Bullet with Butterfly Wings

Episode 31

Finally, Sakuragi and the others are allowed to join the game (Shohoku is lagging behind at this point). Koshino tells Aida to pay attention to #7, Miyagi Ryota. Aida thinks that he's nothing special, cuz he's only as tall as Aida himself (which is pretty short). Then he sees Miyagi's speed, which is incredible. Uozumi, on the other hand, wonders why is it that #14 is so familiar. Later he realizes that #14 is none other than Mitsui Hisashi, former MVP. Sakuragi is fouled against, and he has to make two free throws. He knows nothing about free throws. ^_^ Both Mitsui and Miyagi give him conflicting advice and he doesn't know who to listen to. Aida further adds on the pressure by telling him that if both his throws go in, Shohoku will draw level with Miuradai. As Sakuragi stands there and hems and haws, the referee blows the whistle. Time's up. The Ryonan team in the audience falls over. ^_^ Sakuragi's team-mates try to reassure him, except Rukawa, of course, who tells him to close his eyes and throw. Then, Sakuragi gets an idea, and he flings the ball at the general area of the goal. It rebounds off the rim, and Sakuragi jumps up, but Rukawa appears before him and slam dunks.

My 2 cents
Favorite scenes:
1) This is when Akagi tries to reassure Sakuragi by telling him that he (Akagi) used to suck at free throws. Mitsui butts in and says yes, Akagi indeed sucked real bad. Akagi turns on him and yells at him to shut up, and - this is sooo funny - Mitsui turns SD and cries on a startled Miyagi's shoulder, saying, "Did you have to yell at me like that???" Miyagi looks ready to freak out. So was I. ^_^

2) Another funny scene is when Sakuragi confronts Miyagi about passing the ball to Rukawa. Sakuragi is yelling (as usual) but then he notices Anzai-sensei looking at them. He slings his arms around Miyagi and Rukawa as if they are best of friends (no fighting, remember?). Miyagi inches away sneakily and Rukawa primly dusts away the imprint of Sakuragi's hand on his shoulder. Sakuragi, realizing what he had done, starts wiping his hands in a panic.

Episode 32

Shohoku is having an easy time on the court. Obviously Miuradai is no match for them. Sendoh rejoins his teammates and remarks on Rukawa's performance. Aida flips when he hears that Sendoh has been talking to Kainan's Maki Shinichi. Koshino tells Aida that he's being a nuisance. ^_^ On the opposite side of the court, third-year Maki is watching the game and he too notices Rukawa. He thinks that Rukawa is like Sendoh during his first year. Half time. Miuradai brings out their "secret weapon", #9 - a huge, towering, bald-headed guy (who shall henceforth be called Baldhead cuz I don't know his name - hey, even Sendoh calls him that). Btw, I don't think he's in the manga. During the tip-off, Baldhead gets the better of Akagi. Shohoku starts having problems. Baldhead keeps making Sakuragi foul. But Miuradai captain tells him that even if Sakuragi is made to leave, it will not have any drastic effect on Shohoku. Baldhead gets two free throws and they both go in, Miuradai drawing level with Shohoku again.

My 2 cents
There's a scene where Haruko is daydreaming about Rukawa, Sakuragi and her brother in class and the sensei calls on her and asks her, "Do you know what class this is?" She says it's Math but it turns out to be English. The sensei mutters, "Unbelievable!" and there's the word "unbelievable" in English on the blackboard. Cut to the stadium, Aida jumps up and yells, "Unbelievable!!! Rukawa is unbelievable!" And later on in the episode, Koshino says quietly, "Unbelievable." But this time it's directed at Baldhead. *grin* Very nice.

Episode 33

Anzai-sensei, Sendoh, Uozumi and Maki all realize that Baldhead's next target is Rukawa. However, Sendoh says that targeting Rukawa will not be as easy, and he turns out to be right. Rukawa discovers Baldhead's weakness (i.e. he keeps running in a straight line) and soon the entire Shohoku team is on to him. Sakuragi keeps trying to get his teammates to pass to him, but nobody does. Finally he gets the ball and runs to attack, intending to prove his tensai ability to everyone, but instead he slam dunks on top of #9's bald head, putting both of them out of commission. Even so, it is an easy win for Shohoku at 114-51.

