Eh, for now, let’s just look at the next bit. Which is Atobe’s arc! And Atobe is /always/ fun to write, especially when he gets into it with Sanada.
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The problem with writing Leorio and Kurapika h/c is that Kurapika is consistently shown to be brisk and capable in an emergency and that doesn’t lend itself to fluff; and given Leorio’s dedication to the medical profession I can’t believe his professionalism wouldn’t completely take over if it was the other way around.
*sighs* One more bunny that’s not going anywhere.
On the topic of problematic things, though, the whole notion of tenipuri continuing is making me cringe in anticipation. Because I remember the bit of gossip, way back, about how Konomi wanted to write them on in high school, and I’m dreadfully afraid that’s what he’s going to do.
And it won’t work.
The thing about shounen sports is that it is, by dramatic necessity, limited to one season unless downright heroic measures are taken to alter the venue and cast. One season tends to exhaust the dramatic tension. The progress has been made, the goal has been met, the crown has been won; going another round to do it over just doesn’t work.
Not that Konomi has ever really known how to do dramatic tension, witness the fact that the hero team failed to lose the penultimate climax (aka Regionals). Losing an important one like that isn’t a genre convention just for the sake of convention; it’s a tried and true way to provide motivation, pathos that helps the readers identify with the heros, and (all together now) dramatic tension to keep the readers engaged.
For an example of how this can be done superbly, over and over, without becoming stale, read Eyeshield 21.
Back to the continuation, though. What can possibly be left to accomplish? Fuji has started playing for real, Tezuka has taken his team to a Nationals win, Takashi has completed his third year with his friends and has an honorable win as proof of his strength, Echizen has found True Tennis… so what are they supposed to do to keep our interest now? What goals can they strive toward in high school?
And even if Konomi does the sensible thing and shifts the venue to professional tennis, how can the characters possibly get any stronger? After the disco ball lights and the two-places-at-once and the floating crack fairies, I’m really a little afraid to ask.
*has just watched the anime match between Sanada and Tezuka*
*is outraged beyond the capacity of words to fully express*
They gutted it! One of the only really good matches of the whole Nationals arc and they gutted it! There’s no byplay, there’s almost no flashback, there’s no mental game between them, there’s no wonderfully dramatic conclusion with post-coital expressions, it was all squashed down small and it doesn’t mean anything anymore!
*sputtering with fury*
Fuck all this! The later anime is as dead to me! Nothing exists past the midpoint of Regionals!
I had to go re-read the manga version of this match to take the nasty taste out of my mouth. Of course, this means that now my Yukimura muse is rubbing his forehead and muttering things like “Strategy, Sanada! Honestly, sometimes I just despair.” This soothes me slightly.
Not a lot, but slightly.
I was probably asking for trouble, when I started considering all the ways in which Echizen does not, as initially indicated by the early story, seem to find a tennis that is not a copy of Nanjirou’s. Now my Echizen-muse is insisting that I figure out what his own tennis would look like and write it.
Incidentally, spoilers ahead.
So let us meditate on this. The last reference point we have in the original “become not-Nanjirou” trajectory is the Regional finals. There we see a move of Echizen’s own invention, Cool Drive. It’s a move born of necessity, of needing to get up high enough to smash back a ball with the right spin and of figuring out exactly how to do that, however it takes–by climbing the referee, in the event. This move comes after Echizen has already pretty much burned himself out of muga no kyouchi, and it is, as Sanada notes after, a gamble. Using it gives Echizen an even chance of returning a shot he has no other way of getting, and he takes it without hesitation.
And then, of course, the story shears off into Nationals and the internal AU and focuses on muga’s “three doors”. And Echizen achieves the third, which no one but Nanjirou previously had, and thereby alters the progression of his skill from “finding himself” to “finding True Tennis is his father’s footsteps”.
Bah, I say; that isn’t nearly as interesting. Let us, therefore, take muga in its initial, less fantasy-esque, application, as a state of heightened awareness or response and leave it at that. What interests me more are the implications of Cool Drive.
For one, developing it shows that Echizen has started thinking in terms of evolving his own game. That’s a major hurdle right there, and indicates to me that he’s already reached beyond simply perfecting and reflecting back everything Nanjirou does to actively striving to find new ways to do things for himself. The alphabet drives in general show that, and the way we see him working on Cool Drive shows the importance he’s started to give the project (before Konomi lost his mind, anyway).
For another, the shape of the move shows something about Echizen’s approach. He doesn’t bother with conventional wisdom, which might be to work on strengthening his legs enough to jump for the height required. He also doesn’t choose to cultivate the strengths of his own body type, which might result in working on his ground speed to catch high shots when they come down and apply a different spin on return. Instead he takes all shots head on, and finds a way to meet and return them directly. And then he takes that way despite it being a risk and a gamble.
From this I take the conclusion that Echizen’s tennis doesn’t have a reverse gear. It doesn’t even really have brakes. He will just keep moving forward, believing that the skill and strength he has will find a way, and taking whatever way presents itself.
Really, it’s no wonder he does so well at Seigaku.
Echizen throws himself into the breach. Translated into actual martial arts, I might say that his style is purely aggressive, moving straight in and directly blocking rather than diverting or avoiding counterstrikes. He’s a stubborn little cuss.
