Some very significant TezuRyo interaction this time around. I feel like I'm understanding them a lot better. Thanks so much to everyone who has commented on these posts so far. Your discussion is valuable to me.
19. Ryoma is Injured
In the last episode, Tachibana said something about Shinji's tennis sense rivalling Fuji's, but I think that's just wishful thinking. Though he does get the wind effect.
When Tachibana sees that Shinji is using Spot, he's shocked. I guess it's a bit of an underhanded technique. He is also surprised that Shinji has to resort to it, but the initial reaction seems a little horrified to me.
Ryoma tries to figure out what's going on, Teuzka watches him with no expression at all on his face. Until Ryoma spins to try to hit the ball without moving his arm. Then we get a mental "Echizen!" in admiration of the idea and then a gasp, as Tezuka realises what's about to happen.
Poor Sakuno here. All she wants to do is help this obviously injured kid. I mean, for all they know, his eye has been put out. So she runs on the court. Nobody else is trying to help. It's crazy! And then Ryuzaki-sensei tells her off for it too! At least she has her moment of yelling at the ichinen trio.
I also think it's insane that he's allowed to keep playing, but I realise this is not reality.
Anyhow, otherwise we'd miss the lovely scene where Tezuka takes the racquet from Momo and hands it to Ryoma. I think this is their first significant direct interaction and it does not disappoint. Tezuka is serious and tall, Ryoma is smiling, but not cheeky. There is eye contact.
The ten minute limit is partly for Ryoma's well-being, but it's also a test, to see how well he'll do under pressure. Tezuka makes a good impression on Ryoma by trusting him to win in such a short time, but also showing that he cares about Ryoma's injury.
Aw, and Kaidoh tosses Ryoma his cap! And Ryoma can catch it even without any depth perception!
What the hell is up with Fuji calling Ryuzaki "Sumire-chan"? It doesn't seem like him, somehow. Eiji, yes. Fuji, no.
I must say, though, it sucks we don't get to see Tachibana and Tezuka play. Hopefully, we'll get that in the manga yet at least.
20. Time Limit
Oishi wants to take Ryoma out early, but Tezuka tells him not to worry. Tezuka is watching Ryoma intently here.
Ryoma starts using Nitouryuu and Tezuka's mouth opens in shock. (Along with everyone else's.) I wonder why we don't see Tezuka use that technique, especially given his situation.
It's getting close to the time limit and Tezuka thinks that Ryoma is getting weaker. He stands up, probably ready to stop the game. He said ten minutes and ten minutes it is. But Ryoma uses his Time Turner to regain the time lost to exposition and Horio's freak-outs and wins the game with 1 and 11/100ths seconds to spare.
Good job, Echizen, Tezuka thinks but does not say aloud. However, he nods with a not entirely unpleasant look on his face, so that's good enough for Ryoma.
I think this game is the turning point, where Tezuka decides Ryoma is someone worth developing. Ryoma obviously impresses him beyond what he was expecting.
And maybe this is the "why" I'm looking for. Ryoma has something more and Tezuka is drawn to that. He can't let that spark go untended. Partly for Seigaku, but mostly for its own sake. It would be wrong to let Ryoma's talent lie dormant, just because.
I'm glad I decided to do this. It's definitely helping.
Some great Tezuka-Tachibana tension after the match. Clearly, they respect each other. Like, a lot. And shoot buchou beams out of their eyes at each other.
I'm not sure why Ryoma tries to get out of going to the sushi party. I guess he's still not comfortable around the group.
Inui is positively snuggled up to Tezuka at the bar. And it's hilarious when Kawamura Sr mistakes Tezuka for a teacher because it acknowleges that he looks far, far older than he should.
ETA: Tezuka seems detached from the rest of the team, even at the party. No wonder he's mistaken for a teacher. He's not joining in with their talk and he leaves with Ryuzaki-sensei while everyone else is still having fun. I can't totally figure out his expression there, but it almost seems indulgent. Daddy watching the kids having fun. [ end edit ]
Kaidoh seems unconcerned that Eiji is ticking him off for taking the type of sushi Kaidoh "knows" Eiji likes. Kaidoh seems to hardly know Eiji exists at this moment, let alone be aware of his sushi preferences. Maybe I'm obsessing too much about details now. And Fuji totally tricks Eiji into eating the wasabi sushi. No doubt about it.
When Nanjiroh hears that Ryoma is injured, he just laughs at the writing on Ryoma's eyepatch. I wonder, though, if Ryuzaki called him ahead of time. Nanjiroh is a little hard to figure out, but we know he cares about his son.
21. Is the Tennis Court Heating Up?
Not my favourite episode. Not at all. But at least there is no bear.
Fuji sprays spies (and their camera) with water. He seems to enjoy it. He's certainly got a subtle trickster vibe.
So, Ryoma is a library rep. What does that say about him? That he likes books? That he prefers a job where he works alone in a quiet place? Probably the latter.
Oh, Sengoku, you are so darling. And straight, apparantly, something of a rarity on this show.
My god, the girls are practising tennis!!! I suppose they do this once or twice every year.
Okay, Ryoma knocking out Sengoku was so very, very uncalled for. And he just leaves him there lying on the ground! Why does he think that's okay? Sengoku just teased him a little, that's all. I realise that this is a filler episode so the tone is different from match episodes. And I also realise that we have learned from Buffy the Vampire Slayer that head injuries never, ever cause problems afterwards. But still!
Tezuka sits in the club room, squeezing a tennis ball and looking thoughtful. He's either thinking about his injury or dreaming of Ryoma. Well, probably both.
When the stupid kids who are following Ryoma and Momo lose the "spin" for serve, they do this thing where they're putting dirt into or out of bags with trowels. I assume that it's an effect, it's not really happening. And I can work out from context that it's something to do with defeat. But does anyone know in more detail? Or does it have something to do with court maintenance after the game and so it signifies that the game is over?
Tezuka is practicing late. It seems like he doesn't practice much in front of other people. And Ryoma is on his mind.