Tennis at last! Seigaku vs Rokkaku, Power Pair, Dream Pair, and more innuendo than you can shake a stick at. Also Kaidoh is hot.
92. The Boy with the Long Racquet
Yeah, that's what I thought when I saw that title too.
Anyhow, we open with a very lovely scene where Nanjiroh throws crumpled balls of paper at Ryoma and Ryoma hits them back with a broom. It's the cutest bit of father-son bonding ever. Then Ryoma heads off to the tournament.
"Let's put our hearts into it!" Oishi says. He's so darling. "Make sure you warm up properly."
Momo is playing doubles with Kawamura this time around and so he invites him to go "warm up" together. Kawamura interprets this to mean jogging. Momo is disappointed.
In their travels, they come across the Rokkaku bus. Inui and Fuji lurk up behind them. "Fuji-senpai," Momo says. "You play doubles with Taka-san. Why doesn't he know about, you know, 'doubles warm-up'?"
"What do you mean, Momo?" says Fuji sweetly as he gives Inui the signal for "terminate". But Inui is too busy watching a bunch of little kids get off the Rokkaku bus and so Momo lives to play another day.
One of the kids kind of looks like Momo, actually. Davide makes a stupid pun and Bane kicks him in the head. I should have some sort of shorthand for when that happens. Or I could just not bother mentioning it.
Anyhow, the kids get all up in Seigaku's faces about spying on Rokkaku in last episode. Momo gets a bit het up. The kids become more belligerent and annoying. Fuji gives Inui the signal again, this time directed at the kids, but Inui ignores it because he wants to play tennis and go to high school, not get sent to a maximum security prison. With Fuji.
Okay, really, since these are supposed to be analysis and crack, not just crack, I should say that Fuji is really good with these kids, a really nice guy who defuses the situation. All the stuff about him and Inui being serial killer partners is MADE UP. (Though wouldn't they be great at it?)
Back at the courts, sweetie-pie Kentarou is addressing his team with an inspirational message. Ryoma is buying Ponta. But he's thwarted when Oji presses the button first and essentially steals his money. When I'm that age, I am so taking advantage of people like that. Also, I will wear funny hats.
Kentarou comes up and loudly tells Ryoma to give it his best that day. He holds out his hand for Ryoma to shake. "I don't want to," Ryoma says. He's so cute and grouchy. Davide and Bane show up. You know what happens next.
And now the teams are lined up on the court. Itsuki asks questions:
Kikumaru: Why do you always have a bandage on your cheek?
Kaidoh: Why do you wear a bandana? Is it cool?
Fuji: Why are you always smiling?
Even though these are questions that we, the rabid fic-writing detail-hungry fangirls would love to know the answers to, we are denied.
D2: Kawamura and Momoshiro, Power Pair, or something. Even without his "warm-up", Momo seems pretty fired up. Before we progress beyond this point, let's take a moment to list all of Momo's doubles partners thus far, both official and casual: Ryoma, Kamio, Kaidoh, Eiji, Inui, and Kawamura. (And he's got more matches with Kaidoh ahead. ♥ I should add that in the manga, Inui and Momo are never paired.)
If doubles means true love, Momo sure likes to spread his around. He's the Doubles Slut of the junior high tennis circuit.
Anyhow, getting back to the match, which hasn't even started yet, Oishi gives them a firing-up mini-speech. (How I love him!) And then, oh, then! Oishi receives a text message from Tezuka. "What are you wearing?" it says. Oishi manages to cover by saying it was, "Yudan sezu ni ikou."
"That's it?" Eiji says and Kaidoh -- Kaidoh gives a snort and grins. Oh my sweetie. [ excessive fangirl flail deleted to spare you ]
And the match begins. The ichinen are aghast over the length of Davide's racquet. Which is rather impressive.
He looks like a frustrated lacrosse player. (Come on over, my pretty -- we have many lacrosse boys for you to play with. We'll send Asakawa over to talk you into it. You probably won't be so frustrated after that.)
We are treated to a speech from Inoue about the maximum allowable measurements for racquets. Why they can't get Inui to say all that instead, I don't know. Because then we could listen to Inui. Talking.
Ryoma suddenly remembers how Oji ripped him off at the vending machines. Between Oji and Kentarou, Ryoma is Mr Grumpy Pants today.
