And the game continues! Unfortunately, the gap between the two teams doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller, but at least we have some members coming to some personal realizations about playing Basketball. I think overall, this was a fine episode, however it wasn’t as stand out as it could have been. By that I mean, the elements they incorporated were great and I’m happy that they were there… there were just too many elements packed into the episode and each of them didn’t really get the spotlight that they probably deserved. Of course, there are only two episodes left so I can’t really fault them for trying to squeeze a lot of content in.
First, I’m happy that they addressed the Coach vs Mom relationship that Sora had with Yuka. I know in the previous episode there was a question about why Yuka would have given more training to Yozan rather than her own son. So I liked that they were able to explicitly show us that Sora, as a kid, originally didn’t want his mom to teach him how to shoot two handed (something which Yozan seems to embrace to master) because that would be uncool. Of course, fast forward a little bit and she does begin to teach him and things start moving in a positive direction for him in terms of the sport, but with Yuka’s health, they are able to say that she’s been sick and hospitalized for a long time. There’s only so much teaching you can do for a physical sport while you’re stuck in bed at a hospital. And while it is sad to think about it, I do appreciate that they took the time to show that to us.
Second, I’m happy that they’ve finally given us a connection with Madoka’s story. Her date, in terms of content has been pretty slow moving, but it did open up a valuable conversation that we’re able to see expanded on through the rest of the episode. You have the concept of the road that everyone’s travelling on, each person approaches this road differently (Personally, this is a concept that I would have liked to have expanded more! To let it really sink in!) and on the other hand you have the conversation about dedication which is something that isn’t often explored so explicitly. And I really like how they approached it with Madoka’s date! He’s on a Basketball team which ultimately lost to Taro’s team, who eventually lost to Taiei. Just looking at Madoka’s date he looks like the type of guy who would only be on the team for the fun of it, but having him state that he and his team are dedicated really starts to shine a light for everyone we’ve seen play. It brings into the question of what kind of dedication is good dedication and are they dedicated enough? Madoka also echoes this sentiment saying she felt she was incredibly dedicated to her team and the sport, but when they lost so early, does it mean that they weren’t dedicated enough? Was it just a false feeling? And personally, I don’t think there’s a correct way to be dedicated! You can put in hundreds of hours mastering one skill, but perhaps there was something else that needed to be taken into consideration as well and you lose. That doesn’t change the many hours you spent improving yourself for your passion! I think there truly is a lot of potential in that conversation!
And third, I’m happy that Mineta gets his chance to shine and we finally get to see his connection to Shigeyoshi! Personally, I think his story is a good tie in for the concept of both the “Straight Road” and Dedication. Mineta was star player back for his middle school team, and as we’ve seen previously him going to Taiei was really a punch in the ego for him. Of course, finding out the girl he liked had a crush on Mokichi was also an incredibly hit to his ego. And on a surface level it seems like Mineta started to improve his game because he wanted to impress the girl, I think he was actually doing it to improve himself as a player. Yeah, it was his crush that instigated the rivalry he had with Mokichi, but that slowly morphed into his competitiveness in the game. After that first loss, he wanted to improve so that the next time they faced off, he could win. But Mokichi wasn’t there. Which brings us back to the Road analogy, because while Mineta was charging a long, Mokichi had pulled off to the side was very seriously considering never returning. And now! We get to see the effects of that! Mineta is a very skilled and talented player because he’s been training and practicing for so long! Whereas Mokichi, well, in addition to his anemia doesn’t even have the stamina to last very long on the court. So, I liked how everything came together with these two, and I certainly hope it sparks more competition between the two and Mokichi will be inspired to continue improving even more!
As far as the actual match, I don’t actually have too much to say on it that hasn’t already been said. Things weren’t looking good for Kuzu even without the 5 team fouls. Kite is still pulling out tricks, and the rest of the team isn’t willing to give up, it’s going to be rough catching up. I think their biggest opportunity is to exploit Fuwa’s play style. Fuwa is a selfish player (and arguable Kite is also still a very selfish player), but while Kite was training else where he’s recognizing his own style and able to turn it into an asset to the team. He still wants to score the points and he still holds that mind set, but I really see the difference in “I want to score the points for myself” and ” I want to score the points for my team”. At first thought they aren’t that different, but Kite has really gotten better at taking things from his teammates, whereas Fuwa … well he’s not all that interested in that team aspect (arguably, Team bonds with Kuzu are stronger than Taiei, but I digress), which ultimately lets Kite slip by him and continually surprise him. I do wish Yozan wasn’t taken off the court because I wanted to see how the two of them worked together, but I guess it’s understandable because the coach hadn’t even considered putting him in until his stunt. But here’s to hoping we’ll see Sora and Yozan go up against each other again before the match ends.
Despite being pretty indifferent about the episode, I sure did have a lot to say haha! It really hasn’t hit me that we only have two episodes left, but I am really looking forward to how they both play out!