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Halrloprillalar

You can call me Hal.

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Tenipuri episodes 1-3 and the summer of TezuRyo
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One of my myriad summer projects is to re-watch Prince of Tennis and work out all the nuances of the Tezuka-Ryoma relationship (anime canon only). To that end, I've been taking notes as I go on my various impressions. I'm not only writing about those two, but they're the main focus.

There may be some vague references to later canon. Right now, I think it's only to just after the Hyotei match.


1. A Prince Appears

I had a sudden vision of an AU where Sakuno is tragically crushed in the train doors and tragically dies and tragically doesn't appear in the rest of the series. I wish I didn't dislike her. Tragically.

Ryoma has to ask for directions to the tennis garden when the sign is right there. I imagine that since he's been living in the US, he hasn't learned a lot of kanji. I wonder how he does in school.

If Sasabe is seeded in the Under-16s and he sucks so bad, just who is playing in this tournament? Are all the good tennis players in junior high and all the high school students are weak?

Ryoma uses a move against Sasabe where the ball hits the ground and just stops dead. I don't think we ever see that again and I wonder why not. Frankly, that's as impressive as Tezuka's zero-shiki.



2. Samurai Junior

Ryoma has a perpetually cranky look in this episode, except when he's actually playing tennis. I was kind of surprised, watching this now, what a challenging look he gave Momo after just running into him. (That is, in a non-tennis situation.) And how he wouldn't even tell Ikeda his name when asked.

One of the themes of the show, I think, is how Ryoma the cocky US kid is socialized into Ryoma the cocky Japanese kid. This really points up to me how much he's changed.

Ryoma is first compared with his father in this episode.



3. Seigaku Regulars Arrive

Pan up to Tezuka, looking out of the window. Cut to Ryoma, sitting on the court fixing his shoelaces. And so it begins.

This is Tezuka's first exposure to Ryoma, though we don't know what Ryuzaki-sensei has said about him. He's trying to fix the blocks for the ranking matches, but he's having trouble.

When Tezuka goes out to the court, he finds Arai bullying Ryoma. He makes them both run laps. Ryoma doesn't protest, he doesn't even look up at Tezuka, just goes and runs his laps.

Later, Arai tries to humiliate Ryoma by making him play with a broken racquet, but, of course, Ryoma turns the tables on him. And Tezuka is watching. Tezuka puts Ryoma into the ranking matches even though first-years are not supposed to participate until the summer. And then he makes the whole club run laps.

It always seems to me that the laps are less for Arai's infraction and more for Tezuka's. Ryoma makes Tezuka break the rules.

So, the question is why? Why does Tezuka do this? Because I find Tezuka very difficult to figure out.

A large reason would be for the good of the team. Ryoma is a strong player and if they want to win, they need the best team. And he wants to see what Ryoma can do.

(And The Boy reminded me that Tezuka has to divide them evenly into blocks -- he must have had a spare slot. So why not put in the new kid?)

There's Tezuka's own history too, but don't really feel like Tezuka is connecting to Ryoma because of that. Tezuka's early talent seems like a burden to him, the way he tries to hide his full strength, the way he's bullied and injured.

I can't imagine that happening to Ryoma. He revels in his strength. He only hides it so he can reveal it later and humiliate his opponent. Tezuka hid his to try to keep things peaceful, to keep his senpais from losing face. I can't imagine Ryoma getting hurt the way Tezuka did. He just wouldn't have let himself be in that situation.

First-year Tezuka doesn't have control over the situation he's in. Ryoma is always in control.

I don't think Tezuka looked out that window and thought "mini-me!" But I do think there was something in Ryoma, his charisma perhaps, that pinged Tezuka, that made him consider Ryoma special even though he may not have wanted to.

Tezuka is always watching Ryoma. I think that says a lot.

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Now you are making me want to rewatch the entire show as well. (Even though I'm starting on Naruto dammit! That is supposed to be my summer project...)

