If I had titles for my weekly reviews like I did for my usual posts, I would have definitely picked the word ‘resilience’. Every character on either side of the net have held their ground throughout, and I also felt like I’ve held my breath along the long rallies and suspense.
The episode opens up with Coach Nekomata’s acknowledgment of his student, Coach Aritaka. A well deserved nod, indeed. This whole episode had me thinking: what a strong bond and trust Sarukawa as a team must have in between the teammates and the coach! In a world where everything relies on instant gratification and the desire to quickly grab hold of whatever it is that’s in front of you, I was wondering how would you go about cultivating such a resilient team made up of teenagers. A team so strong that can hold themselves up until they reach the goal, in such a stressful environment.
After seeing some of the match, we witness a flashback where Aritaka was a student and the team were listening to Coach Nekomata’s remarks. What he says is simple, irrefutable: every point is equal in volleyball! Doesn’t matter if it’s a perfect A-pass or a sloppy dunk; they are equally 1 point. And they stack up, paving the way to a possible success. If we mean overall more skilled and experienced players when we say ‘stronger opponents’, as Nekomata makes it clear that one has to focus on the whole instead of single hits or misses. This point of view must have resonated very strongly with Aritaka that he’s handing the legacy down to his own students. I like that we got such a moment in the series, the only aspect of a person that can continue to live on is a legacy after all.
However, we also know that Nekoma isn’t just trying to keep up with Sarukawa without a plan. Sarukawa may look at Kenma as a ‘pampered prince’, Kenma’s teammates embrace their setter and take pride in it. As much as brain’s a fragile organ that needs to be protected in a hardened chest, the body cannot function without it as well. Look at me going along with Nekoma’s biological analogies! It’s such a Kenma-like strategy to come up with something that will challenge his body less and his mind more. I’m also eternally thankful to Furudate for giving us a heap of amusing Kenma facial expressions through these episodes!
I also love Kenma’s short internal monologue on guts, which was also one of the underlying themes of the previous episode and his early, constant clash with Taketora. I guess we do take emotions as things that arise ‘naturally’, a given response to a specific situation and independent of the person. While it’s true to a certain extent, for another person to know what we are feeling and how deeply, is still dependent on a ‘performance’ of said emotion. If for Taketora guts is slamming the ball or running faster or further from others, for Kenma it’s committing to things even if he doesn’t necessarily like or downright hate. His little angry rant at the end of the episode was so cute!
Nekoma’s resilience lies in their adaptability, if Sarukawa’s resilience lies in their focus. It was a really close match, but in the end Nekoma was the team that managed to advance. We also get to witness the sweet reunion of Nekomata and Aritaka, but this time as two coaches. Nekomata expresses his gratitude with a seemingly simple sentence, but even I got teary at the happiness and pride Aritaka felt. It is not emphasized strongly but Nekomata, grandfather Ukai and especially Shiratorizawa’s coach Washijou are well known coaches among the volleyball circles and are highly respected. So I’m guessing it must be thrilling to hear such words from someone with that caliber.
The episode end with Nekoma watching Karasuno’s game with Inarizaki, from the side of the court and calling out to Karasuno, letting them know that they are ready to take them on. Is this a foreshadowing of their official ’Battle of the Trash Heap’? Or is this the end of Karasuno, who’s been doing so well and made so much progress already? We’ll wait and see ~
I already talked about my favorite moments so I won’t be making a separate section, but here are some stills I liked a lot!! As always, thank you so much for taking the time to read what I have to offer and have a nice day!