Suikyuu Yankees Episode 4 Review: Let’s Get Stronger! (cue the training montage)

So we have arrived at episode 4 and it was not the team’s first water polo match as the preview led us to believe. Instead, we get more character bonding, some back story (for Chiaki and his friend Kouki this time), and a nice training montage. In terms of pacing, it slows the plot a little which might not be best for such a short series, but we still got a lot of information and some fun happens. So let’s discuss!

(I suppose I should reiterate my disclaimer. I’m not fluent in Japanese and I can’t follow 100% of the dialogue but I do understand enough to write these recaps. Also, the captions for my photos are always just my snarky thoughts, not actual dialogue. I’m not sure if that was clear before.)

Starting off, we have some fanservice-y shots of Ryuji in a speedo (and also a close up of Naoya’s butt) followed by Chiharu announcing that they’ll be playing a match against Suiran soon. Everyone is really excited!

Obvious fanservice is obvious.

Obvious fanservice is obvious.

"Does anyone know what we are actually pointing at?"

“Does anyone know what we are actually pointing at?”

Over at Suiran, everyone is not excited. In fact, they are quite annoyed. Does anyone remember the Really Tall Asshole who stole the scrunchie in episode two? He was especially angry for some reason, but he smiled evilly when he was reminded that Chiaki is on KasuKou’s team. (Remember Chiaki? He’s the one who likes Chiharu-sensei)

This is Chiaki and his glorious sorta-afro.

This is Chiaki and his glorious sorta-afro.

And this is Kouki, his best friend. I wish I could get combs to stay like that in my hair.

And this is Kouki, his best friend. I wish I could get combs to stay like that in my hair.

Anyway, so the team gets together and eats at the same restaurant (as always) when suddenly, Really Tall Asshole walks in. (Because, I guess, this literally is the only place to eat in town)

"I came to rain on your parade."

“I came to rain on your parade.”

By the way, I learned his name is Goda. Anyway, he says some mean things to Chiaki, who runs out of the restaurant, and then continues to say some mean things to Ryuji. What is this dude’s problem?

Naoya chases after Chiaki, and  even “borrows” (read: straight-up steals) somebody’s bike along the way.

"We should have joined the track team instead!"

“We should have joined the track team instead!”

HERO STOLE MY BIKE. LITERALLY.

HERO STOLE MY BIKE. LITERALLY.

When he catches up to him, Chiaki apologizes and says not to worry. Well, okay then?

As the team gathers for practice (although, like, do they ever actually practice? Because they are hardly ever in the water) the Baka Trio pulls out an old yearbook and figures out that Chiaki and Asshole Goda used to be classmates.

"How did we get this yearbook anyway?"

“How did we get this yearbook anyway?”

Everyone is shocked by how cheerful Chiaki is when he shows up to practice. But when it’s just Chiaki and Ryuji alone, Chiaki asks for a bit of encouragement.

And then we briefly get a glimpse of Nagisa’s storyline. Basically, she’s distracted and the coach berates her for not doing her job as a manager. Poor Nagisa.

Back to Chiaki: he’s wandering around town (skipping water polo practice) when he runs into Asshole Goda. And Chiaki must have a deathwish because he greets Asshole Goda with “Hello Goda-chan.” I don’t think Goda likes being addressed like a young girl? You gotta admire Chiaki’s bravery.

Meanwhile, the rest of the team is having practice, and Ryuji teaches them some knowledge.

"Gather 'round, children, and I will learn you some knowledge"

“Gather ’round, children, and I will learn you some knowledge”

There’s a silly bit where Naoya confuses the words “freeter” (a part-time worker) with “floater” (a position in water polo). I am a sucker for these kinds of jokes. Anyway, they all wonder where Chiaki is, and the Baka Trio wonder if they should let Kouki know that Chiaki’s being bullied.

"Hope the people six inches away from us can't hear our conversation."

“Hope the people six inches away from us can’t hear our conversation.”

And then the lesson continues…

#spying

#spying

And, wait a minute, HE WAS THERE THE WHOLE TIME?!

(Actually, he’d gotten beat up and then was watching from a distance afterwards)

So the next morning, Naoya gets an unexpected wake up call.

"HI. GOOD MORNING. I'M NOT A STALKER. I LOVE YOU. OKAY."

“HI. GOOD MORNING. I’M NOT A STALKER. I LOVE YOU. OKAY.”

"Have you heard of 'personal space' before?"

“Have you heard of ‘personal space’ before?”

"Don't mind me as I roll out of bed and then hide in the corner."

“Don’t mind me as I roll out of bed and then hide in the corner.”

It’s Nagisa’s friend (…Riko? Ryoko? I can’t remember). Yuto’s a bit confused about why she’s hovering over top of him in his bedroom and her response is “Nagisa didn’t tell you? We’re going on a date today.” Well, that’s a bit forward, yeah? Naoya’s a bit reluctant because he has water polo practice but the girl guilt-trips him into it. So Naoya leaves a note with Nagisa to give to the boys.

Naoya's obsession with leaving Yankee-style challenge notes like this is priceless.

Naoya’s obsession with leaving Yankee-style challenge notes like this is priceless.

Understandably, the boys are a bit upset about Naoya abandoning them for a date.

