What They Say:
With Tezuka gone Atobe is the new team leader and has a lot to prove. In a match against Irie, Atobe is dominating until Irie’s true nature is reveled. The pressure is immeasurable, and it’s starting to show.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the bit of the past revealed in the previous episode when it came to Seigaku, Tezuka and the position that Atobe had within it, things are kind of in an unusual place now. Having Tezuka lose isn’t too much of a surprise since much of this series is about putting the Seigaku guys through the wringer and showing that they can be thoroughly beaten down but not lose who they are. Amusingly, Atobe is now saying he’ll take the place of Tezuka and lead the disparate groups against those that are really dominating the matches. So while all eyes were on Tezuka before within the compound because of his position and team, they’re now focusing more on Atobe himself.
So what this episode does is to pretty much ignore the Seigaku guys completely after Tezuka leaves and focuses on Atobe as he goes against Irie in a one on one match. Atobe is pretty intense with how he plays, which definitely fits in with some of the Seigaku players to be sure, and he’s given only a mild challenge at first with Irie. Of course, Atobe’s confidence is what will put the screws to him as he sees himself having earned the position he’s in through skill and plays very aggressively, which is amusingly mirrored by the way the weather changes as halfway through the match things turn much darker with the clouds and the atmosphere overall.
While Irie is able to push back against him with an interesting little twist, it does just make the second half of this episode focus much more on an intense back and forth rather than Atobe just dominating the match as it was. There are some cute moments with how Irie operates and what it means to his style but also to serve as a good challenge to Atobe in his own particular style of play. That they shift the weather along the way to that of some snow falling lightly is a cute touch, adding nicely to the atmosphere and meaning as it progresses, But again, because of the lack of real interest in these characters, the episode largely comes across as dead space.
Having long been used to the way the Prince of Tennis worked before with the leads being off screen for awhile as other members played, or other teams to showcase what was to come, so does this one. But the downside is that in such a short run series, removing the Seigaku guys from the picture for so much of it, and the lead himself, just lessens the interest in it. There are some decent tennis moments in here – and tennis hasn’t been a strong suit of this particular series which also says a lot – but the majority of this feels like it comes down to a whole lot of “who cares” about it. I like the main cast of characters, I like hoe they play tennis and what their world is like. But this series continues to provide anything but that, or even them for a lot of it.
Readers Rating: [ratings]
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
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