This episode is fairly tense. The game is every bit as hard as expected and while most of the characters keep trying to bring their spirits back up, Kageyama seems to hit a wall. Not surprising really for a perfectionist, control-freak to berate himself for what he perceives as poor performance, but not particularly helpful. Then of course the episode ends before the end of the first set (yep, whole episode and the first set isn’t over) and Kageyama is getting subbed out. I wonder how he’s going to react to that.
Review Episode 21:
Apparently Kageyama has grown a bit since we first met him. He actually takes being subbed fairly well and uses the time to calm himself and study the game. Sugawara is the stand out of the episode. He’s always been quiet with good advice for his team mates but seeing him bring them all back into the game was kind of fun and created a very different mood on court to what we’ve seen so far.
And we didn’t finish the second set but Kageyama has just taken the court. Wow, they are making this game take awhile, but I can’t help but thinking that rushing it would have been a bad idea.
The previous episodes all seemed to be pushing Shimada as a mentor or father figure onto Rei. Someone to give him guidance and help him move forward professionally after the sisters had managed to make him move forward a little bit socially. Or at the very least they got him out of his apartment. This episode strips away that guise as we see that even Rei realises he can’t simply look to someone else and he has to find the answer in himself. For the first time we see Rei actually determined to find that answer rather than hide from himself and his own feelings. It kind of blew me away. Certainly nothing has changed for Rei outwardly. This episode really didn’t do much other than play the much awaited fourth match of this tournament and had Shimada lose (with some fairly petty commentary from the onlookers – the guy qualified to play, leave him alone).
This is what I have liked about this story from the beginning. It isn’t so concerned about following a narrative trope that it misses its own focus and forces actions on characters due to narrative convenience. This story is entirely focussed on the characters, specifically Rei, and it ensures that all of his actions are directly linked to his emotional state which is affected continuously by outside stimulus and his own self-doubt. Of course, the question after this episode becomes one of whether Rei can actually maintain the feeling he has right now and try to find his own answer or whether he’ll back away again and beat a hasty retreat to the comfort of the familiar (even if the familiar is pretty miserable).
March Comes in Like a Lion is available on Crunchyroll.
Seriously, how is this team not the antagonist of the series? Just look at that picture of them attempting to intimidate the other players. Though Hinata’s insecurity does lead to some interesting daydreams.
The issue being that about half the time I’d love to see that actually happen to him. Which is probably why Tsukishima is definitely starting to grow on throughout this episode.
Mostly this was a fun but necessary episode if they were ever going to start being teamlike but I’m still not invested to the point where I actually care if they win or lose (though all things considered if they win that might snap any last thread of credibility that was hanging in there).
Review Episode 7:
And there we have it; credibility shattered. Even if the other team was without their main setter for most of the game, they were all experienced players who were clearly used to working together in a school that’s apparently strong at the sport. How does a patched together team that’s missing points as often as getting them manage to even come close let alone actually win? Fictional sports logic.
And after winning the adviser has some weird epiphany which goes on way too long to say very little and other than introducing a new character for next time nothing else really happens.
But at lest we keep setting new goals. First it was get into the gym, then the practice game, and now some other tournament with the dangling possibility of nationals.
A couple of spoilers below so if you care who wins the matches maybe watch the episode first. That and I really went over my 100 words this week. Oops.
From the start this episode is a bit off. We get a fairly long recap of what happened last week and then we have a musical interlude while Smith goes about his morning business. None of this is bad. The recap reinforces a fairly significant turning point in the series and while the musical interlude is a bit strange and the animation during it (particularly the fridge sequence) isn’t the best, it allows a smooth transition into the first half of this episode which is narrated by Smith.
From this we see that Rei has in fact been deep in preparation for his upcoming matches and we also get to see Smith’s frustration that Rei is clearly not even considering that he might win against Gotou. Which, from a narrative point of view, even the audience isn’t considering that possibility.
The match between Gotou and Smith is actually given a decent amount of screen time and as much as Rei sees Gotou as a villain, and some of what we’ve seen and heard about him suggests he isn’t a pleasant person, while playing against Smith we see the professional that he is. Including offering a calm critique at the end of where Smith went wrong.
We then get another recap of last week before we switch to Rei’s perspective as he approaches his own match against a character I cannot remember the name of but he’s the older brother of Nikaido, maybe. That bit was a little unclear. This match we don’t see the end of but it is clear Rei is struggling so I’m really looking forward to the continuation next week.
Once again the visual metaphors in this show (while not in any way subtle) are really quite impressive and continue to convey the appropriate mood and tone to the audience and make what might otherwise be a fairly dry viewing experience quite immersive.
March Comes in Like a Lion is available on Crunchyroll.
Another match and another visit with the sisters. While I find Kiriyama’s commentary interesting and I still feel this is one of the better shows of the season, this episode didn’t do a lot (and that is the general problem with slice of life). There was a lot about the characters, though little that we didn’t already know or couldn’t have guessed, and pretty much nothing really happened. Probably the one point I latched onto in this episode was Rei Kiriyama actually wanting to win his match.
Before it felt like he wasn’t that interested in winning but when push came to shove this week, he didn’t want to lose. It kind of made him feel a little more connected to the world than I’d previously thought because before he just seemed to be drifting through his life and winning just kind of happened rather than being something he actually tried to accomplish.
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