An intense match, a barbecue, and a dog, what more could you ask of an anime episode? From beginning to end, I felt this episode had a nice balance of tension and fun built into it and it was probably my favorite episode yet!
We start out the episode with Mitsue being wayyyy too real to the point where I had to pause the episode just think about what she had said. But then it’s right back into the action where we finally get to see Maki’s plan in action. For some reason, I definitely thought it was going to be some big, grandiose scheme to lure them into a trap, but I was naive. Instead, they go ahead and exploit the prideful Oji, making him realize that it really takes two to tango – or rather it takes two to play doubles. And I really liked that they were able to help him come to that realization. Maybe it won’t have a lasting impact, but it was really nice to see him finally work to with his partner. Additionally, I really liked the contrast between Maki and Toma as the match was heating up. Toma was very, very focused on not losing, where as Maki continues to comment about just how much fun they are having. And regardless of the outcome, I’m really glad that we got to see all of this in action.
And so the match comes to a close and now the boys have quite a bit of motivation to keep practicing. But one scene that I’m sure caught a lot of people’s attention was in the changing room. For those who don’t remember – a few episodes ago the team members talked to Maki about why Itsuki doesn’t use the changing room with them. Due to his mom pouring boiling water on his back as a child he has large burn scars that he didn’t want shared. So when he walked into that changing room, it really emphasized how much Itsuki and some of the other team members felt that Maki was one of them. And… just the way it was handled, I think was pretty well done. The other teammates knowing what was going on seemed to either whisper under their breath or attempt to make Itsuki aware of what he was doing, but Maki opted not to bring it up. If anything, there is a sense of relief that Itsuki has finally come back to the changing room, so there’s no need to bring up the incident that kept him away. This anime does hit on heavy topics, but with character interactions they know how to take a step back and not harp on it too much. The same thing happened when Maki found out Yuuta had a crush on Toma. Rather than making a big deal out of it he just let’s them keep on living.
But then this episode switches gears and we finally get some good slice of life content with these boys and Mitsue as they get to go out and have a barbecue! And even Oji (and his precious pup Kamuy) get to join them. Shingo, Tsubasa, and Maki definitely shine here as they are able to relax around friends and generally exist as the life of the party. I like how they implemented Oji in this entire section because they could have easily written him as the guy who comes to crash the party, but no! Off the court he’s a pretty good guy who is just here to hang out. It was pretty easy to forget that less than 10 minutes ago he was the biggest jerk on the tennis court! Yuuta also stands out a little bit in this section with his observations about Mitsue and Toma. Mitsue has essentially become a part of the team despite her negative attitude. And looking back on it, from what we’ve seen, she’s been most happy when eating, albeit it has always been Maki’s food. Yuuta comments about his observations of her in class, looking dismal while eating, so we’re probably going to take a deeper dive into that some time into the future.
Yuuta is the kind of friend that all introverts need. I need a friend like Yuuta. Toma, who has been noticeably reserved during the entire gathering has caught Yuuta’s attention (but I mean, he would have caught his attention anyways but! I digress). And man, I relate so much. Not knowing how to have fun with people, or even how to jump into the conversation ah, Toma you put that feeling into words and Yuuta, I’m so glad that you stepped out and decided to talk to him. Perhaps it wasn’t the conversation you were going for, but it always feels nice to be noticed. But we’ll have to build more on Toma and his own insecurities in a later episode because he have to do the cheer – which is probably one of my favorite things. It’s so silly, but it captures their spirit so well. I’ll definitely be thinking about it when ever I need to cheer myself on.
I’d love for more episodes like this, but it seems like next week we’ll be back into the drama. Any number of parent’s could have brought up the concern with the school, but I just have a feeling it’s going to be Maki’s dad. After all he has to get back at Maki and Toma for standing up against him, right? Or maybe we’ll be getting a deeper look into one of the other team members? Perhaps a controlling parent? I’m definitely ready to see what next week’s episode will bring.