It’s time for another OWLS Blog Tour, most of you were probably directed here after reading Megan’s personal post about Welcome to the NHK and if you haven’t read her post I definitely recommend giving it a read!! If you stumbled upon this post by chance, welcome to Blerdy Otome!
The end of the year is fast approaching and we’ve hit our 11th Blog Tour of 2019. For those of you just joining the party, OWLS is a group of bloggers and vloggers that hope to spread a message of acceptance and understanding through thoughtful community activism! We use our love of pop-culture and other media to discuss a wide range of topics. Each month we host themed Blog Tours where we discuss topics we feel are important to the greater fandom community.
One of the best ways we can learn is through failure. This month we will be talking about the failures of our favorite characters in pop culture media and what we can learn from them. We will also reflect on our own mistakes and failures and how those experiences have allowed us to grow as human beings.
–November 2019 Blog Tour Prompt
This month we’re looking at Failure and you know, it’s kind of fitting that the penultimate Blog Tour of 2019 would be a topic that would require a bit of self reflection… The truth is, failure sucks. No one wants to admit that they didn’t make the cut, but rather than looking at failure as a negative, I like to think of it as a foundation for growth. No genre embodies this notion like sports anime, regardless of the sport there is always a point in the story where someone loses. But, just because you lose one tournament or match doesn’t mean you’ll lose them all and that’s fundamentally what’s so appealing about sports anime. You see a group of characters learning to overcome their failures and ultimately achieve something better than when they started.
In Haikyuu Karasuno lost to Aoba Josai at the Inter Highs in season 1, it’s a crushing blow after all their hard work and training. They could easily let this defeat define them, but they don’t give up, they work hard and when they face Aoba Josai again in season 2, they’ve learned from their past mistakes and manage to come out victorious. In Yuri On Ice, after experiencing a crushing defeat at the Grand Prix Final, manages to turn it all around the following year and place second in the Grand Prix Finals. The road to that point wasn’t easy and there were plenty of mistakes made along the way, but Yuri never let that keep him from giving it his all! And don’t get me started on Diamond no Ace… Eijun is practically defined by his failures…
This blog tour was made for sports anime, but with so many great examples to choose from I had a hard time settling on just one. In the end I decided to go with Tsurune from the Fall 2018 season. KyoAni is known for producing some phenomenal anime titles and I had high expectations going into Tsurune… and I was not disappointed. Like many other KyoAni series, Tsurune is a memorable and heartfelt story with gorgeous visuals and fun, relatable characters.
Based on the light novel series by Kotoko Ayano, with illustrations by Chinatsu Morimoto, Tsurune revolves around the members of the Kazemai High School Kyudo Club and their attempts to rebuild it after years of neglect. Kyudo is a modern Japanese martial art that focuses on archery, and the title, “tsurune” is the name of the sound that an arrow makes when it is released from a bowstring. While the series follows the various members of the Kazemai High Kyudo Club, the “protagonist” of the series is Minato Narumiya, a former kyudo prodigy who after experiencing a major set back in middle school has given up on the sport. It’s only after he has a chance encounter with a mysterious archer, Masaki that he is inspired to take up his bow again and join the Kazemai Kyudo Club. Together with his teammates and friends, Minato slowly begins to rekindle his love of kyudo as they work to qualify for the upcoming prefectural kyudo tournament.
Tsurune is more of an introspective story, taking it’s time peeling back the layers of the various character dynamics, while doing justice to the art of Kyudo, which is a sport that favors graceful, practiced movements. It’s a much more subdued series than say Haikyuu or one of the more “mainstream” sports anime. Tsurune isn’t a series that will appeal to everyone, especially if you’re looking for something with a bit more octane. Minato, isn’t your typical sports anime protagonist, he isn’t ambitious or especially confident, rather he’s quiet, contemplative, and reserved. He largely devoid of the usual protagonist trappings; he doesn’t have a special skill or brightly colored hair, he’s just a normal everyday kind of guy. What sets Minato apart from the rest of the cast isn’t what he can do, but rather what he can’t. Minato is actually the weakest member of the team, and the show spends a great deal of time focusing on his struggles to overcome his own insecurities and personal issues.
