Last week’s episode ended on a dramatic cliffhanger. After several episodes of wondering what happened to Hayama, we learned that he joined Central! “Revenge Match” reveals that Yukihira must battle Hayama to move on to the next round of the Advancement Exams.
Like “Advancement Exam”, “Revenge Match” does not feature the actual match, but merely the announcement and lead up to it. Yukihira is amazed that Hayama has seemingly tossed Jun aside and abandoned the Shiomi Research Center in order to join Central and Azami’s ridiculous plan. Hayama is actually quite the jerk in this episode, cocky and confident. And perhaps he has reason for that, considering that the topic – bear meat – puts him at an advantage, as Yukihira discovers early in his recipe testing. Bear meat is gamy and smelly, which means that Hayama’s mastery of spices will serve him well. Yukihira knows that he’s behind even before he begins.
This is where “Revenge Match” really shines – Yukihira is behind a bunch of the Totsuki students. He may be great at improvising, but he doesn’t have the same type of knowledge that most of the other students do. So he goes out and gets it. Even with Kuga flouncing in and offering up his services – for the right price, of course – Yukihira takes it upon himself to learn more about bear meat and bears in general. He, Kuga, and Kuga’s never-ending army of chef clones journey into the mountains with an experienced hunter and learn all about bears. Ingenuity is great, but nothing replaces hands-on information. Even though they aren’t able to bag a bear, Yukihira admits that he learned a lot from the hunter.
This episode also does a nice job of flipping your expectations. Hayama, who was once an ally, is now and enemy, and Kuga, who was once an enemy, is now an ally. Yukihira has trouble processing everything that he’s learned in the short time since he learned that Hayama had joined Central. At least, he reasons, Dojima is a “neutral” party and hasn’t succumbed to Azami’s clutches.
Something else I really liked about “Revenge Match” is that, not only does it show how willing Yukihira is to learn from others, but also it shows how much information he is able to absorb from his friends. He comes off like a dummy, but he’s actually quite perceptive. He spots the schisandra berries while they are out on their hunt, which makes him remember Hisako’s lecture about the properties of the five-flavor berry during their pre-exam cram sessions. I really enjoyed that flashback because it wasn’t just Erina who wanted to help the rebels. Hisako has grown fond of all of them as well, and she’s pretty knowledgeable. Plus, I chuckle at the irony that Hisako’s medicinal cuisine – which lost to Hayama in the semi-finals of the Autumn Election – could be the key to beating him now.
I will say this. There has been much discussion over the use of panning shots. It wasn’t something I really noticed before, but now that it’s been pointed out to me, I can’t unsee it. The first five minutes of “Revenge Match” was basically back-to-back panning shots. It made me a little dizzy.
As much as the pacing in the manga has started to drag, I feel the anime has done this particular match a disservice by speeding everything up. “Revenge Match” felt like it was ticking things off a checklist more so than building up to Yukihira and Hayama’s third match. I kind of wish they had slowed down a little for this mini-arc. There is so much about it that’s great, that I worry is lost in the shuffle.
Have you guys seen “Revenge Match”? What did you think?
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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