Congratulations Yozan!! I was thoroughly convinced that we wouldn’t get to see him play this season, but boy am I pleasantly surprised! He adds a whole new dynamic to the group, and I am excited to see what he will bring in future episodes. But ahhh…. what a punch to the pride his introduction must be for Kuzu High. Things were starting to look up for them (again), but now they have a new player to figure out on the court. Sure, it kills the streak they had going for them, but hey! the games wouldn’t be as fun if they were always winning!
I must admit, while I was pretty excited for this week’s development, I wasn’t as engaged as I hoped to be. I guess I was expecting a lot more “on court” action, but that isn’t to say I was unhappy for Yozan’s back story. I think I’m just a little bit bummed that we went from seeing how cool Chiaki was in his quick decision making into something with… much less energy. Of course, I’m sure the story boarders are doing their best to add everything they can into these remaining episodes, so given the timing, this was probably the best time for Yozan (and Mineta) to shoot their shot.
While the tonal shift was a bit jarring for me, I thoroughly appreciated the focus on Yozan, and I feel like we’ve only brushed the surface of his character. Around half time we learned that Yozan also learned how to play Basketball from Yuka, Sora’s mom which really sets him apart from others in terms of match ups for Sora. And what I find most interesting in the dynamic is that Yozan, for one looks up to Yuka as being the one to show him that he can play the sport, but also that they probably have that coach/student dynamic. So Yozan’s primary interaction with Yuka is being taught how to play and be a valuable player in Basketball (of course, I’m speculating here – I might be proven wrong in the very next episode lol). And naturally, he looks up to her because of it. Sora on the other hand had a very different relationship with Yuka since he was her son. I’m pretty sure it was mentioned in a previous episode, but Yuka had decided that she would let Sora decide if he wanted to pursue Basketball rather than having it forced on him. She wasn’t necessarily his coach, but she did teach him techniques and skills along the way. And while Sora does have respect for his mom, it’s not the same respect that Yozan holds for her. So, I think it’s only natural that Yozan’s and Sora’s skills come across differently. Plus! They’ve both experienced different forms of development of the skills they gained from her! Being a member of Taiei’s team is pretty brutal, but to get on the court you have to prove yourself, whereas in Kuzu High you’ll probably get a chance on the court during any game, but you grow and improve with the skills of those currently on the team.
From this episode, it seems that Yozan skills far exceed Sora’s, but I think that’s thanks to the way that Yozan and Fuwa work together. Yozan has a lot of respect for Fuwa and the way he plays the game, and likewise Fuwa has some respect for Yozan. Immediately when Yozan takes the court the whole game changes. There’s a new play style on the court and one that synergizes well with a loose cannon type player. On top of that, Taiei has already taken the steps to shuffle around in order to prevent players like the Hanazono brothers from succeeding. And honestly, near the end of the episode, that stress in trying to figure out who would win started to creep back in. As of right now, Taiei seems to be heading in the direction to shut down Kuzu High, but there’s still time for things to turn around – and even if we lose, I think it will be a pretty close match!
And before I wrap up, I just wanted to touch on how much I appreciated Yozan’s internal dialogue which seemed directed at Sora. Yozan is currently on the court facing Sora and his team, but he still acknowledges that he’s going to climb the ranks so that the two of them will face off again at the place and time they had initially promised. And a small thing like that, made me thoroughly appreciate the situation. Yozan isn’t cocky, he’s thankful for this opportunity, but he also knows that everything doesn’t end after the game. He wants to challenge them again at a greater stage and that makes me happy.
So, as always, I’m excited to see what the next episode will bring us. Based on the episode title, I’m not all that sure what that could entail, but at the same time for this week’s episode, it turns out that Sora was, in fact, not the duck. We’ve hit another turning point in the match, and I can’t wait to see how both teams work to finish out the quarter!!