Akutsu versus Ryoma finally ends, for which I am grateful because even after doing it a million times, my fingers still stumble over typing "Akutsu". Ryoma, Tezuka, Inui, and special guest Kirihara star in this installment of Prince of Tennis: Really A Boy's Sports Anime.
48. Decisive Moment
The usual opening sequence is replaced by Ryoma playing Akutsu. Because there's been hardly any chance to see them play as yet.
Okay, okay. It's actually pretty cool. It marks this match as very important.
Ooh, shot of Tezuka watching, impassive as always. Then he gives a little speech which I think is the same one as last time, about mental strength. "Akutsu's willpower and Ryoma's courage -- whichever is stronger will be able to control the match."
I guess that's the main thing Ryoma has to learn from Akutsu -- mental toughness and courage in the face of intimidation. And he has to learn that the Akutsu path is the wrong one for him.
Since it's match point, we get shots of just about everyone saying something encouraging about Ryoma. We must be about due for some more flashbacks too. Maybe to Akutsu's mother's history of bad relationships or Ryoma's last dental checkup or the Zapruder film or something.
Poor Dan -- he must feel like I felt when Obi-Wan killed Darth Maul. It's hard when you cheer for the villain.
Echizen will lose concentration at some point, Tezuka says, all strings will snap. When was the last time we heard Tezuka talk so much? Maybe we haven't.
Ryoma tries a Drive A on Akutsu -- or rather, gets him worked up to expect one and then tricks him with a drop shot. Not zero-shiki, though. Ryoma wins. People are too shocked to cheer for a bit and then Akutsu grabs Ryoma by the shirt.
Everyone exclaims, but nobody does anything. Not even the referee. Ryoma is unafraid and mouths off some more. Akutsu lets him go and laughs. It's like they've bonded somehow. It's scary that they seem to understand each other so well. Everybody cheers.
Ryuzaki and Banji flirt some more. Everyone gathers around Ryoma. Shiba inserts herself into the middle of the sweaty boys. (Like you wouldn't?)
Banji inserts himself into the middle of Akutsu's sweaty meeting with Dan. (I probably wouldn't do that.)
And finally people find out that Yuuki is Akutsu's mother and not Kawamura's girlfriend. It's a great relief to all. Inui makes plans to ask her out himself.
The awards ceremony is rather boring. But tragedy! Sakuno realises that Ryoma doesn't know she exists! Shiba explains that this is a woman's lot in life and Sakuno just has to keep stalking Ryoma until she can catch him in a bear trap or something. Sakuno takes this to heart.
Akutsu quits the club because he just does stuff like that. But he has a touching conversation with Dan and tells Dan that he should go with Ryoma after all. Don't you know I'm in love with you? Dan calls after Akutsu but Akutsu is off to knock over a convenience store. You'd think he'd belong to a gang, but he can't seem to get along with anyone else long enough to collect one.
Dan dries his tears. Tomorrow, he'll think of another way to get Akutsu back. After all, tomorrow is another day.
It's too bad we don't really see Tezuka's reaction after this match. Ryoma has passed the next barrier. Tezuka must be glad. We do see Ryoma at home playing with his dad, though, who is definitely happy.
49. Different Kind of Fight
An unknown sleeping boy rides the bus. Okay, we've all seen this episode before. We know it's Kirihara. He gets off at Seigaku, having missed the stop for the school where they're having a practice game. He is talking to a teacher or coach, but we never actually see one at any of their games or practices later on.
Ryoma is sleeping in English class, so the teacher makes him write the homework answers on the board. He does and adds a drawing of a cat. It's a pretty ugly cat but a very cute thing to do.
Everyone is practicing except Tezuka, who is -- guess what? -- standing around with his arms folded. I thought it was maybe another cardboard stand-up, but he actually talks to Katsuo. To ask where Ryoma is. Possibly because he is madly and obsessively in love with Ryoma and can't bear to have him out of his sight for one single moment. Or possibly because he thinks Ryoma might be cutting.
Kirihara shows up at the practice. Shiba is also there, taking pictures for her "special scrapbook". He mortally offends Shiba by calling her "obasan".
When Kirihara says he's from Rikkai, Oishi says, "He's from Sanada." Which is curious. Not Yukimura, Sanada. Not sure what to think about that.
It's Ryoma's day on class cleaning duty, which is why he is not at club. Not because he's being smothered by Tezuka's constant attention.
Of course, the girls think that he's marvellous and that Horio is a pain. Of course, Horio accidentally hits some upperclassmen with a broom and gets in super-trouble. Unwisely, he says that he'll do anything to make up for it.
Luckily for Horio, this isn't BL manga so all they're going to do is hit him in the face with a basketball. He's saved from even that when the teacher shows up.
Back at the court, Kirihara tries to make himself sound important by saying he's a spy. Everyone is ticked off. Kirihara fanboys Tezuka and begs for a match. But there's only room for one pillar in Tezuka's life and he tells Kirihara to take a short walk off a long pier. Kirihara tells Tezuka to smile once in a while.