I can't imagine that happening to Ryoma. He revels in his strength. He only hides it so he can reveal it later and humiliate his opponent.

You know, if this were any other character I'd think less of him for that. But since it is Ryoma, I think "oh yes, take that bitch!" (Um. The "bitch" being whoever has riled Ryoma up enough to want to humiliate him). Seriously, Ryoma's a good kid for the most part (he's just extraordinarily bitchy) but if you act like an ass you are pretty much going to get it back at yourself 10-fold with that kid.

Tezuka is always watching Ryoma. I think that says a lot.

Later in the series, I start to have lots of issues with how much control Tezuka tries to exert over the kid. I feel like its so OOC *because* Tezuka is a watcher (which is to say, there's that scientific principle that theorizes you change the outcome by watching it? That's pretty much Tezuka. He *doesn't* do more than that because he usually doesn't need to.)

Sometimes I think it was good Tezuka got go to Germany because Ryoma had a month or two (or however long this crack-smoking anime things 30 or 40 episodes lasts for) to actually just *be* a kid. (So, I'm a big Ryoma/Tezuka fan with some serious Tezuka-issues...)

You know, if this were any other character I'd think less of him for that. But since it is Ryoma, I think "oh yes, take that bitch!"

Hee! Ryoma is pretty different from most of the sports anime characters I'm familiar with. He's never the fresh-faced underdog. I remember someone -- alltrees, I think -- saying that in any other series, Ryoma would be the villain.

Later in the series, I start to have lots of issues with how much control Tezuka tries to exert over the kid. I feel like its so OOC *because* Tezuka is a watcher

Interesting -- I'll keep that in mind while I watch.

I had a sudden vision of an AU where Sakuno is tragically crushed in the train doors and tragically dies and tragically doesn't appear in the rest of the series.

Oh my god, marry me. Or at least accept a bribe to make that vision into fic.

I think Tezuka couldn't help but see himself in Ryoma, at least enough so that he gave Ryoma a shot in the ranking tournament. Powerful in his freshman year? Check. Bothered by weaker/jealous senpais? Check. Even if their attitudes didn't match -- like you said, Ryoma's cocky and Tezuka's all stoically burdened -- Tezuka must've been nagged with the thought that he could give this kid a chance, one *he* never had; maybe he saw pillar potential right from the start. His choice of opponents for Ryoma was interesting, too: Kaidoh and Inui. Determination and intelligence. Could it have been a test?

It would be like the Phantom Edit. *g*

I know that there are so many parallels between Tezuka and Ryoma -- but I just can't quite see Tezuka drawing too many of them. But I'm not sure why.

His choice of opponents for Ryoma was interesting, too: Kaidoh and Inui. Determination and intelligence. Could it have been a test?

I hadn't really stopped to consider why he picked them. Good point! And it's definitely a test. In a later ep (I've done more write-ups than I've posted) he says he wants to match Ryoma up against different kinds of people.

And then he makes the whole club run laps.

It always seems to me that the laps are less for Arai's infraction and more for Tezuka's. Ryoma makes Tezuka break the rules.


Hmm i think i once read that reasoning before in a fic and for that exact same scene. ^_^. well if two people can get that impression than it must be true *cough wishful thinking *cough
Now you got me digging for my PoT episodes so i can watch it all over again ^_^

Hee! It's not the first time I've posted about that particular point. I just feel like Ryoma shakes things up for Tezuka, makes him have to do things differently. We'll see if that holds up over further episodes.

Are all the good tennis players in junior high and all the high school students are weak?

Well I've seen people (although I don't remember exactly who)theorize that, given how common self destructive moves seem to be (zero-shiki, Yuuta's shot-that-I-forget-the-name-of, hadoukyuu, etc), no one is actually able to play tennis. It could also be that the really brilliant players don't stay on their school tennis teams and go study somewhere else after junior high so standards do drop.

Ryoma makes Tezuka break the rules.

