「死んでも勝つっスけど」 (Shindemo Katsussu kedo)
“I’ll Win Even If It Kills Me”
The biggest draw of this episode is no doubt the anticipated match-up between the two Generation of Miracles members, but before getting to the star attraction – and raging about that cliffhanger –some highlights deserving of attention: Midorima, the importance of motivation, Kuroko, and Kasamatsu, the captain with something to prove.
I don’t believe I touched on this before, but Midorima runs on very dichotomous philosophies. The idea of relying on fortune, or fate, to dictate outcomes is a direct counter to the idea of becoming the master of one’s destiny – or to put it in less (or more) cheesier terms, relying on our own abilities to pave our path. The latter way of thinking rejects the notion of a predestined course of action, which is why it’s so interesting to see both philosophies firmly present in one person. He’s a firm believer of his own strength, which breeds a confidence that borders on arrogance – but part of that hubris stems from his obsessive reliance on superstition. While these two beliefs are highly contradictory and should cancel each other out, with Midorima they gel together to create a layered character rife with interesting quirks. His lucky items of the day never fail to bring a comedic element to the show, but they also lend a deeper depth to Midorima’s personality that makes for fairly fun analysis.
It also brings into question what his motivation in playing basketball is. Playing “to win” is too simplistic a reason, and one Midorima has been far too conditioned to do to qualify as a legitimate reason. A clear goal is important in anything a person does, and judging by how he – and the rest of Shuutoku – is so firmly focused, each teammate, as individuals, have something they want to work for – a common goal that forces them to put aside their differences and play as a team. I say this because basketball, at its core, is very much a team sport. Sure, it’s possible to get by with individual play, but somewhere along the line it either becomes one of two things: meaningless or not enough. With Aomine, it’s obviously the former. With Midorima, interestingly enough, it’s harder to tell. His style is solely based on individual strength and uses so little of his teammates that it’s obvious neither of those outcomes really apply to him. What’s more is that for someone so convinced of his own abilities, Midorima chose a sport centered around teamwork – with other people, ensured victory goes from absolute to a maybe. Shuutoku may be strong, but the only thing Midorima will ever be sure of is his own abilities. That kind of self-confidence doesn’t extend to his teammates, and strictly from a statistical point of view, they’re essentially decreasing his chances of victory. Looking at it that way, basketball should never have been a sport he chose – with so many unknown variables to consider, it’s unfavorable for him to play if he’s playing solely to win. In the same vein, it’s interesting Midorima chose to continue play basketball after Teikou, the only team that ever guaranteed him victory. Obviously, there’s something else that motivates him, something Teikou couldn’t give him; whether or not that’s a sufficient method to test his abilities or something else is unclear, but what is clear is that simple “victory” isn’t really the reason why Midorima plays basketball, whether he realizes it or not.
But Midorima does have a clear-cut motivation, which is something Seirin lacks. Like Izuki says, while their team has one half of the equation complete – teamwork – they don’t have the focus, the drive that brings a clarity to their actions. To be fair, some members of the team do have it, namely Hyuuga, Kagami, and recently, Kuroko. But contradictory to their emphasis on team effort, their focus is very much individual – each of their desires to win diverges from the core of what makes them so strong and hence scatters their focus. Part of it has much to do with the fact Seirin is a green team, and although it hasn’t been explicitly stated, it’s been implied even the senior players don’t have a very extensive history in basketball. While Seirin certainly doesn’t play for shits and giggles, they lack that cohesive focus that distinguish those who really want to play from those who play simply because it seems logical. If they want to advance to the finals of any championship, what Seirin needs is that singular drive to define why they play.
With each Seirin member starting to find their focus, it’ll be interesting to see what Kuroko brings to the table with his new style. Like someone pointed out last week, it most likely has to do with what Midorima said, but how Kuroko achieves it will be a real treat to see.
And finally, the star attraction: Kaijou vs. Touou. Or Kise vs. Aomine. The episode’s theme of motivation runs particularly strong in Kaijou, between Kasamatsu and Kise. The captain’s goals are crystal clear and he plays to achieve it – there’s a seriousness to his style and a constant pressure he puts on himself to become better that makes him the captain that his team needs. His past failures give him the drive that defines him as a player and inspires his fellow teammates to play the same way. It’s not the same as having a personal motivation though, and while noble, I’m not sure Kise’s newfound desire to win no matter what will be enough to vault him over Aomine. One glaring flaw – that stems from his personality, not shoddy writing – with Kise’s character is that he doesn’t have a defined sense of self. His actions are firmly rooted in terms of other people. To put it in simpler terms, Kaijou’s ace is like an eager puppy all set to please those around him. It’s rare to see him act on a self-centric desire; with such a diluted sense of self, Kise is seriously limiting his own growth, and preventing himself from finding the drive he needs. This match against his former “mentor” will be his time to shine though, and I imagine it’ll force him to finally find that personal ambition instead of chasing the vision of somebody else’s dreams.
- A wild tsundere appeared!
- Not the moneymaker, Kasamatsu, not the moneymaker!
- Puhaha. Meganes unite! I wonder though, doesn’t it get annoying? Having glasses myself, I know how annoying they can be when they slide down during gym class.
- Date vs. Yukimura… start!
- To make up for the lack of manservice, we have lots and lots of Kise this week. Enjoy, ladies.
Really, really sorry for the lateness – moving has been hectic.
ED2: 「カタルリズム」 (Kataru Rizumu) by OLDCODEX