The bros who serve together, shoot together.
Just when the boys think they’re going to get some grade-A Kyudo practice in while at camp, Masaki throws a list of chores for them to do instead (as punishment for losing the match against the girls.) The girls get to shoot while the boys have to clean the range, prep the targets, and cook the team’s dinner. They’re frustrated and confused as to why Masaki is making them do all of this instead of practice, yet simultaneously, the boys discover facts about one another while spending time together — Nanao’s infatuation with baseball, Kaito’s love of pork belly, and all kinds of chatter about the schools they each attended. After Minato dives into a creek to retrieve Nanao’s baseball hat, he confesses to Kaito that the reason he did it was so that he might leave a better impression on them, despite all his target panic.
As the boys enjoy the rest of camp together, Masaki’s weird brother comments on how much happier they all look in the pictures he took, as compared to before. Masaki seems to have a knowing smile.
The next morning, Masaki finally allows the boys to practice Kyudo, and Tomi gives them their official positions for the upcoming competition. The boys are left questioning why the shooting order is the way it is, but the entire squad gets cute team jackets to end the episode with.
Oh, that Masaki! Making the characters do seemingly menial tasks only to make the audience realize that what he was doing was forcing the boys to bond together in order to ultimately make a stronger team! Gets ’em every time.
Now that the characters know one another better, the show feels a little more “lived in” — it doesn’t get more slice-of-lifey than friendship development episodes (it made for some entertaining voice acting too — especially from Kaito’s voice actor.) Still, despite how each character’s personality shined through with their individualized facts, Minato and the three girl characters (who, undoubtedly, the audience can barely remember the names of) remain to be flat in terms of appeal — although, Minato did smile once for more than a few seconds this episode, so perhaps his bland exterior is made to be broken through.
Layered in multiple scenes are beautiful visuals and backgrounds — anything having to do with water was especially fun to look at. In addition to this, there’s been a lot of slack that has been picked up when it comes to the use of music (as compared to the first episode.) The use of more colors throughout the episode definitely helped to perk things up and emphasize its point — plus, a change of scenery always helps.
Much like an episode of Survivor, the boys may have lost their first challenge of beating Masaki, Tomi, and the girls, but the team building shown in “A Returning Arrow” really brings a new level of interest to the show. It’s what we call, “necessary filler.”