I thought last week was emotional, well that doesn’t even stand up to the absolute onslaught of things that came with this week’s episode. I thought I would be able to hold it together, but I could barely even make it halfway in before I started crying. Part of me expected what was going to happen in the episode, but I really didn’t want it to happen. And even if deep down I knew this outcome was coming, I absolutely wasn’t prepared for just how well it was implemented.
Last week I lamented that it felt like we were led into a false sense of security after Sora’s mom had visited the Basketball match, only to find out that she is just really good at hiding her pain. And, probably because I was trying to deny the outcome, she had me fooled again when Sora came in to talk to her. It started off as such a loving and casual conversation between Yuka and Sora. I loved that they got to laugh and relax around each other, I’m glad that we didn’t just jump right into tragedy. For a brief moment, I really thought she was going to make it, oh… Sora’s hesitation and lie, that’s where the emotions started. And while it was impactful in the moment, I think it’s more significant after having watched the episode! Because when he told the lie, we hadn’t been provided with the information about how long they thought she would live. He probably recognized that there wouldn’t be another chance to win a game to tell her the truth, so he opted for the lie in hopes of making her happy. And oh man did the emotions just go downhill from there. I absolutely lost it when she asked Sora to forgive her because and watching Sora tell her that he’s happy with the life and body that he was given? Ahhhh…. It was just so well done. I adored the way that he tried to cheer her up, trying to take away the blame that she was putting on herself and ultimately… that’s the last we see of the two of them together.
This is probably an opinion I don’t share with many others, but I’m okay with them sidelining the results of the Shinjo game. Yeah, we did spend upwards of seven episodes watching our team really come together and grow, but with the severity of Sora losing his mom… it honestly seemed natural. Obviously, it affected all the team members pretty significantly and by no means am I trying to downplay the results and their feelings, but the loss of a loved one can really sideline a lot of things. So, I don’t really mind that “the end of the game” was shown to us in flashbacks. Additionally, I liked the touch of the rest of the team is languishing in their defeat. And I liked that they included both the conversation of “None of us have cared this much about it before” and “You can only be so bummed out for so long”. It was a nice contrast, though given it was their first major defeat I can’t blame them for being upset about it. I liked what Mokichi’s family members had to say about it by turning it into a turning point for him. Despite this loss and his blunder, will he commit and stay with the team?
And speaking on staying with the team, Kite’s final interaction with the coach was really cool. Kite may be kind of a jerk, but at least he’s a jerk who sticks to it. Personally, I didn’t think Kite would leave the team, but it was nice to get a reminder of his skill and that he is someone who plays or thinks differently than many other High Schoolers. No matter their status in the game, Kite’s objective is get the ball and get the points. It probably would have been better in the long run to pursue that opportunity, but him saying he’d take a bet on the 1% chance of the team was really cool. It makes me want to bet on the team as well.
One thing that I particularly enjoyed in the episode was the difference in how everyone responded to everything. But I think the most stand out reactions come with the death of Sora’s mom. Madoka was an absolute emotional wreck despite only knowing Yuka and Sora for barely a month (but I can sympathize with her because I too would react in the same way). Momoharu and the gang take it as a shock and treat it somewhat as a bummer. Momoharu on the other hand feels something more akin to rage – which is understandable as he’s putting the pieces together. He’s not mad at anyone in particular, he’s mad at the situation they’ve found themselves in. He didn’t know why the inter-high was so important to Sora, he didn’t even Sora’s mom was sick! But now that he knows, I can only imagine the guilt he must be feeling as a captain. And Sora, the person who this affects the most out of our main cast, holds back his emotions. I wonder if he feels guilt as well, guilt that he wasn’t able to tell his mom about victory truthfully before it was too late.
But what really gets me the most about this episode is just how much tragedy struck and not everyone knows it. The biggest tragedy of the episode being Yuka, but Kite, Nao, Mokichi, and Chiaki are all currently unaware of the fact since they weren’t present at the hospital or in the locker room when it was announced. No one on the team knows that Kite was recruited to play for another team. While that probably isn’t probably a “tragedy” it could very well have been a step towards the team disbanding. AND THEN Sora, Kite, Mokichi, and Nao are completely unaware of what’s happening at the school at the end of the episode, at least as far as we can tell. They really threw a lot at us in the episode and it makes me really nervous for next week. Will the team attempt to disband after everything that’s happened to them? Or will they push through everything and look ahead?
This episode was an absolute whirlwind of emotions and I’m once again surprised by just how much they were able to give us within such a short amount of time. I cannot wait to see how we will move forward after everything that’s happened. This was a phenomenal episode!