Ain’t nothing but a family thing.
Overview (Spoilers Below)
Dachi High is ecstatic after their victory against Hakuro, sending them into the next phase of the tournament, where they’re set to face Eigh High and their MVP, Kuze, the high school yokozuna. Despite this upcoming challenge, though, Dachi High is filled with good spirits, congratulating themselves on their victory. Reina soon steps in, though, and accuses the team of “slacking”. The greatest battle is yet to come, and she explains to them that they need to get their game faces on if they have any shot of taking this tournament.
The Dachi team accepts Reina’s criticism, and re-focuses themselves to prepare for the next round of matches. Out in the ring, they observe Eiga taking on their next team match. It’s a complete shutout, with Eiga winning all their matches by “railroading” their opponents out of the arena. Once they’re done, the Eiga wrestlers meet with the Dachi high team for a little bit of trash talk. Both teams are proud of their stars, but Kuze is undoubtedly more intimidating.
The next match soon begins between Chihiro and his older brother, Hyodo, who fights for Eiga. Right away, the match between these two takes on a wild personality. Hyodo proves himself to be one of the most unpredictable wrestlers in the tournament by starting out the match the same way Mitsuhashi did in his round: by turning around and walking toward the edge of the ring. The audience is appalled, but Chihiro isn’t deterred and takes the initiative against Hyodo, trying to push him out of bounds. Hyodo turns it around however and gets back in the ring, beginning the match properly.
Once the two start going at it, it becomes clear that Hyodo has Chihiro outmatched in nearly every aspect. Hyodo fights like a stronger version of Chihiro, incorporating the same wild mix of wrestling styles that Chihiro does, but with a reckless confidence that gets under Chihiro’s skin. Chihiro can’t help but feel the weight of being the little brother to Hyodo’s dominant personality. The match is close, but at the last moment, Hyodo catches Chihiro’s drop with a leg sweep and sends him to the ground. Chihiro accepts his loss despite his anger towards his brother.
This was as splendid episode of high-energy high school sumo wrestling that brought everything I like about this show to the table while staying away from some of the negative elements that drag this showdown from time to time. This episode keeps a tight focus on Chihiro instead of dividing the episode into two matches like it’s done in the past. By allowing Chihiro to be the focus, the intensity of the match is that much more enjoyable. Furthermore, it gives the episode enough time to properly flesh out the conflict between Chihiro and his brother, a character who has gone basically unexplained up until this point.
This match comes fresh after Chihiro’s astounding victory in the last set of matches, which makes his defeat all the more epic to behold. It’s always a joy to see a character who you’re so invested in getting completely bested by someone who just has the slightest of advantages. It was a close match that kept me guessing the victor until the very end, which is exactly how a good fight should be. I was also quite happy with the writing this episode as well. The “exposition dumping” that is all too common in this show isn’t an issue here since there’s enough content in the fight to keep things moving without needing to fill time with exposition. Furthermore, Hyodo’s personality is big enough and his actions distinguished enough that we can understand the relationship of these two brothers without much need for explanation.
This episode consists of one solid, contained story begun and finished in a single episode. It doesn’t waste our time but instead keeps our focus on a genuinely fun and exciting character conflict while making sure there’s an intense fight for us to enjoy as well. The best fights are the ones that blend character and action into a delicious cocktail of spicy character development. This episode makes Chihiro an even cooler character than he was before by giving him a loss. It’s their failures that bond us to characters more than their successes, and seeing this giant of a man face his own weaknesses just adds more dimensions to Chihiro than before.
The final team match of the tournament has just begun and set up Dachi High with a loss. This story is only going to get more intense as Dachi High finds them in the underdog position once more. And with Kirihito revealed to be the next fighter at the end of the episode, we’ve got one heck of a show on our hands to come.