The Rokkaku outfits are kind of weird-looking. The pattern on the collar is giving me 70s flashbacks. But the fact that they have no sleeves is really nice. Arm-porn galore!
Kawamura does some of his burning-mode trash talk. Bane serves and the ball bounces up and hits Kawamura in the stomach. It's completely worth it to hear Fuji's sudden "Taka-san!" Kawamura is fine, of course.
Wow, Momo does a fairly high-level mental analysis of Bane's serve! I'm impressed. All that time he spent imitating Inui to try to win Kaidoh's love really paid off. At least in regard to tennis.
Momo hits the Jack Knife, but we see it from the side and not the front, which is so, so disappointing, because everyone looks hot when they hit the Jack Knife. Sometimes, I just sit around and think about Momo hitting the Jack Knife to Atobe and then Atobe hitting a Jack Knife back and then they have sex in the back of Atobe's limo.
Davide manages to return it with his long racquet which does not break or even get torn from his hand, even with all of Momo's power. Kawamura hits the Hadoukyuu, and Davide returns that too.
So, now that the high stakes of the match have been established, maybe we can get somewhere. The match is basically a lot of still shots and grunting and sweat floating through the air. Ryuzaki thinks that Momo and Kawamura are too stuck on winning with power. Eventually, they're down 0-4. Inui says that he didn't expect Rokkaku to have this much power, thus proving once again that he really only spies on the guys he wants to bone.
Oishi clutches his mobile. Tezuka keeps texting him and Oishi doesn't know how to tell him, "Not now." Also, he blames himself for setting up the line-up this way, to show Seigaku's power.
Everyone who wants to hug Oishi, get in line. But I'm first.
5-0 now. Oji points out that Davide's hair is more fashionably tousled than usual. The match has been so difficult that his hair product gave out. (This really happens.)
Even though they are one game away from losing, Momo and Kawamura aren't ready to give up yet. Which surprises no one. There's a weird shot of them in outer space, like they're Galactus, Devourer of Worlds, and his drinking buddy come to eat the Earth. Or at least the tennis court. And the episode ends.
But don't you think Tezuka would make a cool Herald of Galactus? He does seem to wield the Power Cosmic. Maybe that's what he does when he's not cybering with Oishi.
93. Dash Hadoukyuu
So, although power wasn't doing Momo and Kawamura any good before, they are determined to win with power. But now they have a chance because they have rolled up their sleeves. Bare arms are clearly the key to power -- look at the Rokkaku uniforms. Hell, look at Kaidoh. (Any excuse will do. ♥)
The rolled-up sleeves begin to work their magic and Seigaku win a game. Ryuuzaki says that Momo and Kawamura are now using "plus alpha" strength, which makes it sound like she's been watching a lot of sentai recently.
In order to counter the Rolled-Up Sleeve Attack, Davide resorts to putting his hair up in a kicky ponytail. (This really happens.) For some reason, although he now looks like Sandy in Grease, everyone is scared by this.
There is more power tennis. It's actually kind of fun to watch, but there's not a lot to write about. Inui is closely watching Momoshiro, clearly impressed by his power, technique, and one more mysterious thing that he say Momo himself doesn't even realise. Kaidoh thinks that if he doesn't do something about it, his boyfriends are going to cut out the middle man, namely, him. But then Fuji grabs his ass and Kaidoh realises there are other options to explore.
"Taka-san," Momo says, "can I use THAT now?" Everyone tries to figure out what Momo's secret move might be. "What the hell?" Kaidoh says. "He promised he wouldn't do that with anyone else."
Momo pulls off all kinds of tricks and Inui reveals that Momo has an innate ability to read the opponents moves. Up until now, he was so passionate while playing that he couldn't make good use of that. But now he's able to guess where the ball will go and still play with passion.
One of the things I really love about this series is seeing how both Momo and Kaidoh mature. They both get calmer and more thoughtful in their play as time goes on (and eventually can even talk to each other without sniping!). Momo is more levelheaded overall, but he always was more relaxed in general.
Now it's 5-3 and Rokkaku is on the run, even with Davide's Ponytail Power. Bane asks Davide to slap his face. Davide does. But he doesn't let Bane slap him back, forever establishing Bane as the weepy uke in their relationship. "It's my turn, let me slap you!" Bane says, but it's too late and he foresees many a facial in his future.
