Time for more about Hanamura-sensei's School for Gifted Youngsters. Today we have Inui-Momo and the Golden Pair. And whatever I can wedge in about Kaidoh.
77. The Fight Between the Calm and the Passionate
Momo is very, very grouchy. Maybe because Inui put the moves on him. Or Inui didn't put the moves on him. Or Inui put the moves on Kaidoh. Or Atobe cancelled their date for that night. (Or I guess it could have something to do with tennis.)
The twins do this odd side by side formation at the service line so Momo lobs behind them. But suddenly there they are, at the back of the court. It was then that I began to suspect what was ultimately proved: The entire Jyousei Shounan team are mutants. Youhei and Kouhei's mutant powers are telepathy and teleportation.
Momo gets more and more worked up and Inui doesn't know how to properly calm him down since they've had so little time to "practise" together.
Youhei and Kouhei pass the time waiting for Momo's return in having a little conversation about their exam results. Really, one could have a whole nother hobby in all that spare time. I'm surprised Inui doesn't use it to take data right on the court. And Momo could eat snacks. Fuji could take photos. Ryoma could practice tennis.
The Unit is targeting Momo and Inui hasn't got to hit the ball once. Fuji makes a remark about "Momo who's not used to doubles". But this is Momo's fourth doubles partner! (The boy really does get around.)
Oh, and in case it wasn't obvious, Seigaku is losing.
Finally, Momo gets a chance to shine. He jumps so high that the oxygen gives out and he has to hold his breath. He hits a Dunk Smash. But it's returned with "Duo Union", a so totally not stupid name for a so totally not stupid move where the twins use both their racquets to return the ball. Is this legal? I suppose only one of them actually touched the ball.
Momo is so shocked he drops his racquet. Inui tells him off for being "disgraceful". Inui really does seem weird here. He has no idea how to handle Momo. Maybe he spent too much time beforehand helping Kaidoh with his "mental preparation" and wasn't able to strategize about Momo. Inui only makes Momo more irritated and soon they are down 4-0.
Horio and Katsuo get into a fight over Inui and Momo. (That sounded less dodgy in my head than it does written down.) They're not quite Momo and Kaidoh, but they do have hold of each other's collars. Tomo and Sakuno hover, in case pompoms are needed. "Do you think I can calm down just because you tell me to calm down?" Horio screams.
"This is just like Momo-chan-senpai!" Kachiro says. And Momo hears this and Learns A Lesson about Remaining Calm on the Court. It's heartwarming and everything. He apologizes to Inui. "I'm sorry I let our rivalry over Kaidoh get in the way of the match. I won't let it happen again."
"That's okay," Inui says. "Anyhow, you should just give up on Kaidoh if you don't want something bad to happen to you."
"I'll never give up!" Momo says. "Not on tennis and not on Kaidoh."
They press their fists together while still holding their racquets. Then Inui starts giving orders and Momo follows them and they begin to win a few games. I should add that Inui looks very fine when he smashes. He really is the hottest when he's playing. (Well, except for doujinshi where's he's topping Tezuka, but that's really another thing altogether.)
Everything looks good and rosy and happy and fine. Nothing can go wrong. They get the win-win music and pledge to finish the match now. The score is 5-4. One more game!
Then Momo drinks from Inui's sports bottle and passes out. "I told you something bad would happen," Inui says and they forfeit the match.
What could be in that juice? Momo is seeing double and everything looks green.
Ryuzaki ticks Inui off and RIGHTLY SO! Inui is actually hurt when she calls his juice a "weird thing".
Seriously, the first time I saw this, I couldn't believe that they -- the anime writers -- would mix Inui Juice antics with a tournament match. It's still pretty jarring for me. The tone seems all wrong. Match episodes can be light but I don't think they should be silly.
And now Doubles 1, which I really hate. This match, that is, not the Golden Pair. (I swear! I even wrote fic about them where they didn't die!)
Oishi worries about his wrist so Eiji holds his hand. It's really rather sweet.
The girls do a little cheer with their pompoms! But Bring It On has raised my expectations for cheerleading and this isn't anywhere near impressive.
The Golden Pair are playing doubles against the next set of mutants: Kiriyama & Ohta. Kiriyama is huge. He's 195cm tall, which is about 6'5". (Kabaji is 190cm/6'3" and Inui is 184cm/6'1/2". A meter measures three foot three, it's longer than a yard, you see. Also, two and a quarter pounds of jam weigh about a kilogram.) Not to mention, he's almost half as wide as he is tall. Ohta, on the other hand, looks like Kachiro could take him. At first, nobody see him behind Kiriyama.
I must say, I can stretch my disbelief to cover a lot of things: physics-defying shots, purple eyes, Tezuka. But these yeti-sized Japanese junior high students, no.
"Who knew there were players smaller than Echizen?" Kaidoh says in a rare teasing remark. Ryoma talks back, which surprises Kaidoh. But we don't get to see them scrap or anything fun like that.
Eiji wonders if OIshi would love him more if he were smaller and more waify. He resolves to start a diet. But tomorrow, in case they go out for food after the matches.
