Finally, everything is starting to fall into place for Ryo and I must say it’s quite exciting to see! His efforts are starting to pay off!
Despite everyone telling him so, up until now Ryo never really understood just how good his observation skills actually are. And a lot of that has to do with underestimating himself. But now he has solidified his resolve to become stronger, he is now consciously observing his teammates. Thanks to that, we see him starting to pick up the little details he once overlooked, or missed entirely. Luckily for him, Hishikawa the team’s alumnus (and former ace) who had dropped by to help them out with their hellish training camp noticed how he was getting a grasp on things and quickly swapped him into the game while it was fresh on his mind. Timing can be essential and that was a key moment that lead to Ryo’s breakthrough, earning his first “win” against Kento. Although he didn’t win the rest of the match against him, it still paid off. (And boy, Kento sure didn’t like it when Ryo got him there. He just amped it up and imeaditely sought to crush him to quickly put him “back” in his place.)
One of the things Ryo quickly learned is that, obviously– it’s easier said than done to make no mistakes, so he’s probably better off not focusing on that when he’s just starting to get a grasp on his strength. That said, he did manage to achieve a rally 32 shots against Kento, and won that battle. And the key to that was taking the initiative to create his own plays.
While being hyper-fixated into the zone of observation certainly proved useful, the biggest thing Ryo obtained from this breakthrough was actually coming to the realization that he needed to create his own strategic plays. This is so important because following the bidding the flow of his opponents and waiting to adapt and counter the opponent strategy hasn’t worked for him until now. And the minute he started focusing on creating his own plays, he finally ascended to the next level of his game.
I was also quite happy to see we actually got the chance to learn how Ryo picked up his observation skills, and it turns out it’s actually thanks to his sister. Because she’s talented and good at communication, it meant he didn’t have to talk much and he developed a habit of observing things from behind her.
Apart from Ryo’s breakthrough, this week we learned the third years are done, so now Yusuke has been made Captain. But that doesn’t mean they are completely out of the the picture though. Since Hongo and Yoshimura both earned Sports Recommendations for college, they plan to still participate with helping out with the training and all. It was pretty funny to watch them keep the first years on their toes, especially during meal time when they had all tried to dump their load of food onto Ryo’s plate since he was the only one with any appetite.
Finally, we finally got a bit of a story on Hana, the girl (outside of Kouki’s fans) who we have seen quietly lurking around and watching the team practice. It turns out she also played Badminton though it appears she may not necessarily be playing anymore. I do wonder a bit about her story, why she is so keen on watching them apart from her interest in the sport, or whether we are actually going to get anything on her at all. The way this series prioritizes its focus on various characters is very inconsistent (look no further than the twins) so I’m honestly not expecting much in that regard.
The one last point I have to say is, oof man… there were some real rough moments with the animation this week, (like blatant in your face kinds), but I appreciate that they focused on the parts that really deserved better quality, because this was a major episode for Ryo, and it would have sucked if the animation just didn’t do it justice for him. That said, I’m not gonna lie, it is a tad worrying to see it drop this much at this point, (not that it didn’t already have some rough and many recycled scenes already…)
Next time, we are finally get some development with Shouhei’s and Ryo’s partnership for the doubles. It’s something I am looking forward to seeing since it’s something they need to work out.