Do you really think so? I can only think of the rankings matches and skipping practise to play him that one time and I always assumed that the "first years don't play until after the summer" was more of a custom because it's definitely not the first time this has happened and no one really cares that Tezuka put Ryoma in (at least, not in the sense that they say "OMG! He broke the rules!").

And I'd think Tezuka doesn't exactly see Ryoma as being exactly like him in the beginning but he would probably be a lot more sensitive to (although I'm not sure if that's the right word? aware of?) bullying because he went through that and that is what he sees when he makes everyone run laps. He doesn't actually want to favour the bullied though because he feels that he can't let his feelings influence his captain-ship so he includes Ryoma in the laps. Or that what I think. He could also be using the laps as a convienient way to get everyone back on track because everyone was distracted by Ryoma's match but being made to run laps will taker their minds off it and they'll also probably be more focused later as they don't want to run more laps.

I suppose "break the rules" is a strong way of putting it, but I do feel, at least at this point in my analysis, that Ryoma makes Tezuka step outside the expected way of doing things and continues to shake Tezuka up. Time will tell if I change my mind after further watching.

I don't mean to imply that Tezuka is indifferent to the bullying, esp after what he went through. (And poor Arai! This is his third unsucessful attempt at bullying Ryoma. I'd be ashamed.) And as alltrees points out below, having them all run laps instead of singling someone out seems the usual way of doing things. I just think it's significant that this punishment is doled out just as Tezuka himself has trangressed the conventions of their club.

It's so interesting to get everyone's perspective on this!

And then he makes the whole club run laps.

That one always struck me as very much the Japanese rendition of collective responsibility, actually. *wry* But you recall, it's exactly what Yamato does, when it's Tezuka that was the target--makes the whole club run laps, victim, troublemaker, bystanders and all.

is how Ryoma the cocky US kid is socialized into Ryoma the cocky Japanese kid.

Yes, yes, yes. Very, very much so. And that, I think, is also the key difference between Tezuka and Ryouma at this age. Tezuka played by the rules, like a good Japanese boy--one with outstanding talent trying to obey the social imperative to fit in (at least until he's endured the gauntlet long enough to have the seniority to make the rules himself, which he seems to have every expectation of doing). Ryouma doesn't seem to have any rules, to start with, beyond 'win well'. He doesn't expect support and he has no urge to fit in; I think those two are connected. And, as he's startled over and over by his new team's support of him, he starts to want to fit in, at least with them--wanting to fulfill Tezuka's expectations, if no one else's.

I think it helps a lot that they seem to have the same definition of 'win well' right from the start.

That one always struck me as very much the Japanese rendition of collective responsibility, actually. *wry* But you recall, it's exactly what Yamato does, when it's Tezuka that was the target--makes the whole club run laps, victim, troublemaker, bystanders and all.

Yes, and I assumed as much. What I think is significant is that it occurs at the same time as Tezuka's flouting the club traditions by putting Ryoma in the ranking matches.

I think it helps a lot that they seem to have the same definition of 'win well' right from the start.

Yes, good point. I think that's a fundamental similarity that connects them. Hmm.

Hi there! Got here from the tezuryo community.

I think Ryoma and Tezuka are more similar than you say - neither reveal strength needlessly. Except a few times when Ryoma's playing bullies, he typically waits until after he's played his opponent and judged the other guy to switch to his left arm or using the twist serve. Tezuka just never had to start using his left arm against the senpais of the club.

And I'm not sure Ryoma wouldn't have been hurt if he had arrived at the club a few years earlier, when everyone was frustrated that Seigaku couldn't rise any higher. The jealousy would have been there, so what could Ryoma have done, anyway? If Ryoma had joined his father's old tennis team, only to discover nobody was any good, and moreover, that so many people were jealous of him and disliked him for it, was there anything he could have done? I kind of doubt it... it's probably he would have quit the team, too.

