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You can call me Hal.

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Genius 358 Redux: The Meta-ing
data pair
I've been thinking and thinking and pacing around and thinking some more.

Disclaimer: These are not real kids and Prince of Tennis isn't a real sports series. It's mystical, it's samurai-ical, there are no girl managers. So I'm not considering whether or not this is realistic. It's not. But it's pretty damn interesting.

This match has nothing to do with tennis. Kirihara and Kaidoh are both fucking amazing players who keep getting better and better. But we already knew that. Inui and Kaidoh have a bond of trust that is good and noble and pure and true. But we already knew that. (Not that I'm complaining about having it reinforced!)

This match is Inui vs Yanagi and, unlike their previous match, it's about which one is stronger.

All of the tennis action has been between Kirihara and Kaidoh, where Konomi, employing a subtlety worthy of George Lucas, shows us that Kaidoh has matured but Kirihara has not. Kaidoh is much better at controlling his anger than before, he is more inclined to reason than to bash his head against a wall, he is a sportsman. Kirihara, though, is still childish and cruel.

(It's interesting that Kirihara has lost to both Ryoma and Fuji and is still unchanged. But Fuji's non-transformative tennis is a subject for another day.)

Kirihara goes into freaky evil demon mode and targets Inui, beating him to a bloody pulp. This finally breaks Kaidoh down and triggers his own demon mode (which did seem strange -- I would have expected him to go berserk and jump over the net and whale on Kirihara instead).

But Inui stops Kaidoh. Yanagi did not stop Kirihara. Yukimura did not stop Kirihara. Whatever the outcome of the match (and I can't imagine that Inui will be able to continue), Seigaku has won and Rikkai has lost. Inui is stronger than Yanagi.

If Kirihara is still like this, it's not his own fault, it's the fault of his teammates, his senpais. It's their responsibility to correct and socialize him. And clearly, even if they tried, they failed.

Rikkai has an interesting pragmatism — always win, Rikkaidai — that isn't entirely at odds with the whole shounen sports spirit. Or at least until now. But they've gone too far. I'm reminded of the eeeevil coach in H2, talking to his eeeevil pitcher: I don't want players who love baseball; I want players who love to win.

I'm actually deeply disappointed. I didn't want Rikkai to come off like this. I didn't want Yanagi to look so bad. And I wanted more for Kirihara.

But Inui and Kaidoh: your love is true, so very true, and ever shall be so. Your whole story arc, from the first moment I saw you, has moved me so much. You are so weird and so beautiful and you make me cry.

Like now. ♥

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I love this interpretation. It makes me like this match when before I didn't really care for it. ♥

Cool! I'm so glad it's making me thinky. Squee is always lovely, but I feel so much more engaged when I'm pondering.

This is why I'm reading these last chapters, but not actually incorporating them into my own canon. *amused* I'm working up an alterna-Nationals: tennis as it should have been played, even taking into account the samurai basis of the story.

Because Konomi, frankly, seems to have lost his own plot.

I know what you mean. It seems so wrong for Rikkai.

PoT is the weirdest series ever.

Whatever the outcome of the match (and I can't imagine that Inui will be able to continue), Seigaku has won and Rikkai has lost. Inui is stronger than Yanagi.

(Y) x 1000. The more uncomfortable I get about the way certain things are going down in the manga actually reminds me how much I love these boys. :(( ♥

Yeah, this match is pretty disturbing. I want to rescue the boys from their fate and make the finals a more noble contest. :(

Word girl, WORD.
I agree wholly.

I'm so disappointed at how Kirihara is still being shown.
Am I imaiginign it or it was implied that Kirihara was so unstable and uncontrollable, going into ddemon mood in the Kantou tournament because of the insecurity and instability of being wihtout Yukimura?

Well, Yukimura is there now. Why isn't he stopping Kirihara, why is he letting him play to destroy?
And more so, why is he pushing SANADA of all people to play to destroy Tezuka?

Konomi should have known better than this.
Better than taking the main rival shool team and turn them into VILLAINS.
Rivals doen't have to be villains, he showed it with Hyoutei. He should have kept it this way.

And now I'm left to wonder if Konomi will fall for the sport anime clichè and turn the final match, Yukimura-Ryoma into a blood bath, where the hero gets beaten into a pulp, injuried but in the end winning.

So disappointed.

I'm not sure about Kirihara -- I haven't paid close attention to the Rikkai nuances.

You're so right about the villains thing. I want to care about both teams so much that I can't decide who should win. I want them all to walk away with no regrets because they all did their best and played well and were good people.

I thought it was a bit weird because Renji corrected Kirihara when he stepped on Inui's glasses but now... I wonder if they're all too shocked because freaky demon mode seems terrifying. If they directed his anger to themselves, Kirihara might go berserk that he's being stopped. x_x

I definitely loved how Inui so easily pulled Kaidoh back from going into demon mode like Kirihara. Perhaps it was easy because he just barely went into the mode for a few seconds and it was easier to snap him out of it. I wonder how Kirihara will fare, if they can get him to snap out of it.

