99 Red Balloons
The middle schooler losers pelt through the woods, terrified and trailing balloons. "It's just like that time with the evil clown," Taka-san says. Kabaji collapses and Taka-san turns back. "Don't help him," Jackal says. "You'll catch clownitis!" It's too late for Kabaji, anyhow, the
And then...a flashback! Unlike usual, it's not a flashback to that match between Ryoma and Akutsu. Rather, it's a flashback to that morning, when the Drunken Hermit Coach revealed that his hobby was hunting the most dangerous game...man. Also that he had illegally imported a bunch of bald eagles to Japan. (They're no longer endangered, though, so it's okay.)
So, the kids have to run around with red balloons tied to them. The balloons have been covered with something (meat juice? pheromones? candy?) that causes eagles to want to pop them. The eagles ruthlessly hunt them. (No word on what keeps the eagles from, you know, maiming the kids.) You tell me: more or less cracked-out than evil clowns?
Oh, and whoever's balloon is popped has to watch the coach's loin clothes. Yeah.
Ryoma and Kintarou stop to have an argument.
"Why are you following me?" Ryoma says. "I'm trying to accidentally run into Sanada-san and you're going to ruin it." "The more, the merrier!" Kin-chan says, proving that he still doesn't get the point of this show. Or maybe he does.
Meanwhile, many high schoolers are also menaced by eagles. Sasabe hatches a plan to wash the eagle pheromones off his balloon. It's presented as being kind of shady, but, seriously, that's pretty smart. Team Sasabe! Who's with me?
Koharu and Yuuji fake their own deaths, but I guess Koharu forgot to delete his Facebook account or something because the eagles track them down and POP THEIR BALLOONS OMG.
Then we're back at the U-17 camp, where everyone is standing around not being chased by eagles or clowns. I feel kind of sad for them.
I'll just leave this here:
Shin Tenipuri: NEEDS MOAR KIPPEI.
And then there's this:
Anyhow, the middle schoolers are moving up the ranks. Atobe and Irie trash talk a little. Atobe decides to have Irie killed, but only after he's beaten him in tennis.
On the mountain, Sakata learns how to run in a zig zag. Seriously, how is this even a thing? And Gakuto learns the Low Moonsault, which is a move so stupid even Gakuto pretends not to know what it is.
Shishido challenges the eagles head on! Eagle stew and feather pillows tonight! Maybe he's planning to punch them on the beak? It's kind of cool but I still think Sasabe was way smarter.
Sanada takes a moment for himself.
I think I need one too, now.
Sasabe shows up and tries to pop Sanada's balloon, but little does he know Yukimura did that last year. Sanada basically threatens to kill Sasabe, being less subtle than Atobe about these things. Of course, he's already defeated Sasabe, so he can afford to get right down to it.
Sasabe gets out the Ultimate Weapon, two spiky chestnuts, and throws them at Sanada. Sanada gracefully dodges them. And then just stands there like the cool, cool guy he is while they come back and break Sasabe's balloon.
Aw! Sanada sensed the backup of his troops: Kintarou and Ryoma, who were lurking in the bushes while Ryoma tried to convince Kintarou that three's a crowd. But of course they can't agree on whose chestnut did the deed, either, so they decide to settle it "once and for all" with a duel.
So they duel. With chestnuts. But one chestnut isn't enough, so Kintarou puts another into play. Of course, Ryoma isn't satisfied, so he plays a third.
And then Kintarou gets taken by an eagle. The eagle grabs him and flies away. And then drops him. From above the tree tops. Kintarou breaks every bone in his body and Ryoma is so traumatized, he refuses the eagle stew at supper.
Suddenly, the eagles stop chasing every one else! They all circle around Ryoma, who is all alone at the edge of the cliff! "Heed my words," an eagle says. "We are sent from Gwaihir the Windlord, King of the Great Eagles, to bear you all to safety!"
But Kintarou, struggling upright even with all his bones broken, hits five chestnuts to Ryoma, who then hits the five chestnuts at the five eagles. (This really happens.) The eagles fly off and Gwaihir takes Ryoma off his Christmas card list.
The coach shows up. "See how my horrific child abuse caused you to become better tennis players? But you're not good enough yet, so expect more torture, deprivation, and browbeating."
Ryoma asks the coach to show him how to hit ten chestnuts at once. And then the coach hits him.
So not cool.
Anyhow, Sanada asks a bunch of high schoolers to take him on, 5 on 1. They've all been wanting to, of course, but they get a bit of a surprise when it turns into 1 on 5! Everyone else is playing tennis. "Wow," they conclude, "
Back at the U-17 courts, everything has a golden glow which makes it seem like a dream sequence. Maybe there is no mountain and no U-17. Maybe everyone is hooked up to brain hallucination machines while their bodies are harvested for organs.
Or it could still be evil clowns.
Oni arranges a court shuffle match between courts 3 (Irie) and 5 (Atobe). Irie hopes it will be fun. I hope Irie gets better looking.
In the Court 5 locker room, Oni drones on while I watch Atobe and Tezuka
"Hurry up," Atobe says. "Tezuka is hot to trot so I've got to move before he cools down." Tezuka stands there. His arms aren't folded, though, which is the signal that he's flirting.
On the mountain, Ryoma takes off his hat and lies down on the grass, looking up at the stars. Sanada sits down beside him and takes off his hat too! It's like they're naked!
Sanada encourages Ryoma and it's just so sweet I can't bear to be cracky about it. This was one of the best scenes in the manga and I'm so happy they gave it such a spotlight.
Sanada proposes they get a bunch of sake for the coach, so he'll teach Ryoma. Ryoma looks eager -- at last, the date he's been angling for! But their romantic tryst is crashed by Momo and Kintarou and a bunch of other people who are not Kaidoh Kaoru (who was probably too heartbroken seeing Ryoma and Sanada together to come along). Plus a bunch of high schoolers who are also in love with Sanada after that little 1 on 5 encounter.
So, is there anyone not in love with Sanada? Hands? Anyone?
I didn't think so.
Cut to a
Coach takes a torch from the fire. "I never liked those U-17 coaches. Tonight we burn it all down! Revolution! Prepare the guillotine!" The kids scream and mark themselves with soot. Except Sanada, who is beginning to suspect the brain hallucination machines due to having a lot of deja vu. And because he never takes his cap off.
Next week: Bah.