When Nemoto, a yakuza, threatens to raise the rent of an arcade the NEETs frequent, they convince him to take part in a bet. If the NEETs beat him at baseball, the rent stays the same. To their surprise, it’s a real baseball game, not a video game, they have to participate in. Nemoto also fields ringers and is himself a former ace pitcher. To beat him, Alice and Narumi need to know what kind of player he was.
I have a soft spot for baseball episodes – even DS9 did one for crying out loud – especially when they bear some resemblance to the sport of baseball. This episode did, somewhat. You had your signs, your uncaught strike three, your out pitch, et cetera. Baseball is every bit as much about brains as it is about brawn, and considering the NEET team had more than a few capable players, I wasn’t that outraged that they won. Whether Narumi could actually hit a home run off of Nemo just because he knows what’s coming is a stretch, to be sure. But as an in-between episode it wasn’t bad.
The arcade at stake is apparently where the NEETs spend a lot of time; the owner calls them regulars. Yet nine episodes in and I believe this is the first time we’ve seen them there. Usually they’re just in the alley behind Min’s ramen shop. It was hard to care about the stakes considering this episode was the first time we learned of the arcade’s existence, and Narumi & Co.’s fondness for it. Still, I liked how they still needed to do some detective work to “solve the case” (win the game). And Alice actually going outside and participating in athletics? Unprecedented.
Tokizane learns about the elder bairns when he sees Saya finish one off; he pledges to help her however he can. Saya’s father seems out of it, as Saya even find him unconscious at home (he’s last seen talking to Fumito). The dog visits Saya in the bath, urging her to remember who she made her promise to. Three days pass without an attack, but the day the school re-opens, Saya’s classroom is viciously attacked by a new elder bairn.
Things are just not going well for Saya’s Pledge to Protect. Many of her classmates are slaughtered like pigs in front of her, and the episode actually ends before we see her take her katana to it. To be fair, this is a particularly nasty customer, teeming with spiky legs the size of tree trunks and a massive maw. Now her two worlds are irreversibly mixed, and so far it’s like oil and water – they’re not getting along. Kudos to the writers for lulling us into such a bubbly false security in earlier episodes, only to meticulously, mercilessly tear it to shreds in the last few.
Part of me is starting to suspect that the kind young cafe owner, Fumito, could the person Saya made the promise to. It’s just a wild guess, but I can’t think of another reason for him to still be around having such strange scenes as the one with Saya’s dad. Like Saya, we’re still very much in the dark, and Saya’s too busy killing bairns to do any sleuthing, even if she were so inclined. For now, I have to wonder whether she’ll be able to slay the bairn in her classroom before it can kill anyone else.
Ringo’s measures grow more and more drastic as she attempts to fulfill her destiny as written in Momoka’s diary, attempting to rape Tabuki in his sleep twice. The second time, she has drugged him with cake and is stopped by Shoma, just as Yuri arrives. They escape, and Shoma learns Ringo’s true motivations. The diary takes a fall, and is snatched up by a passing motorcycle – likely the woman with the black penguin. Shoma is hit by a car after saving Ringo’s life.
Ringo just happens to see her father at the zoo gift shop his other family – definitely a potential blow to one’s mental balance – and she didn’t have much to begin with. She tells Shoma (and us) that she has to carry Tabuki’s baby at all costs – not for her, but as duty for her family. That’s why she’s going so far to bed him. All this attempted rape and duty to get pregnant juxtaposed with such silly romantic (and western) daydreams present quite the stark contrast.
The line between Ringo and Momoka is definitely beginning to blur, and her obsession has progressed from creepy to downright life-threatening (and totally morally wrong). She is responsible for Shoma getting hit by a car. I doubt this will snap her out of her percieved duty and it surely won’t convince her to enter a more normal, reciprocal relationship with Shoma (if he lives), but in any case, she’s lost half her diary – meaning she doesn’t know what her next step will be.