Yowakutemo Katemasu (弱くても勝てます) has so far been part amusing, part befuddling, and one of the more difficult aspects of the drama is the character of Tone Riko (Aso Kumiko), the journalists who follows around the weakest team in baseball history as if they were the best thing to ever happen to the game. She begins this episode by recording a lamentation about how barren the practice field is, since club activities are forbidden during the testing weeks at Joutoku.

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She literally chases anyone involved with the team when she sees them, and they all run away. Ultimately, team director Masumoto (Arakawa Yoshiyoshi) has to drag her away from school premises.

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Even with club activities on hold, Shirao (Nakajima Yuto) insists on wearing his uniform and practicing.

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Akaiwa (Fukushi Sota) is strangely trying to avoid Tarumi (Arimura Kasumi). Since Shirao likes Tarumi, this makes him incensed – Akaiwa has her affection, but doesn’t seem to cherish that. Shirao accuses him of acting like he has everything – a jab at Akaiwa’s wealthy upbringing.

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The team sneakily meets despite the prohibition, and manager Aoshi (Ninomiya Kazunari) emphasizes the need to practice despite not being able to do it officially on the field. Shirao says that he’s not going to bother with studying at all, devoting himself to baseball instead, but he’s totally alone on that one.

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When Akaiwa says that he’ll spend time practicing, too, more resentment from the team comes out, as they snipe at him for seeming privileged. This is another confusing point about this drama – the way that conflicts seem to pop out of nowhere. Since when did these guys talk about Akaiwa like this?

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Anyway, the others all got to this top-grade prep school for a reason, and they’re all aiming for Tokyo University. That doesn’t allow much room for mistakes, and they have tight study schedules. Some are a bit obsessive about it, though.

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Aoshi sparks an uproar by suggesting that they could get by without studying, in a remarkable display of his (perhaps) twisted priorities.

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Of course, Aoshi hangs out with people who have the same twisted priorities.

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Even when he’s teaching biology class, his mind is on baseball and the need to get the kids practicing.

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He somehow connects a lecture on inherited behavior to baseball practice, and while the scene was mostly comic relief, it was nice to see Aoshi fired up.

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Ushimaru (Yanagi Shuntaro) sees another member of the team (the same one with the tight schedule) receiving a love confession, and advises him to adjust his study schedule to make time for the date.

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Back at home, Akaiwa is super-awkward. With all the jealous flak he’s been getting from his teammates, he balks at all signs of his privilege, and especially at his father’s plan to build a bullpen in the backyard.

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It’s hard to really get a sense of what’s going on in his head, though . . .

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. . . especially when he asks Riko to follow him around and do a story about him. Wouldn’t that make his teammates even more jealous? I don’t understand his logic here at all, and the rest of the episode was somewhat tainted by his indecipherable motivation.

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Ushimaru is definitely jealous when he hears about the deal between Akaiwa and Riko, and Tarumi is suspicious. Tarumi sends her former stalker and current crazy ninja agent/lapdog Shikata (Sakurada Dori) to stalk Akaiwa and Riko.

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And what exactly does Akaiwa think he’s going to show Riko? What is she supposed to say about him in a story? I don’t know, and neither does she, so she quickly loses interest in him.

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Aoshi has some fun with Masumoto . . .

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. . . and Riko decides that since the team isn’t going to play or practice baseball, she’ll cover them studying. She arranges for them to all study together, but they obviously find this awkward and inconvenient. Here again, I don’t understand the motivation of the character and it seems completely contrived, since there’s no good reason why she can’t write an article on them studying without having them do so as a team for an hour.

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I’m getting really irritated by Shirao and his baseball-above-all thing. Rather than being angry at Akaiwa, I’m surprised more of the team isn’t annoyed by Shirao.

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What was really weird, though, was when in front of everyone, Akaiwa insisted that Riko should do an article on him instead of the team. I mean, what a way to not endear yourself to your teammates.

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This scene was so nonsensical, that it pretty much killed the episode for me. Akaiwa’s confused rant didn’t help.

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And it was followed by something even more ludicrous – Akaiwa challenged the formidable Dougaku team . . .

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. . . and the Doutoku team decided to use him as practice by batting with only one arm.

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As Aoshi said to him afterward: what the heck did he think was going to happen? What was the point of this?

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This is ridiculous, and not in a funny way.

In the next scene, Riko said she had wanted to enter Joutoku when she was young, not even realizing it was a boys’ school and not coed at the time. But . . . why did she want to enter if she didn’t even know that basic fact about the school? It was probably the school’s academic record, but she tells us she took a look at prior questions from the prep school’s entrance exams and decided it was hopeless.

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This conversation goes nowhere after that. At least we learn that Riko has always been fascinated by Joutoku, feeling that there’s some mystique about the school.

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Tarumi tries to understand what’s up with Akaiwa, but just ends up sighing in dismay.

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Suddenly, after the team hears out his humiliation at the hands of Dougaku, they all get worried that he’ll quit the team and rush to convince him not to. The misinformation was primarily Shikata’s fault.

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Somehow, this turns into a discussion about how their studying is going, and a strange contrast between the humanities and the sciences.

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Aoshi gives a little talk in which he pretty much concedes that he got it all wrong – that what matters isn’t squeezing some practice time in, but rather in time management. They should focus on their studies now so they can focus on baseball later (I think).

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And with that, there’s a montage of them preparing for their exams.

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Test day comes and goes, and I wonder what the first half of this episode was supposed to be about. Thankfully, the remainder of the episode was a bit better.

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When it turns out Joutoku can’t convince any other school to play their team, Riko concocts a hair-brained scheme to get Dougaku to take the blame. I have no idea how this is supposed to work, but very little of what anyone does in this episode makes any sense.

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The point is that this silly premise leads to another confrontation between Aoshi and his rival Yachida (Ichikawa Ebizo), and this was the first decent scene of the episode.

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Like nothing else, it put fire into Aoshi’s belly . . .

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. . . and he returned to the team practice with extra resolve.

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So, did the team somehow get better now that they’re through the weeks of study and the test?

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The rest of the episode went much more smoothly, and it ended well.

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That doesn’t excuse what a mess the first half was, though. They tried to set up a conflict for Akaiwa, but it was handled horribly. I understand that he doesn’t want to be judged by his wealth, but isn’t the fact that he’s also clearly very smart, being at the top of his class, enough of an achievement for him to hang his hat on? The characterizations were all over the place and not credible even in humorous terms. The writers simply wanted to set certain things up and didn’t care whether the process was completely illogical.

This was the worst episode so far, but at least the ending gave the team something we’ve been waiting for – a concrete strategy. Aoshi’s attempts to help them improve have been haphazard at best so far, and maybe he’s finally gotten a good idea – having them focus on offense rather than defense.

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