May 30th, 2014.
The Dream-Slaying Hero
Progress, effort, heroes, monsters, and the death of heroes. Playing to win, playing to win, playing to earn money, and playing to make friends. Worlds are going to collide, let us observe.
Thoughts and Notes:
1) The Aspirants Gather:
1) “The school is using mats, for promotion, and playing branded shoes, for promotion. You should play ping pong for yourself.” – Yurie is in love with Ryuichi, to her him acting for himself would give her more time with him, and cancel their grandfather’s influence. She wishes it not just for Ryuichi’s sake, but for hers as well. To do something because one wishes to. But his “Death of the Hero” and thus of the individual is what keeps him locked within this cage – he sees nothing outside, no dreams, no life. If anything, he’s the robot.
2) I sure hope Kazama is dreaming, cause him playing against three robotic hands while his floor keeps moving out from underneath him is scary. The world is shaking from underneath him, while he’s fighting his faceless demons. You see, to him it doesn’t mean who he’s playing against, because his goal, if not his “dream”, is to best his past, to best his predecessors. To show he is better than the father who followed his dreams and lost it all, and better than his grandfather who crushed his father’s wishes and made him feel unwelcome.
3) What a devious plan! Get mats, tell people they feel differently, and then sell shoes that are “specially designed for mats” – of course, it’s also there to help his team – these people have to play in a new environment, and with new shoes to boot? Greedy.
Here, the national team’s coach says the same. You do not change your shoes just before a big match, without having walked in them beforehand.
2) Stepping Up to Pitch:
1) The return of airplane Kong! The airplane taking you home, the airplane taking you away from home! The airplane of dreams. At least his old coach came for him <3
2) “Aim for the top, and you’ll run into monsters.” – So the only option is to become a monster oneself, or to be a hero. And as I said previously, I think Smile turned himself into a monster so Peco will be forced to remember his old Heart-Vow, and become the Hero. Smile is sacrificing himself, or so it feels. At worst, maybe he’ll have to be the hero – for most of the monsters one runs into on the way to the top fancy themselves the heroes of their own tale.
3) Peco is still Peco! All for the cool airs, all for wishing to have an easy road ahead of him.
4) “I just want to beat Kazama and earn my ticket home.” – The airplane isn’t the dream, but the way to the dream, which stands for home. Damn, is Kong going to lose in the 2nd round to Peco? I don’t want anyone to lose :<
5) “It’s time to dance” after playing with his ball for so long. It’s like I’m watching a showdown in the Wild West. And then his Kaio opponent speaks of how he himself is not that good anyway, of giving up the dream, that even playing is all he can aspire to. A difference in goals.
3) The Hero Appears:
1) Yessss! “Call me if you’re in a pinch, chant these words three times: “The Hero Appears!”” – We’re getting there, a hero. I’m getting slightly misty-eyed just thinking of it.
2) “Bluff the strong, and not the weak.” – Not only do you not need to bluff the weaker players, but the strong ones try to foresee how things will go, which is required for bluffing. If you think everything’s random, there’s no bluffing to begin with. In fighting games, you can’t mix-up someone who guards randomly.
3) Even Smile watched Peco, and waited for him to appear before entering the arena. Smile is here for Peco, and not himself, and in this sense he’s somewhat similar to Kazama.
4) “Welcome back, Hero.” – I’ve told you. Smile’s hero, the one who saved him from the locker, the one who saved him from his loneliness, had always been Peco. But the Hero had gone dormant, and Smile took up the Killer Robot mantle to help wake him up, to force his long-lost friend to come back.
4) To Every Dream, A Waking Moment:
1) “You didn’t watch me? No, I knew you’d win.” – Kong’s coach keeps saying he trusts him, but Koizumi displays true trust in Smile.
And then Smile turns his back on Peco’s game, saying he knows he’ll win. Smile has the talent and skill, he can tell how a match will go. But more than that, you’ve got to believe in the Hero, and Smile wishes nothing more than to believe, and to be proven right. You can’t doubt the hero, or it isn’t one.
2) Kong’s coach is departing before the match is over, for he too had known how it’d turn out. “China” is leaving, and the airplane is as well. Goodbye to your dreams, Kong. At least you’ve made friends here.
3) If it’d been Smile, in the dorky mask, then it means it was his vision, and he acted it out, his dream of becoming a hero. But no, it all points out to it being Peco. Peco who had always been the hero, until he forgot. Peco who had been the hero, until he got enamored with the easy life, and with being adored, so rested on his laurels. A hero is only a hero when there are monsters out there.
A hero must fight monsters to protect his allies, to protect Smile.
Shorter Notes / Aside:
- I can’t help it, but Peco looks to me like some sort of Chinese Communist Party member here.
- A small world, the old generation is still competing with one another, through their trainees. A generational samurai drama.
- “No waaay” – Coach Koizumi, I love you. Yes. Yes, my coach. Hm, so Peco has a lot of talent, we’ve always known it. Peco isn’t like other players? And is Smile?
- Oh shit, The OP and ED got subtitled.
- Ah, yes, Peco’s coach used to spend time in Obaba’s dojo, so he knows Smile as well.
- Pretty-Boy Kong! Reservoir Dogs (Tarantino in general) style introductions again.
- Peco is so cool! All he needed was a new spine transplant! Obaba, your time and effort bore fruit!
- Sport-show tropes! Peco just learned a new style, in the middle of a match! Opposition by strong opponents makes us strong!
Post Episode Thoughts:
The hero is climbing the tournament ladder, ascending the castle to protect the princess, but the princess is the toughest boss of them all. Who is Peco going to save? Is he going to save Smile from having to be a monster, or is Smile forcing Peco to save himself from a world in which he rests on his laurels and doesn’t live out his dreams.
This is the tournament of destiny, where the hero breaks out of his shell, where he not only appears, but is reborn. Poor Kong, for he was a good guy, but that’s life, and that’s another message – dreams exist, but for one person to achieve theirs sometimes means the death of another’s. Kazama though lives in this post-Dream world, to win he kills not only the other side’s dreams, but his own. He lives in this sordid existence as to protect himself from heartache, but that means also protecting himself from his heart.
Smile is turning into a monster to save Peco’s heart, but who will be the hero for Kazama, who will make him see that there are heroes, and dreams, when his position denies them to begin with?