It seems Smile, Peco, Kong, and Dragon are on a collision course. As always, Smile and Dragon are training hard, but Peco has newfound motivation as well. As for Kong, he’s just too talented to disappear into the background. It has been nice to see him open up to his host team, but for most top athletes, their competitive spirit never really dies. Across every sport, you’ll hear of how a retired player wishes he could still get back on the court. As for Kong, he’s not even over-the-hill yet. He just needs to get back into the game. I imagine that Kong’s been licking his mental wounds for the past few episodes, and as they say, time heals all wounds. Perhaps he no longer has the burning desire to return to China as a champion and continue isolating himself from his mother, but it would be poetic for Kong to at least make a comeback and defeat Dragon.
Don’t get me wrong, though. It’s not that I hate Dragon or anything like that. After all, he’s definitely had a tough life. We learn this week that Dragon’s father was cruelly mocked even after his death. Unfortunately, a younger Dragon had to bite his tongue upon his mother’s request. Table tennis is thus the only outlet in his life. In the sport, he can not only prove himself in the eyes of others, but restore pride and honor to his family’s name as well. That’s a heavy burden for any person to take on, much less a teenager. And this is what makes the contrast between Dragon and Kong so compelling. Kong’s loss to Dragon has allowed him to take a step back and re-evaluate what he wants in life. It has also given him the opportunity to spend more time with his mother. With Dragon, on the other hand, you almost want him to cut his extended family out.
At some point, you have to know when to say, “Enough’s enough.” You have to be able to take a step back and re-evaluate. Yeah, I get that Dragon’s relatives had looked down upon his late father, but some people are not worth reasoning with. You just have to learn that some battles are not worth fighting. Dragon may have restored pride and honor to his family name, but is he any happier now than he was before? After all, he’s already the best table tennis player in Japan. He’s perhaps the best junior table tennis in the world as well. Nevertheless, he wants more. He wants Kaio to be just as good as him. He keeps training and he keeps trying to recruit Smile and for what? Is he not losing sight of the fact that he’s pushing Yurie away when the girl so obviously cares for him? Is a tiny bit more success worth all of that?
This is why I think it would be poetic for Kong to eventually defeat Dragon one day. Maybe this won’t ever happen. Still, Kong needs his swan song just as much as Dragon needs to realize that, well, winning doesn’t cure all ills. At some point, the returns you get just isn’t worth the sacrifices you will have to make. I don’t think Sanada is going to succeed in stealing Yurie away or anything. After all, love is a two-way street. She might be flattered that Sanada likes her, but she’s got feelings of her own too, so I always think it’s funny when guys think they can just steal a girl away from a rival. The girl has some say in it as well. Nevertheless, even if Sanada doesn’t manage to steal Yurie, it doesn’t mean the girl won’t walk away on her own accord. Speaking of Yurie, I like that her character has come into its own as of late.
But hey, this show is still primarily about Smile and Peco, right? There’s not much to say about Peco in this week’s episode. He’s still training hard. For once, it looks like he’s finally taking table tennis seriously and not just relying on his natural talent. I’m sure he and Smile will have to face each other again some day. I have no clue how that future match will play out, but maybe that tape on Peco’s knee is a sign of things to come. Why? Well, we finally delve into Butterfly Joe’s past this week. The old man had been an up and coming star in the world of table tennis, but he threw a game for a friend who was playing with an injured knee. Hmm, sounds familiar… But after that, Butterfly Joe fell into obscurity and the other player went on to garner fame and accolades. Oh yeah, he also became the president of Kaio Academy. It’s funny how these things work out.
Butterfly Joe swears that he is not pushing Smile so hard because he’s seeking revenge or anything like that. Rather, the old man just wants Smile to realize how far the kid’s talents can take him. I believe that Butterfly Joe isn’t looking for revenge. Nevertheless, he’s still trying to make Smile succeed where he had once failed. And is that really fair to Smile? Even if this is ultimately in Smile’s best interest, does it not seem as though the old man is hoping to relive his life through his talented pupil? At the start of this week’s episode, Kaio tries to recruit Smile again, but this time, with Joe’s approval. On paper, the old man is probably right in that Kaio Academy could probably develop Smile’s talents better than he could. On paper, though. We never know how people might react in different environments. Maybe Smile’s only pushing himself this hard because he cares for his coach. It seems as though he clearly does.
After all, Smile kind of throws a tantrum as a result of Butterfly Joe trying to pass him off to Kaio. Well, it’s Smile so nothing he does would ever really resemble what we commonly know as a tantrum. Even so, I think running all day and all night is sort of like Smile’s way of acting out. It’s evident that Butterfly Joe’s actions had hurt him. Still, every relationship has its ups and downs, and this latest mini-conflict segued naturally into Butterfly Joe opening up to his pupil about his past. And in doing so, Smile has found someone he can relate to. Not only that, history may repeat itself. Butterfly Joe threw his career away for a friend who had injured his knee. If Smile faces off against Peco again, and the bandage on Peco’s knee is a harbinger of things to come, what will Smile do? Will he follow in his coach’s footsteps? Or will he crush Peco despite knowing that reaching the apex of the sport means so much to the latter?
Anyway, do people still want me to cover Haikyuu! and Baby Steps? I can, but I’m just curious if it’s worth my time.