Lately, one of the lighter-hearted anime I’ve been enjoying when I just want to relax has been Prince of Stride – Alternative (hereby being referred to as PrinStride). However, in the past few episodes I’ve found myself noticing less light-heartedness and instead I’ve been picking up on some deeper themes. One such theme I noticed in episode 6, in particular, is the importance “equal ownership” on teams. Read on for a quick summary of the show, followed up by what I mean by “equal ownership”. Warning: contains spoilers for episodes 5 & 6.
For those who haven’t been watching PrinStride it follows a high school “Stride” team – specifically, Honan Academy’s Stride team – as they try to win the Japan-wide “End of Summer” competition. “Stride” (in the anime, at least – Google has not been able to confirm if it is real or fictional) is a sport that is probably best described as relay racing meets parkour. Teams of 5 runners (who do the actual running and dodging of obstacles) and one “relationer” (who tells the runners when to begin running in order to successfully meet the previous runner at their relay points) compete against another team to get to the finish line first.
Now, in episode 5, Honan is facing a dilemma where they are short one runner (due to injury) for their upcoming race (which, if they miss it, will eliminate them from the competition). The only possible substitute runner they have, Kuga, is a former member of their team… who was kicked off in a very ungraceful manner. As viewers, we learn the reason for this. In a previous competition, a fight broke out amongst the Honan Stride team, triggered by their earlier defeat. In order to keep the team from being disbanded, Kuga, despite his innocence, shouldered all the blame. As such, he was kicked off the team. While all team members took equal ownership of their wins, the team became divided over losses. If this had not have happened, Honan Academy would still have Kuga on the team – and would never have faced an issue with being a member short for a race.
Fortunately for Honan, Kuga never lost his love for Stride. In episode 6, once learning the team, upon hearing the truth of why he left, will now accept him, he returns just in time to allow Honan to be in their next race. This race takes place against Ichijokan – a school that, in the world of Stride, is considered a force to be reckoned with. Despite this, Honan beats them. Why? Because where Honan takes equal ownership of their matches, Ichijokan does not. When the team wins, their relationer enjoys taking all the credit – bragging that it is his strategies that allow them to dominate other teams. When the team loses, their relationer hoists all the blame on the runners, taking none on himself. Due to this, there seems to be a disconnect in Ichijokan’s team that, while it does not show against weaker opponents, becomes a fatal flaw when facing equals, such as Honan. Where Honan fully leaned on and trusted in each member of their team, Ichijokan’s members each placed all their faith in themselves, choosing instead to realize each other’s weaknesses over strengths. This disconnect, based out of the hurt caused by throwing blame over losses and claiming credit during victories is their downfall.
That sort of disconnect doesn’t just appear in anime. Nor does it just appear in sports. This sort of disconnect appears in everyday relationships – and we’re all guilty of sometimes being the person to either take credit or dismiss blame. We’ve all been the person to take credit for someone else’s contributions on top of our own, and we’ve all been the person to blame our mistakes on anyone but ourselves. One or two times may not be that big a deal – but forming an unconscious habit of this can burn bridges we never even noticed we lit.
As much as I’m sure we’ve all been the person dishing out this sort of blow, I’m sure we’ve also all been on the receiving end. Maybe you and your siblings cleaned up the house together to surprise your mom, but when your mom gets home and sees it, one sibling pipes up on their own and takes credit for the whole thing. Or perhaps you and your siblings got into an argument and something got broken in the midst of things – when it comes time to fess up, all fingers point to you, even though everyone played a part in the problem. It stings. It’s frustrating. Most of all, it deters us from wanting to do anything else with that person as a “team”.
Now yes, I’m done making you hash up guilt-or-pain-inducing memories of times where you’ve been on either end of this sort of bad deal. The point was merely to make you hopefully realize that no matter what end of the deal you’re typically on, you’ve got work to do.
If you’re often the one pointing fingers while still accepting praise, you need to give yourself an attitude check. As much as pride in your actions and those of your “team” are important, they need to be kept in balance. Clearly, if you pull 180s between finger-pointing and praise-hogging, your actions are being motivated by individual pride, not by pride for your team. If you hope to grow healthy, long-lasting relationships in your life, you’re going to need to change that, or you’ll find yourself often being faced with the same challenge – nobody wants to be on your “team” anymore.
If you’re often the one who’s got a finger pointed at them or whose successes are stolen, you need to give yourself an attitude check. Clearly, if you continue to allow this sort of thing to happen, you’re struggling with finding anything about yourself to be proud of. You’ve placed your whole identity on your “team” and lost sight of yourself in the process. Take a stand for yourself – you’re just as important to the “team” as every other member. If your “team” can’t treat you like a valuable member they may not be the kind of team you want to be proud of anyways. I suggest you find a different one – one where you can be proud of your team and proud of yourself.
The goal of this was not to guilt-trip or blame. I struggle with these concepts, too – sometimes I’ll hog the glory and other times I let someone else do it and make no effort to stand up for myself. The goal of this is just to hopefully help you notice (and then fix) these things up in your own life so they don’t damage you anymore – it’s something I’ve been working on in my life, too. Strive for “equal ownership” in all your “teams” in life so that when you all win, you all celebrate and when you all lose, you all support each other. Be the Honan of PrinStride – not the Ichijokan.