, while Ryohei is as cheerful and affectionate as a puppy. And yet, somehow they manage to get friendly enough that Shu invites him over to his house.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The anime adapts the basic plot of the novel faithfully, but some of the character development was cut or changed, including cutting out Kaito's concern over Seiya; Nanao getting his cap thrown into the river by an angry fangirl, with Minato being the only one present; giving the female club members larger roles; and having Shiragiku get a fever when it was originally Seiya who had it. One noticeably big change the anime made was Masaki getting into an offscreen car accident at the climax, whereas in the original novel, Masaki gets buried under fallen lumber after saving Minato from an oncoming truck. The original novel had centered the climax more on Minato, whereas the anime tried to involve the other club members.
    • Another big change in the anime is what's listed under Armor-Piercing Question above, which never happened in the light novels. In general, the Seiya and Minato conflict takes up a lot more screen time than it originally did and Seiya received a pretty significant Adaptational Angst Upgrade to boot.
  • Privileged Rival: The Opposing Sports Team to Kazemai, Kirisaki High School, is a private school with a lot more advanced equipment and funding for their kyudo club than the Kazemai club, which has only been revived recently.
  • Save Our Club: Played With. Unlike most examples, it is through the initiative of the school staff that the 'project' of not letting the club get closed is carried out, instead of the usual enthusiastic newbies taking up to themselves to gather new recruits. Ironically, getting the main protagonist to join the club too takes more time than the resident Jerk with a Heart of Gold who nonchalantly joins without much trouble.
  • Shown Their Work: Kotoko Ayano lists all the books she used to research kyudo, and it really shows in novels, which explain kyudo etiquette, equipment, postures, and other things in detail.
  • Sneaky Departure: Masaki sneaks out of the hospital to watch the finals. In the novels, he even has Ren to pretend to be his Sleeping Dummy so the hospital staff won't find out!
  • Sports Stories: Focusing on kyudo a.k.a. Japanese archery.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Most of the trouble comes from Kaito, who is very much a loner and does not know how to trust his teammates, something he eventually learns.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: More like "book summaries always spoil": Kazemai ends up winning the tournament, which is spoiled in the book summary for volume 2.
  • Wind Is Green: The series' thematic color is green. Archery is emphasized through the wind and is symbolized with green leaves.
  • Woman Scorned: In the novel, Nanao scolds one of his fangirls for trying to sneak into the training camp. She retaliates by throwing his cap into the river. This was changed in the anime, where a gust of wind blows Nanao's cap into the river while he and Minato were running errands.
  • You Must Be Cold: In the novel, when Minato returns to the training camp after fetching Nanao's hat from the river, Masaki gives him his jacket.