「新しい挑戦へ」 (Atarashii Chousen e)
“To a New Challenge”
With every end comes a new beginning…
A trite sentiment, but one that holds a ring of truth. Of course it’s easier to start anew on a good note rather than attempting to re-gather motivation after walking away from a devastating loss. This is a crucial moment for Seirin, as what they choose to take away from their experience will determine how far they get in their coming matches. It’s no surprise first-years like Kagami and Kuroko are taking the losses harder than second-years like Hyuuga or Itsuki, as not only was the match against Touou a highly personal one, they haven’t had much experience dealing with defeat, period. For the senior Seirin members, this isn’t the first year where they failed to reach the Inter-High, so the psychological hit they took isn’t as severe as Kagami or Kuroko’s loss of self-assuredness.
In some ways, this episode was a step backward in terms of development for one particular character: Kagami. It is not, however, due to lazy writing or a plot ploy, but rather the natural direction his personality should flow. The difficulties a character-driven show has to face are numerous, and one of the most common hurdle creators have to jump over is the aftermath of a setback. How will the characters face their defeat? What will be their reactions? How will they overcome it in a manner that is natural and suitable to them? I don’t think I have to point out how often shows utterly fail at capturing the emotions involved in defeat and the subsequent “rebirth” properly – it happens more often than not. Kagami, in many ways, ended up resetting some of his growth; it’s victory over teamwork again, and this arises from his anger and frustration at being unable to overcome his own limits.
What’s different this time is that Kagami is externalizing. During the match with Shuutoku, his foray into assholery was solely driven by his desire to win and the complacency that convinced he was the only one who could make a victory happen. But with Touou, he genuinely believed in teamwork and wanted to prove their team’s philosophy was stronger than their opponent’s disparate, selfish principles. Not only that, there was also the issue of Aomine – about proving to the Touou ace andhimself that he was capable of defeating him and becoming the new “light”. It was a test of his and Kuroko’s partnership. And the more you believe in something, the bigger the disappointment is when things fall short. Kagami really did give it all in that last match, but it just fell short. The fact he was benched for part of that game and the rest of the ones afterward probably didn’t help – for a restless person like him, it’s just about the worst punishment they can have. It’s a constant reminder of his failure, how utterly weak he seemed in that one crucial match. I suspect that is what is driving his change now; his aggravation with himself is reflecting itself in the rough, “independent” play he exhibited this episode.
Kagami does need this step back though, since it’s natural for people to angst a little before picking themselves up again. No one emerges from every obstacle happy and enlightened right away. This is a moment for him to face his weaknesses and accept that he can’t go guns ablazing all the time. But most importantly, he needs to realize “limits” are meant to be surpassed. As Teppei says, they’re all high-schoolers, with a lot more potential than they realize. It might seem as if they’ve hit a ceiling now, but that’s not the same ceiling they’ll be hitting years – even months – later.
Kiyoshi Teppei (Hamada Kenji) is certainly an oddball, but a highly charismatic one that draws people towards him like a magnet. He might just be the one to snap Kagami out of his slump for a number of reasons: his personality and their similar circumstance. Teppei seems like one of those dogged types you can’t say “no” to, and he has been out of commission until now due to an injury. He most likely suffered the same kind of aggravation as Kagami did, which is why he’s in the best position to whip him back into fighting form – he probably understands the situation in a way nobody else can.
With Seirin really out of the Inter-High though, I have to start wondering where KuroBasu is headed next. Obviously the Winter Cup is Seirin’s new goal, but I highly doubt the show plans on cramming that into the remaining episodes. And maybe it was just my imagination, but the directing of this episode felt slightly… off-pace. The transitions between scenes weren’t as smooth, and while parts that really mattered were well done and fleshed out properly, some of the intercutting scenes felt slightly undercooked in a sense (particularly the remaining two games Seirin lost). I suppose since the underdeveloped parts aren’t necessary to the story I can’t complain too much, but it’s a notch below KuroBasu’s usual quality and I can’t help but wonder if this is due to the series nearing its end, necessitating the usual “cram as much as possible into the last few episodes” mentality. With no announcement of a second season (yet!), it’s possible the production team is gearing up for an anime-original ending if they can’t find a suitable place in the original material to leave off of. It’s around three weeks too early to make any judgments though!
- Kagami should take a page out of Midorima’s Book of Angsting – a darkened room doesn’t quite have the same effect as standing despondently in the rain, I’m afraid lol
- Teppei is weird
- And waddaya know? All those ED inserts actually tell a story (see below)!
- Just realized, but Momoi looks a little like a Pokemon Trainer in that ED shot
ED2: 「カタルリズム」 (Kataru Rizumu) by OLDCODEX
ED Inserts Compilation