by Mercedez Clewis,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Tribe Nine ?
Community score: 3.7
Time to get ready to play ball, which is coincidentally the title of Tribe Nine's grand slam of a finale (that is, “PLAY BALL” in all caps) to what I can only assume will be a one cour project as, spoiler alert: it has very little baseball, actually. But there's lots and lots of feelings.
Ojiro goes full mask off (as in, he literally takes off his mask) this week, taking on the Minato Tribe in a face-to-face battle that's full of twists and turns, including a good bit of betrayal. I love a last-minute heel turn (with GUNS!), even if it's crammed into twenty-four minutes of not the best paced scripting. But hey: that banger soundtrack though, am I right?
There is so much crammed into this episode: there's flashbacks and XB fights (and even more almost XB fights) and character growth and character deconstruction. It's all a lot, and it's not necessarily well-structured. It is fairly interesting, but maybe, in another series it would be well-executed and not feel like Tribe Nine was trying to tie up a bunch of loose ends. It ultimately feels messy, and when the resolution comes it's expected, which is really all I can say.
And since we're here, let's talk about resolutions.
I can easily say I'll be leaving the series with a solid sense of closure and a bit of optimism, which is nice, but unexpected. I genuinely thought I'd be leaving with some sort of “now go play the mobile game” bait, but instead we get an ending that feels about as good as you can expect from a show that's gone through some very high highs and extremely low lows like Tribe Nine has, cliffhangers included.
And goodness me, has this show gone through it over the past few weeks.
But where the show lands -and actually sticks the landing- is on the notion of fun. Part of why XB is so engaging for the late Shun Kamiya, and now, for Haru, is because it's a game. XB thrives when that's at the core: when it becomes a knock down, drag out battle, the game loses it's enjoyment. And it's actually this return to fun by Haru -who literally throws hands this episode- that actually kind of had me smiling in the end because say what you will, this show stays the course with its overall message, roiling the world of XB and Neo Tokyo by Game Over-ing some characters. (Or are they alive? Here's the thing, I genuinely don't know.)
Tribe Nine is a series that I don't regret spending time with, if only because of my insatiable desire to devour everything Kazutaka Kodaka lays his hands on. I just kind of can't help myself: every since I played Danganronpa in grad school, I've been very into everything he makes. Tribe Nine is the fast food of anime. It is is the 7-11 pizza slice of the animation world. Will it do in a pinch? Yeah, of course, but is it exactly what I wanted?
No, not at all.
There was a lot of mixed feelings as the credits rolled: I tried to reflect on what drew me to this show outside of my desire to kin my personality into every single Danganronpa character. Thinking back, it was a desire to see a sports anime that was fun, and to a degree Tribe Nine was, at least initially. That said, I know there was an audience for this series, and I really hope that if you're that audience, you enjoyed it. Truth be told, that's always my wish for shows that I'm reviewing, whether or not I like them in the end: I hope that they brought enjoyment to as many people as possible. I'm a bit on both sides of the fence with my enjoyment, but honestly I can safely conclude this review saying that this anime is perfectly okay, and that's okay in and of itself. Every season needs its C-minus grade anime, and Tribe Nine?
Well, it's a grand slam in that category.
Rating:because this was so close to four stars, but just never got there
Tribe Nine is currently streaming on Funimation.
Mercedez is a JP-EN translation and localization light novel editor & proofreader/QA, pop culture critic, and a journalist who, when not writing for ANN, writes for Anime Feminist, where they're a staff editor. They're also a frequent cohost on the Anime Feminist Podcast, Chatty AF. This season, they're reflecting on their youth with Akebi's Sailor Uniform. When they're not writing and reviewing, you can find them on their Twitter or on their Instagram where she's always up to something.
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