My 2 cents
First appearance of Jin Sauchiro (great three-point shooter) and Kiyota Nobunaga(who hates Rukawa's guts) of Kainan.

Episode 34

Shohoku's second match is against Kakuno (at least that's what I think the name is). There's a huge audience for the game, and Ayako thinks that because of Shohoku's big win against Miuradai, they are now known as the "dark horse". Jin and Kiyota of Kainan also turn up to watch. Not ten seconds after Sakuragi joins the match, he fouls. Meantime, Ryonan captain Uozumi is on his way to the stadium and on the train he sees a Shoyo player. Back to the game, Shohoku is leading but poor Sakuragi is back on the bench. Uozumi has reached the stadium and he approaches the Shoyo player, Hanagata Tooru. They get into a conversation and Hanagata says that if it were Shoyo, they'd have won by at least 200 points. Uozumi smiles and says, "Maybe." Shohoku wins the match 153-24. Sakuragi is ashamed that he got sent off and wonders how he is going to face Haruko. In the evening he goes to Akagi's house and asks Akagi to teach him how not to get sent off. Meanwhile, Mitsui is just leaving the hospital after going for his check-up. He sees someone riding past on a motorcycle and turns. It's Tetsuo. Since I like this scene a lot, I'll translate their conversation.

Mitsui: Tetsuo?
Tetsuo: Long time no see. Mitsui.
Mitsui: Tetsuo... *nervously* Uh, I just went for a check-up on my old injury...
Tetsuo leans against the railings and lights a cigarette.
Tetsuo: You've cut your hair. *pause* You look like a sportsman. *grins* It seems maybe you're meant to be a sportsman.
Mitsui: Tetsuo...
Sound of sirens in the distance, coming closer.
Tetsuo: Huh, I thought I'd ditched them. Now I have to run again.
He gets on his motorcycle.
Tetsuo: I always hated wearing helmets. See you around, sportsman.
Mitsui stands there as he speeds off, a police car in pursuit.
Mitsui: Farewell, Tetsuo.
He crosses the road and sighs, rubbing his head.
Mitsui: It gets so cold at night...

OK, back to our hero. Akagi is telling Sakuragi that he should realize what he has done wrong that causes him to get sent off. Later, Sakuragi is walking past the school and he hears someone in the gym. He takes a peek and sees Rukawa practicing. Sakuragi watches him, mesmerized, then bursts in and yells, "Rukawa! I'm not going to get sent off again! And what's more, I'm going to get more points than you!!" and slams the door. SD Rukawa stares and blinks. ^_^

My 2 cents
Not much basketball action here, but a very good episode nevertheless. It sorta shows the characters as people, instead of just two-dimensional ego-tripping cardboard cutouts. And I thought the animation was particularly nice. Very, um, "cinematic".

Episode 35

The team is practicing in the gym and Sakuragi is breaking the rules left and right. On the other hand Mitsui is playing very well and Kogure thinks that he has recovered his form. Later as Sakuragi is walking home, he wonders to himself why Mitsui has changed so much after returning to basketball while he himself cannot seem to do it. He comes upon Akagi's house and is not sure whether he wants to go in. Inside, Haruko sees him lurking around and goes out to meet him. She offers to help him with his fouling problem and Sakuragi is beside himself with joy. The next morning they meet at the basketball court but Akagi shows up and says he will teach Sakuragi cuz he doesn't want Sakuragi's "dirty" hands on his sister. However, Sakuragi is the original baka deshi (move over, Kenshin) and he keeps pestering Akagi for some kind of secret technique. Finally Akagi has had enough and tells him that it's in the Look. He's actually lying, but Sakuragi being his own gullible self, believes him and starts laughing maniacally cuz he thinks he has finally found the secret to success. Then he starts going round practicing his Look on various people and animals. During a practice match, he does his Look on Yasuda and it actually works. Next morning, which is the day Shohoku goes up against Shoyo, Mitsui sees Tetsuo on his bike being pursued and runs after them. Tetsuo's pursuers (Ryu and his gang) has cornered him in an alley and starts beating him up. At that moment, Mitsui arrives.

