「ニンジャ＆ザムライ」 (Ninja & Zamurai)
“Ninja & Samurai”
Dealing with Injuries: Physical and Spiritual
We’ve seen the lengths that Jotaro has gone to so that he can compete again in global gymnastics. It felt so satisfying when Jotaro finally achieved a quadruple flip in the form of Aragaki Mark II, since we all know Jo’s gone through struggles hell and back to reach where he currently is. So seeing him injure himself was devastating to watch – even though he and his coach kept putting on a smile. Although he remains optimistic and downplays the extent to which his sprained ankle affects him, it’s not difficult to see it’s really just a coping mechanism. Because often times, elite athletes need this impenetrable mental fortitude even when the worst case scenario has come to pass.
A beautiful point this episode captured which we rarely see in other sports anime is that competitors at the highest level are always handling injuries in some way or another. We also saw how Tomoyo’s accident and subsequent death impacted Jotaro. On the outside, he appeared unperturbed and insisted he would still compete. However, the reality was that he was absolutely shattered – resulting in the catastrophic performance that brought shame upon him. Audiences watching his gymnastics routine on TV can’t see it or feel it. Yet these kind of emotional injuries are arguably way worse than physical ones.
The Weight of Sacrifices without Meaning
As a fan of Arsenal FC, I know all too well when it comes to stories about players running their health and bodies into the ground so that they can achieve accolade and glory before their time is up. So the idea breaks my heart. That Jotaro could fail and never have another shot, because his body might be pushed past the point of recovery. I saw that happen with Arsenal’s captain, Koscielny, who injured himself in a tournament that Arsenal failed to win. And more importantly, missed out on the one lifelong opportunity he had to win the World Cup with France’s international team. It’s all too real, Taiso Samurai’s depicted athletic competition at the highest level. Those sacrifices without returns, competing poorly at an international event to miss his wife’s final moments, definitely haunt Jotaro and that regret will stay with him forever.
But ultimately, Jotaro continues to have belief in himself. Belief that even if he injures himself further and faces significant setbacks, his personal philosophy is to never give up – due to the culmination of his life experiences. He’s had that lowest point where he almost gave up before, and realised he couldn’t do it. Jotaro knows he’s loved, and that people love to see his gymnastics. Crucially, they’ve always believed in him through thick and thin – and that’s what keeps him going.
I’m not always the type of person to believe in never giving up or superhuman willpower. Since that only shows sports at its best, and fails to provide a genuine depiction encapsulating competitive spirit on a holistic level. And MAPPA’s deliberate avoidance of this trope is the fundamental aspect which positively distinguishes Taiso Samurai from other sports shows – with characters existentially pondering on why they work so hard before seeking to prevail over inner demons that emotionally plague them.
Anyway, that’s about everything I wanted to discuss. Before this series wraps up, I hope we will see a spirited performance from Jotaro that reminds everyone why he’s the samurai as well as Leo’s resolution to face his personal fears. As always, thanks for reading this post and see you all next week.