“Mom says it’s Seiya’s turn to be brooding and emotional for an episode.”
The gang has been practicing for their next tournament, keeping their motivations in mind — but they realize quickly that they need to find a balance between that and their skill. They and the girls get together to discuss their methodologies while eating some delicious okonomiyaki. The way they all create and eat their food is a cleverly constructed metaphor for how they all individually go about kyudo.
Through the group bonding, though, Seiya’s thoughts keep drifting back to Syu’s words — about how he, “follows Minato around.” His stress is accompanied by emotional flashbacks of his first meeting with Minato when they were children. The memories emphasize how extroverted and bold Minato was when he was a little boy — compared to how reserved he is now. The memories dramatically shift when Seiya mentions Minato has routine checkups at the hospital, for an accident that happened a while back. This accident was caused when Minato and his mother didn’t look both ways before crossing a street — adding to the fact that they stopped in the middle of the road to acknowledge Seiya.
Seiya’s kyudo is being affected by these memories, and Masaki takes notice. Masaki attempts to help Seiya, even inquiring if he actually likes kyudo or not. Seiya randomly decides that Masaki is to blame for his angst, and tells him that he hates him.
Minato and the whole team are left wondering what’s wrong with Seiya.
Flashbacks? Don’t mind if we do! This was another great character-focused episode, with some nice cast bonding moments thrown into the mix as well. Now that we know a little more about Seiya’s attachment to Minato, it doesn’t come off as totally romantic anymore. On the contrary — his attachment comes off as remorseful.
There’s no confirmation yet, of course, but it seems that we’ve finally gotten to taste that sweet, sweet, Dead Mom Backstory (TM.) The turn here is interesting because it appears that Seiya was witness to the whole thing — and furthermore, he might even blame himself for it. It definitely places relevance in the story, rather than just tacking on death for emotional foil. It also raises a lot of questions about Minato and Seiya’s friendship after the incident. Does Minato hold any secret grudges against Seiya? Does Seiya’s attachment to Minato come from a place where he feels that he needs to atone for what happened to Minato by always helping him?
While it was a good narrative spin, the rest of the episode felt pretty bland in comparison to the flashbacks. Plus, Seiya’s hatred for Masaki seemed out of place and left-field, making their scene confusing (especially with the quick, muted flashback.)
Seiya’s child voice actress was an equally good a fit as Minato’s, although it was apparent that it was a woman doing the voice. In all, the flashback sequences really add a lot of depth (and hope) to Minato’s character appeal. Hopefully, we’ll get to see even more of it soon.