Oh, Kaidoh. Your hotness is what this series is really all about. That and the crack.
72. Kaoru Becomes Ryoma
As foreshadowing for the rest of the episode, instead of breakfast at the Echizen house, we have breakfast at the Kaidoh house. It's a rather large green affair (the house, not the breakfast) with balconies on the second story and a carport off to the side.
Kaidoh and his father and little brother Hazue are eating udon. Kaidoh calls his father "oyaji", which is interesting. As far as I can recall, we see
Kaidoh puts too much shichimi in Hazue's bowl and his dad says, "Kaoru doesn't know the meaning of the word 'limit'." They all laugh scarily while mother looks on. "My family is always picture perfect!" I think the implication is that she's oblivious to their scariness, but I think they're perfect as they are.
Oh, but we get Ryoma's breakfast too. It's toast. *cough*
In fact, Inui has made an Inui Special Strength-Building Menu for what Ryoma should eat and drink: toast, ham and eggs, salad, fruit, milk. I'm not sure that Ryoma is eating all of it, though.
Nanako tells Nanjiroh to cut the grass, but of course, he doesn't want to do it and tries to pawn it off on Ryoma. Ryoma gets the hell out of there, for "self-training".
Meanwhile, Eiji and Momo are standing around, eating ice cream and being bored. Here's a tip for you guys: if you're bored, just make out. Eiji/Momo is so the laid-back hanging-out might-as-well-make-out-since-there's-not
Cut to the embankment, where every shounen sports character ever does their training. Today, it's Kaidoh, jogging by the river and panting in my ears. Just hold on while I replay this bit a few times, okay?
Poor boy, he's still thinking about the Scud Serve and his inability to return it. "Never again," he says.
A little puppy comes up to him. "What's the matter?" he asks. "Are you lost?" He smiles at the puppy and goes to pet it. It's all so cute and sweet and adorable that I would have to brush my teeth if it weren't Kaidoh. But then the owner, a young woman, sees Kaidoh and freaks the hell out, as though Kaidoh is some sort of crazed lunatic with red eyes and a bloody knife, instead of the sweet kid he is.
Now Kaidoh is in a bad mood. So am I. How dare she say he has a scary face!
At this juncture, Ryoma and Kaidoh run into each other. Ryoma also looks at Kaidoh like he's carrying a bloody knife. They get into one of those situations where they try to pass each other and both move the same way. This continues to a ridiculous degree -- it's like they're doing a mirror movement musical number. Soon it segues into a super-cute competition where they try to outrun each other.
Some little kids are arguing over who is the better tennis player,
Ryoma and Kaidoh run past them onto the court and keep jogging around it, counting one-two, one-two. They are total freaks.
"Aaaaah! It's Echizen Ryoma!" the kids yell. Ryoma signs autographs for them and they all go home to tea.
Well, of course they don't. This is a crack episode, after all. What they really do is swarm Kaidoh, who wishes he really did have a bloody knife right about now. Why do they think he's Ryoma? Could it be? An error in the magazine?
Yes, and it's Shiba who made it, though you'd think, with her obsessive interest in photographing young boys, that she would be able to identify them better. Just wait until Tomo-chan sees this. She'll mail Shiba a letter bomb.
Eiji senses the crack from six blocks away and beams in to tease Kaidoh. He calls Kaidoh "Echizen-kun" and Kaidoh freaks out.
Meanwhile the kids continue to argue. Little Hiroshi is embarrassed to be outed as Ryoma's fanboy, while another kid says his neighbour is much tougher than "Echizen Ryoma".
Kaidoh tries to say that he's not Echizen Ryoma. "Ryoma-kun," the real Ryoma says, "you don't have to be shy. Echizen Ryoma is such a shy boy." Oh, god, the grin on his face. Ryoma's not much on initiating pranks -- too much effort -- but he's always glad to participate.
Momo shows up, having walked instead of beaming, and of course is the tough neighbour that the kid was bragging about. Just Momo's presence on the court makes Kaidoh shake with rage. Or some sort of strong emotion, anyhow. When Momo calls him "Echizen-kun", Kaidoh flips the hell out.
Eiji organizes a match between Momo and "Echizen". Kaidoh refuses to play, though, so Eiji has to pull out the big guns. He cuddles up to Kaidoh -- completely drapes himself all over him -- and the kids stare because the article about Ryoma didn't mention his red-headed boyfriend.
Somewhere nearby, lurking in the bushes, Inui chokes and plans terrible retribution on Eiji.
Kaidoh doesn't react negatively to the groping, but he doesn't acquiesce either, so Eiji tells him a story. "Mukashi mukashi aru tokoro ni..."
