Because every sports anime show touches upon the power of friendship sooner or later!
(Spoilers in this review)
Most of the episode was spent exploring the friendship between Hokuto and Hanabi. Some went towards giving a rival table tennis player some screen time and a little bit went to demonstrating how Agari is now full-on tsundere for Koyori.
Most of the episode takes place in a table tennis shop run by Hokuto’s family, which was a nice change of pace. In short, Koyori’s smashes now suck because her rubbers are worn out.In order to have money to pay for new rubbers, Koyori starts working there.
While the three girls are working there, Hokuto and Hanabi look almost like a young couple at home since they’re so in sync with each other. Koyori is expectedly bad at being a cashier.
Coincidence has Koyori working the cash register as a player from Mozuyama Junior High, the rival school the main cast are facing next week, purchases some goods. Apparently she’s Futamaru, the Driver of the East. She is also dressed in a frilly dress, substitutes desu for death, and is overall creepy.
Futamaru also happens to claim a free T-shirt and mentions something about a friendship fee for this week while getting very excited. It’s clear Futamaru is supposed to be Koyori’s rival since her being a customer while Koyori is handling the cash register is the perfect, “destined” first encounter.
However, she also serves as a foil to Agari as a fellow Elite Four Driver. Furthermore, she makes a big deal out of the fluffy bunny tail on the shirt, which echoes Hanabi’s tendency to grab onto Hokuto’s hairbun while claiming it’s fluffy. Finally, her mentioning a friendship fee makes her friendship very different from the pure friendship between Hokuto and Hanabi, or any of the other friendships seen thus far in this show. Meanwhile, Agari is in full tsundere mode.
The last bit of the episode has Hokuto reminisicing about how her friendship with Hanabi started before the entire club visits Hokuto’s family’s store. The picture of all of the (important) table tennis club members helping Hokuto pick up spilled merchandise serves as a nice contrast to how it was before she met Hanabi, too.
Next week’s episode is titled, “The Ability of the National Schools.” The title sounds rather omnious for Suzumegahara Junior High! And hey, the line-ups and opponents are confirmed.