Lovely Kaidoh today, with a bit of InuKai, edging into TezuRyo at the end.
16. Boomerang Snake
Oishi and Eiji demonstrate what a real doubles pair can accomplish. This is the first time we see Eiji's acrobatic play and it's rather entertaining.
Ryoma provokes Kaidoh, who is less than happy about it. He refrains from smacking Ryoma or even yelling at him the first time, but later on Ryoma does it again. Kaidoh snaps at him and Tezuka has to tell Kaidoh to settle down. Eventually -- in the series, not this episode -- Ryoma stops teasing him so much and sometime after that, even when he does, Kaidoh stops reacting to it.
This episode has my favourite ever Inui-Tezuka interaction. As they wait to see if the rain will let up, Inui leans over the back of the bench and yammers at Tezuka about the match, the opponents, the weather, the best way to prevent teenage acne, and the like. Tezuka closes his eyes. "Oh, the two captains are fighting quietly," Inui says. You can just tell Tezuka is thinking, Maybe if I pretend to be asleep, Inui will shut up and leave me alone.
Even though Inui's main goal is to defeat Tezuka, he's completely unintimidated by him, which seems unusual for Tezuka. Inui is only intimidated by what he doesn't know and Tezuka is his prime study subject. (If only I had that data! It might help me in my TezuRyo quest.)
Horio gives Kachiro and Katsuo a lecture about warming up and they tell Horio he's awesome. They seem to have missed the lecture about warming up that Kachiro's father gave them just a few episodes ago.
Ryoma is forever taking off to be alone and the ichinen trio plus Sakuno are forever following him. It's that great charisma again.
Kaidoh takes a swing at Kamio after Kamio provokes him. He's still quite violent here. He really lets his feelings control him. He's not very strong-minded, for all his determination.
Kamio's little "In the Rhythm" dance is, well, very weird. He's a hothead too, but since he provoked first, he's got the upper hand, mentally. He and Kaidoh seem a lot alike to me. No wonder they both fight with Momo.
When Kaidoh accidentally hits his around-the-pole shot, everyone thinks he's done it on purpose, which shows they expect good things of him. Tezuka even speaks up to compliment him on it and that happens so rarely, he must be seriously impressed.
And we see the naming of a new shot! Everyone, including Kaidoh himself, seems to love "Boomerang Snake". It is things like this that make me believe they are still in junior high school.
17. The Small Winning Pose
It's so hard for me to watch Kaidoh here. He keeps trying to hit the Boomerang Snake, even though he can't really do it. His pride and desperation are clouding his judgement. This is why doubles is good for him -- his opponent can help him to focus. Here, it's Ryuzaki's harsh criticism that brings him around. She always knows just what to do.
Nobody gets as dirty playing as Kaidoh does. He's always diving around into the dirt.
Tezuka again comments on Kaidoh's play and tenacity, though it's a more general description and not the glowing praise of earlier. Still and all, to get Tezuka to say anything is a great achievement.
Here we see the flashback where Inui gives Kaidoh the first training menu. Kaidoh doesn't question Inui there, just takes it. (Of course, this is during Inui's explanation to the team, so maybe it's from his perspective.) After the match, when Inui offers to help Kaidoh perfect the Boomerang Snake, Kaidoh is wary. He wonders why Inui would do this when it makes one of Inui's opponents in the ranking matches stronger.
Putting aside Inui's possible motive of putting the moves on Kaidoh (which I do think is a factor) and his stated motive of gathering more data, Inui has a greater sense of doing things for the good of the team as a whole, rather than his own individual gain. (Also, I think I need to do some reading on the whole senpai/kohai thing as I'm sure I'm missing stuff there.) Kaidoh is still rather focused on himself. Kind of like Ryoma.
And Kaidoh says he'll make Inui regret it. So, so darling and so, so wrong.
Kaidoh is so mistrustful. I wonder why. He seems to want to be self-reliant. But he learns more teamwork as the series progresses.
Ryuzaki-sensei and Tezuka look like they're watching the IK conversation. Tezuka is thinking, Thank god Inui has found someone else to harass.
18. Love Letter
Young Nanjiroh is quite a cut-up. Again, he reminds me most of Momo, though Momo is more respectful than Nanjiroh is. Of course, Momo never got a black eye from Ryuzaki-sensei either.
When Ryuzaki-sensei talks about Nanjiroh, it starts the wheels turning in Tezuka's head. He has clearly been thinking about Ryoma and his tennis. He's realised that Ryoma's tennis is just a copy of Nanjiroh's tennis, something he'll have to overcome. Ryuzaki notes that it's rare for Tezuka to say something like that.
Tezuka is interested in Ryoma's skills and his development and it sounds like that's a unusual thing. The episode ends with shots of Ryoma playing intercut with shots of Teuzka watching, then a great screen of young Nanjiroh and Ryoma, both in motion, and Tezuka, arms folded, behind Ryoma.
Nanjiroh says that playing tennis is like picking a fight. And I can see that in Ryoma too. Tennis is personal. Look at later, how Ryoma wants to play Sanada, even though it's not in an official match, because he can't wait. He's not invested in defeating Rikkai so much as he is in defeating Sanada. It's the same with Kevin.
Tezuka, though, prioritizes the team and the school. More about this when we get to Hyotei, but in a way, he seems almost passionless as he plays. He's so focused, he's determined to win. And the main obstacle he has to overcome is not Atobe or Sanada or Yukimura or Ryoma or Fuji -- it's himself.
I think he wants to help Ryoma start that internal fight as well, to see the things in himself he need to break down and move beyond.
But I'm still wondering why. I hope I'll understand it better as we go.