A new member is scouted for the team.
This starts out with a loss, and the players wondering if they really can make it. While they seemed to do well against their opponents, it’s not all rosy. Their opponents didn’t have their full lineup, and they were playing with benched members. It’s a harsh start, because how do you manage to keep up morale against odds like those? It hurts, it stings but also, as the series posits, the only way to change anything is to keep going.
Shigeyoshi tries to avoid basketball at all costs because of the negative associations he had with it in middle school. While he is incredibly tall and does have a skill in snagging hook shots, he was scouted before mostly for his height and his height alone. Height isn’t enough in basketball, of course, so he started practicing and refining his talent at hook shots, so he would have an ace on top of that. The issue happened when he failed everyone’s expectations by losing a game, and then everyone soon started to look down on him. It’s not the same thing as disappointment, but rather, they put him on a pedestal and later came to realize that he wasn’t worth their high hopes. It’s no doubt a very uncomfortable position to be in, it’s like being a gifted child. Shigeyoshi himself wasn’t as let down, but the rejection that came from his peers for something he had no stake in doing.
In order to get away with this, he plays up his frailty, acting like he is too weak in order to play basketball. While this isn’t exactly a lie, he does have a weak constitution, he makes it seem that it’s the reason why he can’t play altogether, despite his skill. When he’s pressed and it comes out that the real reason is because of his expectations, Sora gets angry. He’s not angry because of the lie, but because of what the lie was– since he does know someone who actually can’t do sports because of sickness or injury. In order to join the team, Shigeyoshi not has to prove himself, but also prove to Sora that his commitment is real. I really did enjoy this part, because it’s not just letting him off the hook, but also showing how he’s willing to change. He doesn’t get a free pass for lying, and he has to prove his resolve.
I love sports anime, and this seems like a good, solid sports series. The boy’s light cynicism is fun– that even though they are fairly down to earth, they still have a lot of competitive spirit. It’s not being cynical to the point of being a downer, but being harsher because of what they’ve previously experienced. While I like shonen characters like Sora, the team is also delightful to have around.