A young boy -- Eiji -- lies in bed with an incurable sickness. The only light in his dark world is the pro tennis player he admires so much. (The hospital room walls and ceiling are covered with posters of Kaidoh. Kind of like Inui's bedroom.) The pro tennis player comes to visit the boy, clasps his hands, and says that if he wins his next match in straight sets, the boy will get better.
Perhaps this is one of the little fantasies Eiji entertains himself with at night before he goes to sleep. This and the one where Eiji is mistreated by his wicked stepsisters until his fairy godmother Fuji appears. "You shall go to the ball!" And Eiji dances with Oishi and runs out at midnight, leaving his tennis shoe behind. Oishi goes to every tennis player in the kingdom so they can try on the shoe. Finally, he finds Eiji and the shoe fits and they live happily ever after, except for the athlete's foot Eiji gets from the shoe.
But back to the Kaidoh story. The pro sleeps in and has to forfeit. The boy's hopes and dreams are shattered and he catches a cold and dies.
"Didn't you say it was an incurable sickness?"
"A pro can't shatter the dreams of a fan!"
"I'm not a pro."
Eiji is miffed that his Kawaii Kohai Kuddle Attack and his Super Sad Story Attack have both failed. So he goes for the Show The Big Big Eyes Of The Innocent Child Attack instead.
"It would be all over if we tell him the truth," Kaidoh says, very, very reasonably.
"But there would be no episode if we did that!" Eiji says. "Besides, I'm bored and Momo didn't want to make out with me."
Finally, Kaidoh agrees. He has to try to act like Ryoma, so he scrapes the strings on his racquet with his fingers.
One of the kids asks the real Ryoma his name. "I'm Horio, with two years tennis experience." Horio seems to be Ryoma's all-purpose alias. When he's older and gets a fake ID, he'll put Horio's name on it.
Ryoma's fanboy calls out for the Twist Serve. Poor Kaidoh. The kid's sparkling eyes are working their magic -- I guess a little kid is almost as cute as a kitten or puppy.
Kaidoh's Twist Serve sucks, but his arms are muscular and hot.
It's so hard for me to watch this match, honestly. I love Kaidoh so much and the humiliation heaped upon him here is more than I can bear. But for you, faithful reader, I will endure.
The complete failure of his serve causes Kaidoh to blush in a way that even Eiji's Senpai Grope Attack could not. Momoshiro enflames Kaidoh's rage by calling him "Echizen-kun" and really harping on the "-kun". But the anger does not help Kaidoh hit a Twist Serve.
Kaidoh starts to walk away. The little kids appeal to his pride as a man, but even that doesn't work. "I guess you have no choice if you know you're going to lose," Momo says. "Also, you kiss like a dead fish."
Kaidoh gazes deeply into Momoshiro's violet eyes and finds there the true meaning of his existence. In the bushes, Inui breaks a pencil.
Momo serves. Kaidoh goes to hit the Snake, but his fan yells for Drive B. Oh, god, Kaidoh yells "Drive B!" as he hits, like it's "Rider Kick!" or something. But Kaidoh isn't a Kamen Rider (goddammit!) and the ball goes out, out, out, hitting Inui on the head and almost making him drop his binoculars.
Kaidoh tries again, but the ball smacks him in the face and he falls to the ground, exposing his navel. *cough*
Since Drive B is a bust, the kid calls for the one-footed Split Step. Kaidoh hops up and down on one foot, like ... like nothing on this earth. He falls. I weep, weep for humanity.
Kaidoh hasn't even taken one point. "Get it together, Echizen-kun," Ryoma says. The little kid is so disillusioned. Ryoma and Momo taunt Kaidoh some more. Then Kaidoh goes into a berserker rage. His eyes glow redder than Kirihara's ever will and he screams his passion at the top of his lungs. Inui has to take a moment. Or maybe that was me.
Kaidoh completely forgets to be Ryoma and hits a Boomerang Snake. "Don't underestimate Kaidoh Kaoru!" "Ore wa Kaidoh da!" "Kaidoh Kaoru da!" His name and his pride are always so important to him.
He destroys Momoshiro. And I think the net as well. It's only then that he remembers he was supposed to be Ryoma. But the kid loves him even more than before.
"Kaidoh Kaoru is so cool," he thinks. And he's right.
73. Tezuka's Decision
Everyone at Seigaku is practicing. Tezuka stands outside the court, still in school uniform, watching them. He doesn't have much of an expression on his face, but his hands are in his pockets and he walks slowly away.
Ryuzaki is watching him. She remembers the day Sakaki came to visit with info on a sports medicine facility in Germany. "It's not my habit to help an enemy. But we can't let such talent in Japanese tennis disappear."
Tezuka gets into his warm-up uniform. We can hear Oishi running the practice.
Inui gives Kaidoh advice about his serve. What will I do when he gets so good I don't have any excuse to stand close and lecture him anymore? Inui thinks.
