「 さぁ、始めようぜ」 (Sā, Hajimeyō ze)
“C’mon, Let’s Get Started”
The finale of RE-MAIN season 1 was honestly executed so well it could almost fit as the ending for the entire series. With the final showdown underway, Yamanami vs Shogakukan, it was the ultimate bout between a newborn team with plenty of heart and seasoned veterans who refuse to show mercy. Coming off their previous victory, the Joujima crew were looking to give Minato’s ex-team a run for their money, but it was never going to be easy! A finale that truly captured what RE-MAIN is all about, this episode had all the action, character development, and pleasant surprises we could ever have hoped for.
The FALL of Teamwork?
Unlike their previous match, winning against a powerhouse team like Shogakukan was always going to need more than just teamwork, and this was quickly made evident after the first quarter. While it was impressive that our boys were able to keep them at bay for a full quarter with neither side scoring a point, the reality of what it takes to compete at such a level began manifesting itself, as fatigue and exhaustion kicked in, particularly for the weaker members of team Yamanami.
Nevertheless, there was a moment here where Minato showed a grand change of character when he attributed his strong performance to Babayaro’s pre-game chocolate, revealing to the team a change in his personality. Going from someone who would not allow anybody in the team to have pre-game chocolate to now embracing its benefits and even encouraging it was a heart-warming moment that reflected the magic touch of “happy” Minato and the influence he has had on guiding our main character’s journey. In general, it was just a beautiful moment to see Minato smiling joyfully at the weaker members of the team rather than bringing them down as his old self would have done.
As the next quarter commenced, the last thing the boys needed was the entrance of Momosaki Riku, Shogakukan’s star player, to capitalize on Yamanami’s decreasing stamina and lack of substitute players. It was all downhill from there, and not even Minato’s attempts at cooperating towards teamwork could hail the onslaught that was commencing. Goal after goal, it wasn’t long until Shogakukan took a massive lead, and not even Amihama’s superb swimming ability could keep up with his older brother’s lightning-fast freestyle. While Yaminami was putting up a great fight for such an inexperienced team, scoring a single goal suddenly became an impossible task. The team needed something more than teamwork…but what?
Yoshiharu’s LEGENDARY Goal
A quick reflection on Yoshiharu’s match performance, there’s no denying he was the undisputed weakest player in the pool. The poor little man struggled to swim into position, defend, and certainly could not get a chance to shoot. With 37 seconds left on the clock and Shogakukan leading 15-0, there was no salvation for Yamanami to win, or even score. In what appeared to be the collapse of the team, Minato seemingly relapsed into old habits and barked at his team for being useless, commanding that they get the ball to him if they want any chance of scoring.
Surprisingly, this seemed to yield some benefits for Yamanami, and a fire was lit up within the boys as inner rage and frustration were channeled into a last-ditch play to get the ball to Minato. Indeed, it turned out to be the facade of the century, as the entire Shogakukan team were fixated on stopping Minato’s shot, and after displaying the traits of his old “angry” self for all to see, there were no doubts in everyone’s minds that he had resorted to selfish play.
It was the most beautiful moment of the entire anime, as the best player of Yamanami teamed up with the worst, revealing that Minato never once forgot about little Yoshiharu as he tosses the ball to him and puts in all his trust to make it happen. He was struggling throughout the entire match, barely catching his breath, and there’s no doubt that Shogakukan never considered him a threat, or even noticed his presence in the pool. At that moment, Yoshiharu scores the most epic goal of the series, letting out the roar that Minato had taught him, and sinking in Yamanami’s first and only goal of the match in a buzz-beater thriller!
The team’s roaring celebration and the audience’s reaction showed just how much that one goal meant to everyone. Family and friends rejoiced in the stands, and Yoshiharu’s mother definitely represented how we all felt about that goal, it was an absolutely tear-jerking and wholesome moment. Words were not needed to explain why Minato did what he did when he yelled at the boys in order to bait the other team into targeting him, though the boys did demand an explanation as to why he couldn’t tell them earlier, to which Minato reveals it would’ve given them away. Indeed, it was a pro-gamer move from Minato and perhaps the best way to boost the team’s most unconfident player, Yoshiharu, as he is now the only member on the team to score a goal against the legendary Shogakukan, a feat that is simply unbelievable for an inexperienced player.
The Smile of the GODS
To sum up, what was an absolutely epic match, despite the 15-1 scoreline, everyone was in good spirits and the atmosphere had once again returned to the days of “happy Minato.” Another wholesome moment in the car was indicative of good times ahead, as Minato praises his sister’s efforts at her musical competition despite missing out on 1st-place. Even more powerful still, Minato finally comes to terms with the car accident, saying he no longer blames his mother for what happened and that he is playing water polo simply because he likes it. I could write a whole essay on how I feel about the Jojo family, but let’s just say my heart was at peace and my eyes were bathing in a river at the sight of that long-awaited father-son love!
There is no doubt that team Joujima was feeling great despite the overwhelming loss, and I am certain it was Yoshiharu’s inspiring goal that gave everyone that hope and belief that they have what it takes to put something together and challenge water polo’s best. With smiles all around, the moment we had all been waiting for finally happened, as Amihama gives us the smile of the gods, after putting together a training regime that’s got him all excited. for some reason. Yes, the team certainly found the smirk a little off-putting and maybe a touch psychotic, but I couldn’t help admiring Amihama looking like the best damn version of himself!
Well, that’s all folks! Apologies for the extra-long review, but this finale got me way too excited and emotional! Let’s hope season 2 commences sooner than later because RE-MAIN is certainly a hidden masterpiece in the making!