When I was in high school, my Academic Decathlon class was the source of students for our High-Q team. High-Q, not to be confused with volleyball kids, was like the competition in 7O3X, and consisting of bright students from a school that is—and please excuse my bragging for a minute—recently ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the top public high school in the city—you’d think we’d have one of the area’s best teams.
We did not. Not by a long shot. One reason was that our math guy was not great. But our coach insisted on keeping him on the team—he’d been participating for years and “earned” it, although my best friend was literally headed to MIT (he would later get a PhD in physics). He should have been our ace, but the coach decided otherwise.
It burned me up.
In episode four of Mix: Meisei Story, after pitching a complete game, Nikaido is getting more prideful than ever—skipping practice entirely—although his pitching is getting worse and worse. Everyone knows that Tou should be the ace, but the manager of the team refuses to budge. Nikaido is their pitcher, even as the team advances further than it has in decades, and faces a team with a great pitcher of its own. (By the way, there’s something weird going on with Nikaido, something more than “he’s a bully with a bully dad”—but what it is, I’m not sure.)
Tou and Sou have been reacting with typical Japanese humility, only complaining in relative secret. But now, after the manager kind of put the two in their place in a previous episode, their sarcasm is loud and clear. They loudly complain within the manager’s earshot. They’ve had enough. They no longer care.
In my own experience, I didn’t do the same. For one, I was friendly with our “math ace who wasn’t an ace,” and secondly, I liked and trusted our coach. But even otherwise, I did not have the tenacity to do what Tou and Sou do. I was weaker than them, more frightened and unable to be strong in that way.
But neither are Tou and Sou some bastion of “this is how to fight injustice.” Sarcasm is all too often stupid. They’re irking their coach, not for any reason but to let out their own frustrations. They’re high schoolers, though, so I don’t blame them.
But nowadays, being an adult, I should point the finger at myself when I fail in such situations, when there’s something wrong being done to myself or others. Like Tou and Sou, I need to stand up. Unlike the brothers, I need to avoid being petty. And realizing that, I know that it’s a tough road to walk. But hey, that’s life—if you want to walk toward your goal, whether its one of utmost character or Koshien, it’s not easy. It tests you. And through perseverance, you get a little closer to the goal. The challenges and blessings of competing to be your best are what we deal with and must embrace, whether as a team and even just in the throes of life as a single player.
MIX: Meisei Story can be streamed through Funimation.