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Tsurune: The Linking Shot - Season 2 (Blu-ray Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000225379
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 15/5/2024 18:03
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    Review for Tsurune: The Linking Shot - Season 2

    8 / 10


    I had low expectations of Tsurune when the first season came around for review, even though it comes from one of my favourite studios, Kyoto Animation. It’s a slice-of-life sports anime centring on a group of teenage boys. Given that Kyoto Animation’s Free franchise was winding down, I had the cynical expectation that this was just a variation on a theme, cute guys doing cute things with bows and arrows instead of in the swimming pool. To be honest, that cynical expectation was met, but what I wasn’t expecting was to enjoy Tsurune more than Free regardless. I’ve really been looking forward to this second season of Tsurune – Linking Shot. However, it seems that this second season hasn’t quite been anticipated in the same way by audiences. Season 1 got the Collector’s Edition treatment from MVM, but the second season only gets a standard release. At the same time, the first season got an English dub from Sentai, but the second season hasn’t on this release.

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    Minato Narumiya fell in love with archery the first time he heard the sound a bow makes when an arrow is released, ‘tsurune’. All through middle school, he was part of the archery club, and someone to keep an eye on in competitions. And then he missed a shot... and kept on missing them. So called ‘target panic’ set in, a psychological weakness that some archers never recover from.

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    So when Minato started at Kazemai High School, he had no intention of joining the school’s archery club, despite how much his childhood friends Ryohei Yamanouchi, and Seiya Takehaya wanted him too, and no matter how much the club’s advisor, teacher Tomio Morioka wanted to revive the school’s fortunes in archery tournaments. But when he discovered an archery dojo at a nearby shrine, and met the enigmatic Masaki Takigawa, he began to see a way out of his block. Now Minato, along with Seiya and Ryohei, as well as the effervescent Nanao Kisaragi, and the abrasive Kaito Onogi, have to come together and forge an archery team.

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    Minato Narumiya may have gotten over his target panic, and with his new team, made it to the Nationals, but it turns out that there is a lot more to success in archery than that, and the challenges will only get tougher.

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    13 episodes of Season 2 of Tsurune are presented across two Blu-ray discs from MVM.

    Disc 1
    1. Summer Calls
    2. All in the Mind
    3. Winds of a Brewing Storm
    4. Broken Tempo
    5. Push and Pull
    6. Taking Shape
    7. Unwavering Spirit
    8. Trajectory
    9. Bending Will

    Disc 2
    10. Draw of a New Dawn
    11. Falling Into Place
    12. The Linking Shot
    13. Resounding Release

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    Tsurune gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on these discs. It’s a fine transfer with no apparent issues. The image is clear and sharp, the detail levels are good, and colours are rich and consistent. I saw no visible compression or the like; all of which is just what you need when you’re watching a Kyoto Animation production, with distinctive and memorable character designs, beautifully observed character animation, and a realistic world design that is enhanced with some ethereal visual effects work. This is a show that is driven by the Zen of archery, and the animation really makes it work.

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    You get DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo Japanese with a player locked English subtitles and signs track. The audio is clear, and there are no issues with dropouts or the like. The dialogue is clear too, the subtitles are accurately timed and free of typos, and the arrow flying action is properly immersive given a bit of Prologic. The show gets some catchy theme tunes, while the incidental music supports the story well.

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    The discs present their content with static menus, and each episode is followed by a translated English credit reel.

    The sole extra on disc 2 is the textless opening.

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    I’ve been comparing Tsurune to the Free franchise as I’ve watched it, and I find that I prefer the archery show to the swimming show, mostly for the more rounded characterisations. It seems I might be in a minority as Tsurune hasn’t seen the same kind of treatment from the publishers. Season 1 of Tsurune got a Limited Edition release from MVM, along with the standard release, but Season 2 has a standard release only. Now if Season 1 has a gap in the case for you to slide in the Season 2 Amaray style case, it would be good, otherwise there’s going to be that annoying mismatch on your shelves. Then again, when it comes to Sentai who licence and localise these shows to the West, they never got around to dubbing Season 2 the way they dubbed Season 1; this release is Japanese only with English subtitles.

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    Then again, Kyoto Animation haven’t exactly gone all in on Tsurune, with just the one movie spinning off from the two series, and that film a digest of the first series. In comparison, Free! had a faltering start in the West, with Crunchyroll taking a chance on the series (back when they were still just Crunchyroll) before Funimation went all in on the franchise, which in Japan got three series and five feature films. You can see why that is, as Free is the more flamboyant and extrovert franchise whereas Tsurune is a lot more introspective a show, more focussed on the Zen of archery, where even the rivalries are expressed with decorum. That is the reason I prefer the franchise, but even I can accept that fans look for flamboyance in their sports anime.

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    If you enjoyed the first season, you can rest assured that the second builds on the first, offering more of the same archery action, and mellow drama (as opposed to melodrama), as the characters build on what they have experienced thus far to excel and succeed in their chosen sport, while partaking of the usual teen male bonding that transpires. This season is a tale of two tournaments, beginning with one where the Kazemai team encounter the Kirisaki team once more, and also face the unconventional Tsujimine team. There was a trio of youngsters ostensibly training together originally, Kazemai’s Minato and Kirisaki’s Shu, and we learn in this series that Tsujimine’s Nikaido was there too, but turned down for training by the teacher.

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    He’s been holding a grudge for various reasons including that one ever since, has adopted an unconventional and ostentatious archery style, and pretty much single-handedly put together an archery team from his high school, even going so far as to act as coach. The Kazemai team’s first encounter with Tsujimine in the first tournament goes badly for them, as they lose their rhythm. It’s the traditional Rocky road to telling a sports sequel; having the protagonists flying high from their victory in the first outing to get a harsh lesson in reality when the sequel starts, and having to fight their way back up. For Minato, that means stepping away from archery and going back to basics, while for the rest of the club along with Minato, it means trying to find for themselves their vision of team work, “ikiai”.

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    Lots of practice ensues, with the obligatory summer training camp thrown in, and there’s plenty of character drama to behold, both for the Kazemai club members, and various characters from the Kirisaki and Tsujimine clubs as well. It’s all engaging stuff. Naturally the teams get a chance for a rematch towards the end of the season, and certain characters get to work through their personal issues through the competition too.

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    While thematically this is more of the same, I actually found more to enjoy with Tsurune Season 2. Certainly adding the third school with their unconventional style, and their ‘angry’ leader Nikaido, adds a useful dynamic, especially as the Kirisaki team seems a lot more sympathetic in this season. Also, the girls in the Kazemai team who felt more like an afterthought in the first season, play a much bigger part in the story in this second, both in terms of the boys team, and in their own right.

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    I know I said that I prefer Tsurune because it’s more thoughtful and understated than the Free franchise, and the characters are a lot more rounded and believable, but in a case of wanting my cake and eating it, I do think that Tsurune would hit better if some of the main characters, particularly Minato could make more of an impact. They might be a little too understated to really sell the story. I know, I’m fickle. But there is a lot to appreciate about this show, and the second season really builds on the first in a solid and entertaining way. It’s a shame there’s no continuity for fans of the first season dub, and there is the lack of a limited edition, but the essentials are all there to enjoy the show.

    Tsurune ~The Linking Shot~ is available direct from MVM at Anime on Line and from mainstream retailers.

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