If there’s one thing that this episode emphasized, it’s that one may never truly comprehend an encounter until several years later. In Mario’s case, the American soldier Jeffrey who he boxed against back when An-chan was still alive ends up helping him arrange a proper medical examination for Suppon to see if he’s suffering from the aftereffects of the atomic bomb. Given how the preview last time made it seem like Mario and Lily would get screwed over at by more Americans, it was really surprising to see that Jeffrey’s gesture of kindness had no strings attached. All he wanted was to spar with Mario again out of respect for his boxing skills, which quite frankly didn’t seem as bad as Lily made it out to be. Sure Mario’s right hand is still a huge handicap, but he was able to use it to a fair degree without any visible signs of discomfort. Jeffrey didn’t look like he was only out to injure Mario either, making their exchange come off as a fairly sportsmanlike match in my eyes. In fact, they both looked like they were completely in the zone and communicating with their first in better ways than they could with their different languages. In short, at no point did Mario seem like he was in any serious danger.
Be that as it may, it was kind of nice to see their match stopped so that Jeffrey could learn about Mario’s busted right hand that he’s fought him with before. Quite honestly, I’m amazed that Mario’s hand healed as well as it did, because it looked like every bone was shattered back at Shonan. If this were reality, I’d be hard-pressed to believe that he’d still have some resemblance of a hand and be able to make a fist with it unless he had a specialist resetting every bone in hopes that it will heal properly. On that note, I found Mario’s sudden tears from feelings of helplessness towards Suppon’s condition a bit premature. Believability was definitely a bit shaky in that scene, since there was no confirmation that Suppon had radiation poisoning yet and this was the first time that Mario had seen him in such a state. I did appreciate the story’s attempt to reemphasize that Mario cares about his friends the most and inherited An-chan’s spirit though. It’s always nice to know that Sakuragi continues to affect the boys’ way of life in positive ways well after his tragic death.
As for Lily herself, she’s become more of a motivational plot device for Suppon in this arc now. While it felt a bit abrupt hearing him want to support Lily’s dream of opening her own small shop one day — to the point that he’d go to Sugi and beg on his hand and knees for him to lend him thirty hundred thousand yen — it did help reiterate that he feels indebted to her and considers her family. This in turn led to what should be the main conflict of this arc — Suppon’s decision to stick with the money lending line of work even after learning that Sugi’s body is ridden with deep scars from people unwilling to pay him back. The plus side is that the old money lender doesn’t appear to have an ulterior motive like I was suspecting, making the antagonists of this arc the yakuza-like thugs whom Suppon’s been tasked to collect a debt from if he wants to borrow enough money to help Lily out. Incidentally, it’s also for him to see if he can handle this line of work, so it’ll be interesting to see how far his resolve takes him. The preview on the other hand still has me wondering if Sugi’s up to something.