Is he ever going to make a move? Or am I going to have to go out with Mizuki to make him jealous? Kaidoh thinks.
Tezuka steps onto the court and everybody gasps. He doesn't have a racquet, but then, does he ever carry one at school practices?
This next bit breaks my heart. "It's been a while," Oishi says. "I thought you forgot all about the tennis club." Tezuka hasn't been talking to Oishi. Oishi has been carrying on alone, not knowing what Tezuka would do.
I declare 1000 hugs to Oishi. And a kick in the ass to Tezuka for not talking to Oishi. I know this is a very hard time for him and he just wants to turn into himself and brood alone, but he should at least have said something. This is Oishi.
Tezuka doesn't even really answer Oishi. "Did I interrupt the practice?" he says. "I'm fine, so continue."
Flashback to Tezuka getting the Germany info from Ryuzaki. She seems shocked that he's considering going. He wouldn't go away to the study abroad program.
Back at the courts, everyone is working hard for Daddy. Tezuka watches Kaidoh, then Momo. He gives advice to Kachiro and Katsuo.
"You must play like you always play. No matter under what circumstances. If you always play with the same determination, you will be able to play your own tennis," he says. "Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Get plenty of calcium. Always wear sunscreen."
After practice, Oishi asks Tezuka on a date. "It's been days since I really got any," he says. "I'll be gentle so I don't hurt your shoulder."
Meanwhile, Momo and Eiji make plans. Oishi sneaks up on them. "It's fine if you want to go with Momo for now, Eiji," Oishi says. "Just remember the rules: play safe, come home."
Kawamura works up his courage to ask Inui out. Inui is recording his daily data on Kaidoh: Today Kaidoh mentioned Mizuki again. Perhaps it is time for Mizuki to disappear. As St Rudolph are already out of the running for Nationals, this will not contravene the principles of good sportsmanship.
Oishi runs up before Kawamura can speak. "Just a minute! Stop! Oh, wait, I'm not sleeping with either of you. Carry on." But now Kawamura is too embarrassed to give Inui the flowers he prepared so he makes up some story about sushi training.
Fuji is taking Kaidoh back to the clubhouse to show him something really interesting. Oishi stops them and asks if he can get in on the action too. "Action?" Kaidoh says. Fuji gives Oishi a look and Oishi wonders if he will survive the day.
Oishi is getting desperate now. I guess there's still Echizen, he thinks, but he would probably make me beat him in tennis first. Who else is there? Arai and Ikeda run for their lives.
Tezuka wouldn't go out with Oishi because he already had a date with Inui. They sit in the park watching little kids play tennis, remembering the far off days of their innocence. Tezuka thinks about how much tennis means to him. Inui talks about his plans to disappear Mizuki. "So, I thought maybe an accident on a boat trip would be best. If he were wearing wrist and ankle weights, that would make it harder to recover the body. Or should I go with the amusement park coffee cup ride plan instead?"
Actually, I really like their connection here. It's the same as the phone calls. Inui talks and Tezuka listens. And Inui really does seem to hit on what Tezuka is feeling. I don't think Inui places expectations on Tezuka like everyone else seems to do. He just wants to sit there with him and talk. Tezuka doesn't have to be anything for Inui.
Eiji is disappointed because his date with Momo is just watching Momo eat ten hamburgers. "I thought you wanted to have sex!" he says. "I should have gone with Oishi!"
"I need these for stamina," Momo says. "You don't want me to run out of steam half-way, do you?"
"You mean after five minutes instead of ten?"
At the Echizen household, Karupin runs out after his bath and Ryoma is sent to fetch him back. "But I was just on my way to meet Oishi-senpai," Ryoma says. "He said it was important."
Eiji finally drags Momo out of McDonalds. But Momo stops at a stand. "Meat bun!"
"No meat bun! Sex!" Eiji says and hauls him off. "Besides, if I buy you any more food, I won't have enough money for the karaoke booth and there's nowhere else we can go since Oishi took back the clubhouse key!"
The run into Tezuka and Inui. "Let's split the fee for the booth!" Eiji says. "We'll go first." He glares at Momo. "We won't be very long."
But there's a 45 minute wait for a booth so they head to Kawamura's to kill some time. Kawamura thought he was going to be making sushi for his special lovebug Inui alone and now he's all flustered, especially when Eiji and Momo ask to use his room for five minutes. "Ten minutes!" Momo says. "Jeez!"
Kawamura tries to scare Eiji and Momo off with wasabi, but they are impervious to any hint.
Cut to Kaidoh doing sit-ups in the park. He keeps losing track of how many, since his mind is wandering back to Fuji and the clubhouse. Fuji really did know some interesting things and Kaidoh hopes he can remember that trick with the tongue when he finally gets some action with Inui.
