Tanaka has the heart of a champion.
A good team is going to find your weakness and exploit it. This is what Inarizaki does to Karasuno. Not everyday is going to be your best day in sports. Sometimes you can come into an event having done all your warm up, preparations, and it should just be another day but isn’t. Every athlete has an off day and every competitor has an off moment. Tanaka on the surface looks like he is going to have one of those off-days. He is getting targeted by his rivals Inarizaki because they think he is the weak point of Karasuno.
It’s natural to have self-doubt when things don’t go the way you think they should. In certain moments you can just get into your own head. It was painful to watch Tanaka go through the moments of the game when things were getting difficult. The score essentially even, each team needed two more points than their opponent to end the game. Every action and every member mattered.
Tanaka had to watch others take over the game from him on his team, and didn’t get to make the plays that he was trying to make. The audience watches as Tanaka struggles internally with his play and his emotion. In fact the entire episode was actually about him. Why did someone else take the ball for me? Why couldn’t I land that spike? Pressure was mounting around him, and what made matters worse is Inarizaki suspected Tanaka was the weak link. They played around him on the offensive side of the court. They even scored a few points from it.
Tanaka didn’t give up. Even when things went poorly around him. Tanaka carried on and worked his way forward. He kept thinking through it. Tanaka wasn’t alone. The team rallied around Tanaka in its own way. And when the moment came for Tanaka he rose to the occasion to help Karasuno win the match. He had to climb that mountain of self-doubt and take himself to that next level.
Tanaka proves himself a rock solid member of the Karasuno squad, earning himself that spot on the team. He isn’t the best member at anything in particular. He has no stand out skills that are alone to call his own. But Tanaka isn’t going to let his team down despite him not being the strongest member of the team. Tanaka has a special skill; it is his mental fortitude as he refused to give up on the situation he was put in. Stay solid Tanaka, Karasuno still needs you to keep going in this tournament.
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