Suzuka - 9: Photograph

Episode:9: Photograph
Yamato is waiting for Suzuka after breakfast but she rejects his offer to join her on their way to school. At the track&field club Yamato still wonders why Suzuka is so cold to him recently, but Miki is all spirited as today the members for the metropolitan tournament two weeks later are to be selected. Yamato wonders if Suzuka would think better of him if he produced some good results there... the results of his senpais (running below 12 seconds for 100 meters dash) make Yamato afraid of a disgraceful performance - but Soichi cheers him on: "You have the skills to surpass them!" Yamato is aware of Suzuka observing his race, remembering Yasunobu's comments about his fast legs he shows his fighting spirit [image1] ...
Exactly 10.98 seconds later his teammates are stunned! Suzuka is imagining Yamato wearing a red shirt with the number "1" for an embarrassing moment - and even Miki is holding her breath as well at this performance. After the club activities Yamato once again is waiting for Suzuka, but she coldly replies that yes she was watching his performance. Annoyed about her reaction, Yamato grabs for her arm [image2], asking what she doesn't like about him - and Suzuka replies that she despises him!
When the devastated boy reports the events in the cafeteria, Yasunobu asks whether it would be better if Suzuka were completely indifferent about him, and he has seen stalkers turn into lovers already. Miki joins them and comments on Yamato's gloomy mood, only to be informed about the situation by Yasunobu (who tries to recruit Miki as support for Yamato). Slightly disappointed, Miki confesses that she had Yamato on her mind herself... and Yasunobu hypes this as a rejection of himself by Miki! Yasunobu suggests Yamato should leave the club now as it only made things worse; Miki strongly disagrees [image3], as quitting now would definitely make Suzuka even more angry.
Yamato decides to try and improve his performance, as he wouldn't have anything else to do otherwise. His enthusiasm about training [image4] begins to set an example, and Soichi notices a change of mood in the club - but Suzuka avoids to comment on that. Miki observes Suzuka's ongoing underperformance at high-jumping, but Suzuka isn't willing to talk about it [image5].
With the forthcoming tournament in mind, all club members get one day off for regeneration. Yamato wonders whether he and Suzuka could do anything together, but then he overhears a conversation between Soichi and Suzuka about her going back to Yokohama tomorrow, as to "see Kazuki no matter what". Yamato doesn't get a wink of sleep that night, pondering whether this guy might be Suzuka's boyfriend or a secret crush. When Gorou-chan jumps over to Suzuka's balcony [image6], Yamato happens to spot the photograph on her cupboard - and the boy makes a spontaneous decision...
(2005-09-04, Devil Doll:)
Another great episode. Almost no side characters this time, and nobody did anything overly unreasonable. Even Yamato's slapstick scene worked very well - he's become sort of a mascot for the team now.

Honoka has a mere ten seconds of air time. And both Yasunobu and Miki didn't tell Honoka what happened in the cafeteria! Poor girl... Honoka-chan, I'm still rooting for you! But the hand is horribly stacked against you now: Yasunobu is loyal to Yamato (and thus wouldn't openly support anyone else as long as he's convinced Yamato didn't give up on Suzuka), and Miki is obviously completely loyal to her best friend Suzuka.
I wonder what on earth could happen as to ever give Honoka-chan a real chance... perhaps Suzuka doing anything so completely wrong as to isolate herself in the track&field club, such as openly rejecting to work together with Yamato, or even decline to help him in case of a sport accident? Any such spectacular scene would be required to allow Honoka to openly take Yamato's side, and be supported by the club members as well (and then maybe even by Miki and Soichi). If she's left on her own I doubt she can find any opportunity to show Yamato she can be a better girlfriend for him than Suzuka.

Miki is just great. She didn't have a single weak line in the whole series so far! This time she openly declared her interest in Yamato but very composedly accepted the implied "rejection". I cannot completely rule out that she tries to keep Yamato in the club for her own objectives (after all, he's a nice guy, and she did notice his body...) but more likely she's simply telling the truth, as she's obviously worried about Suzuka's condition (and correctly guessed the cause of it already).
Note how Miki's declaration clears the way for a potential forthcoming couple: Miki & Yasunobu! (Which might have been the reason why Miki voiced it in the first place, as any morale-boosting effect on Yamato from claiming him worthy of her interest went to waste completely.) Miki and Yasunobu were argueing just like newlyweds, and I don't think Yasunobu would have told Miki about Yamato's crush and rejection if he didn't know her quite well already (note how he explained the tactical aspect to Yamato!). And while Yasunobu's comment on Miki's "rejection" might be taken as merely funny, he's the type who wouldn't be open about his own feelings as well, perhaps because he didn't spend a lot of time about "feelings" so far. I think Miki & Yasunobu is a good bet for the end of the series, whereas Honoka & Kobayakawa is merely a wild guess so far.

Yamato has his ups and downs. He made as much progress as to encompass his meeting with Suzuka at her door in the morning; then again he should have known that Suzuka observed him running, so whatever additional comment he'd make on this event would most likely be taken as bragging, but sadly he didn't have the self control to wait whether Suzuka would start a conversation, thus finding out a lot more about the impact of his performance; well, he's a typical lovesick male so I shouldn't expect too much from him. Consequently, the closing scene of this episode makes a lot of sense to me.
Suzuka is still irritated about Yamato's change, resembling Mr. Photogenic more and more. So far we can only guess what happened in Yokohama between her and this Tsuda Kazuki guy, but hopefully the forthcoming episode will finally provide some information about him.


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