The match begins. Kiriyama the Giant gets up to the net and forms an impenetrable wall. People gasp and marvel. Nothing very interesting happens, except that Kiyasu Kohei does a random crowd voice and that perks me up a bit.
Oishi lobs to get over Kiriyama, the Mountain That Walks And Plays Tennis, but Kiriyama leaps in the air and picks off the lob. Why isn't this guy playing basketball? He would be awesome.
The GP are undaunted and vow to lob it higher! But Ohta climbs up Kiriyama, leaps into the air, and smashes the ball. Thunderbolt, it's called. Ohta is clearly a human/bug hybrid whose mutant powers are freakish jumping and being very annoying. (Kiriyama's powers are super-strength and super-speed.)
Oh no! Things are looking bad! Not to mention they diss Momo's Dunk Smash. Momo tries to stagger to his feet to defend his honour. Kaidoh disses him and Momo lurches over to fight. But he gets sick instead so we're denied that scrap as well. The only bathroom stall diversion Momo is going to see this match is vomiting. And Kaidoh doesn't seem in the mood to wipe his brow afterwards.
Back on the court in one of their special moves, Kiriyama actually tosses Ohta up in the air, like he's a flyer. They should be the cheerleaders! Where's my shounen sports cheerleading anime? (Dear god, how cool would that be?)
It's 2-0 for the mutants. Will the Golden Pair lose AGAIN? OIshi's wrist is acting up and he cools it during the changeover. Also, he's stressed out at having to fill in for Tezuka.
Oooh! Flashback to Tezuka's departure! I knew this was around somewhere. Oishi and Ryuzaki are at the airport with Tezuka. None of Tezuka's family are there.
"Oishi," Tezuka says, which means, "I love you and I wish I didn't have to leave you. But you must carry on and fulfil our dream. I'll think of you every day and every night." They shake hands, which for Tezuka is the equivalent of a passionate embrace. Their eyes are full of all the words of love that they can never speak. I don't think I'm exaggerating.
Oishi's thoughts of Tezuka carry him through and he gives Eiji a pep talk. Back on the court, he serves underhand which somehow causes Kiriyama the Really, Really Freakishly Large Junior High Student's return to go out. Then he does another weird serve that gets by Ohta the Bug. Inui explains that it's a Slice Serve that drops suddenly and then bounces up.
Oishi's technique is the best! I've never seen him so tricky. They actually win a game. But can they win more? Tune in next week for the exciting conclusion! (Or just keep reading.)
79. I Formation
One thing that I do like about this arc is the continual back and forth between Ryuzaki and Hanamura. They sit on the bench and snipe at each other pretty much through every match. The main contest seems to be between their coaching methods: Hanamura's Let Mother Smother You technique or Ryuzaki's Hands Off Except for the Occasional Mindfuck technique.
Tomoka begins another cheer. She's so cute I could eat her up. Sakuno is having trouble joining her, though, because she's so self-conscious.
Anyhow, the match continues and is boring. The Mountain and Mosquito pair is winning. Ryuzaki lectures Oishi about his wrist. "It's okay," he says. "There's still THAT."
"Oh, you want to use THAT?" Eiji says and we wonder what THAT could be. A performance enhancing drug? A mutant power dampening device? A sniper hidden in the stands?
THAT turns out to be a service formation where they line up along the centre line and Eiji sticks his ass in the air, partly to inspire Oishi with his cute behind but mostly to avoid getting whanged in the head with the ball.
(Somewhere there must be a gag dj where they do this formation and Eiji farts, causing Oishi to double fault.)
It's the I Formation and we get a long lecture from Inoue on how it's different from Australian Formation and why it's effective. If you want to know, look it up yourself because I don't really care.
Oishi is just so pretty, especially his eyes. No wonder Tezuka can't resist him. Sometimes, in my head, I call him Oishi of the Emerald Eyes.
Now Inui lectures on the formation as well. It's boring, but at least that doesn't matter when Inui talks. *happy place*
Oishi dramatically drops his racquet. His wrist is all red and hurty, like he needs someone to kiss it better. But he sucks it up and resumes the game. What else can he do? He knows what Tezuka has done, he knows what he has to do.
Hanamura sends a signal to her doubles pair to target Oishi. They do seem a little put out by that, to their credit, but they do what they are told. And really, they're not trying to destroy him, like Atobe did Tezuka. They're just targeting the weak point of the pair.
But Eiji's Golden Love gives Oishi strength. "Leave everything to me," Eiji says. "I know it's truly Tezuka that you love, but I don't care. I'll play myself to death for you." Oishi is touched in his very soul by Eiji's words.
And Love finds a way. Seigaku make a comeback. Hanamura clicks her pen like she wishes it were a dagger. The mutants are surprisingly cheerful about their loss. Because they had fun. Which makes me wonder about their matches up til now.
Now it's time for Singles 3. "Kaidoh, it's your turn," Inui says. Kaidoh starts to undress. "No, no," Inui says. "Your turn to play." Kaidoh pulls his shirt back down.
Then he gets his one line of the episode: "I'm ready whenever."
So am I, honey. So am I.