My 2 cents
Haruko is actually pretty funny here. Youhei and gang are placing bets on how long Sakuragi is gonna last before being kicked out of the game and Haruko tells them that they should be ashamed of themselves cuz Sakuragi is their friend. The Sakuragi Gundan, suitably contrite, apologizes, but then Haruko asks them to let her bet too. And then she hears Rukawa's name being mentioned, and she leaps up and starts screaming encouragement to him. Say what you like about Haruko (and I'd probably agree) but I think her crush on Rukawa is really sweet. Oh, btw, I think this whole episode is just in the anime, not the comics.

Episode 36

Ryu tells Mitsui that he is a coward for returning to basketball. He beats Mitsui up a bit and tells Mitsui to fight back, or has he forgotten how to fight now that he's a basketball player? Mitsui looks as if he wants to retaliate, but Tetsuo stops him. Tetsuo confronts Ryu, but is hit on the head with a steel pipe and he passes out. Ryu tries to goad Mitsui into fighting, even telling him that he won't tell anybody if Mitsui fights. Mitsui says, "I promised - I promised Anzai-sensei that I will never fight again." Ryu tells Mitsui to beg for his life. In the meantime, Sakuragi has woken up late and is hurrying to get to the station. He rounds a corner, and runs smack into the Sakuragi gundan, who are on a bicycle. Yes, one bicycle. Everybody goes sprawling. Sakuragi leaps up and yells, "You idiots! How can four guys ride on one bicycle?!" Youhei reminds him that Shohoku has a match today and he should be on his way. Sakuragi starts running, with the others following close behind. They reach a wall in an alley and Takamiya informs him that over the other side is the station. Meanwhile, Ryu is still waiting for Mitsui's response. Mitsui drops to his hands and knees and begs Ryu to let them go. Ryu looks surprised for a moment, then smiles. Two of his gang holds Mitsui's arms in place and Ryu picks up the steel pipe. "Let me break your hands," he says, "So that you will never play basketball again." Mitsui is horrified and he shouts, "No! Ryu, don't do this!" Ryu lifts the pipe and is about to bring it down when he himself is knocked down by something falling from the sky. Yes, it's the hero to the rescue. Sakuragi (who has leapt over the wall and is now sitting on top of Ryu) looks around and sees Mitsui. "Eh? Mitsui, what are you doing here?" He looks around and sees all those people. Ryu gets up from under him. Sakuragi recognizes him as the guy who beat up Rukawa that day in the gym. "You!" he bellows and looms over him threateningly. "W-what are you going to do?" Ryu asks nervously. Sakuragi pats him on the shoulder and says, very seriously, "You did a great job beating up Rukawa that day." Ryu's surprised, but recovers quickly and one of his gang punches Sakuragi. Sakuragi is mad as hell but Mitsui tells him not to fight, that if he does, then everything will be over. Sakuragi remembers an incident during practice in which Kogure told him that this was his last year at Shohoku and his hopes for Shohoku's basketball team. Back to the present, Ryu laughs at them and wants to start working them over, but again, rescue comes from the sky, this time in the form of the Sakuragi gundan. "I'm sorry, but I will not let you do that," Youhei says calmly (he is so cool!). Tetsuo, who has revived, tells Mitsui to go ahead. Mitsui says, "Tetsuo..." (he seems to like saying his name a lot) and Tetsuo says, "See you around, sportsman." They stare at each other for a long moment, then Mitsui and Sakuragi take off. Tetsuo and Youhei stand back-to-back and are ready to take on Ryu's gang. Sakuragi and Mitsui arrive just on time at the stadium and Mitsui goes straight to Anzai-sensei and says, bowing, "I'm sorry to have caused you worry, sensei. But I didn't get into a fight. Truly I didn't." Anzai-sensei looks at him kindly and replies, "We depend on you, Mitsui." Shohoku's opponent is some unknown team in blue (too lazy to go look at the name on their jerseys) and it's a win for Shohoku, of course. Shoyo is watching the game in the audience.

My 2 cents
The interaction between Mitsui and Tetsuo is very nicely done. In fact, the whole episode is very nicely done. One of the best in the series, I think.

