AAAAA THIS WAS SUCH A GOOD EPISODE. It genuinely warmed my heart and I definitely cried. Miss Aoi Noriko and the Ehime soccer club you gave me everything I’ve ever wanted from a sendoff episode!!
I feel like series that send off a character to another city for school for any reason typically gloss over their final moments in their hometown. Sometimes there’s tears and other times there is at least a montage, but I have truly never seen anything as lovely as Ao Ashi gave us this week. In fact, I didn’t even know how badly I wanted an episode like this until this episode. Usually when there is a sendoff, it’s in the first episode or two where we are still getting used the characters and how they interact with each other. And even then, this is episode 5 and we really haven’t spent too much time with Ashito’s family and friends that much. But they all really came through to show just how much they love and appreciate them. I am just so happy that they decided to include these conversations rather than just starting him off straight in Tokyo.
And they did all of this so gracefully too. At the end of Episode 4 we hear his mom’s thoughts about soccer taking him away from her. Shout out to Hana for being the person in the anime to actually bring up my thoughts. What did she mean?? Hana thank you so much for asking!! If they never addressed it, that would most certainly be nagging at me for the rest of the series. And even if we didn’t get a straightforward answer, we do get to see that his mom feels some regrets saying what she said and proceeds to do everything she can to avoid talking to him about it, but still making the preparations to give him a good send off. I feel like all the conflict that I was feeling after the end of last week’s episode has been satisfied and I’m happy.
I loved that they were able to include Ashito’s feelings and weave it into to all of these sendoff events. On the surface, it seems like he’s just moving about his every day, but in reality, he’s also keeping a lot of people in the dark so he can leave with his head held high. He’s loud, boisterous, and a bit of a goofball so seeing him break down wouldn’t be quite as part of his character. He keeps saying that emotional farewells are not for him, but in reality, he’s just trying to keep it all in himself, so when he was finally able to let it all out on the train, it felt really satisfying.
Among all of this, it also really hits home for how much people care about Ashito, or that he’s made an impact on them. I love that the soccer coach sent the team out to go say goodbye to him and that everyone was excited to do so. They joked with him and took silly pictures on the platform while waiting for the train. And even at the end there was that declaration to play each other again! Will it happen? Who knows, but I adored that moment.
Don’t even get me started on the train. Everything just came together so well in that moment. We have Ashito nervous about reading the letter from his mom, concerned because letter-writing really isn’t her style. He was ready to believe that she was going to disown him rather than apologize and support him. So, when he actually opened the letter? Oooohhhh boy the water works definitely began. I really love that it wasn’t an immediate waterfall. At first Ashito responds almost teasingly, but as the letter went on it really got to him. I’m a big fan of letting characters experience their emotions in ugly and dramatic ways so as weird as it sounds, I’m glad that they gave him the chance to cry. Plus, it made me feel less bad about crying at the cleats reveal 🙂
Anyways, Aoi if you don’t live up to your promise of going pro and supporting your mom to have a better life, I might have to show up and shove this letter back in your face. I’m rooting for you!! You’re in for what’s a rough time, but you gotta keep pushing forward!! After all this you put us through? You better keep that promise!!