June 6th, 2014.
The Dream-Slaying Hero
So, Kong’s out of the individual competition, but there’s still the team competition for him. Soon it’d be Kazama versus Peco, and then Smile versus the winner. Kazama is a dragon, Peco is a hero. Heroes are there to slay dragons.
Thoughts and Notes:
1) Tying Up Loose Threads:
1) Smile tastes his own blood, and it tastes like iron. Makes sense that as he imagines Peco to be a hero, he imagines himself to be a robot, made of iron.
2) The return of beach guy! Looks like someone just back from a trek in South America, around here.
“I wandered everywhere, but couldn’t find a place that agreed with me.” – Because you don’t agree with yourself, and you carry yourself everywhere you go. And now he finds a solution. He’s been running away, from his defeat, so now he will go there once more to close the circle.
3) “I have to go teach my lost ducklings how to fly.” – Coach Kong, and I’ve said it before – the coaches are the best characters on this show.
4) Sakuma got some glorious hair going on here. Everyone is reuniting, all the threads of fate that got frayed last year, coming back to find their place.
2) Old Friends and Dead Heroes:
1) Kazama and his dad, and flashes of seeing him grip his head and try to make sense of the numbers. Did he think his father wished to be like the birds, free of the ugly wars and worries of humanity and committed suicide? Did the memories of the business failing come from later, with the grey hair, or just different lighting?
Well, it does answer another question. This is the last time, or the only time, in fact, where we see Kazama happy. His father was his hero, and then he went away. Kazama thus lost his faith in the beautiful things such as flowers, and in heroes. As opposed to Smile, who dedicated himself to bringing his hero back. But you can’t bring back the dead, though Kazama could’ve become the hero he dreamt of himself.
2) Smile has friends. Peco’s coach is really excited about Smile :)
3) “A monster, eh?” – That’s what Obaba said of Sanada. Then look how she speaks of Smile – “He’s brutal and merciless, do you understand?” – Smile is the true monster. Most people here think of their victory. Smile knows he’s crushing the dreams of his opponents, and he’s playing to do just that. “The Smile Monster”.
And we get the mechanical clanking and whirring whenever Smile moves. The Robot is here.
3) Chasing the Heroes:
1) Speak of irony. That’s how heroes are made. Sanada realizes that Kazama puts his all into the team and ping pong, and that he doesn’t dream of Yurie because he’s too busy giving ping pong his all. Sanada wanted to take Yurie by being the best at ping pong, but by dreaming of Yurie as his goal he gave up his chance. And now, Kazama who dreams of the death of heroes is made a hero as well.
To follow this show’s arc, Kazama the hero must die as well. Or perhaps it is that others will idolize you, but it doesn’t mean the hero isn’t a normal person as well, just like Kazama’s father had been.
2) But Sanada of Kaio still sees himself as a hero!
3) Kazama, are we using his questioning what a hero is to shed more light on Smile and Peco, or as his own character? I think both, just as their example of what heroes are reflects on him. Sakuma idolizes Kazama, and thus wishes him to be a true hero. Is he seeing him as one, or is it merely his wish?
4) “Who do you play tennis for?” – Same as Kazama’s uncle and coach asked him before, “What do you play tennis for?” – Trying to find a motivation, not to see what is there, but to infuse one within him. Kazama hides in the toilet, he voids himself, he voids himself. He doesn’t play tennis for himself, it’s not a question of whether he plays for someone else, but that he sees his own self as a non-entity.
5) Sakuma, going to cry a bit. What a man <3
4) Chasing the Monsters:
1) Behold Smile, Destroyer of Dreams. His destroyed opponent asks whether he even has blood, which we know he does.
2) “It’d be dangerous for him to keep playing.” – Holy shit, the past is going to repeat itself? Kazama the elder, busted knee, Coach Koizumi played to his hand and let him win, and then could never play again. Now Peco has a busted knee. But he still has to defeat Kazama to meet Smile in the finals, and as Obaba had said, Smile’s strength is that in he has no mercy. But didn’t Smile tell us he has feelings like everyone else? He did.
3) “If you want to make it to the top, you need to learn the courage to raise the white flag.” – Are heroes those who lack this particular courage, or those who mastered it?
5) The Hero and Monster’s Beautiful Friendship:
This also ties to Smile’s opponent and the blood. Peco knows Smile, while everyone else does not. Peco is somewhat wrong, I think. Smile isn’t there for ping pong, Smile is there for ping pong with Peco
4) “Peco, are you playing for smile?” – “No way! I’m doing it cause I’m the hero!” – To which there can be only one reply (though I’d get rid of the cigarette) :)
Post Episode Thoughts:
So, should one play ping pong for oneself, or for others? Why not both? One should play for oneself and thus also for others – Smile and Kaio would be happy if Peco and Kazama won, respectively. Play for others, and thus play for yourself.
I dunno, there’s sacrifice here, and there are heroics. Peco is sacrificing his knee, and Smile sacrificed all his games where he lost to Peco, but never gave up hope. Hope Kazama hadn’t had when his hero departed, who could never come back.
It’s hard to say what exactly I like about this show, but the characters, the delivery, the relationships, all shine through.