Two kyudo masters walk into a bar — they shoot the breeze (and booze.)
It’s midterms week for the students, and because of this, all club activities are canceled for the week. Due to this, Masaki tries to cram a week’s worth of practice into the last meeting — revealing that his grandfather was the one who taught him how to shoot in the first place. The boys bond over Masaki’s teaching methods and cryptic nature frustrated they won’t be able to practice more for the upcoming competitions.
Master Tomi asks Masaki on a date, trying to capitalize on those sweet, sweet cheeks before they take him away to the retirement home. Glazing over this, the episode switches to the Kirisaki High School’s kyudo club, where the mysterious “secret weapon” we saw from earlier episodes is shooting with other students for a spot in the upcoming tournament. We learn that this boy is Syu Fujiwara, a former teammate of Minato and Seiya in their middle school’s kyudo club. While talking to Senichi and Manji Sugawara, there seems to be some emotional residue left from Minato’s impact on his life. Syu, Senichi, and Manji all make it into the competition together, despite the intimidation tactics from upperclassmen.
Meanwhile, on Tomi and Masaki’s “date,” Tomi thanks him for becoming the team’s kyudo coach. When his grandfather comes up in conversation, Masaki details how verbally and emotionally abusive he was, and that the entire reason he became a master at kyudo was to spite his grandpa (it’s also why he’s so nice to the team.)
Everyone finishes midterms, and the lineup for their competitors is revealed. Minato eyes Syu’s name on the list, and the episode ends.
This was the first episode where different plots seemed to be diverging and converging — from the boys’ perspectives to Masaki’s, to Syu’s. It made for a refreshing change of pace from the normal plot formula in the show, and the extra character dialogues scattered throughout added to the dimensions of the cast.
There’s a wonder that comes about occasionally where phrases like “humble brag” will pop up, and it leaves the viewer to try to pinpoint who the lingo-hip translator is in the English dub. It makes for some funny lines! Now all they have to do is get rid of words like “dork” being used unironically.
The bonding within the kyudo club is visibly stronger after the camping trip — seeing scenes where Minato and the crew are simply hanging out, chatting, eating ice cream, and running together pushes the audience to start bonding with the cast (finally.) Things are starting to feel much more “human” with these characters — comparing them to the very beginning where they each came off as a flat archetype, they’re starting to grow out of their stereotypical shells.
The same complaints remain — some characters need more personal attention (Minato, the girls, etc.), the scenes need to be less static (literal changes in scenery help this), and the overall plot needs to be louder — lest the audience falls asleep. However, with improvements in every episode, the stakes in the show’s conflict and the characters are beginning to blossom into something that could very possibly be exciting to watch.
As the character bonds grow stronger, so does this reviewer’s bond to the show.