It's been a while since the last one of these. Sorry! So much InuKai this time around. If there was anything going on that wasn't InuKai, I don't think I noticed it. NB: there's a screencap behind the cut.
57. Scud Serve
Oishi apologizes to Tezuka for his injury. I stop the video and just sit for a while, sighing over them. Does Oishi's injury prefigure Tezuka's? As well, Oishi's strong influence over Eiji and Momo's play, even when he's absent, just as Tezuka influences the club in his absence.
Tezuka tells Oishi that it isn't his fault -- it's not something he can control. Which contrasts with Tezuka's situation, since his injury was (well, will be, at this point) somewhat volitional.
Instead of being jealous that Eiji and Momo are playing together so well, Oishi is paternally proud. He's so sweet.
Gakuto is running out of steam, although his wig seems to be holding up. For the most part, the Hyotei team are critical of him rather than supportive. It seems like Sakaki's method of choosing the Regulars makes them a lot more competitive with their teammates. When Eiji has endurance issues, his teammates are sympathetic. I wonder which approach is more likely to cause a change in the player, though.
Atobe wonders if he can wait until the matches are over to have his way with Momoshiro. Maybe he should have him now in the back of the limousine instead, while he's still pumped up from this match.
Kaidoh isn't watching the match. I imagine things went down like this: Damn, I just got Momoshiro off the Regulars to keep him out of Kaidoh's way, Inui thought, and now he's playing again. "Kaidoh, I think I saw a hurt bunny when we were going by those trees."
Sakaki tells off Oshitari and Gakuto. He tells Gakuto especially that if he doesn't do better next time, he won't be playing at Nationals. So much for replacing players that lose. Maybe that's just between tournaments?
Ryoma goes off to sulk. Because it's Ryoma, his sulking takes the form of tennis. Just like his relaxing, his excitement, his boredom, his love. It's how he was brought up. Probably when Nanjiroh explained the Facts of Life to Ryoma, it was by playing tennis. "See, Ryoma, there's a server and a receiver..."
Also because it is Ryoma, his entourage follow him. Unlike Atobe, he hasn't learned to enjoy having minions around. He's cranky enough that he hits Horio in the face with the ball after Horio says his sulking is cute. And Horio is right. Ryoma's sulking is very, very cute.
And now, the first of many flashbacks to Shishido's Haircut. Which I could really do without. The flashback to Inui and Kaidoh's river training, though, I could watch a thousand times.
Kaidoh is back from his bunny-rescue mission and all pumped up to play doubles with his beloved Inui-senpai. Even the ichinen trio acknowledge their love!
This match is really all about whose love is stronger. Shishido has the more tractable kohai, for sure. Kaidoh is still not quite in doubles mode, it seems.
Why doesn't Inui have better data on these two? Even Eiji remarks on it. Surely Ohtori's serve can't be a secret. Did Inui spend all the time he was supposed to be spying on Hyotei down at the river spying on Kaidoh? Foiled by hormones, Inui.
Tezuka makes a little speech to Oishi about how collecting data is not the same as playing a real game. I think he's still smarting because he had to play seriously against Inui and wants to remind everyone that he won.
Inui tells Kaidoh he wants to "predict" Ohtori's serve. I'm not sure what he means there, but Kaidoh is unimpressed. I think Kaidoh's plan involves trying to hit the ball.
Kaidoh talks back to Inui when Inui says that they can't help but let the Scud Serve control the game. On that note, we get more flashback to Inui's Marriage Proposal to Kaidoh. When Inui asks Kaidoh to play doubles with him, Kaidoh refuses. And quite bluntly. So bluntly that I'm surprised, though I shouldn't be. After all, the first thing we ever heard him say to Inui was, "Are you trying to pick a fight?"
Back in the match, Kaidoh's pride is stung. He starts doing his snaky back and forth movements. He must do that unconsciously by now. It's kind of weird and creepy. That's going to be a hard habit to break later. Or maybe he'll still be doing it at the office twenty years from now.
Kaidoh respects Inui now, but he doesn't fully trust him. And his own pride is still the most important thing to him.
