Oh… I’m emotional and I have a feeling that next week they’re going to kick us while we’re down. I must admit that this time around I wasn’t as interested in what was happening on the court. I mean, what did happen on the court really built up suspense as we approach the final seconds, but compared to the various conversations that happened throughout in addition to the ending, the actual playing of the game seemed to take a back seat this time around.
As soon as we were shown that Momoharu was taking free throws for the team, it was pretty evident that even though there was less than 2 minutes on the clock there was still a lot of the game left to play. I also found it funny that both Chiaki and Mokichi were fully prepared for him to miss the two shots! It makes sense! He’s not known for his good aim. In fact, he’s definitely known as the one without any aim. But I will admit even I suspended my belief in hopes that he would be able to make his first distance shot. Oh well, at least you gave it your best. After he missed the shot and Mokichi went in for the rebound, I must admit that I felt Mokichi’s internal monologue was a bit out of place. It seems to be playing off the significant moments from the previous episodes, trying to give him a real push for the stakes in the game… but it didn’t have as big of an impact on me. Instead, it seemed to push in the direction of “If only I didn’t quit, we’d win”, but that just… doesn’t seem to be the kind of person he is – but perhaps I’m wrong and we’ll see a bit more this thought expanded in future episodes.
I really enjoyed hearing the thoughts from Madoka’s senpai. I think he did a good job of really summarizing what the writers were trying to portray during this whole match: that everyone participating has their own unique motivations to keep playing. It’s not just Sora trying to win the Inter-High to bring to his mother, but every character has a reason to play the game. Some motivations may have a smaller magnitude, but they’re still a motivation and one strong enough to keep them playing. I think she also let us know that Kuzu High winning this match would pretty much be a miracle. As much as we want them to win, we can’t ignore the fact that they’ve only had about a month of dedicated training. Sure, they have some outliers, but as a whole their experience is far below that of Shinjo and likely everyone else competing. She even mentioned that it wouldn’t really feel good to lose to a team like that. As invested as I am in the Kuzu boys’ team… she does have a good point. I also like the call back to the girl’s match that we got at the beginning of the arc. The girls are seeing their situation play out in front of them except this time the team they want to win is in the lead. For the team in the lead they just want to keep the lead and will do whatever they can to make sure that happens, whereas the opposing team just wants to get a shot. It’s when in their grasp and they can snatch the victory within seconds.
I also really liked Takahashi putting Kojima back in the match practically being unable to move. A few episodes there was conversation about just how much power Kojima has as far as providing energy to the team. Just by being there he can power them up. I do wish, perhaps Kuzu would have taken note of him being on the court though, but I was satisfied by the short flashback of Nao discussing what her plan would have been if she had been in charge. That was a good way to reveal the plan. And while we don’t necessary get to see the result of the plan or the conclusion of the match, I’m not upset. I don’t think that the segment about Yuka would have been enhanced had I known the outcome of the match.
That being said let’s talk about what’s going on with Sora’s mom. It was obvious that something happened to his mom the moment the scene went to the hospital. I’ll admit that I was a bit confused as to why the grandmother was crying it definitely led me to believe that Yuka had died. Everything felt very sudden. I did however appreciate the way in which they had Madoka “work backwards” to put the pieces together. Madoka is in an interesting position when it comes to Yuka – her sister is a nurse and is very aware of Yuka’s situation and Madoka is really just a friend to Sora so there’s no reason why Yuka would want to make her worry. It makes sense that she would put on a facade of being happy and okay. But oh wow… when the little girl came out to ask about the actress that’s really where I started to feel all the emotions. As a watcher, I could understand Madoka’s reactions in those moments because we had just seen her happily watching a game and even when she left, she said that she found something that she wanted to pursue. As much as it was hinted that she was not okay this still managed to come as a surprise. I appreciate that this anime is willing to let us know that there are a lot of things happening even though we aren’t able to see it.
And man, they really do hit you with those ending title cards don’t they. If anything, I think those are just as much of a cliffhanger if not more than the actual end of the episode. I’m interested to see what next week will bring us.