So I finally got around to watching the last few eps of the Prince of Tennis semifinals OVA, and, seeing it all in one shot, suddenly something makes more sense.
(Not about Akaya, because nothing could make that make sense, Konomi, you bum.)
I’ve felt from the first reading of the last issue that the series’ “moral” was bizarrely out of place. The whole notion that Fun Tennis Rules Them All seemed utterly unsupported in any part of the foregoing series.
And it is utterly unsupported… except for Kintarou. Kintarou is the epitome of playing tennis for the sheer, crazy fun of it and, because of that innocence and purity, being the strongest thing on earth.
If we recall that Kin-chan was originally supposed to be the hero, all this starts to make a bit more sense.
Konomi let Ryouma have a draw because, well, Ryouma is the hero. And then Kin-chan gets trounced by Yukimura, which completely undercuts the notion that Fun Tennis is the strongest. But Kintarou’s moral is still the one that wins, having been transplanted to Ryouma. Ryouma even gets a dose of Kintarou’s innocence, via the go-round with amnesia.
This does not make the ending actually make sense inside the story-world. This is an explanation we can only reach from outside. But it does give me slightly more hope that Konomi was not actually hallucinating while he drew the whole Nationals arc.
Memory loss or sheer, howling, culpable carelessness in ignoring his own story to date, that he’s still tarred with. But I no longer feel the serious urge to inquire about the contents of his medicine cabinet.