So, for all his penchant for adopting everyone else’s moves, I don’t think he will ever use things like the Tezuka Zone or Fuji’s Triple (and counting) Counters very much. They’re not his own style. And, as he moves away from copying his father, I think the modality of copying in general may become a secondary rather than a primary tool for him. I don’t doubt he’ll use whatever move he knows that will do the job to win whatever game he’s in. But his own game, the moves he develops on his own, those I think will mostly be drives.
So I think what I would expect to see, in the future that is not a cracked canon-AU, is Echizen working to develop more such moves and using them with determination and forward momentum. Damn the torpedos and full steam ahead.
Not the musicals, but the music–the characters songs. It’s a totally separate continuity, in tenipuri, it really is. Characters who are presented as (mostly, allegedly) straight sing love duets with each other. Characters known for their reserve and stoicism sing really silly songs. Some of the character songs fit in with either the anime or the manga continuity, especially the Best Riva/Best Player songs, but a lot of them, especially the ones produced for the more popular characters, form a continuity of their own with a whole different set of characterizations that are, by and large, pure fanservice.
This is, to be sure, complicated by the occasional descent of both anime and manga canon into similar fanservice, anime moreso than manga. The continuities have even crossed, as for example the ‘talent night’ thing in the Senbatsu arc. And then there are the music video things, which appear to have some crossover with other parts of the music continuity, especially in the formation and naming of discrete groups.
In short, the whole notion of “continuity” in tenipuri is vastly complicated and a huge mishmash, but I’d still say it’s possible to count the music itself as at least one and quite possibly two or three totally separate continuities.
In case anyone wondered, these reflections are the direct result of Kirihara’s latest single. That seems more a seiyuu character song than a character character song, really.
So I’m rewatching the Fudoumine matches again, and listening, as opposed to reading the initial translations, a few things catch my attention.
One is that Nanjirou is referred to as “flawless” or “perfect”, that is ten’i muhou, repeatedly.
The other is that, at this point, both Nanjirou and Tezuka state that Ryouma will have to move beyond merely copying his father if he wants to progress in his spiritual journey tennis.
So… how, again, is it moving beyond merely copying his father if Ryouma’s Final Ultimate Supercalafragalistic move is Ten’i Muhou no Kiwami?
I do not expect this to be answered, having long since concluded that if Konomi ever had a clear idea of how he wanted to conclude this story he lost it round about the time he started the National arc. But, as a fic writer who wishes to make some little sense out of canon for my own nefarious purposes, I fret.
I also note that, right from the first, there’s this pattern of players being willing to injure themselves to secure a team win. Kawamura doesn’t notice what he did to himself immediately, but Ishida is knowingly courting injury after being told it could permanently impair him to use Hadoukyuu too often. I could see this being a commentary on the way it twists the game to play it for nothing but victory, if I believed that was Konomi’s moral from the start, except… Ryouma does it too, when his eyelid is cut. And we’ve just been told, repeatedly, that he’s exactly like Nanjirou, our exemplar of Pure and Innocent Tennis, so that determination being negative doesn’t fit in nicely. This is especially so seeing as Ryouma’s stubbornness is the occasion for a heart warming round of team bonding and mutual support, as per standard shounen sports practice.
So I suppose I will just continue to consider canon Nationals some kind of strange AU and accept the pre-Nationals story trends. There’s more of them anyway.
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.
So, I finally got around to reading the full translation of Yukimura’s 40.5 profile (*tips hat to Ai*), and the tarot reading at the end caught my attention.
For one thing, as divinations go, it was considerably less corny than most of what shows up in these profiles.
Over and above that, though, I found this bit absolutely fascinating. It really looks like either Konomi is a tarot geek with a complex conception of Yukimura’s character (and just can’t translate that into narrative to save his soul), or else got really lucky.
Disclaimer: I had to make some assumptions about which spread Konomi was basing this on; there are dozens of different ways to interpret which card falls where and how they relate. Since this was divination for Yukimura’s profile, though, and since there are only the five cards, I assumed it was a fairly standard “who is this person and what are their circumstances” reading.( So let's take a look at this )
Hang on. Wait just one minute.
So, the bit about Sanada telling Yukimura about the Kantou results.
One, hasn’t Yukimura just finished having surgery? Where is he getting all that liveliness from?( And two... )
I’m really starting to think that Echizen’s catch phrase, mada mada da ne, is being done a disservice by always being translated “You’ve still got a lot more to work on”. To be sure, that’s the English translation Konomi used on the one occasion it was translated to English in the text. But Japanese, being the highly context-dependent language it is, that’s no guarantee that the same translation will be appropriate to the next use.
Consider, for example, the word amai. The concept behind the word is more or less “interdependence”, but it takes on very different senses depending on how and where it’s used. When used in a discussion of what makes a good doubles pair, it means teamwork, trust, relying on your partner. When yelled at the opponent across the net, it means something approximating “too naive” or “too easy”. In the second context, it becomes a sort of chastisement for ‘depending’ on the enemy.
Similarly, mada mada means, more or less, “mediocre” or “not sufficient/complete”. When used to an opponent you have just put something by, it would indeed mean something like “you are mediocre/not there yet”. When used to an opponent who has just kicked your ass all over the court, on the other hand…( Spoilerific example from recent issues )
Once more, because it seems to bear repeating, we cannot gauge the strength of shounen sports characters by comparing their performance in matches if there has been any time at all between the matches in question. The name of the game, whatever game it may be, is “evolution”.( ES21 and PoT manga spoilers ensue )