Tomoki, not just an innocent, happy-go-lucky protagonist
Last week ended on a dramatic note with the revelation that Tomoki’s girlfriend might be cheating on him with his little brother, Hiroya. Gasp!
Turns out they haven’t done anything yet, but Miyu’s feelings have changed and she wants to be with Hiroya now. Can’t say I blame her, considering the piss-poor treatment she’s consistently received from Tomoki.
One thing I do appreciate about this show is that they haven’t hesitated to write Tomoki as more than just an innocent, happy-go-lucky protagonist. He’s got an ambitious and competitive streak, and the events at the beginning of this episode highlight just how self-absorbed he can be. He even says it himself. “I’m not sad, I’m frustrated,” he seethes after the confrontation with his brother. Tomoki isn’t upset because he lost Miyu, or because he cares for her. He’s just upset that his brother took something from him. He refers to it that way throughout the episode: “My brother stole her from me!” (Seriously, Miyu isn’t a piece of meat – she’s a person, guys.)
(As an aside, how old even are these kids?! Tomoki’s in middle school, and Hiroya is younger than him. I can’t pretend I don’t find it hard to take a situation like this seriously when the involved parties are approximately twelve.)
Anyway, following this confrontation, a very depressed Tomoki locks himself in his room for two solid weeks while his teammates continue practicing without him. Eventually, Kayoko (I am really starting to love her), loses patience with his self-pitying theatrics and comes over to knock some sense into him. When he starts whining about how he thinks he might actually really like Miyu now that she’s gone and Kayoko immediately scoffs at him is probably my favorite moment of the episode. It’s undeniably satisfying to hear someone finally call him out for how immaturely he’s dealt with his personal relationships.
The inevitable pep talk follows, along with the even more inevitable realization that Tomoki has a Super Special Anime Power. Kayoko, looking sternly out the window (the traditional stance for making these sorts of pronouncements), announces that Tomoki has “Diamond Eyes,” a heightened perceptive ability that allows him to… look at stuff while he’s diving? No idea.
Animation errors in the movement of the water abound
Tomoki, bolstered by this promotion to Gary Stu status, returns to the team just in time for the Beijing qualifiers. This second half is by far the more entertaining one – it’s undeniably exciting to hear the crowd roaring as the boys take turns executing fancy dives with varying degrees of success. Yet the show’s shortcomings are also particularly difficult to ignore here. As in many other sports anime, it’s hard not to feel that corners are constantly being cut, whether it’s due to budget shortage or simple laziness. Multiple times in this segment of the episode, dives aren’t fully animated and the camera instead cuts from the character standing on the board to the entry splash, with nothing in between. Animation errors in the movement of the water abound.
As a result of all this, it’s often legitimately hard to follow the action, and difficult to tell if a dive was actually well done or not. To make up for this, the show is forced to make the characters watching from the stands react in an unrealistic, over-the-top way so that we viewers don’t get completely lost. Oh well – at least Sachiya makes it all more fun to watch.
To next week, and hopefully less overwrought teen drama!