by Anne Lauenroth,
How would you rate episode 14 of
All Out!! ?
It's the third-years' last summer and the final chance for Sekizan to achieve his dream – well, high-school dream anyway, but who cares about what happens after that. The clock is ticking if he wants to be the one taking his team to Hanazono, and there's no room for slowing down. Time doesn't run quite as fast for the first-years though, or for any player looking for a fun pastime instead of their life's mission. And so, first-year Keta quits the team, not because of any external drama or tragic injury, but because rugby has become too hard, too time-consuming, and possibly a danger to his health.
Who's Keta? Don't worry. We're not supposed to remember his accomplishments or contributions, as there haven't been any. He's an invisible first-year no one on the team remembers talking to outside of practice. Yet he still leaves with a heavy heart and fond memories of his teammates accepting him. All Out!! doesn't try to turn Keta into an indispensable member everyone on the team will dearly miss and be unable to continue without after not giving him much screen time, which actually makes it more painful to see Sekizan lose his cool so completely. He failed a team member, and in doing so, he failed himself. Seeing him force himself to lie in order to make Keta stay – and I'm just going to assume that Keta didn't really feature so heavily in the third-years' off-screen conversations, if at all – was both touching and somewhat pitiful, with Yoshimasa Hosoya doing a very good job showing Sekizan at his most helpless. Even if the captain manages to let Keta go in the end, it's clear how much this personal loss affects him from his subsequent rigid scolding of Gion. Lashing out at him for being reckless, Sekizan then goes on to compensate by doing the only thing he knew how to do before Komori entered the picture: training harder.
While Sekizan's relentless drive ended up leaving someone behind, his own recklessness was what carried the team through the past two years. He really has no reason to add guilt to the responsibility he chose to shoulder. This time, Komori is waiting on the other side on the field, not to reprimand Sekizan for not listening after prophesying this exact outcome in episode 5, but to assure him that he's doing the right thing, reminding him to leave the adult responsibility stuff to the actual adults while continuing to set the benchmark as an inspiration for his team.
Given his lack of coaching and parenting experience, Komori is doing a pretty good job as an educator. What started as a way to pass the time after his retirement turned into something much more rewarding. Drinking with college rugby friend and fellow coach, Yujiro Tomie, Komori reveals his softer and more gentle side, indicating just how much his work has spared him from becoming the bitter old man Tomie seems to have thought he would end up becoming. In their conversation, Komori shows both fondness and respect for the boys, who have become his kids in more ways than they might be aware of.
It's at this point that the otherwise emotional but tactful episode temporarily loses its grace in unnecessary expository dialogue, to impart the information that Komori and his wife couldn't have children of their own. The flashback imagery and Komori musing about how he always wanted to teach (his) kids rugby would have been sufficient to get the ball way behind the goal line without Tomie spelling things out so unnaturally. Luckily, the rest of their exchange feels organic and believable, and I look forward to seeing Tomie return and witness the impact his old friend had on those kids firsthand (although I'd love to sneak a peek at that blog of his before that).
While Komori warned Sekizan about the consequences his recklessness might have, only one player has left the team so far. With everyone hugging and being extra supportive, it looks like the big implosion has been successfully avoided. If only the message Hachiōji received that very moment didn't hint at the next possible drama brewing, involving a player we know a lot better than Keta this time, whose departure from the team would probably have severe repercussions on his buddy Ebumi's emotional state.
It certainly looks like Jinko's road to Sugadaira isn't free from pebbles just yet.
All Out!! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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