Picking up where we left off last week, Kaneda is here and he’s pushing all of the buttons. While he is most upset with Aoi, it seems like his words are targeting Tachibana pretty hard, especially because Tachibana is starting to doubt himself as a forward. But in addition to that, knowing that Nakano and Kaneda are playing for the team that he left is particularly troublesome. I have a feeling that Tachibana is going to snap soon, but first… we have to deal with Aoi.
I originally thought that we were going to be playing Musashino this week, but turns out we had another match in between and we are currently playing against Tama University. Aoi is back on the defending line and now he’s been given the same orders as Togashi – Defending comes first. Which could easily be read as, get good at defending. But the two of them read it a little bit more as, “As long as you’re defending, you can attack as well.” It’s just a bummer that Aoi, despite all his drills, is still really struggling to figure out what he needs to do on the defending line. But despite all this, he does seem to be getting closer and closer to the answer.
I love how brutally honest some of the team members are. Yoshitsune was especially valuable this time around as an A team player working with the rest of B. I love that he so blatantly says that Aoi’s incredible one moment, but then completely sucks the next! Because at this point Aoi really is a wild card! No one knows if he has his stuff together because he can make really incredible plays or blocks, but then the next he completely drops the ball (haha ba dum tsh) and then just runs past him. It must be really hard playing with someone who lacks consistency, but at the same time I think it starts to build up credibility among the team. Yeah, most people are like “Aoi sucks why is he here”, but even then people still listen to him. And I’ll give Aoi most of the credit, but Hana also deserves some! Her very existence just seems to clear his mind. Heck! She doesn’t even need to be there, just the mere mention of her name and all the cloudy thoughts seem to disappear. Hana is truly the MVP!!!
Overall, this episode was pretty steady especially in Aoi’s growth. I liked that things were able to click for him, but also that he still struggled. Previously when he figured out the triangle, he became unstoppable with Asari and Kuroda and things seemed to settle into place pretty darn quickly. But this time around, he has some hits and misses because he is still exploring what it is like to be on defense. Slowly, he starts to see the openings, but initially, he falls into his bad habits and tries to take care of it all on his own which leaves many openings behind him. But after having his chat with Nozomi, he slowly starts to realize that he can make use of the other players around him. Aoi, being on the back line has the full view of the field. He can see things that others may not and so by giving directions he’s able to plug up the other team’s openings. And he’s still very new to this, so it does take a more experienced player to jump into the fray and that player happens to be Yoshitsune.
Aside from the injuries, Yoshitsune is definitely a much better player than the current B team has. He’s able to pull off more complex moves that come with playing at a higher level. At the beginning of the match he seemed to hang back in the distance making it hard to gauge his skill, but as the game progressed it was clear that he was a very strong asset to the team. He was able to cover where Aoi needed him to, thus turning the game around in their favor. Even if they didn’t make the point, it was good for the overall team’s morale. Well… almost everyone. As Yoshitsune was bringing it down the field he makes a pass to Tachibana that is unable to be caught. Now to Yoshitsune, it’s a matter of “Oh, the B team isn’t here yet.” Which is a sound assessment. He’s not calling them bad, just making a pretty sound observation. But on the flip side of that, missing the ball was absolutely devastating to Tachibana. He’s already down on himself so this was just another hit to his self-esteem. And to top it all off, Yoshitsune is just really good at his position by comparison. Tachibana you’re still new don’t worry, you’ll get better !! Nozomi would not keep putting you in if he didn’t think you were valuable!
But on another note, shoutout to Togashi for having a pretty cool moment at the end of the episode! Good for you!! You get to do some offensive stuff!! So with all these developments, I’m really excited to see where the rest of the match will take us! Which directions will emotions turn? Will the team get it together? Will someone be able to convince Tachibana that he is, in fact, a valuable player? Will Hana get another moment in the spotlight? Gah! These weekly episodes just seem too short! I can’t wait for next week!