Due to an incident in his past, Minato developed target panic, which affects his ability to accurately hit his targets. Target Panic is the nervousness that overtakes an archer when they’re about the shoot, causing the archer to lose their focus. While the condition was initially blamed on anxiety or fear of failure, target panic is now considered a psychological condition. Target panic usually manifests in one of three ways: premature anchor, where the archer is unable to come to a full anchor position; premature hold, where the archer locks up and is unable to align their arrow with the target; and finally premature release, where the archer releases the arrow before coming to full anchor.
After developing target panic, Minato gave up on kyudo and it isn’t until he has a fateful encounter with Masaki Takigawa, someone who has also dealt with target panic himself, that he even considers taking up his bow again. Masaki becomes a mentor to Minato, and the person that person that influences his decision to join the Kazemai High Kyudo Club. Once there he teams up with his close friend and neighbor, Seiya; the ever friendly, Ryouhei; the prickly pear, Kaito; the flirty and flighty, Nanao, together they all strive to win the prefectural tournament.
Each character plays a role in helping Minato overcome his target panic with a lot of tough love and support, which can get a bit preachy at times. Minato’s target panic is a genuine issue that holds real weight in his life and the lives of those around him, serving as the foundation of the series since overcoming his condition is directly linked with the team’s performance in the tournament at the conclusion of the season.
Minato’s target panic is his most defining characteristic early on, because it is the one thing that is holding him back. He went from being an archer with unlimited potential, to someone who struggles to hit his intended target. It’s painful to watch him struggle with something that once came so naturally to him. It’s like he’s standing still while everyone around him is constantly moving, leaving him behind. His inability to shoot, is an ever present issue that doesn’t just affect him, and you can really feel the tension caused within the group when Minato’s condition starts to hold the others back. Kaito is openly hostile towards Minato, berating him for not pulling his own weight within the team, despite the fact that his target panic is a mental obstacle and not something Minato is necessarily doing on purpose. The other members of the team try to understand his condition and help him work through his mental blocks, but in the end it is their coach and Minato’s mentor, Masaki who truly helps him come to terms with his target panic.
Like Minato, Masaki also suffered from target panic and he understands that Minato’s target panic stems from his insecurities and inner turmoil. It’s a reflection Minato’s conflicting feelings about Kyudo. Minato’s doubts about his abilities and his loss of passion towards the kyudo are all bricks in the mental wall he’s created. For him, target panic is symbolic of his own weaknesses and further proof that he doesn’t have what it takes to practice kyudo, let alone stand beside his teammates at the tournament. In this case Minato’s “failure” isn’t the result of lack of trying or ability, but rather the loss of passion. In his pursuit of his competitive career, Minato lost sight of the reason he started practicing kyudo in the first place: so he could produce a beautiful tsurune like the one he heard when he was a child. This disconnect between his passion and his ambition is what ultimately causes his mental break. Fear of failure, anxiety, and personal trauma cuts him off from the kyudo he loves.
As a blogger I’ve also experienced a disconnect between my writing and my passions. It’s easy to get caught up in producing content for likes and comments, while losing sight of the passion behind your work. As a reviewer, staying on top of every new series and trend often results in an increase in viewership, but in that pursuit of recognition a bit of the passion is lost. For some, their passion is their ambition and their work reflects that, but when there is a disconnect between what you love and what you produce, it’s easy to feel like you’re not “living up to your potential”. I’ve had stretches of time where I don’t produce any content here, not from lack of trying, but because I just didn’t feel like I could… There is nothing more terrifying than looking at a blank page or more grueling than playing a game so you can be one of the first to review it… This is why I related to Minato’s struggles in Tsurune, because his insecurities and feelings of worthlessness were the same ones I struggle with in my own life. But, with the support of my friends and fellow bloggers I was able to overcome my mental blocks and rediscover my passion for games and blogging in a way that didn’t sacrifice my enjoyment.
That’s my take on the Fantasy Blog Tour! I hope you enjoyed my post, but, I’m just one in a long line of OWLS blog tour stops! Don’t forget to stop by Fred’s blog, Au Natural on the 10th for what promises to be an amazing addition to the OWLS November 2019 Blog Tour! Also if you haven’t already, please subscribe to the Official OWLS Twitter account @OWLSbloggers and the Official OWLS Blog, to stay up to date on all OWLS news and announcements!
If you are interested in becoming a member of the OWLS team, please feel free to fill out the contact form, HERE! So don’t be afraid to reach out to any of us on our blogs, on twitter, or at the contact page to learn more about us!! You just need an open mind and a willingness to have fun! Catch you guys on the flipside!