Note: There may be mild spoilers for future episodes in these write-ups. Previous: memories or tagged.
InuKai and Hyotei. Who could ask for anything more? (There's a small image behind the cut.)
54. Kaoru's Special Training
Even just reading the episode title makes me sigh. Did I ever mention that Kaidoh is my favourite character?
Tezuka and Oishi go to the drawings for the Kantou tournament. Yamabuki show up, then Fudomine. Minami is pissed because nobody can remember who he is. Everybody looks really ugly because the drawing is very poor.
Back at Rikkai, Sanada is playing against high school students who were on the Rikkai Jr High team last year. He's crushing them, of course. And he disses Seigaku by saying Hyotei is better.
Shiba is ticked off to see Kirihara. He's the only underage boy she doesn't like.
Seigaku and Rikkai are both seeded, so they don't actually draw. But Seigaku are there anyhow and Rikkai are not. Is this a further diss from Rikkai? It doesn't matter who they play?
Seigaku power up their training. But the real drama is at Hyotei, where Shishido has just beaten down Taki, probably because his hair is longer.
Shishido begs Sakaki to reinstate him on the team. Ohtori backs him up, telling Sakaki about all the tender moments he shared with Shishido, while they were "training partners". But Sakaki isn't Banji and those sorts of sordid details don't work on him.
To show his dedication, Shishido cuts off his hair, which over the course of the series, we see flashed back to about 4398 times. It's like Johnny Storm shaving Namor. "I'll drop out and join the hairdressing and grooming club," he says. For some reason, Atobe backs up Shishido. My god, he's so ugly here! And Shishido! Look!
Sakaki can't stand to be around such ugly kids anymore, so he tells them to sort it out themselves and then heads off to the host club he owns. Everyone there is exquisitely drawn.
Momo is now taking data on other players, like Inui does. He figures this will increase his odds of getting off with Kaidoh in the storage closet.
Unluckily for Momo, Inui is moving in on Kaidoh right now. Kaidoh, stripped to the waist, is training in his favourite riverside spot. (I think this is the same place that Shou comes to practice soccer, but they've arranged to use it on alternate days, so we never see them together.)
Inui has been watching for about an hour, taking pictures, taking video, taking a few moments to himself. Not to mention he's got himself a brand new ugly tracksuit, just for the purpose of wooing Kaidoh! I would say it's 1.75 times as ugly as the green sweatpants. The new one is also green, but a mint green with a blue-green stripe. It looks like something Arnold Palmer would wear in the Sears catalogue.
Anyhow, Kaidoh doesn't notice the tracksuit. What Kaidoh notices is that Inui is very impressive because he fought evenly with Tezuka in the ranking matches. This, folks, is where it begins. Inui may have been softening Kaidoh up before now, with training menus and such. But he needed to win Kaidoh's respect, especially after losing to him at the beginning of the year. And now he has it.
So, of course, he gives Kaidoh a towel. (The obligatory HHGttG joke is left as an exercise for the reader.) Kaidoh takes it, because what else is he going to do? He doesn't realise that by the strange customs of this land, they are now engaged.
Inui wades out into the river and calls Kaidoh to come in with him.
Christ, half-naked Kaidoh in the river and the episode is drawn by a kindergarten class who are on a field trip to the animation studio. This is like getting a surprise gift of expensive chocolates and finding out they're all coconut inside.
Inui's glasses are glowing like they have never glowed before. (I think maybe they measure more than just evil.) He tells Kaidoh this is all in aid of the Boomerang Snake and Kaidoh actually believes it.
The next day, Ryuzaki offers to teach the Golden Pair a new formation. They way they react, you'd think it was Banji making the suggestion.
Momo now has glasses like Inui's. "This will increase my chances of fooling Kaidoh into making out with me by 37%," he says. But Inui catches him. We don't see what happens, but we never see the glasses on Momo again.
Fuji borrows a Japanese-English dictionary from Tezuka. Some fans would have you believe that this indicates some sort of sordid sexual relationship between them. Those fans would be wrong. Anyhow, Tezuka is only Fuji's third choice for dictionary borrowing, after Oishi and Kawamura. So clearly, it means nothing. Nothing!
Fuji flips through all the pages, probably looking for any pictures of Ryoma that Tezuka has stashed there. He stops on a page with the words "private detective" and "process cheese". Somehow, this is probably related to his conversation about Yuuta. Fuji wants revenge on Jiroh for beating darling Yuuta and so asks to play him in the match with Hyotei.
"Please don't make me listen to any more of your perverted fantasies about your brother," Tezuka says. "I can't help remembering them when I'm with Ryoma and then I can't perform to his satisfaction."
Fuji warns Tezuka that if his elbow isn't properly healed, he'll lose against Atobe. Tezuka doesn't say a word, just walks away.
Later on, Ryoma and Nanjiroh play tennis. Kawamura does push-ups. Momoshiro makes special cheering headbands for the tournament. Ryuzaki has an inner monologue about how affinity is the most important part of doubles.