*crumbling* Inui and Kaidoh, I knew I'd never have any regrets.

I imagine they are a bit shocked. :) But it doesn't absolve them of the responsibility.

Inui and Kaidoh, I knew I'd never have any regrets.

Yes, a thousand times yes. No other ship is so rewarding.

Mmm, yes, one of the baby thoughts I was talking about this morning was Inui's sort of joking, "let's see who's the real man, Renji!" at the beginning of the match and how Yanagi's "that was superb, Sadaharu" in this Genius means Inui won. Inui has faceplanted on the court, covered in blood, and will most likely default (please default, sweetie), but he won.

A chunk of PoT is about the student surpassing the master: Ryoma over Nanjiroh and Tezuka, Kirihara over the Troika, Ryoma-Kaidoh-Momo over the Seigaku third years, but Renji taught Inui everything he knows about data tennis. Everyone acknowledges that, including Inui. In that way, even though they're the same age and were doubles partners and best friends, Renji is a bit like Inui's senpai. Renji might win this battle, but Inui is still ahead now. He beat Renji 1-on-1, he's the one who's a better senpai to his kouhai, he's the one who's taken what he's learned and grown from it; he's surpassed the Master.

Anyway, yeah, thoughts aren't complete, but Inui is fantastic. Not like we didn't already know that.

Good thoughts about Inui and Yanagi! They make me really sad, though. How can they have any sort of relationship now?

OTOH, Inui and Kaidoh are now married for life. ♥♥♥

I'm looking forward to your complete thoughts. :)

nicely put there, halbot.

I am a little disappointed in Yanagi right now. Not in Kirihara, as he is not doing anything outside of his norm - which could have changed over the series, but obviously hasn't.

I read this chapter as: Kirihara and Kaidoh both turn into Hatian demon gods, Yanagi says something bastardy and Inui dies, metaphorically not literally. I like your reading much better.

Yeah, I wanted Yanagi to be better than this. :( I really like him, dammit!

Inui's death will not be in vain. :D

And I love your icon so, so much. But I think I've mentioned that before.

That's what's pissing me off most, right at the moment; Konomi went back on his plot. Kirihara /did/ advance and mature through Echizen and Fuji. He set aside the berserker mode and reached muga instead; he lost but kept his honor. It was all set up for some really nice plot/character progress... and then we get to nationals and Konomi takes it all back and gives him this hyper-berserker mode instead. *grumps* I'm in the middle of an entry wondering how I can make a coherent character out of this mish-mash, and what could possibly, plausibly, have led a player like Kirihara to /let go/ of what is repeatedly demonstrated to be one of the best techniques available.

I'm glad you mentioned that about Kirihara -- I'd forgotten. I really do hope (though I also doubt) we get some backstory or explanation to make more sense of this.

Looking forward to your post!

Hm, interesting, interesting, especially with your statements (completely valid, imo) that this isn't a sports series, it's more a samurai-ical series instead.

I'm hoping that we see something in the next Genius or two that...not necessarily "redeems" Yanagi/Kirihara/Rikkai, but shows us that there's more than bloody-pulp-tennis encouraged by Kirihara's senpais being completely passive to the ultra-violence of this match.

I hope we see that too -- it doesn't seem to make sense to me as it stands now.

I was thinking Rikkai could default on the match, by way of making things right, but I don't want to see that. I'd rather see that there is something behind this and that they are sticking to their guns. If they have decided to win at all costs, there's more honour in keeping to that plan than wussing out at this stage.

I'm really interested to get your thoughts on all this, since you're more Rikkai-focused and I'm all about Seigaku. Is this fitting in with the way you see Rikkai? Is it jarring?

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But Inui and Kaidoh: your love is true, so very true, and ever shall be so.

♥ ♥ ♥

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I'm not sure that I'm surprised either, from a character point of view. But from a genre convention point of view, I would have expected a more "noble" fight for the big climactic finals. Hmm.

I agree with your theory. But also with those who express concern at the lack of referee and rules that were enforced previously in the same manga.

I can understand you being overwhelmed by the InuKai, which does deserve love. But I am somehow puzzled everytime you give Konomi more credit than he deserves.

Samurai tennis, codes of honor... It all sounds very nice. And maybe below everything else, he aims for that. But then we remember that Ryoma has lost his memory stupidly and that they had to retrieve him by helicopter and the background character aren't better than cardboard figures with a tape repeating the same lines over and over again... ::Sigh:: It's all for the random joys. Like with Shitenhouji's games. We had the clown pair making up for all the remaining crap.

What do you think I'm giving Konomi credit for? Some parts of the story are lovely and some are are insanely bad. I'm pretty fascinated by this match and I'm trying to break it down and understand it better. That doesn't mean I necessarily think the story is *good*, just interesting. Do you mean because I don't mention the really awful stuff it comes across as praise?

I guess I usually don't mind if something is bad so long as it's still interesting to me.

And of course InuKai conquers all. :)

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