Nagisa's shocked face when they rip up the note is excellent. But let's also take a moment to note that Ryuji has zero reaction

Nagisa’s shocked face when they rip up the note is excellent. But let’s also take a moment to note that Ryuji has zero reaction to it at all.

They yell at Nagisa (who yells back) and then they march away. This leaves Nagisa and Ryuji alone for a nice heartfelt chat… oh, no, wait. Ryuji just pushes her into the pool.

"Whoopsie"

“Whoopsie”

 

And then they have their nice heartfelt chat… oh, no, wait. Nagisa just pulls Ryuji into the pool too.

"Ooh gurl, oh no you didn't!"

“Ooh gurl, oh no you didn’t!”

It was actually really adorable. Forget love triangles, y’all. They just need to get together.

#flirting

#flirting

In other news, Yuto and the girl are on a date at the aquarium and the Baka Trio is stalking them, because what else do friends do?

Actually, this is my exact reaction at aquariums too

Actually, this is my exact reaction at aquariums too *presses face up to glass*

"We are totally not conspicuous and blend in completely."

“We are totally not conspicuous and blend in completely.”

Also, Torao shows up while Nagisa and Ryuji are walking home.

"I came to rain on your parade. ...Wait, Goda said that earlier? Dang, let me think of another good one-liner."

“I came to rain on your parade. …Wait, Goda said that earlier? Dang, let me think of another good one-liner.”

And everyone just stares angrily at each other. And then Ryuji does that thing where he walks away without saying anything. So… okay then?

Next, Naoya’s date is interrupted by some bad news. Chiaki’s been arrested for stealing!? Huh?? While they try to figure out what’s going on, Kouki gives them a bit of backstory. Chiaki stood up for Kouki once while Asshole Goda was beating him up. And he thought that was pretty awesome of Chiaki. They met again later when Chiaki transferred to KasuKou but Kouki doesn’t think Chiaki remembers that time he saved him.

Flashback Chiaki is unrecognizable

Flashback Chiaki is unrecognizable

At school the next day, the group gets together to face the Mean Vice Principle and clear Chiaki’s name. As it turns out, the person who was accusing Chiaki of stealing was the lady from the shop earlier in the episode. Remember when Naoya stole that bike? SHE THOUGHT HIS NAME WAS CHIAKI. LOL Anyway, once that’s all cleared up (no one is going to address Naoya’s apparent kleptomania?), the Principle comes to tell them that Chiaki has actually been working a part-time construction job because, as he told the principle, he “wants to get stronger.” *Getting stronger is the theme of the episode!*

They let teenagers do potentially dangerous construction work?

They let teenagers do potentially dangerous construction work?

Chiaki and Kouki have a nice conversation. But I didn’t understand much of it because Chiaki has a weird way of speaking. Oh well. It’s all good. The most important thing was the repetition of his goal to continue to become stronger. And the reveal that he did remember that time he stood up for Kouki. And in the end, they both yell “YEEESSSS” (in English) at each other and throw up a peace sign. They are weirdos and I like them. And then the rest of the team shows up to work with him? Well, okay then.

"But we look nice in these clothes right? I, uh, borrowed them."

“But we look nice in these clothes right? I, uh, borrowed them.”

And in the next scene, everyone is cleaning the aquarium?! WHEN DID THIS BECOME THE KARATE KID? Wax on. Wax off. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

"I'm thinking about recruiting this fish to be our goalie. Yes or yes?"

“I’m thinking about recruiting this fish to be our goalie. Yes or yes?”

And then, they train in the water at the aquarium?! NOW THIS REALLY IS WATER BOYS. LOL. I mean, seriously the Water Boys trained via a game of Dance Dance Revolution and the aquarium. This whole show has just become one weird homage, hasn’t it?

"This isn't the shark tank, right? ...RIGHT?"

“This isn’t the shark tank, right? …RIGHT?”

And a nice training montage takes us to the day of the match against Suiran and also to the ending credits. While the theme song plays, the KasuKou “Mizu Tama” Team stare down the opposing team as they get ready for the match.

"Whoever blinks first, buys me a soda."

“Whoever blinks first, buys me a soda.”

*ZZ Top's song "Legs" begins to play*

*ZZ Top’s song “Legs” begins to play*

"There is NO WAY we can lose!"

“There is NO WAY we can lose!”

And then, PLOT TWIST! Turns out they’re playing the Girl’s Team! LOL.

"We are not amused."

“We are not amused.”

So I was a little disappointed at first because this was not the episode of their first match like last episode’s preview had led me to believe, but the reveal at the end of the episode was worth it. It’s something I certainly wasn’t expecting. After a while, all sports dramas/movies seem to be the same, so I like the change up here. I’m still betting on KasuKou’s team losing their first game but we’ll see how it goes. It’s sure to be entertaining either way!

We’ve still got some problems, mainly that there’s still no motivation behind the Suiran team’s antagonism. It probably won’t be addressed but I’m still hoping for it. And with a series with only 10-12 episodes, I’m not sure we needed a whole episode dedicated to Chiaki’s storyline. Basically, this whole episode was preparation for what’s to come. It’s like a really long training montage without the cool music. But it wasn’t all bad. “Getting stronger” is a lesson the boys need to learn. Especially as they head into their first match!

See you again next week for episode 5! If you have any thoughts, questions, opinions, etc, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment and let me know what you think!

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