From my limited experiences in my 22 years of life, I’m always surprised by how sports take a hold of our lives. It tends to be an instant starting point of connection between people, a source of collective joy and agony, and probably one of the more politically correct ways to classify people into groups and do battle against them. For example, as a Washington Redskins fan, I have no love lost for the rest of the NFC East, so the Giants, Cowboys and Eagles can all crash and burn as far as I care. And of course alliances and the like can form, such as the collective dislike of the New England Patriots as they “smugly” pursued their quest for perfection last season. But as seen in the previous sentences, sometimes sports can get too serious business, and I fear that sort of attitude moves into other areas, based on how obsessed people can get with politics as if political parties were playing for the World Cup and not for the whole well-being of the country. So when seeing things like, say, a high school’s Field Day, it’s a nice change of pace to observe some positive aspects of sports. But I sort of digress from here. 😛
This episode reminded me of the conglomeration of the Field Day episodes that were present in Azumanga Daioh, but only in little bits. Things like the nonsensical opening statement from a faculty member (though Kimura-sensei’s was better), some of the silliness of the events and so on. But what really stuck with me was seeing 10-year-old Chiyo in Yuno in this episode, in the whole self-flagellation both had about bringing the rest of the class down because or their lack of self-esteem in their athletic abilities. As has been shown in previous entries, their fears are ours magnified, as I don’t think that the majority of us would almost worry ourselves sick (nervous breakdown style), though the nervousness is still there. In both instances, their friends made attempts to assuage those doubts, reminding them that it’s just a game, despite appearances to the contrary as Sae and Natsumi’s attempt to one-up each other sorta overshadowed that in Hidamari like Yukari and Nyamo’s bets in Azumanga.
But what I liked here was that Yuno took it upon herself, albeit unwillingly, to win the relay race for her team, compared to Sakaki bailing out Chiyo in Azumanga. Their circumstances are entirely different, as Chiyo has a disadvantage in her young age that Yuno doesn’t have in her case. And given the character setup in both series, it’s should not be a knock on Chiyo by any stretch of the means, as she still younger than everyone else. But it was great to see Yuno take a step forward in her own maturation process by literally taking steps forward. She did her best to keep the lead that everyone bestowed upon her, and lived up to her role as anchor. In the process of doing so, she gaining the brief happiness and satisfaction that winning always leads to, the confirmed trust that was placed onto her by herself and her friends to do as well as she could, and the boost to her confidence that should last long after her adventures are done at Yamabuki High School.
Yet with Yuno being Yuno, the last part still doesn’t hit for her, as she keeps on understating her achievements. So it’s up to Miyako to keep hitting that point into her by continuously letting Yuno know the pivotal role she played in order for the Red Team to beat the White Team, and this occurs till Yuno finally gets it with some embarrassment. Continuing on this tangent, there’s a brief scene where our four main friends are hanging out and mention the ball roll event, which it sort of incorporates how Yuno and Miyako are going through things. In Yuno’s case during the event, she was pushing the tall ball with all of her might, but she did so without knowing where she was going, whereas Miyako balanced precariously on the ball, while aware of where everything is. I could say it highlights how both characters seem to be moving through life, but another important point is raised.
In both situations, there need to be other people involved for completely successful maneuvering. In Yuno’s case, she currently needs people to guide her to where she wants to go, in this example being the goal, as her destination would almost always definitely take more time to get there by herself, along with some difficulties on the path she would travel. Given how it seems that in general Yuno seems to have trouble navigating her way though her struggles on and off the field, it’s vital that others help her out. When looking at Miyako, the worry isn’t about the target, as she always has it within her sights, but for people to be there to catch her when she stumbles. As Miyako often impulsively does things, because the word plan isn’t in her dictionary, her quests come with unforeseen potholes alongside the road that she completely misses. And while she’s able to pick herself back up no worse for wear, I get the impression that in the future, she will need help to get her back to where she was. Both of these examples indicate that there’s a necessity for others to be around.
In other words, a team effort is needed to succeed, in sports and in life, or in an idealistic Miyako’s words, “If we all work together, we’ll always win”. More often than not, it takes a collective effort in order to get to where you need to be, be it a helping hand, or one of encouragement. In the case of this simple Field Day, you might have Gamebreakers like Sae or Miyako, an X-factor or two like Hiro, and people who like Yuno who at their best are consistent, reliable players. But in order to achieve maximum success, doing it alone almost never cuts it, and it’s the combination of all of those roles that seal the deal.
It could be something as little as trying to make someone realize how important their work was, or reminding people how society works, or just providing advice and encouragement for the future. When some sort of synergy is formed, it’s harder to be stopped on the way to goal; case in point being the caterpillar race, where the trust and understanding that our main foursome had in each other led them to run away with the race, even when they weren’t puttiing full attention on the event. To try and twist Miyako’s words from a first season episode, in order to fly on your own, it’s important to be a “bird of sportsmanship” with others. It’s such that regardless of the result, if you’ve done your best with as much help as you need, there’s no reason not to feel good about the effort. How else would the principal get to be as awesome as he is? 😛
A side note: It’s great to see an anime where girls are sprinting normally, even Yuno who gets it wrong at the start, but manages to get it together before the win. A comparison of her and her runner-up running in that style that annoys the hell out of me (is it an anime thing, or do some girls really run like that in real life? I feel sorry for them) obviously shows which running style is more superior. Just another one of those things that gets me about anime. :3
Next Episode: Girls on Film