But, I agree Tezuka didn't think "mini-me!" (haha :D). I just can't imagine Tezuka feeling angsty-ish about his past and then sort of making Ryoma into somebody who succeed where he didn't.

Mmmm, enough of that. (Actually, I prefer not to think too hard about a crack anime like PoT, lol - I hope that didn't show in what I wrote above T_T) I'm so glad you're watching Tenipuri for TezuRyo! Does this mean that you will be writing epic TezuRyo fic? :D :D

I guess I just feel like most of those similarities are superficial, and could apply to a lot of other people as well.

Ryoma's right-hand/left-hand switch always seems to have a lot of the "I am not right-handed!" swashbuckle about it, while Tezuka was hiding his ability to keep the peace.

It would be interesting to see Ryoma deal with the same bullies that Tezuka did, to see how things would play out. It's possible they would have beaten him to a pulp much sooner, but Ryoma would have defended himself in a way Tezuka never did. (Probably back to the US/Japan thing again.) I agree, Ryoma would have quit the club in no time.

Dunno about epic fic, but I'm hoping to continue the once piece I have as a series, once I get further into this analysis. :)

I'm at work so I can't read this now but my initial reaction to the post itself was "YAY!" so I just thought I'd share that, for starters. :D

Yay!

Hee! Be sure to come back and add your two cents when you can.

x3

I love your Icon "Half Blood -- OJISAMA" XDDDD

Heya! Also came over from the tezuryo communities, loved your analyses ("good data" :-), and thought I'd throw in a couple of cents worth.

I had a sudden vision of an AU where Sakuno is tragically crushed in the train doors and tragically dies and tragically doesn't appear in the rest of the series. I wish I didn't dislike her. Tragically.

At the beginning I'd totally agree with you. I've become a little fonder of her as the series has continued, but while I think she's a nice girl, I think she'd be a terrible partner for Ryoma. For one thing, he'd never notice her. Like, ever.

Regarding the tournament with Sasabe: I had a theory once about the tournaments that perhaps people in official clubs weren't permitted to compete. Like how in the episode where Ryoma plays table tennis and they talk about how the guy he's playing had to quit the table tennis club because he'd been invited to play in a big tournament in China. And I think in Hikaru no go there's some deal where once you become an insei and start training for the pros you can't be in school go clubs. So perhaps the same thing applies here.

Alternatively, maybe the previous "generation" just sucked really hard - after all, in the anime Sanada gets told by either his former captain or the current captain (the subtitles on my episode are a bit vague on that issue) that he's guaranteed a place in the Rikkai High School Regulars as soon as he gets there just based on what he can do NOW (and this is even BEFORE they start having competition matches). So perhaps they were all just really terrible. Certainly doesn't seem as if any of the current 3rd years had difficulty defeating their seniors (or other people's seniors).

One of the themes of the show, I think, is how Ryoma the cocky US kid is socialized into Ryoma the cocky Japanese kid. This really points up to me how much he's changed.

... That's PERFECT!!! It totally sums up the story!

And, once again quoting you:

I can't imagine that happening to Ryoma. He revels in his strength. He only hides it so he can reveal it later and humiliate his opponent. Tezuka hid his to try to keep things peaceful, to keep his senpais from losing face. I can't imagine Ryoma getting hurt the way Tezuka did. He just wouldn't have let himself be in that situation.

I once tried to write a fic which almost exactly stated the same opinion. I just cannot see Ryoma either a) being in that situation or b) letting his attackers get away with it. There would have been payback, and it would have been ugly.

That's kind of tied in with something alltrees said which is that Ryoma doesn't really want to fit in at first, and doesn't expect any support (due no doubt to the pathetic upbringing by his useless moron of a father, who I cannot abuse enough). But when he GETS some support, he starts letting down a lot of walls. I imagine that he's been picked on a LOT about his tennis skills before now, to the extent that I doubt he ever considers other tennis players as anything other than opponents. But the longer he stays with the Seigaku bunch, the more he opens up. Just a crack or two, but enough.

