"We should imagine things, not think about them" -- Yamato.
I'll admit it, I was impressed by that. Okay, maybe it's a bit hokey in the circs, but I've always over-thought things. Lately, I've started to wonder if I can claim to have a great imagination. When I was a kid, I'd have said definitely. Now I'm not so sure. In short, that 'vegetation-gathering' episode was oddly propitious given my current mindset.
While I'm not an aficionado of sports in general, I have watched more than my fair share of sports films. They all seem to follow the mould of Little Giants -- by beating the 'overcoming all obstacles' shtick to death. I didn't realise it until quite recently, but Prince of Tennis isn't at all like that. I shouldn't be surprised -- Japanese storylines generally appeal to me more than Western (or, should I say, American?) ones. They're far more prepared to be realistic about things.
Seigaku doesn't come from nothing. They have a good team and they know it. A lot of the other teams are good too -- and they know it. Players aren't evil just because they're better, unlike the opponents and rivals in Western feel-good sports programmes. If it had been the other way, I would have got seriously annoyed. As it is, while it's unlikely that Seigaku would actually win as much as they do, their potential is presented in such a way that it's still probable that they would.
I like this show more and more with each episode. I can admit now that I didn't expect to -- while tennis isn't as dull (to me) as other sports, I'm hardly enamoured of it. Then again, I actually hated Harry Potter before I read it, and look at me now. I'm really glad that I gave PoT a chance. There's just so much scope here for a fandomer -- a perfect balance between unique characterisation and a huge array of people.
I don't know if I'd have liked it more or less had I not read the manga first. I didn't make the decision, it was sort of made for me -- but at least I was sure that I wanted to keep going because of the manga. Plus, the anime expands on so much -- besides helping me to differentiate between characters, which is a little difficult in the manga given that there's so many of them and they're all black and white.
That's another thing -- Seigaku doesn’t have to be your favourite school to like the show. The others are shown to be just as worthy of respect and admiration.
Hyotei have to be my second favourites. Reason being, every Regular is very sharply delineated. Stands to reason -- they appear early on in the series, so they have time to mature as characters. I have to ask, though -- who the hell is Taki? I'm sure he's not a Regular, and I keep wondering why Taki Theodoracoupolos has wandered into a Hyotei fic.
While Rikkai suffers a lot for their pride -- and Kirihara especially so -- it's only a natural reaction to what is after all their superior talent. I like Tachibana a lot, so I wasn't happy with what Kirihara did to him -- but I can actually understand it. The rage part, I mean. There have been some occasions in my life when I've been so angry that I threw consequences to the wind and ripped a new one for someone. Granted, Kirihara actually does this just about every day and his behaviour isn't excusable -- but it is understandable.
Rokkaku are much more rounded in the anime than in the manga. Kentarou seems to have changed an awful lot, though. Wasn't he Oji's grandson, or did I just dream that? Plus, his half-adorable, half-aggravating habit of dropping games so that his comeback will be all the more magnificent -- especially to girls -- has been papered over. Then again, his anime persona is just as valid.
The programme as a whole never takes itself too seriously, for which I am grateful. The chibi episodes are pure crack. I honestly felt they could have been filched from the Pit of Voles. Playing baseball with bombs? Check. GIRL FUJI? Oh, yes please check. Just Atobe in general -- managing to cock his hip even though he HAS NO FEET. Check. Tezuka having. No. Guns. Check.
I'm not very good at winkling out subtext. (Or writing it, but that's another story. Literally.) However, there's a lot of things in here that could easily be taken as nods to the slash fanw00bies. Of course, you'd have to be shipping people beforehand to see it … I think. In any case, they made my heart a small chamber filled with light. Here are some of them:
Kaidoh's bowling wear. That zippered vest. He's going bowling with his team-mates and a bunch of freshmen he obviously isn't that taken with (if his comments to Momo are anything to go by). So … why's he dressing like he's going on the pull?
Episode 86 -- Kamio recovers his momentum when Kaidoh shows up. (Again, in a really provocative -- and PURPLE -- vest. The colour of sexual frustration. Unintentional? I think not.) Yes, Kamio and An share the big w00by love, but still. Kamio wins his game partly because of Kaidoh. There's some kind of co-dependency thing going on there, you dig. Or at least I dig. With a slash-hook. (Which are actually used to trim hedges, I think, but I shouldn't encourage myself to continue with this stupid metaphor …)
Eiji and Momo always pouncing on Ryoma. (I didn’t realise how threesomeish that looks until I typed it -- I meant to demonstrate the Eiji-Momo connection.) After all, Momo is Eiji's little Mob brother. And they spy on Ryoma together. Oh god, maybe that is a threesome I'm seeing?
In the Western!chibi!episode, Eiji is cat. A cat who sits on Oishi's head.
In the same episode, Fuji is a girl for Tezuka. LITERALLY. His eyes sparkle when he talks about Tezuka and everyone assumes that Fuji is Tezuka's consort.
I could forgive the Golden Pair and Tezji shippers for being militant -- not that I think they are -- because that is way, way more than joint Christmas presents or spy-stalking or anything.
In the MomoKai camp -- their match against Rikkai was the most wonderfulest thing ever. They finally stopped fighting, they were touching on court and Momo CHUCKED Kaidoh under the CHIN. They also had a Moment when Tezuka leaves. ('Do you even know where Germany* is?' -- for the win.) And Momo can't sit down during Kaidoh's match because it's 'too important.' You couldn't make this up.
* Although I was WTF, why's he going to GERMANY, didn't he go to KYUSHU and meet up with Chitose's little sister? But whatevs. It may all become clear.
