「明日に架けるパス」 (Ashita ni Kakeru Pasu)
“A Pass To Tomorrow”
Compared to the previous episode, the drama’s lost a bit of steam to the fan-service. It’s still pretty good, but Ro-Kyu-Bu is looking more and more like it will be “hitting up” the lolicon bait fairly regularly. Or at least, that’s what I figured when Subaru was impressed by the girls’ quick “growth” and said elementary school kids are the best. Now that’s just asking for a misunderstanding. All he needs are some “fushinsha” (suspicious person) sound effects like a certain father of some mischievous triplets and the police sirens will come blaring. Even if it is for fan-service sake, I really don’t see the need to have two bath scenes in the first three episodes, including one at Subaru’s house. I’m just glad the girls didn’t make a big deal about taking a bath in the same tub as their teenage coach — something that other anime have made a fuss over — and instead just let it play out innocently.
As for the more relevant basketball side of the series, I wasn’t too sure what to make of Subaru tricking Airi into believing that she’s the small forward at first. I really didn’t want to see her become an overnight superstar just because of her complex (too predictable and fairy tale-like), so I was pretty happy to find out that she’s actually playing center and dominating because of her height. The last thing I would’ve wanted to see is a bunch of miraculous plays on the court when Subaru invested a lot of time coming up with a game plan that might work. Granted, it’s a simple game plan, baiting the boys into double-teaming Airi and then switching to outside shots from Maho and Saki as soon as they caught on, but this is sixth grade basketball and Subaru did make the most of the girls’ strengths. Incidentally, I can’t really blame Ogasawara, a.k.a. Kamakiri (Iwasaki Ryou), for not respecting the girls and expecting that they might have a game plan, given the age group and the fact that it is girls against boys. He was pretty obnoxious but had every reason to be overconfident as far as I was concerned.
With the girls blowing their lead after two quarters, it was pretty bit odd for them to be panicking so soon. Tomoka’s only been setting up plays as the team’s actual point guard, so they could very well regain the lead if she starts sinking baskets herself. After all, we’ve already seen how she can single-handedly decide a match in the past. The only problem I see is the others are getting roughed up because of fatigue, so in all likelihood, the next part of Subaru’s plan will involve using the underhanded tactic that he alluded to. As for what that tactic is, it’s pretty clear in my mind that they’re going to use Hinata to throw Takenaka off his game. It wasn’t hard to see that Takenaka likes Hinata after the way he reacted, and Saki made it plainly obvious when she told Subaru that everyone else knows about “it”. Quite honestly, I don’t think anyone in their right mind is actually expecting the girls to lose this match and for the story to lose its entire purpose, so it’s just a matter of seeing what “Innocent Charm” will do to pull off an upset at this point. An easy thing would be to just have her play defense against Takenaka and “accidentally” brush up against him. That should make the poor kid lose his focus pretty quickly.
Production-wise, I have to say this episode looked pretty horrid. The faces were too wide and unproportional even for Ro-Kyu-Bu’s character designs, suggesting that Project No.9 and Studio Blanc still have some consistency issues to work out. It was definitely a step down from the previous episode, featuring a lot of distant shots to pad the time, and the budget looked like it was completely spent on the bath scene and the still shots where the school nurse Hatano Touko (Satou Rina) revealed the nicknames she’s given all the girls. Hopefully things improve as we go on. Just for the record, Hinata’s nickename Innocent Charm, Airi is Prismatic Bud, Maho is Fireworks, and Saki is Ice Age. Tomoka doesn’t have one yet but “Shooting Star” would probably work. I just hope she actually does start shooting in the next episode.
* I didn’t mention it in the previous post, but there are some other noteworthy seiyuu in the support cast. In addition to Satou Rina playing Touko, Noto Mamiko plays Subaru’s mother Sena, and Kotobuki Minako plays Takenaka.
* I put together full-length screen captures for images 05, 11, 27, 29, and 33.