What a fantastic follow up to last week’s episode! Despite the disbandment of the Basketball team it was enjoyable watching the passion and self-reflection that was able to come out of it. I’m consistently amazed that this anime takes the time to focus on the feelings and reactions of their characters to each event – even characters that I thought wouldn’t have an opportunity to express their feelings. And even more, we were able to step away from our “main” character to do so.
Though minor, I appreciated Mokichi attending the second day of the tournament because I think it really provided closure on the Kuzu vs Shinjo match. Last week we found out that Kuzu High ultimately lost and Shinjo was able to make it on to the next round, but this week we see that they were absolutely dominated by Saijo (and that makes me bummed for Kojima and Takahashi!), showing that even if Sora and the team made it to the next round they would have likely met the same fate. I’m satisfied if that is the finale of the Kuzu v Shinjo arc.
Let’s talk about the disbandment of the Basketball team. While Chucky, Nabe, and Yasu try to skirt around the events that led the fire, Momoharu provides the truth without hesitation which causes frustrations among the team. there really wasn’t a good way to leave that conversation. If he had lied like the others, and the investigation proved otherwise there probably would have been worse consequences, and we can see what happens when he told the truth. And quite frankly, I don’t think anyone is in the wrong for being mad at him. Nao and others were starting to place hope in the team and to find out they were engaging in that activity is honestly devastating to hear. At first, I thought Satsuki calling it betrayal was a little bit harsh, but after watching Kite and Nao respond to it afterwards, I think it was the perfect word to use. I feel bad for Kite, especially after he turned down the offer from the previous school. Looking back in it, his willingness to bet on that 1% was him placing his trust in the team, something that he would never admit if they were to ask. And after hearing this news… well why should he place the trust in them? Kite found hope in this team and with one stupid action of some teammates that hope is lost. … If I’m honest, I wish we could have had a little bit more from Kite’s segment. I felt his frustrations as he was laying down on the court, but without anything else, it really felt like he was giving up.
Drifting away from the team itself, I was pleasantly surprised by Mr. Satsuki and has appeal to the rest of the teachers. He’s found a soft spot for these boys and now he finally has the opportunity to show it. When he was first introduced, we were told he was the strictest advisor they could possibly have and yet they still managed to instill some hope in him. Yeah, they aren’t star students, but since each one joined the team they have improved as a whole. I particularly liked his speech after one teacher stated that his job was to “convince students to quit instead of wasting effort on something so pointless”, which honestly just a rude thing to say. By that logic, if you aren’t already good at something why bother putting in the effort to get better? The other teachers don’t want to see growth and development, the boys on the team are lost causes to them. So, shout out to Mr. Satsuki for standing up for them! He doesn’t get much dialogue, but the dialogue he does have is strong!
But as inspiring as he is, the team is still disbanded and Momoharu and the gang are suspended indefinitely. I’m sure 34 episodes ago they would have been fine with this decision but given most recent events I can understand if they are feeling significant guilt. Momoharu in particular seems to be having a hard time with everything that is going on, and I really can’t blame him. I would be interested to see if we get to hear his own thoughts on the situation. It seems like he’s bottling it up, but will he ever get a chance to express it?
But he’s not the only person affected by everything that’s happened since their defeat. Madoka, now out of the basketball season and still recovering from the news is slowly realizing that what she’s been missing out on her school life. The friends she would hang out with are flirting and dating other boys – quite frankly, leaving her in the dust. Now, she hasn’t actually said any of that, but I think everything is getting to her. As far as her potentially being interested in Momoharu, I’m not all that surprised by it, but I hope the two of them can talk it out! The two of them have had some small but sweet moments together so I can definitely understand if feelings were developed along the line. I think if she had romantic feelings for Sora they’d be complicated to deal with now as she’s facing her own regret in what she wasn’t able to give or do for Sora. It’s a fine line, I’d be interested to see how the story unfolds from here. (Also, I’m happy that Mika makes a reappearance! He got to keep the dog!!). I will admit that I enjoyed the conversation that came out of Momoharu’s reaction between Sora’s grandmother and Madoka, but more importantly it led to Madoka heading up and crying on Sora’s bed while an instrumental cover of the first opening, Happy Go Ducky played. That hit my feelings pretty hard. Ah… but I hope Madoka can get the support she needs after everything that’s happened (and quite frankly, I hope everyone finds the support they need).
I would have perfectly okay if they had ended on that scene for this episode, but I was also happy that they let Mokichi and Nao have the final moment, as Chiaki stood outside in the rain. It really set up hope for the future! That the Basketball team would come back, that they would be able to play together again! This isn’t the end of the Kuzu High boys’ team! Overall, a really nice way to end. Overall, I think this was a pretty good episode. It was… more emotional than I was expecting, but it wasn’t just sadness I was feeling. There was anger, inspiration, despair and hope that all came out of this episode. I hope things go better for our team and I’m looking forward to what comes next.