My thoughts on this episode are absolutely all over the place, but dang this episode was quite the roller coaster. Yori’s comments from the previous episode really set the stage for doubt in Yuni’s mind this week. And honestly, as much as I want to tell Yuni that his reactions were not the best and he made some bad actions, I actually really appreciated that we got to see the situation from his perspective! And the bit after the ending theme really hit home, I want to know what these two have in store now that the tournament is over.
Speaking of the tournament, we’ve really cruised through things in the past two episodes. It seems like the actual volleyball portion, both training and games, seems to happen more in montages rather than being the focus. And after re-reading the synopsis of the anime, I do understand why they’re rushing through it. It’s more of an “origin” story or a prologue, before the two of them make it to high school. If they won everything in this tournament, it would be a very different story to tell – and it also explains why we know next to nothing about their teammates. So, I won’t get on their case about pacing just yet, but I’m interested to see if they’ll pull the montage strategy once they make it to high school.
As a whole, I think this episode has done a good job setting up the rest of the series (of course it might be too early to call that since we haven’t actually seen the rest of the series). I like that our two main characters are already pretty decent at the sport and overall, they already rely on each other! Granted they’re still working on the communication bit, but they’re middle schoolers so I guess I can let that slide for now. Additionally, I appreciated that they allowed us to watch a volleyball match where Yuni and Chika were on the top of their game and really dominated the court, but I also like how they showed the flip side of it, where Yuni was really struggling to get his head in the game especially when he looked to Chika for some kind of reassurance and got nothing. In that moment Yuni was at a real low and Chika was able to carry the team to the next round… didn’t really boost the morale of any of the team members. So Yuni’s conclusion that Chika could win all on his own did make sense.
Yuni’s actions on the other hand? Yeah, they weren’t great. Obviously talking bad about your teammate with your other teammates is not the way to go. And choosing to run away and not show up to the game is also not the best thing to do. In all fairness to Yuni, he did hear that his cousin was injured and was taken to the hospital, so he did have a little bit of an excuse. His justification though? It was a bad plan on his part. But I appreciate they went about Yuni and Chika’s final interaction in this episode. Chika’s relief that Yuni was okay and overall Yuni’s realization that what he had done was really scummy. But like I’ve said, he’s a middle schooler and from what I remember from being a middle schooler I’m not surprised that he acted the way he did. But watching Chika leave the tournament and Yuni watching him as he faded away, I thought that was really good to see! I love the call that he didn’t want this to be the end and that he is realizing the consequences of his actions and the desire to help Chika achieve his dream. It just makes me look forward to the potential the rest of the series can bring!
The next episode will probably be a lot of watcher’s final episode before they call whether or not they will continue the series. My one hope is that now that we’re out of the set-up/prologue stage, we’ll be able to spend more time with the characters and not just montage through training and matches. And if I’m honest, I want to hear Chika’s side of the suicide situation; I want to hear how that affected him personally and emotionally, rather than just through rumors spread around. If they just used that situation to amp up the drama and don’t plan on addressing it, I’ll be pretty upset about it. But we’re still early on in the season and there’s so much that could happen. So, I’m looking forward to next week to see if or how Chika and Yuni will reconcile and see what the upcoming weeks will bring.