The real secret to kyudo was the power of friendship.
Seiya hasn’t been showing up to school (or kyudo practice) because moodily walking in the rain wound up getting him sick (oh the price we pay for drama.) Kaito brings Seiya’s recent behavior up to Minato, who unsurprisingly had no clue about it. The team members start to butt heads over the tension Seiya’s absence has caused, and Masaki decides it’s time that he shares some of his kyudo-priest magic with them.
He invites the team to a shrine ceremony so that they can pray to the gods for luck in their archery. Team Kirisaki shows up and ruffles everyone’s feathers, but Syu takes Minato aside and tells him what he said to Seiya. Masaki gives the boys their own magical kyudo amulet and Minato leaves to drop off Seiya’s to him. He finds Seiya half dead on the sidewalk, still rampant with a fever. Seiya had left his house with the intent of finding Minato (to tell him he was quitting kyudo) but after Minato reminds him of their past (where Seiya pushed Minato to stick with kyudo, even after his mom died) Seiya is given the same dedication and push to stick with it.
Touched and reassured about their friendship, Seiya bounces back and rejoins the team. Masaki apologizes to him for accusing him of not loving kyudo, and Seiya lightheartedly reminds him that he hates him.
The gang gets back on track for the competition.
Everyone knows it’s an important episode when there’s non-diegetic music played during an emotionally charged scene — and this was no exception. Considering that the power behind kyudo as Tsurune’s main story construct is the interpersonal relationships that go with it, Seiya and Minato’s truly came to a head after Minato’s loyalty was put into question. After Syu implied that Minato would leave Seiya as soon as he got back into the swing of kyudo, things were heavy for Seiya because it made him question his own intentions — yet the flashback sequences really made things clear that the sport has never been as important as their friendship. Seiya’s child VA still sounded more feminine than anything (not helped by the team talking about Seiya “being a girl”) but it does make for some interesting character interpretations.
Moving to Masaki, his part in the episode felt just a bit forced for how overly dramatic his and Seiya’s previous interaction was. The “Oh no, I sound just like my grandfather” plot point still didn’t seem like it warranted Seiya’s response. Granted, Masaki asking Seiya if he enjoyed kyudo was a little condescending, but if they really wanted Masaki to be the bad guy in that scene, there should have been more bite to the voice acting/facial expression.
On a final, nitpicky tangent — why does Seiya take his glasses off to shoot his arrow at the end? It’s been a trend for many episodes, but was it supposed to be symbolic in this one?
We’ll see soon enough.