The Boys' Spirit (男の心意気, Otoko no kokoroiki) is the fifteenth episode of the Ahiru no Sora anime. The opening theme is Never Mind which is performed by flumpool. The ending theme is Over which is performed by Yuma Uchida.
It’s the eighth and final day of the training camp, and an energetic and excited Kitasumi High head towards Kuzuryu High. While strolling across one of the streets of Kawasaki city, Tokiwa receives a phone call from his captain Chiba, and he invites Tokiwa to join him to watch a movie. Tokiwa kindly refuses his offer and informs that he will meet some friends at a nearby music studio. While conversing on the phone, Tokiwa sees Kitasumi High and politely greets Tarou and his teammates. Kabachi sees him, gets irritated, and tells Tokiwa that his team might have lost against Shinmaruko High. However, he scored more points than him. Knowing about Tarou’s competitive nature, Tokiwa agrees that he scored more points than him; however, he had a triple-double. A triple-double is a single-game performance in which a player has ten or more points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocked shots in two of the five statistical categories. It's also one of the most challenging feats in basketball. Tokiwa asks as to where they are going. Tarou responds to Kuzuryu High, and they have a practice game with them. Upon seeing Tarou’s frantic face while conversing with Tokiwa, Hasebe informs Konishi that Tarou hates guys who are skilled and good-looking than him. Konishi smiles at his teammate's judgment and replies that he is very excited and looking forward to this upcoming practice match.
Meanwhile, at Kuzuryu High, Nao returns Sora his Asics sneakers. Sora thanks Nao for repairing them and tells her that he will not wear them today and instead use the current sneakers because he used them to train for this upcoming match. Tarou and his teammates arrive along with Tokiwa. Konishi sees the Hanazono brothers and greets them. At first, Momoharu doesn’t recognize him and later notices that it's his close friend, Konishi from middle school. Momoharu is amazed at how tall and physically athletic Konishi has become. Upon hearing, Konishi thanks them for the kind compliments and states that he started playing basketball under their influence. Konishi then changes his demeanour and specifically informs Momoharu that basketball isn't some merciful sport that one can crawl back to. Konishi then confidently tells his sempai, Momoharu, if he disagrees with his opinion, he should prove him wrong with his basketball skills in this match.
Momoharu gets a bit furious, and Chiaki tries to calm his brother down. Later, Madoka guides the Kitasumi High members to the locker room. The practice match is about to begin, and both teams start their warmup routine. Upon seeing Kitasumi High's practice routine, Yasuhara asks his teammates what type of warmup routine they are conducting. Kenji responds that it is called tap drill. A tapping drill is one in which the player throws the ball up against the backboard. As the ball comes off the backboard, one jumps and tips the ball with a designated hand. This drill helps in improving ball-handling and rebounding skills. Later, Satsuki meets Koga, Katsumi High’s instructor, and he expresses his appreciation to him for accepting their request for a practice match. Tokiwa cautions Sora that his team needs to be careful, especially Tarou; he is a basketball player who excels in scoring many points. Upon hearing, Sora becomes excited and goes to meet Tarou.
Tarou then confidently tells Sora that his team will be the one victorious in the end. Sora accepts his challenge, and then both teams line up at the center court for the highly anticipated practice match. Koga notices that Kuzuryu High is wearing their teams’ practice jerseys and not their official uniforms. Koga then instructs his players not to wear their official uniforms. Tarou and his teammates express their disagreement with their coach, and then similar to Kuzuryu High, decides not to wear their teams’ jerseys. Before heading to the court, Tachibana, Kitasumi High power forward, tells his teammates that one of the members of Kuzuryu High, referring to Kenji, has a tattoo on his right shoulder. They see the engraved words, greased lightning and find it cool and fascinating.
Kenji receives a phone call from his little sister Juri and informs her about the practice match. Momoharu heads to the court furiously. Konishi notices his sempai’s irritated expression and feels excited to compete against him. Before heading to the court, Chiaki gets in his unusual antics mode and jokingly expresses his affection towards Nao and tells her that he will try his best for the sake of love and victory. Masahiro asks Nabe and Yasuhara that in comparison to the Shinmaruko High practice match. He doesn’t feel anxious or nervous and is confident that Nao’s training regimen will surely help them attain victory. Nao informs Sora that all his teammates are at the court and he should hurry. Sora sends a text message to his mother about the start of the practice match and then heads to the court. At the Kanagawa Hospital, Yuka sees her son’s text message and feels happy. She requests her nurse, Sumi Yabuchi, if she can take her outside for a short walk. Sumi replies that the head nurse specifically instructed her not to do that. Yuka smiles and replies, it will be their little secret. Sumi gets a bit nervous and tells her that she might get fired if she does that. Sumi then asks Yuka is there a particular reason she wants to go out. Yuka replies, nothing special and gets a bit excited again seeing her son’s text message about the practice game.