Rokkaku is more confident now, but it's time for the title to kick in and Kawamura displays his new move: Dash Hadoukyuu. His special effects are quite good, nothing to touch Tezuka, Wielder of the Power Cosmic, but still impressive.
Inui and Fuji discuss their "regard" for Momo and Kawamura. Kaidoh grinds his teeth and vows to start returning Mizuki's phone calls.
And now, a flashback. Kawamura is practising his special move against a wall. Momo finds him and they work together in a near-Silver Pair-like vaseline haze. Momo seems to be picking up Kawamura as his third-string boyfriend, after Kaidoh and Eiji. Kawamura has no idea.
In the present, the victory music plays and the game continues. And ends. 7-6 Seigaku. Kawamura and Momo share a double fistbop of love.
Sakuno and Tomoka share a cute little hug. In profile, they seem to have actually developed somewhat, no doubt due to many rounds of "I must, I must, I must increase my bust".
Bane comes up to put the moves on Momo, figuring that maybe he can be seme to somebody. But it's too late for him and next thing he knows he's offering to meet Momo in the toilets and pay a forfeit for losing the match.
Or was that just in the manga?
94. The Secret Plot to Seal Kikumaru
It's revealed that the Dash Hadoukyuu was so strong that Bane's racquet cracked, which has never before happened to one of Oji's racquets in the history of ever, which is approximately how long Oji has been alive. But it's only natural that Bane's racquet would crack, him such a drippy uke and all.
Anyhow, it's D1 time. Fuji-Eiji vs Saeki-Itsuki. Kentarou is so psyched up that Oji lets him be bench coach. It's either a great strategy or Oji is just tired of sitting there. Seriously, with Oji, I just can't read his Yoda quotient.
Fuji and Saeki reminisce about their young love. They really are a pretty pair. But now they are on opposite sides of the net. They are similar in that they are both very nice guys, but shrewd under the surface. Itsuki is just annoying.
Over at the toilets, Oji steals Sakuno's handkerchief. You know, like Yoda stole Luke's flashlight. Oji spreads the handkerchief on the ground and sits on it. Sakuno is weepy and upset, which makes me wonder if the handkerchief was embroidered by her mother on her deathbed and is the only thing Sakuno has left to remember her by. Or maybe Sakuno is just a crybaby.
But I shouldn't make fun. Oh, wait, that's all I do. All right, then.
The match commences. Fuji and Eiji seem to have a weird combination, like they're not following each other's lead. But it works well. Oishi launches into an explanation about why his boyfriend knows another boy so intimately that they don't even have to practice together or work on formations to be an amazing doubles pair. Then he cries. And sends Tezuka a really dirty text message.
"This is a one-sided game," Bane says.
"Shut up, cracked-racquet uke," says Davide.
There is a beautiful shot of Inui, Momo, and Kaidoh all in a row.
They talk about something, probably the benefits of a polyamourous relationship. "Kikumaru is the type whose concentration benefits from attention," Inui says. "Also," says Momo, "he's really bendy."
And now Saeki's scary side shows itself as he causes a cloud to pass over. Could it be? A secret plot to seal Kikumaru?
Saeki seems to be able to predict all Kikumaru's moves now. Fuji has a scary look too, as he realises that Saeki is just using Eiji as a pawn in their mind games.
It seems that Ryoma can predict Eiji's moves too. And Kentarou has a sort of flashback-y thing about practising kendo with Saeki, which Saeki was studying to improve his tennis.
Fuji tells Eiji to take his time figuring it out; he'll keep picking up the balls. "So they do have a good combination!" Horio says and sweet, sweet Kaidoh tells him off for disrespecting his senpai.
In the meantime, Eiji solves his problem by running all the way to one side and then back again. Because that's completely possible. Also, the cloud moves away. Oji laughs, "Ho, ho, ho," just like Anzai-sensei in Slam Dunk.
4-1 Seigaku! But I fear we're not out of the woods yet. Eiji's stamina is giving out due to Oishi's non-demanding style of lovemaking. Or maybe he just dosn't work out enough.
I'll end with this cap just because I love the composition so much. Anybody have a good caption?