Overview (Spoilers Below):
After a grueling season of dominating on the game field, the Leptons enter their very first championship and have a genuine shot at real success. What should be an exciting occasion for the underdog team turns into a frustrating lesson in teamwork when Ace’s showboating attitude continues to steal the spotlight. Ace and his Ballmastr transformation are a serious asset, but when his ego grows untenable and actually hinders the Leptons an insurgency is reached within the ranks. Gaz faces a difficult decision where she must determine how to handle Ace’s behavior before all of this truly gets out of hand and he’s set on the path of no return.
One of the more satisfying aspects of this season of Ballmastrz: 9009 is that there has been some subtle serialization that’s been woven throughout these episodes. This has largely displayed itself through character dynamics, as the members of the Leptons process their recent success in different ways. This new normal has had the most jarring effects on Ace, who’s repeatedly turned into a brash egomaniac in several episodes. At the same time, Gaz has found herself on a journey of self-discovery that’s helped her understand what’s really important to her after leading such a reckless life. These relationships come to a head in “Championship Blues!” and Ace and Gaz even find themselves at odds with each other.
Ace’s ego has been a ticking time bomb this season and various people have stroked that ego and inflated his sense of importance. It makes sense that these feelings would go into overdrive when the Leptons make it into their very first championship and it unfortunately leads to this jovial character souring what should be an amazing experience for everyone. Even before the match begins Ace has developed a sick sense of promotion where he’s willing to use his former orphan compatriots as props in an ad.
All of this turmoil within the Leptons is particularly well handled and it’s a strong reflection of how their winning streak might actually have more severe negative side effects than it does positive. It’s also surely no coincidence that the final episodes of the first season of Ballmastrz are all about the power of teamwork, so for this installment to look at the influx of that as an example of how much Ace has lost his way is a powerful thematic idea. There’s also been a brewing tension between Ace and Gaz this season that gets to hit its apex here. Gaz sees the dark road that Ace is headed down and she has to figure out what role she needs to fulfill for him. Gaz has been a parent, friend, and leader to Ace this year, but as she becomes his obstacle she needs to figure out what’s the healthiest dynamic for them. It means a lot to see Ace, who idolizes Gaz, become completely indifferent to her when he considers himself to be superior.
“Championship Blues!” provides a deeper look at Crayzar and hints at the grander scheme that he’s trying to put together. In the first season of Ballmastrz Crayzar was this enigmatic Chaos God that didn’t feel indifferent from the Warden on Superjail! That remains true, but all of Crayzar’s appearances this season have had a deeper significance behind them. They all connect together in a larger scheme of manipulation. Ace and Gaz are the final pieces of Crayzar’s puzzle and this temporary schism between the Leptons all feels like part of Crayzar’s cosmic plan. There’s a reason that he wants to cultivate the best team of players imaginable. I’d be shocked if the fallout of all of this and Crayzar’s plan wasn’t a major part of the season finale.
Outside of the emotional melodrama that the Leptons need to push through here, there’s still tons of insane action and glorious animation that’s on display during their championship game against Bad Omen. Bad Omen has been featured in Ballmastrz before, so they’re a smart group of antagonists to return to for this big battle. There are some built in stakes where both the Leptons and the audience are aware of what this team can do. Curiously, Ace’s selfish attitude really just creates an apathy in the Leptons and even though they may technically be winning thanks to Ballmastr, they’ve got no joy in what they’re doing. They strangely felt more of a sense of importance when they were losing.
As always, the animation during this game is glorious. It’s entertaining to watch Ace’s antics repeatedly derail the Leptons’ usual shtick and some of the Ballmastr sequences are just stupidly pretty. However, most of the visually stunning moments here go to the opposing team. Bad Omen gets their moments to shine and it’s so satisfying to see these dark characters go wild. There are obvious Devilman allusions going on here, but all of these characters bring something disturbing to the table. It’s one of the more vicious fights from out of the series and Leto’s death against a giant techno-skull is especially morbid. It’s another visual high mark for the show and it’s a game that’s befitting of a championship.
“Don’t Let a Big Head Give You the Championship Blues! You Can Do It, Leptons! Try Your Best to Win!!” is a very gratifying episode of Ballmastrz: 9009 as it lets out a season’s worth of pent up feelings and tension. It’s an episode about the Leptons repairing themselves and getting back on track just as much as it’s about them winning the championships. The episode wisely boils this conflict down to the show’s two central characters and examines not only how fame has affected them both, but also what they mean to each other. It’s a surprisingly emotional—but necessary—climax to hit before the end of the season, but to pair it all against the biggest game of the Leptons’ careers forces this internal drama to become external. Ballmastrz: 9009 continues to do no wrong and this penultimate episode is a strong example of the show’s extreme sensibilities coming together in a powerful way.