I wonder if that was a point Tezuka was trying to get across whenever he asserts his authority. Kind of a, "I AM your sempai and you ARE my kouhai and I WILL take care of you, whether you want me to or not!" Hmmm. Actually, I think that's what they're ALL trying to say to him. And he does get it, eventually. Kinda.

Later in the series I think Tezuka gets a bit TOO strong on the molding/guiding issue, but I'm willing to blame that on the anime writers (especially the people responsible for the American team arc. My hatred of the Tezuka/Ryoma interaction there meant that it took me weeks to force my way through it).

Okay, I think I've put far too many cents in now, but I'll be interested to see more of your comments on this issue.

I wonder if that was a point Tezuka was trying to get across whenever he asserts his authority. Kind of a, "I AM your sempai and you ARE my kouhai and I WILL take care of you, whether you want me to or not!"

Ooh, that's interesting. I'll ponder that as I watch.

Later in the series I think Tezuka gets a bit TOO strong on the molding/guiding issue, but I'm willing to blame that on the anime writers (especially the people responsible for the American team arc. My hatred of the Tezuka/Ryoma interaction there meant that it took me weeks to force my way through it).

I'm not fond of Senbatsu either, but I feel like I can't ignore it. There was a *lot* of Tezuka-Ryoma stuff there and I have to integrate it somehow. And there's stuff there I want to explore, contrasting Tezuka's attitudes towards Fuji and Ryoma. But that's for another post.

Thanks for all your comments!

First-year Tezuka doesn't have control over the situation he's in. Ryoma is always in control.

ahahahaha~! and i think that's what makes Ryoma so irresistibly cute ♥

I don't think Tezuka looked out that window and thought "mini-me!" But I do think there was something in Ryoma, his charisma perhaps, that pinged Tezuka, that made him consider Ryoma special even though he may not have wanted to.

i agree with this. and Tezuka said something to Ryuzaki-sensei to support this claim. i don't remember the exact words, but something along the lines of talented pros seem to have some sort of charisma (hence, teh Fans), to which Ryuzaki-sensei answered something like it's unusual of Tezuka to think that highly of someone or to give compliments in general. and Tezuka wouldn't say something like that if he didn't see that charisma right? :D

Tezuka is always watching Ryoma. I think that says a lot.

yeah. probably because he sees something in Ryoma that he has never seen from anyone else...

yeah. probably because he sees something in Ryoma that he has never seen from anyone else...

That's what I've been wondering about. I don't think it can be just talent, because a lot of them are very talented. Hmm.

Hi, I've recently gotten into the PoT fandom, and surfed my way here. I really like TezuRyo. You're approaching it in a way I never would, which I find very interesting (and kind of bewildering, though not enraging ^-^). Y'see, I love Nanjirou, but I'll get into that on your Nanjiroh episode recap maybe.

On Sasabe being weak, in the manga Ryuuzaki actually says that it's a tournament full of weak people, which would jibe with the type of person Sasabe (and dad) are: they'd rather be big fish in a small pond than small fish in a big pond. It doesn't mention why he'd be in the tournament, but there are any possible number of reasons, like it was the only one on at the time, for example.

On Ryoma's hostility towards Momo: actually, in the manga it's Momo who deliberately points Ryoma in the opposite direction of the tennis club, so Ryoma would be understandably hostile. So I think that, not only is it Ryoma going from cocky American kid to cocky Japanese kid, but it's the whole club going from sempai-kouhai into team. There's that lovely moment during the Inui-Yanagi match where Ryoma starts cheering for Inui. *hearts*

In fact, I think that could be what's going on with Tezuka. I think he has a hard time (read impossible) being selfish on his own behalf, because he sees it as a test of his own resolve/worth as a man, but on Ryoma's behalf, and on behalf of the club and going to nationals, I think he would break the (ineffectual) rule. After all, it probably is a good idea in general to exclude the 1st years from the ranking matches, since they generally suck. But after all, the chapters are labeled "Genius," and we're talking about special people, special circumstances, and the issue likely hadn't ever come up for Tezuka before (since you see Kaidoh and Momo training like mad in their first year).