The practice match begins. Momoharu quickly grabs the tip-off ball and looks confidently at Konishi. Madoka, as the referee, sounds the whistle and indicates it is a jump-ball violation. Upon witnessing, Tokiwa gets impressed by Momoharu’s exceptional jumping ability. A confused Nabe voice his opinion the match has just begun, and their team has already committed a foul. Madoka replies it is not a foul. It is a violation. Madoka then explains the rules about the jump ball. That the ball must reach the apex of its toss on a jump ball before anybody can touch it. Nao then urges her squad to forget about the violation, and the match has just begun. Kitasumi High gains possession, and Hasebe easily scores the mid-range shot. Nabe is amazed by the quick response from their adversary and apologizes to his captain for his sloppy defensive skills. Momoharu scolds Nabe that he should keep a closer eye on the opposing team player. Kenji praises that it was a perfect play by their adversary, and before the start of the match, he already knew this wouldn’t be an easy practice match for them. Nao instructs her squad not to be worried. She has utter faith in their abilities and urges them to remember everything they have practiced. All of them confidently agree.
While dribbling, Chiaki urges his teammates that it's their first possession and let's take it slow. Chiaki from the half-court line notices it is a man-to-man defense. Chiaki sees an opening inside the paint area and passes the ball to Kenji, who scores the first basket for Kuzuryu High. Tokiwa praises Chiaki’s passing skills. Kitasumi High tries to answers right back by scoring another basket. However, they’re unsuccessful. Kenji manages to steal the ball. Chiaki praises Kenji for his better defensive skills. While dribbling, Chiaki gives a hand signal to Nabe for creating a screen. Nabe efficiently sets up a screen behind Tarou. Hasebe informs Tarou about it. Tarou being a bit focused on guarding Sora, ignores his teammate’s advice. Both Masahiro and Yasuhara praise Nabe for his improved defensive skills. While signing some autographs, Tokiwa again gets startled that Kuzuryu High has gotten themselves in good shape by improving their offensive and defensive skills. Hasebe doesn’t get intimidated by Nabe’s efficient screen and comments that such an obvious screen will not get the best of them. Hasebe then heads over to guard Sora and notices that his adversary is a swift athlete. Chiaki, without hesitation, passes the ball to Sora, who from the three-point line shoots and scores the point. Upon witnessing Kuzuryu High’s improved performance, Tokiwa comments that Sora wasn’t bragging that his team will be victorious in this match. While exciting the court, Tokiwa agrees with Tarou’s sentiment that both their teams have to be cautious against Kuzuryu High from now on.
Upon witnessing the three-pointer, Koga requests his freshman Sakata to asks the referee for a quick timeout. The score is 5 to 2, and Kuzuryu High leads the match by 3 points. Tarou and his teammates question their instructor Koga for the timeout. Koga instructs his squad to wear their team’s official jerseys and requests them to redo their warmup routine. Tarou gets a bit upset and comments that the instructor should be the last person who needs a pep talk. From the start, they planned to compete against their adversary with their full power. Koga apologizes to Tarou and admits his mistake. Koga further states that he misjudged their adversary and didn’t expect such a troublesome team to be skilled. Koga urges his squad to strike back with full force. Nao uses the timeout to her advantage and explains to her team about man-to-man defense. Nao then tries to confirm that all of them remember as to whom they’re guarding. Nabe replies he is marking number 10. Kenji replies he is defending number 6. Nao further explains that except for Tarou, none of the other Kitasumi High players specialize in scoring three-pointers. Their team can ease their defensive formation from the three-point line. However, they need to be careful of Tarou because he is an offensive player who can efficiently score mid to long-range shots. Nao urges stopping Tarou is essential.
The timeout concludes Momoharu and Chiaki notice a resolute Kitasumi High. Nao sees them wearing their official jerseys and comments that they look serious and ready to compete. Momoharu agrees with his manager and states that the real match is about to begin. Everything Kitasumi High did before was just a simple warmup routine. The game resumes, and it is Kitasumi High’s throw-in. Nao urges Nabe to guard number 10 properly, deny any passes and be cautious of any screens. A confident Sora heads over to defend Tarou. On seeing his petite adversary, Tarou states Kuzuryu High is underestimating him. He never thought to be matched up with such a shorty. Sora becomes frustrated and informs Tarou that he is also the shortest person on his entire team. Tarou furiously responds he is the fourth shortest person on his team. While dribbling, Tarou sees Sora’s basketball shoes and recalls seeing these limited-edition sneakers at a sports goods store about a year ago. At that time, Nao was thinking of buying a new pair of sports shoes for herself. As she wore them, Tarou praised that the sports shoes looked great on her. Upon hearing, Nao smiles and thanks Tarou for the compliments. On seeing the cheerful expression of Nao, the relative that Tarou grew up with suddenly became the woman inside his heart.