But then Kaidoh's real True Love arrives: Karupin. Kaidoh tries to play it cool, as per Fuji's advice, and it works. Karupin is all over him.
Okay, crack aside, Karupin licking Kaidoh's knee may be the Cutest Thing Ever. "I told you, not today!" Kaidoh says. Oh, the look on his face! *snugs them both*
But Karupin won't take no for an answer. He's the uber-seme of tenipuri and he's not going to leave without getting Kaidoh on his hands and knees.
All is spoilt, however, when Ryoma shows up and Karupin leaves Kaidoh frustrated and alone.
Then it's evening and everyone is gathered, waiting for Oishi. No one knows why he asked them all to come. Kaidoh is posing by Eiji, probably hoping for more Special Senpai Attention, like he got last episode.
Oishi runs up. "Everyone! We're going to have some fun together!" He's just about to tell them about the special love hotel theme room he booked when he catches Tezuka's eye and he loses his nerve. "We're, uh, going mountain climbing."
Everyone is more shocked by this than they would have been by the love hotel. But one by one, they come around. They play cards on the train and talk Tezuka into joining them.
In the train shot, we can see Tezuka, Fuji, OIshi, Eiji, Momo, Kawamura, and Ryoma (who is sleeping.) Inui and Kaidoh are obviously making out in the bathroom. (Actually, I wrote some very sappy IK fic about this episode after noticing that.)
I'm convinced Tezuka must be cheating at poker. Royal flush? As if! Or maybe the dealer is cheating on his behalf. "I suggest a new strategy: let the buchou win."
We are spared the actual mountain climbing and rejoin our young heros at the peak at dawn. But the sky is overcast and Oishi is about to cry. Then the first bright ray of the sun breaks through, kissing them with its golden glory. They are so sleep deprived, they yell ecstatically and dance around, smearing the blood of their sacrifice over their naked chests. (Finally everyone understands why Fuji invited Horio along.)
"It was great that you came," Fuji says to Tezuka.
"Yes," Tezuka says. And that's really all that he needs to say. I wonder what's been on his mind this whole time. He knows already that he's leaving, he must know. Oishi's just organized this whole outing because of his return to the club and now he's going away. I wonder if he thinks he's coming back.
The next day, Tezuka asks to talk to the Regulars. (Which still does not include Momo.) Tezuka is folding his jersey and putting it away in his cubby.
And then he tells them. We don't hear him say it, we just hear and see everyone else's reaction.
Oh, god, Oishi. Oishi did not know. His face. It's a shock to everyone. It's a shock to Ryoma. But even that doesn't cut me like Oishi's face does. Tezuka, you should have told Oishi.
You should have told him.
73.5 Emergency! Scramble to re-organize.
This special 10 minute episode appeared only on the web.
In the wake of Tezuka's announcement, Inui, Fuji, and Oishi meet to discuss what they should do. "We'll step up our training," Inui says and shows everyone his new menu.
"Fuji, you'll be Singles 1 now," Oishi says.
Fuji smiles, as he always does. "What about morale?"
But Oishi is on top of that. "I have a whole schedule of team-building activities planned. Parties, amusement park visits, community service and charity work."
"And of course, there's the biggest problem," Inui says. "We're losing our uke."
Fuji looks serious and Oishi's cheeks go pink. "Any suggestions?" Oishi says.
Fuji studies Oishi. "Would you mind sharing Eiji with us for a while?"
Now Oishi really blushes and starts to stutter. "Well...with Eiji and I...it's...well..."
"87% probability that Eiji is the seme with Oishi," Inui says and Oishi looks down at the ground. Fuji's eyes blink open, but only for a second.
Oishi shakes his head and forces himself to look at the others. "Inui, what about Kaidoh?"
"Don't even think about it," Inui says.
"Of course not, Inui," Fuji says smoothly and Inui shoots him a look, but Fuji's face is placid. "If you say so."
"Momoshiro?" Inui says.
"Eiji says it costs too much to feed him first."
Inui flips through his notebook for a minute. "It will have to be Echizen."
Oishi nods. "After all, Tezuka is raising him to be his successor."
"Shall I notify him?" Inui asks.
"I'll have Tezuka break it to him," Fuji says. "Under my supervision." His eyes are open and glittering. Inui rummages in his bag for his binoculars.
Outside the window, Kawamura frowns. "Why didn't anyone mention me?"
"If they do, I'll kill them," Akutsu says and takes a drag on his cigarette. "Come on, I gave you the fucking flowers. Now shut up and blow me."
On the court, Tezuka approaches Ryoma and Ryoma's face lights up. Then he sees Fuji following behind and his smile falters. The sky darkens.
Somewhere out there, Tomo-chan shivers, like someone walked over her grave.
The episode ends.