Which segues to the river. Kaidoh is swinging the towel, as he has been for the past week, Inui is watching him. "Will you team up with me for doubles?" Inui says. Kaidoh knows very well that if he accepts, they're engaged. And the episode ends.
54. Hyotei Presses Near
It's the first day of the tournament. Momo has a huge flag, with which to lead the ichinen cheering army. It's a really big flag on a really big flagpole. Not as large as, say, Ichigo's sword, but still pretty frickin' big.
Oishi is late because he's helping a pregnant woman who is about to give birth. No, really. And since it's Oishi, I can't even make jokes about who the father is. Darn.
You know, we have to go through this "someone is late" thing far too often. Isn't there some other way to create false suspense? Like maybe having a mecha battle? Or perhaps an inquiry over whether or not Inui's Juice is an illegal performance-enhancing substance?
Anyhow, Momo goes to the hospital to take Oishi's place, but it turns out that Oishi's wrist is hurt so Momo gets to play anyhow. It's a reward because his heart is pure.
Ryuzaki announces the line-up and tells them that if they lose here, the third-years will have to retire from the club. I've been wondering if it's optional for them, but that's pretty definitive.
The ichinen are shocked because Ryoma isn't playing in the Hyotei match. Ryoma is pretty pissed off about it, too. "We can't let you play doubles," Tezuka tells him.
Tezuka is really fired up. He clenches his fist! Then he gives a little inspirational speech that includes more than just his usual catchphrase.
Hyotei! Hyotei! Hyotei! Hyotei! Hyotei! Hyotei! Hyotei! Hyotei! Hyotei! Hyotei!
For some really, really unknown reason, we get a close-up of Ryuzaki-sensei's old lady ass in her pink trackpants. It still looks better than Inui's.
Momo and Eiji are Doubles 2 against Oshitari and Gakuto. Gakuto can fly, which surprises people. He does this twirly diving thing which is subbed as Moon Salute but which I think is really Moonsault, a wrestling move.
Hmm, and that's it. Not much of an episode, really. Did Kaidoh even get a line?
56. Doubles for 3
The title sounds kinkier than the episode really is, sadly.
Gakuto continues his zero-G antics and Hyotei take a point. The Tezuka cardboard stand-up is back, but clearly he's not off on a date with Atobe right now. Who else could it be?
Hyotei take the game, taunt Seigaku, etc, etc. Fuji delivers a speech about how it's difficult for Eiji to play with Momo all of a sudden, as if we didn't already know that it's harder to play doubles with some random guy than with your beloved pair-bonded eternal soulmate.
There's a flashback where Tezuka tells Eiji that Oishi can't be here for the tournament because he was crushed under a bus and is now dead. Eiji screams and falls to the ground, sobbing. "Just kidding," Tezuka says. "He hurt his wrist a little."
Flash further back to Eiji and Oishi having a special moment on their dumpster. We've seen it before, we'll see it again.
Momo hits a jack knife and Atobe notices just how darn attractive that is. Tezuka would sense something is amiss but he's off philandering. (With Tachibana, maybe?) Momo senses it, though, and to make himself even more desireable, he hits a Dunk Smash.
But lo! there came upon the land a great storm and a loud cry went up and Oshitari, godlike in his stance, returned the ball with Higuma Otoshi and the murmurs of the people continued for many days.
So, I always thought that Fuji's counters were some weird-ass special shit that he made up himself. Are they unusual but previously known? Did Oshitari copy Fuji? Come up with it on his own?
It's 3-0 for Hyotei. What will happen?!? Momo plans to use a drop shot, but Oshitari uses one first. 4-0! Frankly, Hyotei deserve to win.
Romantic music plays and Eiji cries over Oishi. In his grief, Eiji hallucinates him there on the court, giving a motivational speech. Eiji shares the words of the vision with Momo. "Are you sure Oishi said we should go burn down the school?" Momo says. "Maybe he just meant that as a metaphor."
Now it's Momo's turn to channel Oishi from beyond. "He's happy and peaceful," Momo says. "He wants you to get on with your life and be happy too."
Atobe is completely in love with Momoshiro. He makes plans to have him abducted and delivered to his bedroom after the match is over.
Oh, and Eiji and Momo seem to be doing better. They pull off some freaky shit with the Australian formation and Eiji calls Momo "Momo-chin". Eiji is taking the supporting role and even does a Moon Volley.
It turns out that in the ten minutes they had before they had to register, Momo was able to run to the hospital, have a five minute conversation with Oishi, stand dumbfounded for about 2 minutes, run back to the group and stand there for another minute AND still have time while at the hospital to write a bunch of rules about doubles down on his arm. Also, for some reason, the ink isn't smudging under his wristband.
Oishi is there now, watching. Atobe says that all three of them are playing doubles. But he feels stupid afterwards.