Episodes 37-39

Shoyo vs Shohoku. I'll do the synopses for these eps later. ^_^ Just a random thought here - the scene where Rukawa gives Shohoku their first points in the game is one of the best action scenes in the anime so far, I think. The animation, timing and music were all excellent. In fact, it was so well done that it made me think that Rukawa is the greatest basketball player in Slam Dunk. It took me 22 issues of the manga to come to the same conclusion. ^_^

Episode 40

Miyagi gets the spotlight in this episode! About time too. Miyagi is facing Ito, who is much taller than him, and two guys in the audience make insulting comments about Miyagi's height. Aida, same height as Miyagi, is pissed off. Hanagata says #7 is no threat to them. Miyagi gets the ball and runs to attack, going past the Shoyo defence in a flash. He passes to Sakuragi who does a lay-up and scores. Sakuragi starts crying because he has finally scored, and he imagines everyone being awed of his excellent tensai ability when in reality, everyone is actually congratulating Miyagi on an excellent pass. Sakuragi gets mad and yells at them why are they praising Miyagi when he was the one who scored?? Akagi looms over him and informs him that anyone on the receiving end of Miyagi's great pass would have scored. Sakuragi in his turn informs Akagi that Akagi has not scored any points in the game. In the audience, Aida thinks that he is not as tall as Rukawa or a tensai like Sakuragi, and even in his own Ryonan team, Uozumi and Sendoh are leagues away better than him, but now as he sees Miyagi's performance, he realizes that he himself also has the potential to be a great player. Coach Taoka remarks that the PG position in a team is very important. A good PG has to be calm and possess great passing ability. Taoka thinks that in these respects, Miyagi is almost as good as Maki of Kainan and Fujima Kenji of Shoyo. Taoka also says that Ryonan does not have a skilled PG of that caliber. Aida realizes that he wants to be a PG and as Miyagi performs yet another remarkable feat on the court, says that even though Sakuragi is indeed a great player, but from now on, he will place Miyagi as his role model. Against all odds, Miyagi gets the better of two extremely tall Shoyo players and scores. He points to Fujima on the bench and challenges him. Shoyo calls for a timeout. Taoka thinks that Shohoku will soon force Fujima to participate in the game. To be continued...

My 2 cents
If I'm not mistaken (I haven't read the corresponding issue of the manga for a long time), there are some differences in Aida's reactions in the anime and manga. It's interesting to note that later in the manga, Aida's sister says of Ryonan's Sendoh, "Possibly the perfect position for him is PG." Um, so where does that leave Aida? ^_^
Another random note. Very strangely, there seems to be some yaoi implications or UST or whatever in the anime that I did not notice in the manga. Seriously. I remember watching an earlier episode in which Sakuragi is comparing Haruko's and Rukawa's treatment of him, and the whole thing just suddenly brought to mind someone comparing two potential dates. ^_^; And, as you go along, you'll notice that Sakuragi shouts Rukawa's name about every five minutes or so. And in this particular ep and the next, you'll also notice a number of silent, intense and unexplained stares between Hanagata and Fujima. Huh. Or maybe it's just me. ^_^

Episode 42-43

Fujima makes his appearance on the court and Shoyo trashes the heck out of Shohoku. Details later. ^_^;

Episodes 44-45

Mitsui saves Shohoku's fat from the fire. Figuratively speaking, of course. The animation's not very good. I mean, I do realize that those guys are exerting themselves, thus are breathing heavily, but do they have to bob up and down like that? @_@ Also, there're way too many flashbacks filling in airtime, though one is quite moving - the one where Mitsui is remembering each of his Shohoku teammates as they were when they were fighting in the gym.

Episode 46

Favorite scene:
Right at the beginning of the episode, Sakuragi is engrossed in his own thoughts. What am I gonna do, etc etc etc. Rukawa walks by and says, "You're still here?" Sakuragi immediately turns an interesting shade of blue. "Not sent off yet?" Rukawa inquires. Sakuragi blows a fuse. Predictably.

Been kinda busy lately, so the synopses have been more or less erratic. We will now return to the normal schedule, ladies and gentlemen. Er, more or less. ^_^

