Note: There may be mild spoilers for future episodes in these write-ups. Previous: memories or tagged.
Tezuka, Ryoma, Fuji, and the Match in the Rain. Among other things.
39. Higuma Otoshi!
Second verse, same as the first. More running and Penal-Tea. Excuse me, improved Penal-Tea. It's upgraded somehow.
Katsuo manages to keep up longer than the other ichinen; he's in a bunch with Arai and the other second-years. Of course, they still have to drink...
While they are running, Eiji teases Kawamura about being in love. And Fuji asks straight out if that was Kawamura's girlfriend. Oh, Kaidoh gets so blushy when Eiji says everyone has their time to admire older women. But Tezuka doesn't like all this idle love talk while they're running. "Quit insulting Kawamura by suggesting that he's straight," he says. Or maybe it was, "Shut up and run."
Today we have Fuji's infamous remark, that even though he would like to drink the juice (and has apparently already tried it), he likes seeing people suffer even more.
And now, what we've all been waiting for, Fuji vs Ryoma. You know, in the manga, Tezuka is the chair ref for this match.
Everyone is for Fuji winning, except Momo, who is supporting Ryoma. Both Fuji and Ryoma look really into it and happy to be playing each other. It's a great match. I love to watch Fuji play.
Tezuka seems pretty invested in seeing who wins, in "who'll break out first," he says. Fuji and Ryoma both have a lot of techniques and they are both very adaptable. Fuji thinks things through more -- I think Ryoma plays a lot more by his gut.
I wonder if Tezuka has been comparing them before this. I hadn't really thought of it until now. Tezuka is concerned not just with Ryoma's ability, but with his attitude too. And that's a bit of an issue with Fuji as well, as we find out later.
Oh dear, Ryoma doesn't know he shouldn't smash.
The Higuma Otoshi pose is either very cool or very dorky. Since it's Fuji, we'll say it's cool.
Tezuka has an internal monologue about Fuji's Higuma Otoshi. Inui has an external monologue about Fuji's Higuma Otoshi. This is why they should get married.
Ryoma seems to be getting a little ticked off. But he keeps smashing, to try to break the Higuma Otoshi. He's so stubborn. It's very, very endearing. He can't just let it go. And he's having fun trying to break it. Fuji has fun taunting him with lobs. And the next Higuma Otoshi takes Ryoma's cap off, just to show how serious the situation is.
Fuji doesn't anticipate losing. I imagine Ryoma doesn't either.
I wish we had a lot more internal monologues from Tezuka here. What is he thinking about Ryoma? And about Fuji? Is he hoping this match will do something for both of them?
40. A Duel in the Rain
Fuji keeps taunting Ryoma with lobs. Ryoma keeps responding with smashes. Fuji keeps countering with Higuma Otoshi. I think Tezuka wants to see if Ryoma can break it. He's watching very intently.
Ryoma is obviously trying something -- he actually missed a smash. He tries again and this time Higuma Otoshi goes out. Fuji tries to figure out if it's a fluke, but the next one goes out too. Ryoma has worked out that letting the ball hit the top of the net will throw Fuji off.
Fuji tells Ryoma he's impressive and calls him "Echizen-kun". He doesn't -- or at least doesn't usually -- use the honorific. I'm not sure what the significance of him adding it here is, though. Is it affectionate? A way of reminding Ryoma that Fuji is above him? Both at the same time? Something else entirely?
And now Momoshiro gets to play against Tezuka. Wow, we get a good shot of Tezuka disrobing! Well, taking his jacket off. From behind -- it's very sexy.
So, all told, Momo plays Tezuka twice in the anime. I forget if they also play this game in the manga -- if so, they play three times in the manga, but I don't think we really get to see much, if any of it.
Momo is really pumped up about playing Tezuka. And Oishi and Eiji get to play against each other too, which they seem happy about. That leaves Kaidoh and Kawamura.
Tezuka seems impressed by Momoshiro's prowess! Momo even gets a Dunk Smash off against Tezuka. Oh and he hits a jackknife!
Okay, this is how it is. I don't find Momoshiro that attractive. Except when he's hitting the jackknife. Everybody looks hot hitting that shot. God, when Atobe hits it!!! And Inui!!! Hmm, I don't think that's even enough exclamation points. !!!!!
Kaidoh and Kawamura are locked in a power battle. Kaidoh is kind of pouty when his Boomerang Snake is out. So cute.
Oishi looks concerned that Tezuka may have strained his arm in the game with Momo, which finished up lickety-split. Tezuka says to Momo that Momo has been too concerned about his sprain and that trying to guard an injury won't let you play your best. Which has relevance to both of them, obviously. We don't really know how far Tezuka had to go in this match, though Momo seems a bit shocked. Would Tezuka have gone as far for Momo as he already has for Ryoma?