Well, and there could be a less sinister reason for Ryoma going right-handed first. Y'know, bringing out the smaller guns until the big guns are needed. Like, in the ranking matches he uses his right hand first, wears that out, and then his left hand's all fresh as a daisy for stamina!Kaidoh. Though, no doubt he enjoys messing with his sempai.

and kind of bewildering, though not enraging

I'm not quite sure what to make of that. :) What do you find bewildering? (And I'm also intrigued that you qualify it as "not enraging" -- not something I generally think of in regard to episode analysis.)

And I do find your comments on the manga interesting, but I'm not analysing manga canon, only anime canon, so I can't integrate them with the overall discussion. (I'm not quite as familiar with the manga as the anime -- I think I've only read most of the translated and/or scanlated issues twice.)

On Ryoma's hostility towards Momo: actually, in the manga it's Momo who deliberately points Ryoma in the opposite direction of the tennis club, so Ryoma would be understandably hostile.

In the manga, Momo gives Ryoma bad directions and there is no glare. In the anime, Ryoma runs into Momo and glares at him. Momo is quite nice to Ryoma, considering. So there's really no parallel there -- two completely different incidents.

I think he has a hard time (read impossible) being selfish on his own behalf, because he sees it as a test of his own resolve/worth as a man, but on Ryoma's behalf, and on behalf of the club and going to nationals, I think he would break the (ineffectual) rule.

Yes, that could be. I think there are probably a lot of contributing factors to his decision.

Well, and there could be a less sinister reason for Ryoma going right-handed first.

I don't really consider a 12 year old kid's desire to humiliate his opponents as "sinister" (well, except in the play-on-words sense here); I think it's quite a natural impulse for him. That doesn't mean it can't be strategic too, of course.

FINALLY I am reading these, Hal. Finally. *clings*

It always seems to me that the laps are less for Arai's infraction and more for Tezuka's. Ryoma makes Tezuka break the rules.


You know, I agree with this--yes, Tezuka breaks the rules for Ryoma, but additionally, with the sense behind the first part: it sort of seems to me as I watch the series that Tezuka's uber-disciplined and addiction to self-sacrifice are some sort of mental penance. For what, I wonder?

I agree too about the differences in the way they reveal their talent, and why. Tezuka only even plays in the tournaments when he has too, to use a very basic example. He is the ultimate martyr for the greater cause, or at least he seems determined to be. What I think he's drawn to in Ryoma is what Ryoma counter-balances in him, which is what I think you're getting at here: Ryoma's determination is equal to his, but it's a far more self-centered determination. I think there's a part of Tezuka that can't help be drawn to that, because I think, frankly, he's fascinated by Ryoma at first sight.

Now I shall read comments. ♥

Who are you, again? *g*

it sort of seems to me as I watch the series that Tezuka's uber-disciplined and addiction to self-sacrifice are some sort of mental penance

That's an interesting thought. Like there's a tragic secret in his past? Or like his parents put so much pressure on him to succeed that he's consumed with responsibility all the time?

Tezuka only even plays in the tournaments when he has too, to use a very basic example.

I wonder if that would be different if he weren't buchou. He, along with Ryuzaki, has got to think of strategy as well as personal desires. It also seems usual from what we've seen for the best player on a team (usually the captain, but not always) to go in the singles 1 slot, so the matches are usually over by then.

There's a lot of stress on Tezuka. After seeing the ep where they visit him in Germany and he *laughs* (at which point I stopped the file for five minutes, I was so shocked) I started to wonder if he subconsiously aimed to injure himself in the Hyotei game so that he could be free of that stress.


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