Wow, I really liked this episode. I particularly enjoyed that we had a bit of time to step away from the court look a little deeper at what is going on with each of the characters. And even then, I did really enjoy the remainder of the second quarter that we got to watch them play! It was nice to see the flashback of Sora and Chiaki talk about what makes a good point guard, I think it provided valuable insight into just how different their styles were, but also amplified Sora’s struggle as a point guard. The way I interpret it is, Sora has been focused on the ball to individuals and making the “right” choice, rather than seeing opportunity and taking it. And watching him come to the realization that everyone is very focused on making sure they can score so he needs to take each opportunity, was really neat.
While I enjoyed the gameplay for the remainder of the second quarter, I think this anime shined with its off the court moments. I’ll start off with Chiaki, because I think he had a pretty significant “transformation” in this episode and I also appreciated that they explored his vulnerabilities with being perceived as uncool. During Momoharu’s arc, I definitely thought of Chiaki as a laid-back guy who doesn’t like to face challenges where he doesn’t have to, so when he quit his middle school team when things started to get difficult because he just didn’t want to deal with it. And now that we’ve gotten this episode I should have seen the signs, that it’s not that he doesn’t want to deal with difficult things, it’s that he doesn’t want to be seen as uncool (I feel a little bit bad about it now, but in the early episodes, I definitely thought he was pretty uncool. I’m sorry Chiaki!). So, it would make sense that he would quit a losing team, because no one things losers are cool. When he’s on the court and in control as the point guard? There is no doubt that he’s a cool player! When I saw him play for real the first couple times, I genuinely thought he was a cool player. So, when he’s on the bench he has plenty of time to realize how much of an “uncool” player he was. Since the other team played such good defense against him, he wasn’t able to complete any plays and from a spectator point of view he just seems like a bad player. Now that he’s off the court, he has this idea that everyone thinks he’s uncool… and Yasuhara’s comments definitely don’t help. If I were in his position, I’d leave too! It’s honestly a surprise to say, but my favorite conversation in this episode is between Taro and Chiaki. I loved that Taro was able to say that Nao isn’t the type of person to think that they were uncool, that she’d always cheer him even if he was the worse person on the court! And to see her sprint, fall and continue to search of Chiaki? All around it was such a good moment, they were able to show that she doesn’t think any less of him and provide gives Chiaki a reason to come back to the game and with a new declaration! You can do it Chiaki!
Back on the benches Kite gets a message from his little sister and I thought that was a great inclusion because we really haven’t heard very much from her since even before the training camp. She was such a big part of Kite’s introduction arc, that I was kind of worried that she had gotten pushed to the wayside. Looking back on it, it was a pretty short moment, but I liked that their relationship could be understood in such a short amount of time. She was nagging him to not cause problems for the other players, but also that she was incredibly supportive of him playing basketball. I loved that she even said that she wanted to save up to go to his game, but ultimately spent all her money on the cell phone. I think it was a good way to bring her back and reintroduce her. I really hope we get to see more of her in the future. The other smaller interaction that stood out to me was with Shinjo High. I still really like this team, and it’s unfortunate that only one of them will come out of this match victorious! I really enjoy the fact that they were able to acknowledge that they have been put up against really good team for them and that it’s a match that they are happy that they get to take part of, especially for the two Seniors who are playing in their first and last tournament. I really appreciate that they take Kuzu High seriously and are willing to take them on!
Lastly, I want to take a moment to talk the girls team coming to cheer on the boys for the remainder of their match. A couple posts ago, I mentioned that they did a really good job conveying the girl’s loss, it was so good I almost cried! But after the opening, the girl’s seemed to fade into the background, so I’m happy they’re bringing them back! Now, it seems like most of them can joke that they’ve lost their match albeit it still stings. However, it isn’t the time to be sad about their own match, instead they have to cheer for the boy’s team so they can make it to the next round. It was a lighthearted interaction. I liked Kite’s reaction to eating something overly sweet, and it made me smile that they gave Mokichi extra pieces because he was a fan of sweet things. I also appreciate that it was Momoharu, instead of Sora that acknowledged the puffiness of Madoka’s eyes. I think if Sora were to focus on it, he’d lose focus in the second half of the game. But speaking of Sora and Madoka! It appears that they’ve made some sort of promise and! Wow! I think that scene was really well done! The instrumental guitar with no dialogue? It was impactful. I have a feeling that it she was getting him to promise that he would win the game, but I can’t say for sure, I’m interested to see the reveal!
I’m glad that we were able to take some time off the court this episode to focus on our characters. I genuinely thought this was a fantastic episode; it was a real treat! But it seems like next week, Chiaki, Momoharu, Sora, Kite, and Mokichi will be back on the court for a very intense second half. I’m at the edge of my seat!