Fuji, Ryoma, Tezuka, and Atobe, yay! Less crack than usual due to A. a chibi episode and B. Tezuka vs Atobe, which is hard to snark about (though I did try!). More analysis this time around, for the same reason.
63. The Last Triple Counter
The wind is blowing. Fuji announces the counter: Hakugei. "Hakugei?" everyone says. "Did he say Hakugei?" They are all impressed. Wow, I think. It must mean something like "five point palm-exploding heart technique".
But no. "White whale". So it's the Moby Dick technique. (This actually scares me more since I've tried and tried to read Moby Dick for years, but have never managed to get through it and now I'm intimidated whenever I hear a reference to it.)
Still, even though it seems like a lame name to you and me, to everyone in Prince of Tennis Shoujo Romance Land, it's très cool. Shiba gets worked up and starts snapping more shots of Fuji. I bet she pins the best ones up on her wall at home. She's nearly as pervy and scary as we are.
The banter between Fuji and Ryoma is very cute again. Fuji thinks about how he's got to put some distance between them, to keep ahead of Ryoma. Also how he's going to tie Ryoma up later.
Jiroh has a weird serve of his own, where he throws the ball at a strange angle. Inui explains it but it's really not that interesting. More interesting to me is that Inui is now standing next to Tezuka. Inui's standing next to me, Tezuka thinks. Is he still upset about our brief but bitter affair? Is he plotting revenge? Should I move away?
Hakugei is this completely freaked out move that causes the ball to spring back across the net. (Just like whales do.) Clearly, it's some sort of magic. Tezuka is seriously impressed. He's never seen it before. He's strong in the Force, that one. I'm sure he's already working out how to counter it.
Ryoma just gasps. If Fuji can do that, maybe I shouldn't have so easily agreed to let him top me later.
Yuuta finally understands just how amazing his brother really is. "Echizen, I won't let you steal my brother away from me!" "Whatever," Ryoma says. But this might be a good chance for him to escape the B&D.
Oh, and Fuji wins. Sakaki contemplates recruiting him, both for tennis and his host club.
Jiroh is still a freak.
In preparation for the match yet to come, we get beamy shots, then closeups of both Tezuka and Atobe. Tezuka's face is a little rounded; it's like he has baby fat. So cute!
Now it begins. Cue the TezuRyo!
Tezuka calls Ryoma to come with him. "What this I hear about you and Fuji? I won't allow it."
Ryoma looks surprised. He tries to act blasé, though. Fuji looks after them as they go, eyes wide open.
Flashback to Tezuka and Fuji, after the Match in the Rain. I love the way they're linked, the three of them. Sort of like Fuji and Tezuka challenging each other, not directly, but through Ryoma.
Ryuzaki is still at the hospital with Kawamura and Kabaji. It's necessary that she not be there for Tezuka's match, so she can't stop it.
Tezuka tells Ryoma to warm up with him and Ryoma smiles his lovely cheeky smile and says it's rare for Tezuka to ask to be warmed up. :) :) :)
Oh, Tezuka. He warms up, he inspires Ryoma's fighting spirit, they get to flirt a little.
Atobe is getting advice from Sakaki. Atobe is so worked up, his ears are ringing. As we are beginning to be. This really is the best match in the whole series, beginning to end. And, as of this writing, in the manga too.
Ryoma is going all out against Tezuka and he takes a point. "You should move your body more," he says and grins. I love how he feels he can be this familiar with Tezuka and how Tezuka allows it. He doesn't chaff Ryoma in return, but he doesn't freeze him out either.
Ryoma suggests a three-point match. He can't let this chance go by. But once they're playing for real, Tezuka plays seriously. They will always go all out for each other.
Back at the stands, all the celebs are out to watch the match: Rokkaku, Yamabuki, and Rikkai.
