Team Basquash is up against Eclipse in the semi-final round of the championship, and the night before the game, Sela is once again out on her own. She sees all the destruction around town from Basquash games, and some of the displaced residents feel that it can’t be helped because it’s for the sake of building a new city. Others are too occupied with Basquash to care. Dan meanwhile runs into Rouge again and tells her about his desire to go to the moon and dunk. Rouge is amused, but while she’s talking with him, she momentarily experiences some pain. When Dan becomes concerned, she claims that it’s nothing. She promises a fair and square match this time, and she’s amazed at how Dan can enjoy Basquash and make different sounds by bouncing a basketball against different objects. Regardless, she’s determined to win the match, and when the time finally comes, the two of them go head to head.
Initially, the two of them match up equally and are able to steal the ball from each other, but after a while, Rouge suddenly slows down and collapses. Dan is unable to do anything as she is wheeled away in a stretcher, and as a result of all this, Eclipse is forced to withdraw from the match, meaning that Dan’s team wins by default. Rouge is okay again after some special treatment from her manager, and her teammates discover later that night that Rouge hadn’t been taking her special medicine. Rouge explains that it’s because, for that one match, she wanted to fight on her own strength, and Violette figures that it’s all due how Dan was her opponent. Rouge, however, realizes now that she can’t even stand on the court for an entire match on her own, and she apologizes to her teammates. Citron isn’t happy that Rouge didn’t come talk to them first about this, and after all three of them hug, she and Violette set out to find Dan.
When they eventually find him, they reveal that Rouge is going back to the moon tonight so that she can have surgery. It turns out that all three of them had their physical abilities uniquely enhanced so that they could win in Basquash, but Rouge at some point stopped taking the necessary drugs because she didn’t want to lie to Dan anymore. Dan goes running after Rouge, but he just misses her departing car, and she can’t hear him calling out her name. After she boards a ship headed for the moon though, Rouge hears a familiar sequence of sounds in the city below. She realizes that Dan is in his Bigfoot throwing a ball around the city so the noises from the bounces string together to form the notes of her song Running On. This moves her to tears, and even though Dan can’t hear her, she tells him that she’ll be waiting on the moon. Dan for his part vows to win the championship and go to the moon.
I’ve got mixed feelings about this episode. On one hand, I’m a sucker for times where they advance relationship storylines, and this episode did it in a particularly effective way with how Dan finally called Rouge by her name and with the song scene to end the episode. It was a nice use of the lyrics of Running On, though I question why they needed to devote half the special ED sequence to Rouge – that makes it seem like she died or something much more grave than just leaving for a few episodes (if even that). In any case, this also made me accept Dan and Rouge as a couple more, which was hard to do beforehand because Dan looked and acted like a kid all the time.
On the other hand, I really hate how they’re portraying Miyuki here. It’s not so much the fact that she’s pissed off about how close Dan and Rouge have become – as a childhood friend character, I originally expected Miyuki to be involved in some love triangle – it’s how it comes so late in the story without any prior indication in the past five or six episodes. What was Miyuki doing back when Dan saved Rouge during their first match-up? That would have been a good place to start this, and it wouldn’t have felt like an afterthought in the story like it does now. Having said that, now that they have indicated that she’s pissed off about this though, I hope they can still pull off a decent love triangle story (assuming that’s what they’re going for), and end it more conclusively than Macross F did with its love triangle. Stupid Alto…