As tragic as it was to watch Yuusaku break down as he defeats Kusanagi, I have to say the script this week was a messy one. In fact, I consider this particular event has to be among some of the weakest we have seen so far. It didn’t feel like the writing quality was there, which is upsetting because a lot of us were looking forward to seeing how the duel would play out.
First of all: Considering how we witnessed Yuusaku struggle being forced to face Kusanagi last week, it frustrated me to see them continue dragging it out until the end of the episode. In fact I think this episode could have been a lot more heart-wrenching to watch had we gotten the chance to see both parties put up an earnest fight that had more of the back and forth dynamic. I feel like that would have added that missing layer of intensity between Kusanagi, who is fighting for his brother, while Yuusaku fights on behalf of their promise… which Yuusaku did not remember until fifteen minutes into the episode (which was basically over at that point since the duel was wrapped up within the next five minutes!)
Gee, no wonder the tension was missing!
As result, the majority of the episode continued to play as one-sided duel in Kusanagi’s favour until the very last minute, where Yuusaku finally pulls himself together and one-shots him.
Sure, they managed to make my heart twist as they walked us through the memory lane of their partnership, and for the first time we actually see Yuusaku cry (PROTECT THIS CHILD!). But you can’t tell me that they couldn’t have done better to make me more emotionally invested in the duel.
Although Kusanagi had lost, at the very least there is a sense of comfort knowing that Ai was able to collect and preserve Kusanagi’s data as Flame had done for Windy. But considering Yuusaku was so caught up with his friend disappearing in front of him, I don’t think he noticed what Ai did. Poor kid, he ended up blacking out, but but not before he made certain to declare that Lightning was the one who lost! (Please tell me I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t help but laugh!)
Another decision in the writing that frustrated me was the flashback of when Kusanagi and Yuusaku made their promise (which he had conveniently forgotten until now). It baffled me to see them suddenly make Yuusaku this naive boy who didn’t think Lightning would resort using Jin against them. Like come on, this is Yuusaku we’re talking about, he has gone through some traumatic shit, fought the Hanoi Knights and witnessed how cold-blooded Lightning and Windy were. It’s not like he didn’t know what Lightning’s personality when they were discussing the matter! And to have the audacity to make him forget that, and have Kusanagi try to subtly remind him? Again, this is something that could have been avoided had they skipped out the whole “let’s make Playmaker a punching bag until the last second”.
And lastly (and this is really just my own pet-peeve) they actually expect us to believe Lightning would actually carelessly leave an unconscious Yuusaku untouched? He is vulnerable, and Ai can only do so much to protect him at the moment. Why didn’t Lightning contain him? It’s not like he can’t. And on top of that, considering how Lightning cannot stand being outwitted by Humans, I am genuinely shocked there were no repercussions with Lightning lashing out when he learned Kusanagi had known all this time he would pit them against each other. I thought for sure he would try to do something to Jin, especially since he was suspicious of Kusanagi’s chatter.
Next week, we are definitely getting Bohman VS Kakeru, but it appears we may also be seeing the start of Ryoken VS Lightning, which shows they are looking to wrap things up. However since Kusanagi’s program was brought up today, this means it might influence the outcome of both if the duels are to take place the same time. Should that be the case, since we saw the Hanoi Knights discussing about making contacting Ryoken about the program, there’s a good chance that (because Yuusaku is unconscious) the program would interrupt both duels and forcefully eject the remaining three out.
RIP Kusanagi, you put on a great performance!