58. The Worst Compatibility!?
Oh, Kaidoh is so tough and prideful and determined to shut Ohtori and Shishido up, even if he has to do it all by himself. He's so cute I could just die.
He stands at the back of the court, even though he's meant to be at the front. The trio are so, so excited -- maybe that means he's going to give them candy! Er, hit the Boomerang.
And hit it he does. Everyone is shocked as usual. Even Atobe. But it doesn't make him want to abduct and ravish Kaidoh. (I don't know why!) Momoshiro also gets het up.
And of course, Inui. Back to the river and the Proposal Scene. Inui appears to Kaidoh with the beams of the setting sun glowing behind him. However, the green tracksuit cancels any Charisma bonus that gives him. But Inui has the Vulcan Logic feat which allows him to use his Intelligence modifier instead of Charisma for Diplomacy and Bluff and so he persuades Kaidoh anyhow.
"But what will you get out of it?" Kaidoh wants to know. "Ah," Inui says. "I have my reasons for using you in return." Kaidoh is afraid, as well he might be, to ask what those reasons might be.
Back in the game, Inui wants to impress Kaidoh with his desirability as a
Inui's serve is amazing. Kaidoh says, "Nice serve" in English, by which he means, "You are the only one worthy of my love and devotion so I will be waiting in your bedroom after the tournament. Please be gentle."
On the next serve, Inui gets a trippy sixties effect which may be meant to imply that he's an International Man of Mystery. Or maybe the animator is having an LSD flashback.
Shishido and Ohtori's love and trust is just as pure and strong as Inui and Kaidoh's. This is problematic because how can one side win if they are both so pure of heart?
Shishido's Counter Rising (or Rising Counter) takes the next few points. It's a problem! Well, it's a problem if you're Seigaku.
While I had always seen the parallel between the doubles pairs, until this time watching I hadn't twigged to the similarity between Inui and Shishido. They both lost their position on the team due to their own weakness and they both worked extremely hard to regain it. They are neither naturally gifted at tennis and so need to develop special skills to compensate.
And we get special couples training flashbacks for Ohtori and Shishido as well, with the main difference being that Atobe is spying on them. He doesn't seem like the voyeur type, though.
Back at the game, Atobe taunts Gakuto and Oshitari for losing to Ohtori and Shishido. They talk back to him like I could never imagine anyone doing to Tezuka.
2-0 for Hyotei! Oishi gives a little speech about how the Hyotei pair has the necessary element for the perfect combination: dependence. "For example," he says, "I'm dependent on Eiji for keeping me clean of bugs and ticks while he's dependent on me for indulging his needs for having sex while dressed up as Hello Kitty and Dear Daniel."
This somehow makes Momoshiro think of Kaidoh and he yells at Kaidoh to do better. Kaidoh gets so mad at this he throws his racquet on the court! Momoshiro is pleased by this reaction. Kaidoh is not completely Inui's yet, it seems.
Inui picks up Kaidoh's racquet and swears he's going to take care of Momoshiro someday, somehow. But Inui's troubles are just beginning. Kaidoh says he's going to play his own way from now on. "At least Momoshiro understands a man's pride!"
Kaidoh is running around like crazy, trying to do it all himself and getting frustrated. Did he and Inui plan this ahead of time? It doesn't seem like it. I can't think that Kaidoh would be a good enough actor. But later, it seems like it was planned.
Sweat is dripping off Kaidoh onto the court. Shishido taunts Inui that Kaidoh is finished already. Inui puts his hand on Kaidoh's shoulder, which is Affectionate Touching but still Appropriate For The Court. "Kaidoh, it seems you're done already," he says.
Kaidoh looks up with his sweet, sweet face, and says, "Data...have you collected it yet?" "Yes, all of it," Inui says.
Okay. Was this their secret plan? Was this Kaidoh's plan on his own because he knew his Inui-senpai would get the data and not let him down? Was it just luck? I truly can't figure it out just from the episode. But it's a lovely moment, just the same. Kaidoh gives a smile that's probably supposed to look cute but actually looks really, really disturbing.
In the stands, Momoshiro curses and swears to take care of Inui someday, somehow.