It begins to rain. Practice is over. Only Fuji and Ryoma won't stop playing. They are having the time of their lives. Tezuka watches them. Whatever he puts into his hair keeps it artfully tousled even in the pouring rain.
I'm surprised Fuji and Ryoma can even see! They would probably keep playing all day and night if it were up to them.
Ryuzaki gets great lightning and thunder effects as she yells at them. How I adore her. And they are thwarted. Ryoma is sulky because Fuji is ahead and he was about to make a comeback.
Fuji stands in the clubhouse afterwards, thinking about the thrill of playing Ryoma. He gets a good lightning and thunder effect too. He asks Tezuka if it was like this when he played Ryoma. Tezuka asks if Fuji knew. Sort of, Fuji says.
In the anime it's more than a hundred episodes before they flash back and finish this conversation. So we will not speak more of it now.
But I don't think Tezuka answers Fuji's question. I wish I knew. Did he feel the thrill when he played Ryoma or just the responsibility?
Once the rain clears, Ryoma and Momo walk home together. Ryoma shows a spark of, hmm, belonging, maybe? when he says that Seigaku is an interesting team. "We have two monsters on our team." "Don't you mean three?" Momo replies.
Oh god. We can't get out of this without some crack. (Not that I'm complaining, mind you.) Flash to St Rudolph's where Yuuta is working out. He gets a call from his aniki, who tells him about the match with Ryoma. Mizuki appears in a shirt that only those who have seen will believe. Royal purple with huge pink roses. Just...there are no words.
He takes the phone from Yuuta and gets hung up on by Fuji.
And then there's a scene that only those who have seen will believe. Mizuki advances -- and I choose that word carefully -- on Yuuta who begins to shake visibly as Mizuki's shadow covers him. "Well, Yuuta-kun, shall we begin our training?" "I already finished mine for today," the hapless Yuuta replies. and the scene switches to an outside shot, the kind you get when you just can't show what's happening inside. "You want to beat Fuji Syusuke, don't you? Don't worry, I'll keep you company all night." "Hey...Mizuki-san..." Mizuki laughs in that evil way he has and we fade to credits.
I mean, fanfic is never that gay. InuKai smexing? Golden Pair getting married? Tezuka making Ryoma wear a dress? Not as gay as this scene.
And if Fuji knew about it, he would kill Mizuki in his sleep.
And the semi-finals begin.
Fudomine is still waiting for some of their players, for their match against Yamabuki. A cat jumps out in front of their taxi. The implication is that it's engineered by Akutsu, but how could it be? He would have to know they were arriving by taxi, and somehow get the cat to jump out of the box at the exact moment. How can he be there to orchestrate the accident and still make it to the tournament on time? Though he does seem to be there.
And at the exact same time, he's at the tournament, flirting with Dan Taichi. Dadadadan! You know, I was thinking about doing a post on "why does this sports anime have no girl team managers when all the rest do?" but Dan is really the next best thing.
Dan is the only one who isn't afraid of Akutsu. Is he stupid? But it seems to work. It's like Akutsu's power only works if you know the rules of the game. And Dan just ignores the rules. Plus he has those bigbig eyes.
Ryuzaki totally knows that Nanjiroh will flip when he hears about Banji. She likes to mess with people almost as much as Inui does.
And Banji's smile is rather like Fuji's, don't you think?
Fudomine loses, due to taxi injuries. There's almost a rumble between Akutsu and Fudomine. Too bad they don't go at it. Seigaku shows up, looking most imposing. Ryoma is standing in the front, next to Tezuka. The music swells. Hey la, hey la, my boyfriend's back.
Aw, Tachibana telling Tezuka he's sorry but they're out of the tournament. Fudomine always seems like Seigaku's "best friend" school. They should socialize more. You know, like have mixers and sleepovers and parties. And soccer games and hockey games and crokinole.
I think Kaidoh and Momo want to go at it with Akutsu too. And when I say "go at it with", I mean "beat the shit out of".
I love the convo between Ryuzaki and Banji. They totally are Inui and Fuji. And Nanjiroh, sneaking around in the bushes, is like Momo. Sort of. If Momo were less mature.
God, Ginka! Time for phase two of their comeuppance. Their commentary as they hide in the bushes and watch Seigaku pass is lovely. About Momo: "He used a Super Dunk Smash to kill somebody!"
Ginka suck. They should at least play it out, the cowards. How did they make it so far, if they're such babies?
Then Yamabuki begins. We don't even get to watch Taka and Fuji lose D2.