Episode 13 – Tsurune: The Link Shot

©2023 Kotoko Ayano, Committee Kyoto Animation/Tsurune 2

This episode confirms what I suspected last week: that Tsurune: The connecting shotThe dramatic end of has already happened in episode 12. While last week’s episode wrapped up the storyline, “Resounding Release” is all bonus content, the kind of low-key exchanges between characters you might get on a drama CD, not to mention a splatter of repurposed footage that reminds us of the events that reminds season. Nothing major happens, but it’s reassuring to see the characters just hanging around after the dust has settled, like reading the epilogue of a story. It’s a winning lap, a presentation Kyoto animation‘s excellent animation and sound design one last time.

If Tsurune: The connecting shot started, summer was just beginning. With its finale, the characters begin by remarking that summer is almost over, an observation marked by the sound of cicadas. There isn’t much movement in the narrative this week: first they hang out at the kyudo track, then they hang out at the festival that Masa persuaded them all to attend. But during all of those occasional interactions, there’s time to revisit, neatly wrap up, and loop connect each important story beat. By the end of this episode, I had no questions about any loose ends.

While it feels like each person’s afterword is addressed methodically, that doesn’t mean none of them reached any emotional heights. One of my favorites was Ryohei finally revealing his sister’s face – and it’s smiling. Former adversaries bury the hatchet, like when Manji (the younger of Kirisaki’s red-haired twins) and Minato bond over target panic, once a hot topic. Shu, Seiya, and Minato share a soda again, only this time Shu and Seiya have resolved their territoriality over Minato. As they exchange takoyaki in front of Minato’s relieved face, it’s clear that even our clueless boy notices.

Just relaxing in the fading summer, each character gets a break from their current troubles. As the memetic saying goes, even Eisuke Nikaido is undisturbed, hydrated, and happy. His spirits are lifted by a well-timed message from his uncle, who agrees to consider training Tsujimine’s kyudo team. Just like that, his toxic inability to trust other people begins to unravel, his genuine smile canceling out the negative words he says without bite behind him. At the festival, Minato comments to Seiya that Shu seems more like himself at the moment (especially since his family issues have all been conveniently resolved off-camera). But really, everyone is more like the best version of themselves in this epilogue. It’s like the afterword to a story that revisits each character and assures you all have a happy ending.

The climax of the episode, if you can even call it that, is when the Kazemai boys dress up like a Super Sentai team with their color-coded robes and matching bow ties. As he grabs his bow, each person says something cool to show how much he’s grown as a person throughout the show. It’s more than a little cheesy because it’s as unabashedly real as teenagers in a play and not how teenagers actually behave. Their movements feel much more authentic: they prepare for the shot in choreographed unison, but the animation contains slight inconsistencies that make them feel so real. As each character reflects on the season, complete with reused imagery to refresh our memories, the sound of each tsurune carries this scene as it does so many others throughout the show.

At the very end, when the team bows in front of the camera, supposedly to Masa, and says thank you, it feels like saying goodbye to the audience. It’s almost like a theatrical curtain crowning this long goodbye. Will there be more Tsurune? If not, this is as good a conclusion as any. The circle has come full circle since the first episode. Once again, Minato and Masa meet at the shrine (and even Fuu the owl makes a brief cameo appearance). Once again the sound of the tsurune reminds Minato of his calling. Overall, this season had a much more upbeat tone than the last and a better pace, although I did find this finale a bit slow. Ultimately, it’s not really about what happens, but who makes it possible: “Practicing kyudo has introduced me to so many people,” Minato tells Masa. Now that it is time to say goodbye, I know that I will miss these people very much.


Tsurune: The connecting shot is currently streaming

Lauren signs about model kits Gunpla 101. She spends her days teaching her two little Newtypes to bring peace to the space colonies.