Wow, times have changed for sports anime, huh?
Here I was sixteen minutes into the show thinking it was just another generic plot that (most likely) revolved around friendship. Then a main character’s mother reveals she hates to be around her son to his older brother. It’s currently 10 pm and that certainly woke me up.
So, this show seems to revolve around a middle school soft tennis team. I remember reading a synopsis for the series that stated it would focus more on interpersonal relationships and astrology than the actual sports. I just figured it would have the usual fluff: two male friends with homoerotic undertones, an unattainable record they need to break, and a girl friend or two thrown in for balance.
I’m not sure about the homoerotic undertones, but man does the soft tennis team need some work. They apparently haven’t won a game in over four years, and are so demoralized that they don’t even try anymore. I’m not sure if this is what the series is going for, but a big deal was made that even the girl’s team could beat them.
I think most Japanese schools segregate sports by gender, while here in America that doesn’t happen. There are all-girl and all-boy teams, but during a regular gym class or free play both sexes mingle. In that regard, it might just be a cultural difference that I won’t look too much into.
Maki is the new transfer student, or at least is new to the school. He already knows Toma and his cooler older brother, Ryouma. The backstory of their friendship should be explored later in the series. On his way to school Maki meets our token girl thus far, Kanako. A tennis team member also has a ‘cool’ onee-chan that should play a role soon, ticking off 2/3 of our little list of frequent plot devices.
The student council make a decision to cut funding for any club that doesn’t show passion or at least pretend to, leaving the tennis team on the verge of disbanding. After presumably sending one of his team members/flunkies to spy on Maki, Toma decides to ask him to join the team.
He refuses, and after a day or two of repeated awkward after-school stalking sessions Maki agrees. The middle schooler even extorts money out of his childhood friend to compensate him for his time. This made me laugh, because that team needs all of the help they can get.
The episode ends with Maki at home, cooking dinner for himself and his divorced mother. A ring at the door brings him to check the peep hole, which is being covered by a finger. The boy tentatively opens the door only to have it shoved in, leading me to believe he was about to be robbed.
But no, it’s just his abusive father coming in to steal his household’s finances.
This grown man walks through the house with his dirty sneakers on, belittles his son, interrogates him on where he hid his mother’s money and then beats him before taking the money. Maki curls up in a ball while crying and his dad laughs before leaving.
And with that, I take back everything I said about this show starting off extremely genetic. It may have more surprises in store, and I am still debating on whether or not I want to add it to my weekly fall reviews.
Either way, it has an edge so now I’m fully invested.
I’d also like to know why Toma’s mother is uncomfortable being alone with him. This may sound terrible, but I enjoy when shows don’t hold back and depict real situations everyday people are going through right now. True cinema verite.
Inspiring anime and fluff is fun once in a while, but I come back to shows that make me think. That make me feel something other than disgust at lewd upskirt shots of animated minors on screen and weird sexual innuendos.
Anywho, did anyone else watch the first episode? If so, do you enjoy anime with intense themes? What do you think will happen to the tennis team?
Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us for more fall anime reviews!
☆ In Asian Spaces