59. The Hidden Trouble
More InuKai training flashback goodness. For a change, Kaidoh is spying on Inui. Inui is exercising while writing in his journal. Dear Diary, Have not seen Renji for 1145 days, 17 hours, 22 minutes. Think I'm almost over him.
"What are you doing?" Kaidoh says from behind the bench. Inui bends his head backwards a surprising amount. I just tried it myself and when I leaned back, I could only see the ceiling, not Kaidoh. (Note to self: get poster of Kaidoh for the ceiling.) "Would you like to know?" Inui says. He is beyond dorky but somehow Kaidoh doesn't seem to notice.
Back to the game. Hyotei, Hyotei, etc.
Momo is ticked off that Kaidoh made him worry and then when Ryoma notes that Momo admitted to being worried, Momo freaks out. "I don't worry about that stupid snake!" he yells. "We just make out a lot, that's all. It means nothing!"
Inui has the data working for him now and the match turns around. He and Kaidoh press their fists together. I stop the episode and stare at it for a long time, trying to think of some cracked-out comment about it. But it's just too nice a moment on its own. Enjoy the tennis boys for what they are.
Seigaku talk about how Inui and Kaidoh are pretty similar. "Inui has a strong will too, eh Tezuka?" Oishi says. Tezuka turns away. He's jealous that Inui has a new obsession.
Shishido and Ohtori are shaken. Inui tells Kaidoh what to do and Kaidoh does it. They begin to win.
Atobe has this weird sequence where he goes into another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. It's blue. Here, he punches the palm of his hand and talks about Seigaku's brain, Inui. And then about Kaidoh's determination. He thinks they're interesting. Still not interesting like Momo, though.
Actually, to Atobe, they are just a gambit in the larger game that he and Tezuka are playing. I wonder if Tezuka knows about this game or if it's all in Atobe's pretty little head.
Back to the InuKai training session. Kaidoh sits on the grass while Inui lectures him about doing leg lifts in class and such. Kaidoh is seriously impressed. Inui talks about how Kaidoh is still growing, as if Inui is already 25 or so.
When Inui tells Kaidoh that he purposefully kept his training below what Kaidoh wanted because he knew that Kaidoh would do more, well, Kaidoh thinks, I guess I should just give up and sleep with him now since he's sure to manipulate me into it eventually anyhow.
Inui is a prime manipulator, I must say. "I check my body condition every day," he says. "If we train together, I can check yours too and adjust your training accordingly." So, now he's got Kaidoh agreeing to hang out with him and be felt up by him.
Inui tells Kaidoh about his obsession with Tezuka. "But that's ancient history, I swear!" They jog together down on the embankment.
We get to see Inui actually feeling Kaidoh up and then ogling him. He says Kaidoh's name three times within about thirty seconds. He makes weird predictions about Kaidoh's future, probably to bind Kaidoh to him for the next seven years.
I swear, Inui does everything but outright confess his love here. I know I'm highly biased and am reading in things that aren't there. I know that these shounen sports series are all about the valourization of male friendship. I mean, I just saw a scene in another sports show that was coded way more romantically than this and I didn't get a love vibe from it. But I just think Inui is so in love here. Not Kaidoh, not yet. But Inui, yes.
And it's Ohtori's service game. But Inui even has this figured out. Just by standing in the right spot, he can make Ohtori double-fault. And Atobe can tell. He's one smart cookie, for sure.
Ohtori gets a serve in but Kaidoh returns it! And then, when the ball comes back, hits the Boomerang Snake and it's in the single's court! But Shishido returns it. Inui predicts what will happen and makes a decision, but changes his mind mid-smash. He yells! They win the game!
And then Inui tells the ref the ball was out after all. Everyone is taken aback. Except Tezuka, who has put up his cardboard standup again. And Kaidoh, in whose eyes Inui now can do no wrong.
So they lose their match but keep their pride. Inui says they don't have to play doubles anymore, since Kaidoh has perfected the Boomerang Snake. "No," Kaidoh says, "you haven't done whatever it is you were going to use me for yet."
And thus we happy fangirls look forward to many more InuKai doubles matches.