Yes, the badminton episode has arrived, as per the salaryman-badminton weekly rotation, we were given a work-related story last week and this week we are right back into the on-court action! There were plenty of character arcs going on simultaneously, from Mikoto really stepping it up with his planning and analytics to Kouki applying his “think of everyone naked” technique to the match and finally the poetic rediscovery of passion and love through Toru Usuyama‘s return to badminton! Let’s take a deeper look into each of these developments:
Mikoto taking the helm
From the last few matches we’ve seen with team Sunlight Beverage, it was clear that Tatsuru was the one taking the lead and guiding the pair to victories through his strong presence and the sturdy foundation he’s laid out. However, this time we really see Mikoto take his analytical abilities and gift of foresight to a new level, taking charge of the entire gameplan and even going as far as to throw the first set to gather data on their opponents. It was awesome to see this pair continue to gel together and really follow through with each other’s ideas both on and off the court. Despite their age gap, Tatsuru and Mikoto show that there is no reason that older individuals cannot learn from their younger colleagues and vice-versa.
Takeda Kouki’s new technique
In what began as something of a gag, Kouki’s newfound “think of everyone naked” technique is making all the difference to his self-confidence and stage fright, allowing him to be his usual cool self in front of large audiences and cheering crowds. The animation of the matches combined with the classy business-style soundtracks really gave the action a unique vibe about it that you won’t come across in typical sports anime. It’s also awesome to see how the relationship between one’s work and sporting life can be so strongly connected as Kouki overcomes similar challenges with the same mental techniques and strategies. While they did ultimately lose the match, I feel this is the beginning of a new Kouki, who will now strive to better himself at badminton and work without exterior burdens and anxieties to hold him back.
Usuyama’s flame reignited
Perhaps the most relevant character arc to what Ryman’s Club is all about, Tori Usuyama really captures the essence and soul of this series. Through his journey as a badminton player and later a married salaryman and father, Usuyama is a character who never quite attained balance in his life as a “Badaryman.” Indeed, for the stable stoic it was always one or the other, but now it would seem all of his hard work in providing for his family is paying off. After supporting his wife to achieve her dream of becoming an author, the good karma has come back to him as Mrs. Usuyama has given him her blessings to once again pursue the sport he loves.
In a rather emotional yet heart-warming and uplifting moment, Usuyama has finally taken action to honor that little voice in his head saying “come back to badminton!” Chasing after the Sunlight Beverage badminton team, the strong-willed quality-assurance officer even went as far as offering to pick up badminton shuttles and doing assistant work just to be involved with the sport. Of course, coach Yasuomi would have none of that, and Usuyama’s deep-rooted passion easily got through to the perceptive coach, who welcomed him aboard with open arms! With a new strong weapon in their arsenal in the form of Toru Usuyama, Sunlight Beverage is looking stronger than ever as they now take aim towards the S/J Cup in 5 months’ time!