No TezuRyo to speak of today, but some InuKai. And Fudomine.
13. Men Play Doubles!
Momo and Ryoma are scrapping on the court, which seems unusual for them now. But I guess this is how they bonded. Ryuzaki-sensei asks Tezuka if she made a mistake putting them in doubles and he says yes.
The Momo and Ryoma pair aren't just bad, they're terrible. They don't even really know how to play doubles. And so they don't. They draw a line down the centre of the court and each take one half. At this point there's a close-up of Tezuka but I have no idea what he's thinking. Maybe about Ryoma's ingenuity? Or his inexperience? Or that this is really, really, really embarrassing for Seigaku?
Inui takes five minutes to explain what anyone can see by looking: Momo and Ryoma are playing singles on half the court each. Inui likes the sound of his own voice. Fortunately, so do I.
Even though Momo and Ryoma win, they are severely ticked off and punished by Ryuzaki. She really needs to get the club to spend more time on doubles. Though I can see that being difficult with a bunch of boys that age. Momo and Ryoma never want to play doubles again.
Momo eventually becomes quite an accomplished doubles player but we never see Ryoma play doubles in an official match again. He and Tezuka are the only ones who only play singles.
(Oh, and Seigaku win the rest of the matches against Gyokurin. In case you were wondering.)
Tezuka and Fuji walk around and meet up with good old Kuki Kiichi. I'm glad he doesn't show up again because I think there are only so many times I could hear Kakinoki Chu no Kuki Kiichi without giggling. In English, that many k and ch sounds in a row are just funny.
Is that Takemoto Eiji, Yanagi's VA, voicing Kuki? I couldn't find out for sure, but it sure sounded like it to me. And someone calls him the shushou -- team captain. I don't recall hearing that word again in tenipuri or having heard it in any of the other sports anime I watch. (In team sports, they usually use captain and in individual sports (and non-sports clubs), buchou. In the anime I watch, I mean.) Of course, I could just have never noticed it before now and now I'll hear it all the time.
So, Kakinoki are so good because they practice against the Kakinoki high school club. Which makes me wonder why we never see the Seigaku High tennis club. The Seigaku Jr High Boy's tennis club seems to exist in glorious isolation, no girls, no high school, just them, with the universe whirling around them. (Or at least around Tezuka.) Unless their campus isn't right there. But still.
Anyhow, Kuki grabs Tezuka's arm to see if he's still injured. Just how many people know about this injury? Later on, almost everyone seems shocked, but if Kuki knows, wouldn't everyone know? (Unless this is related to Tezuka and Kuki's brief but bitter affair and Kuki is too brokenhearted to talk about it.)
14. The Swallow Return
...to Capistrano. *rimshot*
Great "giant" perspective shot of Tezuka and Tachibana. You can almost see right up their noses. The ichinen trio nearly faint when they shake hands, like some sort of gang fight was narrowly avoided.
Ryoma never misses a chance to antagonize someone. Shinji is bouncing a tennis ball on the edge of his racquet as he walks, so Ryoma has to bounce a tennis ball on the edge of his racquet as he drinks a can of Ponta. (It makes me think of a ventriloquism act.) No one else seems so deliberately provocative.
So the first time we actually see Fuji play, it's in doubles. (We didn't see any of his previous singles match.)
Tachibana's strategy of leaving during the match is interesting. He's putting more pressure on his team to perform well and he's insulting Seigaku by implying the match isn't important enough to watch. I've never seen Tezuka use that kind of mind game. But he and Tachibana both have very high expectations of their club members and their clubs revolve around them.
I would really love to see what happens to Fudomine next year, without Tachibana. We have seen Tezuka (in future episodes) preparing for his absence. We don't know what Tachibana has been doing. As well, Tachibana is their coach. There will be a big hole in the team when he leaves. But since all of the other members are back, they will be strong compared to the other schools, if someone can keep them together.
Frankly, I think the one to do that will be An. She will be their manager and they will all do as they are told. Prince of Tennis Year 2: Tachibana An's Boy Toys. We discuss it often.
The Fudomine Story -- the first years are pure of heart, the seniors are violent and lazy scumbags. Somehow, the first-years acting as ball-boys until the end of summer is just fine at Seigaku but at Fudomine acting as ball-boys until next spring is bad. It does seem, though, that both here and in Tezuka's inclusion of Ryoma in the ranking matches, there's a message that merit should trump tradition. (We see that later, too, with Hyotei.)
Tachibana's violent nature comes out -- the first time we see it. (I can't recall right now how much that's actually dealt with in the anime.) He seems so controlled else, it's hard to picture him losing it.
There are cats everywhere in the flashback. Cats and cats and cats. Why, oh why?
I wonder if the school is breathing down their neck, looking for a reason to disband the tennis club again. They must have to be careful what they do.
And the first appearance of Fuji's Tsubame Gaeshi, which would be more impressive if we hadn't seen Ryoma do that "stop-dead" shot against Sasabe. But everyone's forgotten that, right? Fuji opens his eyes to hit this one and gets his dangerous and stylish wind effect.
15. Their Respective Fights
I didn't notice until this time through that Kiyasu Kohei (Kaidoh's VA) is voicing Uchimura, the little capped kid in Fudomine. (It's very close to his Aikawa voice.) And Kondou Takayuki (Oishi's VA) as Mori.
The flashbacks are unrelenting. It's like the "Johnny Storm shaving Namor" scene in FF.
Ishida's Flat Shot, more usually called the Hadoukyuu, makes its first appearance. Was ever a technique more copied and improved upon? I feel kind of badly for him -- his claim to fame is soon overshadowed.
Fuji and Kawamura are very cute here -- all "Taka-san" and "Fujiko-chan" and "you took that shot for me". This really seems like the only time they're close though.
Kawamura doesn't get to continue playing injured, even though he wants to. I think this must be the only time this happens to anyone in Seigaku.
Ryoma can't stand to see Shinji and Kamio showing off so he has to do them one better. Of course.
Some nice InuKai interaction. Inui tells Kaidoh to go warm up and Kaidoh seems ticked off to be ordered around, though of course he goes off to do so. Maybe he's just ticked off to be ordered by Inui? I wonder how much that has to do with the fact that Kaidoh beat Inui. Certainly later on, Kaidoh's respect for Inui seems to have a lot to do with Inui's match with Tezuka.
Then Inui tells Kaidoh to look around for Ryoma and says it's Kaidoh's responsiblilty as a senpai, which seems to be something Kaidoh never thought of before. "Me?" he says.
Kaidoh seems happy to make the first years jump when he yells at them, but not to take any sort of mentoring role with them, even later after Inui does so much for him. I wonder if it's just that he doesn't like people much. Kaidoh does loosen up a bit more towards Ryoma later on. And when Kamio and Shinji make remarks about Ryoma here, Kaidoh gets ticked off.
In fact, Kaidoh is all set to mix it up with them when An goes all narc on their asses. She chats up Kaidoh, but he is completely unsusceptible to her female charms. He just seems puzzled that she's talking to him and Ryoma when they don't know her.