For InuiKai, there is of course the It's A Date ep -- but that could be read either way, if you ask me. (For me it was the point when I had to stop swimming in denial of the Great White Subtext that is Fujicest.) But it's when Inui sees Kaidoh's thumbs-up during his match with Yanagi that he smiles -- not when every single other supporter does. (Obviously he doesn't realise that everyone is saying that it's grand for the other gladiator/lion to kill him -- fortunately for Inui there are few of those hanging around tennis courts.)
Tezuka's necklace, when he's in street clothes, is just generally pretty gay.
As is Kaijimoto's entire ensemble when he plays doubles with Mizuki.
The Data Pair's tennis is sparkly. Nuff said.
I was wondering why the hell there was so much Fuji/Ryoma around. I was even going to mention it at some point, to ask why it even exists when they barely even interact. Boy, was I forced to mentally eat my words during the camp episodes. Ryoma slides over to Fuji in the bath. He asks if he can sleep with Fuji. I was gaping. And I get it now, thanks.
I finally got to see the Silver Pair's love song. They almost hugged -- everyone saw that, right?! Of course, Shishido was at a better angle to kiss Ohtori, but considering they did neither the point is moot. Then there was the part where Shishido hands Ohtori his (repaired?) necklace and they speak at the same time. Shishido is OMGWTF, but Ohtori does a Bond!eyebrow. (Why do I know so much about Bond. Why.)
I never quite understood the concept of Shishido being uke. Ohtori comes across as more bashful, and of course he is blonde. In general I think it's just a knee-jerk reaction -- and mine is to say that OF COURSE Shishido tops, DUDE, LIKE, HELLO. It's not even a Tezuka/Oishi or GP deal where I could go with either -- Shishido bottoming is obviously going to become a major squick for me in future. O well.
At this point it's probably okay for me to insert a general thought on the Silver Pair, as gleaned from substantial fic reading. Because Ohtori wears a crucifix he's taken to be Catholic, and I've found that 'going to Christmas Eve mass' is a popular storyline. (Except that he's described as Christian the whole time, but he's going to mass … I'm going to assume that the writers are thinking he's Catholic then, because Protestants have services. Don't they? My religion class consisted of being told that abortion and homosexuality were evil; you can rightly assume that I didn't exactly listen all that closely.) ANYWAY, my point was that going to Christmas Eve/Day mass is hardly a trial. For one thing, the heating's generally on the whole way through. Ohtori should make Shishido come to an Easter Mass. Like on Holy Thursday. All that bouncing up and down on your knees would be enough to test anyone's devotion.
I have to admit -- although it's not remotely relevant -- that the wearing of crucifixes as fashion items bothers me. It's not even symbolism -- a real crucifix is a literal rendition of Jesus on the cross. So what you're wearing is a (scaled-down) tortured dead guy nailed to a plank of wood. Sure, that's fine and dandy if you actually believe, but when you don't … I especially hate those gaudy ones with the paste/precious gems. It's like the designers are trying to hide what they really are. I own a couple, but I can't wear them any more because it feels hypocritical.
And now I shall commence random remarks on other bits and pieces.
I felt so sorry for Kachou and Kachirou! When they WON bowling, they got a crappy Inui Juice. When they didn't lose billiards, but just got the wrong pocket -- whoops, they got another crappy Inui Juice, but Ryoma got a sushi voucher! Poor lads. In general, the Seigaku team has a completely warped view of 'relaxation.' Perhaps someone should tell them that you're actually supposed to relax when you do it.
Atobe's cottage should come under the Gay heading, but while I was heartily amused by his frilly shirt, his breakfast entranced me more. Dessert at breakfast! I so want an invite to his place. It sounds like heaven.
His shirt … no, why, why? Everyone else was dressed normally i.e. not like a chorus girl. Why not Atobe? Then again, I really don’t believe that Atobe takes himself as seriously as everyone else thinks he does. Sure, he says things like 'Be awed by my beauty/prowess,' -- but so do I. I don't mean them, it's just fun to confuse people. It's Atobe. He could say "I'm a fucking doughnut" and people would think it's American slang for 'Lookit how great I am.' Besides, his white suit makes up for everything.
I wonder at the way Fuji's portrayed in fic. Maybe I need to watch more, but he seems to me to be rather … sweet. A nice boy. Yet he is the Evil Incarnate Matchmaker in every second fic -- when he's not being the Easy Lover or the Smooth Schootz with the Moves. Don't get me wrong, I like reading about him whoring out his favours or hooking everyone else up, but … I can't imagine that it's what he's really like. I swear, I'm going to write an introverted!shy!inexperienced!conflicted!a
I thought it was too cute, the way Ryoma dreamed of Karupin while everyone else fantasised about thrashing Rikkai and winning Nationals. Although there's an amazing connection between Ryoma and Tezuka, which could easily be subsumed into some kind of weird and twisted -- but ultimately satisfying -- romantic union, Ryoma's funnier as the token asexual. In reality, the person he's most likely to have a relationship with is his cat. And Tezuka is practically married to his tennis racquet. That's what makes them so fun.
They seriously should have known that wasn't a real bear when it didn't EAT HORIO every time he collapsed at its feet. And what was that business with the racquets? Never mind messing around with tennis, go fetch a BIG GUN. (Actually, I thought the 'big surprise' would be Karupin hitching a lift up to the mountains. Ryoma did zip him in his bag after all. He was probably pining. Ryoma, that is.)
Shinjyou = Thorpey.
Is it me, or does the same man ref every single freakin' match?
He's probably a slash fan, too.
In conclusion, I really like Prince of Tennis because it makes me happy. Even when I feel awful, I remember something like 'Once again, the third planet has disappeared' or Kaidoh scowling and I can't help but feel better. It's crazy! I haven't felt like this since my earliest days in HP fandom -- and I'm glad I got to feel like it again.