Oh no, they’re setting up my biggest fear for the series…. I’ve been pretty happy with how they’ve handled the relationships in this anime, especially the one between Rei and Jotaro – that he tries to be with her and make her happy as best as he can, and she supports him as he continues his gymnastics dreams – but I really hope it does fall prey to him becoming painted as a bad father if Rei has to spend her birthday alone especially with all the stuff that happened with Leo in this episode. Pretty much everything they set up in this episode makes me nervous for the future.

But setting all of that aside for now, we finally get to see Jotaro in action since his retire not speech. And in all honesty, he’s not in the spotlight, like I initially expected. Of course, he’s the underdog as the new generation of gymnasts show what they’re made of, but I kind of assumed that there would have been more of an upset in this episode. Still, he was able to rank pretty highly due to Minamino’s intimidation towards the other participants and his own personal training to eliminate technical flaws in his performance. So, Jotaro’s not down and out quite yet, but he’s not exactly in the spotlight like many others. But as far as the actual NHK cup, I must admit that I wasn’t all too invested in what was happening. We didn’t see Jotaro participate in any of the events, and Minamino just dominated everything that he had done. I appreciated hearing about the other top scorers and watching at least a little bit of their routines, but I have no investment in them as characters. We just met them for the first time in this episode and I don’t know if they’re going to be relevant later on. Honestly watching this cup felt like the equivalent of turning on the sports channel and getting the same type of commentary.

On that note though, I do appreciate the other opponents commenting on Minamino in the sense that he doesn’t acknowledge them. He doesn’t see them as competitors because he’s essentially competing with himself. Now, I don’t know if that is 100% the case, because he seems really interested in Jotaro for some reason, but the individuals who placed in the top 3 at Nationals? Yeah, Minamino isn’t interested. And I definitely understand their frustration when coming to that conclusion. Everyone wants to compete for the top – having rivals to compete against (both friendly and unfriendly) can be sources of motivation. You want to show off, how much you’ve improved and that you still have a lot more to bring to the table. But to feel as if you aren’t being acknowledged? Well, that’s just a punch to the gut right there. Part of you wants to make the person at the top acknowledge you, but at the same time it places an incredible amount of pressure on you where you don’t know if you’ll ever reach the point of being acknowledged and you get crushed under that stress. Some people may even wonder “What’s the point in competing if I can’t reach the top, or even be recognized by the top?”. Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but wow, Minamino you could at least pretend you notice the other competitors. I’m sure we’ll get more of his story soon, but for now he’s just the broody, angsty teenage prodigy.

Outside of the competition, it seems like whatever Leo has been running away from has finally caught up to him. We still don’t know very much about him or who the people that are chasing him are, but it’s probably not good for him. It also comes at a very convenient time for the fact that he might not be back in time for Rei’s birthday. And it’s kind of frustrating that Jotaro doesn’t seem to bat an eye at the situation. Of course, Rei definitely spends the most time with him so it would impact him more, but I really really hope that Jotaro doesn’t continue to brush off Leo’s disappearance. And… just on top of that, the moment Rei explained to Leo that the family promises to always be together on each other’s birthday, that set off a lot of red flags that all came true for the end of the episode. Leo is gone and we have no idea when he’ll return and Jotaro is invited to the China – Japan joint training which would be super beneficial for him to attend. Basically, I’m predicting and prepping for the worst: that the Aragaki family is going to fall apart pretty soon.

I am looking forward to seeing how all of this will end up playing out next week! I sincerely hope that my predictions are wrong, and they’ll pull off something completely unexpected. I won’t count out a rescue mission quite yet, but I do my best not to get my hopes up too much. I really hope things work out for all of them in the end, but it’s going to be a rocky road for a while. But still! There may be something that catches us off guard coming soon, so the best I can do is wait and see what’ll happen!


I live up to my username, but I hope we can be friends!