「STAND UP あなたがあったので」 (STAND UP Anata ga attanode)
“Stand Up – Because You Were There”
Yagami’s all angsty again.
Since the beginning Prince of Stride Alternative has stressed the severity of Yagami’s personal issues concerning his brother. He’s exhibited frequent displays of anxiety and insecurity on the matter, conveying the troubled history the two share. It’s apparently so scarring that it not only incited his departure from stride, but also an inability to motivate himself to improve.
When it was revealed a few episodes back that the source of this conflict was the fact that, in the past, Yagami could never get as fast as his brother, I felt a little let down—the revelation seemed not nearly as severe as the show was making it out to be. However, I refrained from criticizing and just assumed that there was still far more to it. While this episode provided some greater depth to the turmoil, it failed to do so with the thoroughness and profundity a season’s long build up demanded.
The main issue here was a severe lack of innovation. This week’s installment failed to introduce any substantially new angles around Yagami’s inner turmoil—it merely retreaded well-worn material. It subsisted itself by milking out the fact that Yagami was and is frustrated that no matter how hard he works, he is never able to even come close to his brother’s level in skill because he is not nearly as passionate about the sport. The episode tried to present this as a fresh and inventive narrative, even though we just found out about this just a little while ago. We already know that the reason he’s afraid to exert his full effort is because his past training has made him believe that it won’t amount to anything.
The episode then channeled this matter into a message about abandoning the troubles of the self by relying on your teammates to carry you through. Stride shouldn’t be about the individual, but becoming a part of a unity—of a team. Yagami must realize that he now had teammates to help him through his struggles.
However, this is an epiphany which was not only illustrated last week, but also during the show’s second episode. This week’s installment did slightly innovate by distinguishing Tomoe as an individual who never really empathized with Yagami’s frustrations—always running past him, expecting him to catch up—and Fujinuma as someone who will wait for Yagami—assessing his difficulties pragmatically and helping him actually progress. Perhaps all Yagami wanted was for his brother to look at him for who he was and not who he expected him to be, conveyed by his happiness at when Fujiwara finally does exactly that (“I want to run with you”). This concluding scene was actually particularly powerful (if not a little hammed up), recreating the same circumstances as Yagami’s haunting memories. Regardless, though, this episode still recycled material from past episodes while only barely channeling anything new.
As a result, this week’s episode was particularly uninteresting. I always encourage shows to take its time developing its characters, but I generally feel that episode ten could have replaced at least half of its run-time with something new, or done away with itself entirely. Yagami has quarreled and subsequently made up with Fujiwara in this exact manner plenty of times already. His past trauma and relationship with his brother have not only led to an underwhelming discovery, but one which has already been relayed the audience. Now that these personal matters have been finally amended (hopefully) the impending End of Summer tournament will prove for a more riveting watch to conclude the winter season.