Let’s start by saying that there’s no eating in this episode. This week, Tsukamoto’s adventures may start slow, but they crescendo into something exciting in the semi-finals of the Inter High tournament.
Every time I expect to learn a little more about Kazama’s past, I end up with more questions. In the beginning of this episode, Kazama is scoring tons of goals during a tournament game and while everyone is curious about who Seiseki’s #9 is, one man seems to have found an answer. This mystery man notices Kazama and notes that he went to Seiseki. I have no clue who he is, but I suspect that maybe he’s an old coach. Kazama continues to score. Seiseki’s coach comments on how Kazama has gone from being a lone wolf into a real team player.
After the match, Tsukamoto shouts some overly enthusiastic “Kazama-kun!”’s out to Kazama. Kazama smiles and reflects on how much fun he has playing soccer lately, all because of Tsukamoto.
Soccer is just so damn fun!
With the matches completed for the day, the coach tells Team Seiseki to take a full rest day. Everyone is excited since they haven’t had a day off since the season started. Kazama asks Tsukamoto what he’s going to do and invites him to come cleat shopping. Tsukamoto declines and says he has other plans. It turns out that Tsukamoto’s other plans were running laps, and Kazama catches him in the act. He ribs on Tsukamoto – asking if he blew him off just to run laps. Tsukamoto just keeps running and Kazama gets annoyed. Don’t overdo it!
Later that evening, Kazama catches Tsukamoto running again. He tells Tsukamoto that having fun is the most important part of playing and that cooling down is an important part of building stamina. Tsukamoto finally gives Kazama a retort. Basically, he said that middle school was over in a flash and that he accomplished nothing and had no friends. He wants to hold onto the moment by training as hard as he can – he has to give it all he’s got or else everyone will forget him.
Kazama realizes Tsukamoto may be onto something, and has a brief panic attack.
“If you don’t hold onto everything, it’ll be gone in an instant!”
There’s a sense that Kazama is remembering something from his past, but we are left in the dark as to what it is. The brief look of panic fades, and Kazama turns to Tsukamoto grinning and asking if he can run with him. Kazama declares that he won’t lose to Tsukamoto or to anyone else. Just as the pair begin their race, Kazama runs into a very hard object. He falls to the ground in pain and shock. It turns out that “hard object” was Ubukata and she’s furious. She yells at the duo and tells them to rest and read The Buddha’s teachings.
Make the pass go ‘Shhooooooom!’
The day of the semi-final arrives, and Coach gives Seiseki’s team an amazing huddle speech. At the end of it, they realize Tsukamoto was in the bathroom and missed it. While in the bathroom, Tsukamoto meets a mysterious and short kid who wears a Sakuragi High jumper. Tsukamoto assumes he’s Indou’s little brother and the kid tells Tsukamoto something cryptic:
“It’s all about goals.”
After this exchange, Tsukamoto rejoins the team as they head to the field.
In a humorous exchange with the coach, Mizuki is forced to sit out again and he’s furious. Seiseki is up against Team Ariake in the semi-final. They are a ferocious and brutal team. It seems their strategy is to foul and try to injure as many of Seiseki’s star players as possible. They seem to have their eyes set on Kazama. Mizuki fumes on the sidelines as his team is pulverized by slide kicks and pushing. Eventually, Coach decides to pull Ooshima (#11) out and put Tsukamoto in. This makes Mizuki fume even more and also results in the second Ooshima-related head injury to Tsukamoto.
Tsukamoto goes in and does what he does best. He runs! Kazama tells him to keep dragging the Ariake guys around and Tsukamoto thinks this means to just keep running. Things heat up as they make their way towards Ariake’s goal. Tsukamoto tries to will a pass from Kimishita, but Kimishita ends up passing to Kazama. Kazama jukes and makes a shot, but the ball hits the top rim of the goal. Seeing an opportunity, Tsukamoto attempts to butt the ball in with his head.
It doesn’t go in. One of the opposing team’s players kicks him in the stomach – hard. They bring the stretcher and Tsukamoto is taken out, while enduring verbal abuses from Ariake’s cruel team. Suddenly Mizuki appears and tells Tsukamoto that he did good. Apparently Mizuki is going in! He threatens Ariake’s players and pumps up his team with encouraging nonsense that no one understands. This is exciting for everyone, because none of the first-years have seen Mizuki play. Ariake puts three players on Mizuki, thinking they can stop him from moving up the field. This doesn’t work, however, because Mizuki is amazing. His brute strength moves him through the three blockers, and his skill pushes him to the front – he headbutts in the ball after a fake from Kazama.
Everyone is astonished. Seiseki finally scores several goals in the last few minutes, thanks to Mizuki. Ariake’s team tells Mizuki that he won the game, not his team. Mizuki sets the record straight:
“Your legs were lead because a half-pint was running you around”
Tsukamoto hears this and starts to tear up with humble happiness. Mizuki tells him to hold his head high.
As the team leaves the field and heads to the lockers, the kid that Tsukamoto met in the bathroom is sulking through the halls. He tells Kazama that his name is Narukami Shuji and he’s scarier than Indou. He’s the top scorer for Saku High.
With Seiseki through the semi-finals, I can only assume they’ll be facing Saku High soon. Will they be a fierce rival? It sure seems that way.
I’m glad we got to see Mizuki play – he’s definitely the highlight of this episode and his character is pretty interesting. Hopefully we’ll see more of him next week. I’m hoping for some high-octane bouts of soccer!
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