「小さな少女の願い」 (Chisana Shoujo no Negai)
“A Little Girl’s Wish”
You really can’t judge a book by its cover it seems, as this second episode of Ro-Kyu-Bu had me thinking that the story would work really well in a live-action drama. From the instrumental version of the “Shoot” opening theme to sixth grade Tomoka trying to deny her love for basketball, I’m pleasantly surprised by what I’ve seen so far. Don’t let the character designs fool you, there’s some pretty good drama in this light novel adaptation.
Is it revolutionary to the point that everyone should be watching Ro-Kyu-Bu this season? Probably not, but considering how a lot of people were quick to kick it to the curb and completely mislabel it with some predetermined judgements, it’s definitely worth giving some limelight too, hence this post on the second episode. What the screen captures don’t show you are the underlying themes to this anime, in which we have a high school basketball ace, who’s completely dejected and resigned to quitting the sport altogether, rediscovering his love for the sport from a sixth grader who’s doing everything she can to fight for place to play. It sounds like a straightforward plot device, and leads to some scenes that will almost certainly be misinterpreted from an outside point of view, but has the whole “realizing one’s true feelings and supporting each other” aspect going for it. The easily misunderstood scenes are very believable as well given the age of the characters, provided you’re mature enough to see it for it is.
The decision to make it so that Subaru’s basketball club suspended because of suspicions that the captain is a lolicon is undoubtedly the biggest reason for misconceptions about this series. After all, his club could have just as well been suspended for any other reason and the rest of the plot would’ve remained the same. However, that part of the story actually works really well in explaining Subaru’s hesitation toward coaching a sixth grade girls basketball team, and serves as a reminder to him that he can be misunderstood if he gets too friendly with them. Thus far, it’s shown that he’s aware of how he may be perceived and reiterated that his decision to coach Tomoka and the others’ stems from his love for the sport and not any romantic feelings toward any of the girls. More specifically, he’s captivated by Tomoka’s own love for the sport and her remarkable skill for both her age and her gender, so much that he feels that even he can learn something from her technique. All the while, his inner desire to play basketball resurfaces despite how much he tries to deny it, from seeing Tomoka’s determination and hearing her sincere feelings about her friends.
Admittedly, Tomoka’s backstory about losing her place to play in her previous school because she was obsessed with winning is all too reminiscent of Nagase Jun in last season’s Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai II, and Subaru’s earnest desire to help Tomoka keep her place came off a bit too much like a confession and even a bit hypocritical since he himself had kind of given up, but the believability is still there, along with the emotions to really get me into the idea. I’m also glad Subaru didn’t somehow lose the one-on-one match against Tomoka (or let her win), and was won over by her feelings and wanted to be her coach instead. Now that he’s set on coaching them, the show takes a Giant Killing turn with the girls trying to beat the boys team so their club doesn’t have to disband. Given how much I love seeing the underdog pull an upset with some seemingly unorthodox strategies, I’m looking forward to seeing how Subaru uses each of the girls to their strengths to exploit the boys’ weaknesses. Hearing him pull a Mu La Flaga-like line about making the impossible possible? That just sealed the deal.