On the way back, Tezuka and Ryoma have an actual conversation. Tezuka asks if Ryoma analysed Fuji and says now it's time to analyse him. You know, I almost think Ryoma talks more to Tezuka than he does to anyone else. Certainly, he speaks first to Tezuka, which he doesn't often do with others. And they actually banter with each other. The tease each other about their taglines. Ryoma's Tezuka face is so cute, I could die.
I am incapable of writing crack about this. I'm sorry.
Atobe and Tezuka face each other on the court. I hold my breath until the episode ends.
64. Chibi Special
We're insanely worked up to see Tezuka and Atobe play. So of course, we get a chibi episode. I can't really write crack about crack, so mainly I will try to notice interesting things. For example: Chibi Kachiro looks exactly like normal Kachiro.
Super Soldier Tenipuri 9
In the first story, Mizuki, an alien, has changed Horio into a monster, which he's using to destroy the world. He has some manga volumes in his control cabin, but I can't work out what they are.
Chibi Kaidoh is so cute. This is interesting to me, anyhow. Why can't he and Momo and Inui and Kamio and Ibu have their own sentai show? (Kaidoh is the red one, of course.)
Tezuka has a wrist phone. Some of the buttons are: a heart, a lightning bolt, and a question mark. I can't make out the rest, though one might be a broken heart. *sniff* He uses it to call Inui who is three feet away.
Inui makes juice. It's hard to see everything he tosses in there, but it looks like: garlic, a lizard, some sort of red ball on a weird cross-like handle, a frog, a rose, a tennis ball, a mouse, geta, onigiri, a purple blob that might be a fish, maybe a bat, a doughnut, a carrot, some furry things I can't identify -- possibly tribbles, underpants (not sure whose, but they're briefs), a scorpion, a straw doll, some sort of stalk vegetable, cheese. Even Fuji is sweatdropping.
Horio attacks with tennis, but he sucks, so it's ineffective. And he's taken down by a twist serve. Back in the cockpit, Mizuki has a bunch of candy and some magazines or manga -- one with a cat, one with a panda, and one with a kid which says "MATTU" on it.
Everyone uses their special moves. Kaidoh goes first! They knock Horio down but then he switches to an evolved form, with various weapons and such sticking off of him.
Inui has finally finished his juice bomb. Beside his cauldron, there's a garbage can with tins, bottles, and fish bones, a cow skull, a jerry can, and a live cow. Ryoma hits the ball into Horio's mouth and he goes back to normal.
Beware of Snow White?
Ibu is the wicked queen. He's mildly annoyed to find out that Snow White is prettier than he is.
All the regulars are woodsmen, cutting down trees. Fuji's axe gleams. They find Snow White and run away from her, but she chases them. Oishi cries.
Ibu shows up with a poisoned apple and there is this whole ringo/ringu joke going on. Which would be a lot funnier if I had actually seen Ringu, I'm sure.
Frankly, this one was pretty lame.
Jump out! Seigaku
Inui's making juice again. This time, it seems to be mostly fruits and vegetables, with a hatching chick, some milk, meat, and some other stuff thrown in. A squid, bird, frog, turtle, fish, that horrible bug that we saw him actually using that time, various obscenely shaped things.
At tennis practice, Fuji peruses his album. It's filled with pictures of Yuuta in various stages of dress and undress. Then "Mizuki lying to Yuuta." "I beat Mizuki." Fuji uses a marker to cross out a photo of Mizuki.
Ryoma, in burning mode, challenges Fuji to resume their interrupted match. He's drunk Inui Juice Hyper Remix. Fuji drinks and burns as well. It begins to rain and they play.
Fuji takes the point with Tsubame Gaeshi which makes Ryoma start to cry. He runs home.
The next day, a bunch of people drink the juice and almost die. Fuji looks at pictures of Ryoma defeating Yuuta. He crosses out Ryoma. And then they play again. Everyone is hot-blooded from the juice. In the end, they all run off. Except Tezuka.