Episode 47

There're 2 minutes and 30 secs left of the game. Sakuragi has fouled 4 times and Akagi and Rukawa twice each. Maki in the audience remarks that now it has reached the stage of live-or-die and that it depends entirely on the willpower of the two teams. Kiyota says he feels like going down to the court himself. Hanagata shoots but it doesn't go in. Sakuragi gets the rebound. He lands, and thinks, "I'm really the tensai!" complete with the kanji for "tensai" behind him. Thus ends his impersonation of a tortoise. Miyagi goes up against Fujima and passes to Rukawa, who does a lay-up. The ball teeters on the edge for a while then it falls in. The score is 60-62, Shohoku leading. Fujima stares at the two Shohoku players and thinks, "Sakuragi and Rukawa... this new partnership..." In the meantime, the members of the "new partnership" are in a world of their own.
Sakuragi: Rukawa! You show-off!!!
Rukawa: You're just envious.
The Shoyo team looks to their captain for directions. Fujima stares at them and doesn't know what to say or do. Maki says, "This is bad. Fujima's leadership skills seem to have left him." Jin says casually, "This new partnership did not figure into Fujima's calculations." In the Ryonan side, Sendoh remarks, "Those two have improved considerably." And Aida yells, "This is bad! It seems that Shohoku will be the one to get into the last four!!! They're a stronger team than the one that faced us in the practice match!!!" It must be noted that he is practically tearing his hair out here. ^_^ But Taoka says calmly, "They've indeed got stronger. But there are still weaknesses."
Down on the court, Kogure passes to Sakuragi who immediately goes on the offence, intending to show up Rukawa. Fujima shouts at Hanagata to "stop him! Hanagata! Even if he gets a free throw it won't go in!" Hanagata jumps to block and Sakuragi jumps to dunk. Haruko thinks, "Slam dunk??" There's the sound of thunder. Cut to commercial break. ^_^ Back to the scene, the sound of thunder still hasn't ended. Sakuragi has indeed slam dunked. He hangs on to the rim for a while, then drops to his feet. There is total silence for a long moment before the stadium erupts in cheers. However, the referee blows his whistle. Sakuragi has fouled, his shot is disregarded and he is sent off. The audience claps and cheers as he walks off the court. Mitsui says with a smile, "Even louder cheers than for me." Ayako says to Sakuragi, "Well done! What does it feel like to slam dunk?" Sakuragi replies, "Ayako-san... I feel nothing." As he sits down, he thinks, "Heartbeat. I can hear my heart beating."
The game goes on. Fujima attempts a three-pointer, but Kogure thinks that with their respective height, he won't lose out. His fingers just manage to graze the ball and it doesn't go in. Last few seconds, Fujima yells, "There's no more time! Attack!" Last 3 secs, Hanagata shoots. The ball rolls around the rim before falling on the outer side. Time up. Shohoku has won by two points. Taoka thinks, "Maki's and Fujima's era is over. Now it is the beginning of a new era." The Shoyo players are crying, devastated at their loss.

My 2 cents
Favorite scenes:
1) During Sakuragi's slam dunk and afterwards, in the silence. Very dramatic. ^_^

2) At the end of the episode, there's a sequence where scenes of each Shohoku player during the game are shown, accompanied by the tune of "I Want to Shout I Love You". This sequence reminds me why Sakuragi is my only favorite anime hero. He doesn't hog the limelight (not by lack of trying though ^^).

Episodes 48-49

This is scribbled from memory so it's probably not very detailed. This is the Sakuragi-Oda storyline. Sakuragi hears that Takezono is facing Kainan and that Takezono probably doesn't have much of a chance. In Takezono, Oda is practicing hard cuz he wants to beat Sakuragi. He's hurt his foot and Yoko (who has the dubious honor of handing Sakuragi his fiftieth rejection) is worried about him, but he brushes her concern aside. Later that night, Yoko runs into Sakuragi. Coincidentally, so does Haruko. Sakuragi is beside himself and gets Yohei & friends to spirit Haruko away from the scene. Yoko doesn't say much, but Sakuragi gets the feeling that she's distraught.
Next morning, he sees Haruko sitting alone in class and gets very excited cuz he thinks she's worried about last night's incident. In truth, Haruko is actually making a doodle of Rukawa and daydreaming about him as usual. She looks at the doorway as Rukawa happens to pass by, and Sakuragi thinking she is looking at him, straightens up. He sees Rukawa out of the corner of his eye and mutters, "Rukawa..." The Sakuragi gundan has a laugh at his expense and he goes, "RUKAWA!!!" complete with waving of arms and beating of chest.
Later, he and the gundan goes to Takezono to find out what's wrong. They see Oda in the gym and realize that he's hurt his foot. Oda tells Sakuragi that not only does he want to beat Sakuragi, it is also his dream to be the champion in all of Japan. Sakuragi tells him in that case, he must beat Kainan.

Episode 50

This and ep 51 seem to be one continuous story so please see summary for that. :)

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