We pick right back up where we left off last week. With Sora and Kite subbed out, we finally get to see Chiaki take charge to fight against the girl’s offense. But! More importantly, we get Nao’s backstory and get to see just how strong her dedication to basketball actually is. She is truly a force to be reckoned with, sure she has no formal coaching experience, but her love for the sport mixed in with dealing with her own shortcomings gives her a leg up when compared to the rest of the characters. I’m glad she was able to be fleshed out a bit, but I do think the episode crammed in just a little bit more than it could handle.
Since we’re continuing the game the first half of this episode had a large focus on Chiaki showing off his ability to exploit all the holes Nao had left in her own strategies. In doing so, we get to see the boy’s team really utilize all the skills they learned since joining the team (and by that I mean Yasu, Chucky, and Nabe). It may not have been much, but since Sora and Kite weren’t trying to steal the spotlight, we can actually see more clearly where their strengths and weaknesses lie, rather than just being straight up newbies at the game. And while Kite opted to ignore Nao’s commentary, her words still seemed to have an effect on Sora. As I mentioned in my last post, Sora and Kite are two characters that will put everything on themselves – they will win with their skills, they just need the other team members so they can actually compete in the game. But really, because they think this way, their biggest downfall is their lack of trust in the team. Yeah, they might not have the best team members, but if they looked beyond themselves they could see where the other members make up for their own shortcomings.
I really like how the anime was able to show that both Kite and Sora struggle with the same thing, but in vastly different ways. Sora, for the most part has been the character to try to rally behind his team and make sure that they can accomplish what they set out to do, whereas Kite has really just been a lone wolf from the get-go. Kite’s superior attitude applies both on and off the court, but Sora becomes a different person once the game begins. He’s so focused on winning, that he forgets the rest of the team. So, ultimately, I’m really happy that they were able to show the same issue, in vastly different ways. And once they were removed, they were at least able to see a little bit of what team work looks like because Chiaki and Momoharu have at least some awareness about the strengths and weaknesses of every team member… of course, that doesn’t mean they won’t forget and task the worst shooter with scoring the final point.
Unfortunately, no one gets naked, but the boys Basketball team is pretty darn dejected after this whole ordeal which causes Nao to rethink her position as manager (even if she only started maybe an hour ago). This is where Nao’s backstory really shines. We see that she’s been in situations where people won’t listen to her despite her knowledge, but we also get very good reasons to believe that she knows what she’s talking about. She isn’t just some random girl who decided to give Basketball a go. Instead, she’s someone who has been incredibly passionate about it, but has a larger hurdle to overcome than some of the other players. They let us know just how much work and dedications she put into the sport, so we know just how much the Basketball team will be missing out if she were to leave. So take that cocky pineapple head, whether you like it or not, she’s here to stay and the two of you are definitely going to butt heads.
Once the match is over, Nao takes over training the team and she is brutal. At least compared to what the team was used to (which was essentially nothing). This emphasizes again that while the team has made some improvements, they still have a long way to go before they can even hope to be real contenders for the inter-high. So it’s time for everyone’s favorite arc in a sport’s anime: the training camp! Woo! Personally, I felt like once this announcement was made, the remainder of the episode was super choppy. Once second we’re talking about Okinawa, and a quick cut to all the boys working a jobs, then Sora remaining about milk with his mom. I can definitely see how we got from one segment to another, but… it felt like there was just too much shoved into the end of the episode. They wanted to show how excited the team was to have a training camp, but it’s been a minute since we’ve talked about Sora’s mom so we should fit that in there too. Don’t get me wrong, it was certainly heartwarming I just thought it seemed a little off, especially because the jobs don’t end up amounting to anything.
But oh well! Next week we’ll be getting into some heavy training for the team and based on the episode’s title alone I have a feeling some of the member’s will start to question their decision to stay on the team. Personally, I hope we don’t lose anyone from playing, because while Chucky and Nabe haven’t really stood out to me they’re still members of the team and it just won’t be the same without them.