It’s full steam ahead for Sunlight Beverage as they enter the S/J Finals against rival Mitsuhoshi Bank for the battle that will determine the survival of the badminton team. Coming out with a resounding start thanks to the Saeki brothers, who sealed a snappy victory off-screen, we got straight into the singles bout between Usuyama and Ibuki, a clash between two badminton prodigies who walked very different paths in life. Following that, the climax match of the season began between our favorite pair Mikoto and Tatsuru, as they took on Naohiro and Takuma in the doubles match that will decide the tournament! In an episode of wholesome moments, dramatic turns, and most importantly, some badass badminton, the stage has been set for an intriguing finale to the first season of Ryman’s Club.
Family vs. The Individual
When you put a lone wolf dedicated to badminton up against a father who thrives on the support of his family, you’re bound to get an epic battle that truly puts the paths chosen by each man to the test. After taking a break from badminton for seven years to start a family and stabilize his career, Usuyama has returned to badminton with a gap in experience, but a gain in support. Meanwhile, Ibuki walked the path of the individual, harnessing his skills during those years of Usuyama’s absence from the sport. Anyone would’ve certainly picked Ibuki as the clear favorite for this match-up, but it turns out the love and support of family and friends do wonders for a man’s performance, and this was by no means an easy win for Ibuki. In what was a thrilling match that went right down to the wire, Usuyama left the court with the manly tears of someone who rediscovered a lost passion in life. He may have lost the match, but he won the hearts of his family and friends, who’ll be by his side for the long run, and perhaps that’s where the real win in life lies.
The Rise of Tatsuru
As Mikoto and Tatsuru began the final bout against Mitsuhoshi’s ace doubles pair, it would seem our veteran badaryman is making a resounding comeback after seeking aid for his foot injury. He may not be able to hit his overhead smashes like he used to, but the core training he completed with the para-badminton coach has allowed him to be smarter about how he uses his body and moves about. It’s inspiring to see how one can overcome a career-threatening injury by finding a workaround and learning to play with a different approach. In fact, seeing the value that Tatsuru gained through his special training regime brings into question just how much of an impact a Paralympic coach could have on real athletes that are going through injuries or aging bodies. Indeed, simply curing the injury is not always a viable option, and many older athletes have to learn to play with their chronic bodily complications, so this whole scenario with Tatsuru has communicated a genuine problem that happens in the world of sports and has offered a unique solution that I can’t help but think would be quite effective in real life.
The Fall of Mikoto
The question on everyone’s minds now is: will Mikoto be able to continue playing? After slipping on some sweat, the young talent has found himself bleeding badly in what could be a match-ending moment for our favorite pair. With the spotlight on Tatsuru overcoming his injury and the fact that Mikoto repelled the enemy’s attempt to expose his old weakness with overhead smashes, the last thing we expected was to see Mikoto in the state he is in now. It will be interesting to see how things play out, but my guess is that Mikoto will continue playing with this injury and will be forced to find a way to compete with impaired vision. Perhaps this is where his trust in Tatsuru to back him up will truly be put to the test as the badaryman pair continue to fight for the survival of the Sunlight Beverage badminton team. With the team’s future on the line and the S/J Cup hanging in the balance, it’s all or nothing for Mikoto and Tatsuru as we head into the season finale of Ryman’s Club!