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Rising Impact – 04

As I suggested, I’m going to stick around with Rising Impact as the schedule allows. I know very few people will follow along but in the end, what matters is that I like it. Rather a lot in fact. I’m predisposed to like sports anime if they’re decent anyway, but this one is not at all bland or generic – it has a style all its own. Plus it’s golf, and I have a lifetime of golf anime deprivation to make up for (and Ooi!! Tonbo is on hiatus anyway).

Any sports series worth its salt has to be able to deliver a competition episode. With Nanba Hitoshi directing and Netflix producing there was never any reason to doubt the production, but the writing still has to be up to the task. This was excellent – great fun, a bit silly at times but not in an obnoxious way. Golf is all about tournaments after all, and Rising Impact certainly didn’t waste much time before diving into one. Gawain being paired with Lancelot (who has an admirer in Kurumi) made for a good show (and the bullied kid Mukaida is in the group too).

The first interesting moment comes on the first hole, a 320-yard par 4. Lancelot and Mukaida lay up of course (they’re 6th-graders) but little Gawain – I’m kinda surprised he knew the etiquette, but maybe Kiria taught him – says he needs to wait for the group ahead to clear the green. The marshal laughs this off (oh ye of little faith) and threatens Gawain with a penalty for slow play if he waits. Safe to say he won’t make that mistake again. Gawain two-putts for birdie, though of course since Lancelot basically never misses a putt (yeah, that’s a fantasy element – no one is that good) – they still walk off the hole tied.

It’s interesting to watch Squishy (as future playing partner Yumiko dubs Gawain) in the crucible of tournament golf. Kiria notes that he seems to be immune to pressure, and indeed he does have a blithe confidence to him that never seems to waver. That will start to reveal a few cracks in time – when weather conditions change is when experience really tells in golf, and it starts to dawn on Gawain that he’s not ready to beat Lancelot just yet. Still, Gawain does place in the top three after the front nine. And with the pairings reset based on the leaderboard, that laves him in the final group with Lancelot and Yuriko.

Yuriko has one thing in common with Squishy – she’s obsessed with beating Lancie. But Gawain is a natural good sport – when he realizes Yumiko doesn’t have an umbrella, he offers to share his. And when she declines, he folds his and puts it away (halfp-shaming Lancelot into doing the same, ROFL) on the grounds that they should all play under same conditions. Those conditions do tell on Gawain’s game, though – he doesn’t know how to play the wind, and even if he doesn’t feel pressure he certainly does feel frustration. Gawain redeems himself after a shaky back nine with a ridiculous hole-out from the trees (another suspension of disbelief moment) but the experience leaves him somewhat shaken.

I liked seeing that – Gawain having a vulnerable side is good for his character. And Lancelot is gracious in victory, which is somewhat reassuring about him. Though he should be – for a newbie in third-grade to play that well is far more impressive than his winning the tournament himself. In fact both boys have impressed a stealthy observer – Merlin Albright, the famous coach who runs Camelot Golf Academy (yup, this is Suzuki Nakaba all right). Is this a change of venue then, or just a detour?

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