Hasebe tells Tarou that he is holding the ball for too long, and the shot clock will run out. Tarou ignores his teammates' advice and becomes a bit frustrated on seeing Sora wearing those sneakers. Tarou then vows to defeat Sora and displays his efficient ball-handling skills. The freshmen of Kitasumi High praise their ace and comments Incredible! A between-the-legs dribble! A cautious Sora attempts to stop him. Tarou does a between-the-legs into a spin and quickly passes his adversary defense. Chiaki urges his brother to stop Tarou that he is going to charge in and score. Tarou promptly sets himself up for a jump shot. While attempting to score, Tarou looks towards Nao and gives a flying kiss to her. A confused Nao gazes at him as to what he is doing? Tarou successfully scores the basket. Madoka indicates the shot will not count, and it’s a 24-second shot clock violation. Tarou questions Madoka requests her to reconsider because, according to him, he scored it within the allocated time.
A muddled Koga looks at Tarou. He confusingly asks his freshmen that did Tarou blew a kiss at somebody while attempting to score. One of the first-year members voiced his opinion that Tarou would have successfully scored if he hadn’t wasted time in his silly antics. After his futile scoring attempt, Tarou looks at Nao, gives a thumbs up to her and expresses his opinion competing with style is his motto. Nao confusingly guises at him and doesn’t respond. Upon seeing Tarou’s exceptional shooting skills, Kenji praises that besides the shot clock violation. Tarou, while looking away, managed to score. Kenji further states besides Tarou’s irrational behavior, he is a skilled basketball player. Kenji misses the mid-range shot. Momoharu manages to grab the rebound and passes the ball to Kenji. While attempting to score, Kenji compliments his captain for his rebounding skills and successfully scores the layup shot. Kuzuryu High further expands their lead to 5 points. The score is 2 to 7. Momoharu then teases Konishi that besides mouthing off, he is all talk and no action. Konishi stares at his senior and doesn’t respond.
Kitasumi High has the ball possession. Katori urges his teammates that Kuzuryu High has a weaker defense inside the paint area. Hasebe agrees and urges Tarou not to do anything trivial. Sora again is defending against Tarou and encourages himself to stop his adversary from scoring. Tarou, without any hesitation, shoots the three-pointer. However, he is unsuccessful. The ball touches the front portion of the rim. Momoharu gets himself in position to retrieve the rebound. This time a resolute Konishi screen-out his senior. Momoharu curses Konishi and comments that he is not budging an inch. A strong-minded Konishi informs Momoharu, the person who taught him the screen-out technique was you, Momoharu-senpai. Tarou grabs the loose ball and heads inside the paint area to score.
Chiaki scolds his brother to be present in the match, and he has one job to retrieve rebounds. Tarou tries to score the mid-range shot. Chiaki attempts to stop him. Tarou outsmarts his opponent by purposely slowing his timing to score and causes Chiaki to get his first foul of the match. An angry Chiaki stares at Tarou and states that the little snot delayed his timing on purpose to get him into a foul. As the referee, Madoka indicates a defensive foul by number 7. The basket will count and one free-throw attempt. Yasuhara praises Tarou for being a great basketball player. Masahiro agrees with his friend and states that Tarou looks cooler by every minute as the match progresses. An astonished Sora stares at Tarou and gives his opinion that it just isn’t coolness. This person, Tarou, is the real deal.
Characters by Appearances
- Tokitaka Tokiwa
- Tarou Kabachi
- Manabu Konishi (debut)
- Sora Kurumatani
- Nao Nanao
- Kenji Natsume
- Masahiro Saki
- Yasuhara Shinichi
- Chiaki Hanazono
- Tachibana (debut)
- Hasebe (debut)
- Momoharu Hanazono
- Ryuuhei Nabeshima
- Koga (debut)
- Shingo Katori (debut)
- Masayoshi Satsuki
- Sumi Yabuchi
- Yuka Kurumatani
- Madoka Yabuchi
- Storyboard: Toshikatsu
- Director: Yohske Yamamoto
- Animation Director: Tatsuo Honda, Michiko Makita, Masashi Omura, Mubon Hyeongjun, Jeon Hyunjin, Kim Jieun