Oh dear lord. Inui appears in an ugly ruffled shirt. Green, of course. He does this Cheshire cat thing where he fades out except for his glasses.
While I enjoy some of the later chibi episodes, this one really sucks.
65. Become Seigaku's Pillar of Support
Atobe walks out onto the court. There's a chill in the air in the Seigaku stands. Atobe directs the cheers of the crowd. It's seriously awesome.
I should note that in the manga, Hyotei cheer: Hyotei will win, Seigaku will lose. The winner will be Atobe, the loser will be Tezuka. In the anime, they do not use the Seigaku and Tezuka cheers.
Tezuka watches, impassive. Atobe cuts off the cheers and throws his jacket up in the air. "Is that enough?" Tezuka asks. "I'm satisfied," Atobe says.
Instead of shaking hands, they bang their fists together. It's the sexiest thing ever. I'm not sure why, but it is. They have so much chemistry, it's hard to believe they've never played before. They're so easy with each other.
Ryoma is watching all, but we have no idea what he's thinking. Like I said before, this is the best match in the whole series. Atobe's smash blows away Tezuka's racquet and he takes the first point. Tezuka doesn't seem too concerned, though. Maybe he's biding his time to judge Atobe's level.
You should really go back and watch this episode if only for the moment when Okiayu voices Kita from Yamabuki doing an Atobe impression.
I wonder how much Tezuka has been looking forward to this game. He's so impassive, it's hard to tell. But he must have been. Chances to play someone near his level don't come along every day.
Atobe hits a jack knife. Be still my heart!
Tezuka zone! I love the graceful and delicate way his feet move. It's like dancing.
"You're pretty good, aren't you?" Atobe says. "With that arm of yours." Much consternation in the Seigaku stands. I'm not sure why everybody didn't already know about the arm. How can they keep a secret like that? Even Kuki Kichi knew about it!
Oishi blurts out that Tezuka's elbow is completely healed. This gives Atobe more info. I wonder how Atobe can figure stuff like this out. It's like he has x-ray vision.
Flashback to Tezuka's first year. He's winning practice matches against the older students, playing with his right hand. I suppose he's doing that so that there's not such an ability gap between them, so he's not rocking the boat. But of course, it's actually a diss on the older students that he's not using his full ability to play them.
So, he gets attacked by an older student, who hits him in the arm with the racquet. Tezuka finally explodes and tells him off, not so much for trying to break Tezuka's arm, but for being disrespectful to tennis by using a tennis racquet to do it with. He's going to quit the club because they are a bunch of no-account tennis-mockers.
Back at the game, Oishi says that Tezuka practices a lot. But we never see him do it. It's the missing mentor again. How does he practice? With whom? A coach? A friend? Yukimura? I know a lot of these guys practice alone, but I'm sure there's only so far they can go on their own.
Actually, that partly explains Ryoma's phenomenal growth. He's playing against Nanjiroh every day. If every one of them had a retired pro of that level to train with? Wow.
Return to flashback. Yamato-buchou appears and orders everyone to run laps. Dear god, he is so creepy, so very very creepy. I really can't say why Tezuka mentoring Ryoma is the great romance of the ages while Yamato mentoring Tezuka is the most paedophilic thing ever, since it's exactly the same thing but there you go.
Sidebar: Have you ever noticed how Yamato and Yukimura both wear headbands and their jackets draped over their shoulders?
Oishi tells Tezuka that if he quits, Oishi will too. Yamato takes this opportunity to scam on Oishi as well. Then he tells Tezuka to become Seigaku's pillar of support.
It's interesting to me that Yamato is Tezuka's mentor, but not actually in tennis itself, since his skill level is lower. We're still missing a piece of Tezuka's story, I think, and Konomi seems to be dropping hints about it, so I have hope that we will see it yet.
Tezuka takes the first game. "Don't hold back," he tells Atobe.
Can't wait for more.