This episode, we get to focus on Tanaka. We intercut flashbacks of Tanaka with what’s going on in the current set against Inarizaki High. And Tanaka plays an important role during this last portion of the set. Unfortunately, for most of the episode, Tanaka isn’t making any impressive moves to stand out, and in fact, is making mistakes. Over the course of the episode, we see how these misses are adding up and stressing him out. And because of how he’s been performing up to this point, he’s getting marked as the one to target by their competitor. But I appreciated seeing Tanaka actually thinking about what’s happening to him and how average he is. We normally don’t get into Tanaka’s psyche like this, so I thought this made for a great character episode.
During the set, the first flashback we get of Tanaka is when he first joins Karasuno. It was weird seeing him as a blond and acting all rough and gloomy like a delinquent. But then, Shimizu appears… and it’s love at first sight on his part. He actually asks her to marry him. LOL! Shimizu just kind of stops for a moment, then simply says, “No.” I loved how nonplussed she was by this happening.
We get other flashbacks where Tanaka still has the delinquent vibe going on, but we get to see how getting to know Daichi, Asahi, and Sugawara causes him to change. The last flashback lets the audience see Sugawara’s reaction the first time he sees Tanaka after he’s shaved his head. That was the interactions and banter that we know from the series.
We also get to see Tanaka’s female childhood friend watching him play and her reactions, especially after the end of the set. She comments on how straightforward Tanaka is, and then adds something to the effect of, “I really did get my heart broken.” But, considering how this episode shows how Tanaka keeps trying to go after what’s unattainable or what’s not easy to attain, it makes sense that she would come to that conclusion. But I think it’s too bad for Tanaka that he wouldn’t consider this girl, because from what I’ve seen, I think she’d be good for him because she understands him. Oh well. His loss.
The first set finally comes to an end at the end of this episode. However, from the preview for the next episode, it looks like we’ll be shifting our focus away from Karasuno for at least one episode. Instead, it looks like we’ll be seeing a set between Nekoma and their challenger. This should be interesting.
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