Not much Tezuka today. Actually, no Tezuka at all.
Nota bene: I am well aware I am being dreadfully inconsistant in my Romanization of おう. I hope it doesn't want to make you buy a shotgun.
10. Counter Attack! Sasabe Once Again
I hate this episode for the most part. But I will still analyze it.
So, Kachiro's dad is a tennis coach at a club. It would have been interesting to see Kachiro's dad more than just this episode, so we'd have a normal tennis-playing father to contrast Nanjiroh to.
About all we know about Katou-san is that he was injured and so couldn't go pro and that he's a nice man. Obviously, he hasn't driven Kachiro to play tennis all his life, or Kachiro would be better at it. And he has a scary thin moustache.
In classic anime style, the girls come along to watch and cheer and provide lunch, not to play. Bah. (The thing I liked best about Dear Boys was that there was a girls basketball team that kicked fucking ass.)
Why does Ryoma even come along? Playing against these kids doesn't seem to constitute practice for him. I guess our boy has social needs after all. And since he's combining socializing with tennis, he doesn't have to admit he wants company for company's sake. Also, it gets him out of the house, which we see later is an annoying place to be.
And it's the return of jerk Sasabe from episode one and the introduction of his jerk father. Sasabe Sr pushes Katou around, Ryoma takes revenge by playing Sasabe Sr. He's pretty rude to both Sasabes as well. It seems like the perfect Sunday outing for Ryoma: he gets to humiliate someone who clearly deserves it and gain even more worship from his fanboys.
Sakuno is crushed in this episode, but only metaphorically, when she thinks Ryoma doesn't like the bento she made him.
The reason I ever watch this episode at all is for the Nanjiroh-Momoshiro encounter. Frankly, they are a lot alike, Ryoma's father and Ryoma's best friend. (Though Momo and Ryoma aren't good friends yet.) They're both loud and goofy and showy and obsessed with manly pride. They both have the kind of charisma that lets you excuse their bad behaviour (up to a point). Momo isn't a jerk like Nanjiroh, but I could see him turning out that way, depending on who influenced him.
The way they argue with each other and spew testosterone and then the freaking Shatner shots! Why the hell do they bare their chests at each other? It's disturbing. But I love it.
Hmm, there are three sets of fathers and sons here, one nice set and two obnoxious sets. *g*
11. Ryoma vs Momoshiro
Tomoka says there's been a flood of girls joining Ryoma's fanclub, but we never see them. (Maybe it's too hard to draw little girls.) I guess Tomoka and Sakuno are symbolic of the larger fanclub.
This is where the Momo-Ryoma friendship begins, with a chance meeting in a fast-food restaurant, where they try to one-up each other with how much they can eat. Kids! It was really cute. (Oddly, Momo starts out by ordering only one burger. It seems like his insatiable appetite was not a part of his characterization yet.)
It's also the introduction of Tachibana An, though we don't find out her name until much later.
Not satisfied with their eating competition, Momo and Ryoma decide to play tennis, to see which of them should have singles 3 (not that they get any say in it). But at street tennis, they have to play doubles.
I like how their blossoming friendship begins with doubles. Even though doubles will never be Ryoma's game, it begins the theme of equating doubles and friendship, or closeness.
I'm never quite sure why they end up thinking that "real men play doubles". Well, I suppose it's just their manly humiliation over being beaten. As we see in the next few episodes, they're not really willing to actually play real doubles.
It's also interesting that a loss in doubles doesn't really count as a "loss" personally for most of the players. For example, as time goes on, we see Fuji lose doubles games now and again and it doesn't seem like a big deal. But lose at singles? Tragedy!
12. The Two Ah-Un Boys
We get a few glimpses of the Seigaku boys here: Kikumaru cooking breakfast for his family, Kawamura helping his dad with fish, Momo riding his bike and singing a song about "Momo-chan", Fuji getting a ride from his sister.
Kaidoh is practicing by knocking cans off a wall. There's a close-up of the final fallen can: grape Ponta. I love that -- who knew there was symbolism in tenipuri? Kaidoh's focus shifts off of Ryoma eventually, but this is fun while it lasts.
When they got to the actual tournament, I felt like I was watching Slam Dunk again, since all the random character voices seemed to be done by Onosaka Masaya (Momo's VA).
We see that the Golden Pair are, like, so married and that Momo and Ryoma are, like, so not, since Ryoma is sitting on the towel Momo wants. We'll note symbolic towels as we go along.
Momo and Ryoma have to make their own compromises to make doubles work for them, figuring out the Ah! Un! shout because both them want to hit the ball. Like that's all that the game is about. It's kind of cute.