Arai can't stand the slight to Tezuka's facial expression! He serves a ball at Kirihara. Of course, Kirihara catches it lightly on his racquet.
We don't have to go all the way, Kirihara says to Tezuka. I can't help myself. It's your own fault for being so pretty.
Then he serves the ball back at Arai, but hits Momo instead which causes a chain reaction, people bumping into people and knocking over carts and tripping over balls, which all culminates in making Kaidoh spill something all over his face and bandana.
This liquid is a sort of brown colour, like coffee. Could it be a special Inui Juice, brewed exclusively for Kaidoh's personal development?
The sky darkens with Kaidoh's anger and everyone trembles. You know, except Tezuka who is standing with his arms folded. I should make a macro to type that phrase for me.
Kirihara edges away. And oh my god, Tezuka has shiny glasses. It gives me a chill. There's an aerial shot of the carnage while he yells that everyone should do thirty laps. I'm surprised he doesn't make Kirihara run them too.
Ryoma and Horio are sweeping. The evil basketball guys target Horio some more. Ryoma seizes the chance to show off, having this bizarre "free throw" contest where he gets to use a tennis ball and his broom. Everyone comes to watch. they must all be really, really bored to think that this contest is interesting.
Tezuka and Ryuzaki talk about Kirihara and Rikkai and the Ranking Matches, which are starting tomorrow. Inui flips his notebook several times. He's drawn a little animation on the top corner of Kaidoh taking off his bandana.
Inui is wearing his braided bracelet thing now. We never do find out where he got it from. I assume it's a good luck item. I'd like to pretend he got it from Kaidoh, but it's too early for that.
Kirihara and Ryoma run into each other. Kirihara still has the tennis ball and he throws it at Ryoma who catches it with his racquet. It's foreshadowing...for something that never happens in the anime. Dammit.
50. Seigaku's Claim to Fame
Another round of Ranking Matches. It seems, from the conversation between Inoue and Shiba, that Seigaku is unusual in re-determining their Regulars like this. I wonder what methods the other schools use. (The Boy is always on about how terrible the Seigaku system is and how he would improve on it.)
Inui's glasses glow even when he's not wearing them. Perhaps he doesn't have real Shiny Glasses after all -- it's just a fraud, some mechanical device attached to them that activates the gleam and also the musical sting. We also get a good view of his be-sweatpanted ass and it's really not that attractive. Let that be a lesson to you: even hot young anime boys don't look good in sweat pants, so all the more reason we should never wear them out of the house.
Tezuka stops by to comment -- actually speak first, unasked -- on the fact that Inui is washing his face before a match. Unusually, Tezuka is the one who talks and Inui the one who leaves. Well, Inui does say something because it's Inui and he can't help but talk, especially to Tezuka, but it's much less than usual. I think with Loquacious Tezuka and Taciturn Inui, they get roughly the same amount of dialogue. Tezuka is totally feeling the "gonna get you" vibe from Inui. He doesn't seem displeased at all. They should totally get married.
Tezuka watches Inui walk away. My god, those sweatpants don't do a thing for your ass, he thinks.
Inside the clubhouse, all the Regulars (except Tezuka) are psyching themselves up for the matches. No one else is in there. Maybe the Regulars get a special time in there to change and everybody else has to be out of the way by then.
Momo watches Kaidoh walk away. Kaidoh's shorts work a lot better for ass-ogling than Inui's sweatpants, which is why he always wears them. Momo is happy.
The matches begin. For some reason, most of the kids wear their full sweatsuits while they play. Asses aside, wouldn't that be hot and uncomfortable?
Inui keeps taking data on Tezuka. Tezuka keeps winning without losing any points. Kaidoh is ticked off because he's not in Ryoma's block. (Oh, honey.)
My god, I wish we'd seen Inui vs Momo. But the utter silence is actually more effective. Tezuka is watching, pretty much everyone is watching. When the ichinen trio, who have been watching Ryoma's game, yell that they'll be late for Momo's game, Kaidoh ticks them off. (Or really just Horio.) It's just possible he's brooding over Momo.
But the best is when the trio try to make excuses for why Momo lost and Fuji, eyes wide open, says that maybe Momo was just defeated by Inui's awesome play.
Wow! everyone realises. Inui was taking our data this whole time! "How does it feel to be watched from behind?" Ryuzaki says to Tezuka. "At least my ass is hot in these shorts," Tezuka replies.
Inui and Tezuka face off. Inui is confident he'll win.
I think I'll leave most of my commentary on Inui for next time, but I am so very, very impressed with him. He doesn't have so much innate talent as some, not for tennis, so he makes up for it in every way he can think of. He doesn't give up. And I love to watch him play. He's so precise, so graceful. I would have loved to see him and Fuji play. Actually, I wonder what kind of doubles pair they would be.
Plus, they should make out.