My Tumbling Bracelet
I know this will be the third post I’ve done on Tumbling, but seriously, like Switch Foot’s “Dare you to Move,” it’s one of those things that makes me feel like I could kick ass in the world. After I finished watching, it made me motivated to start stretching for ballet again, if I ever get back into classes. It makes me want to dance, and it also makes me want be a better person, get out there and grab life. So, to keep it with me, I invested in a “pandora” like bracelet that I can wear. Don’t laugh at my nerd-dom, in this case, it’s a reminder that life is worth kicking ass.
It consists of 13 beads, one for each episode, and two beads for episode 4 and 7, I’ll explain why later. But, each episode, I realized at the conclusion of the show, revolved around how Wataru effects a certain person, and that’s who the beads correspond to. I do apologize, there are some minor spoilers here, but no major plot ones.
Also, if you notice, for some characters I use first names, and others are referred to by their family names. That’s because I went with the names they are called the most often in the show. For instance, Ryosuke is most often spoken to by Wataru, and those two are extremely close. As for Hino, he’s never referred to as Tetsuya except for a instance when his own father speaks about him. Hino’s character isn’t very close with anyone.
Bead 1: Epsiode 1: Azuma Wataru, red crystal bead.
Episode one is a two hour special about Wataru’s joining, leaving, joining, leaving, joining, and saving of the Rhythmic Gymnastics Club. He’s the highschool’s gang leader with a penchant for a good fight, which he can never find even though he fights hordes of guys at once. His lack-lustre school performance has put his credits in the red (yeah, pun intended), forcing him to either take extra lessons or join a club to make them up. Though he’s a rough and tumble guy, he’s got a weak-spot for women. He doesn’t fall in love easily, and when he does, he’s very shy and gentlemanly about it. The new girl, who he fell head over heels for, is a member of the women’s rhythmic gymnastics team, so he gives the guys team a shot. The red corresponds to his crayon red hair that he’s known for in the series.
Bead 2: Episode 2: Tsukimori Ryosuke, yellow crystal bead.
Episode two is about the change that begins to overcome Wataru, and the distancing he starts to experience from his gang. His right hand man, Ryosuke, begins to fall apart without his boss. Ryosuke starts to get into some trouble, doing jobs for a different gang that could land him jail time. Realizing he’s in too deep, he tries to backout with some very unfortunate consequences. But, Wataru never abandons his friends, and ends up saving his life. Ryosuke follows suit with Wataru and joins the Rhythmic Gymnastics team. The bead is yellow, just like his bleached blond hair that is his signature through the series.
Bead 3: Episode 3: Nippori Keiji, black bead with imbedded aluminum.
Episode three follows Wataru’s left hand man in the gang, Nippori, who joins the club alongside Ryosuke. He has a hard time with the handstands, and something else seems to be wearing on him, as he quits the club and disappears from school for over a week. Fearing he slipped into illegal activity like Ryosuke had, Wataru investigates to find that Nippori’s actions were family related, after his sole supporting father is hospitalized, and he steps up to financially provide for his family. The black represents his hair color, like the previous two ex-gang members, and the aluminum in the bead represents the printing press, which is the business that Nippori’s father owns and which he took over during this episode.
Kiyama's and Satoshi's beads
Kiyama and Satoshi
Beads 4&5: Episode 4: Tsuchiya Satoshi, red bead with white splotches
& Kiyama Ryuichiro, solid green bead.
One of my favorite episodes, this one is centered around both of these characters and their secrets which unfold. Satoshi is revealed to have a heart problem since he was little that is beginning to flare up during rigorous gymnastic training. Kiyama’s hidden past with his former gang aggression, which still haunts him, becomes rumor fire at the high school. It involves Kiyama’s, now dead, best friend from Jr. High, and he clutches a beaded bracelet that once belonged to his slain friend whenever he thinks of what happened. Satoshi’s bead is red, like a heart, with white to represent the defect. The green bead for Kiyama is of the same color as the bracelet that was given to him.
Bead 6: Episode 5: Mizusawa Taku, black bead with rainbow flecks.
Apparently gay acceptance is just as much an issue in Japan as it is here. In a twist that is pulled completely out of left field, we find the team trying to struggle with the leaked knowledge that one of their own is crushing on another one of their own. I know this may seem like a pretty big spoiler, but honestly, it’s not. In fact, you won’t be scratching your head in the previous episodes trying to figure out why he has Kiyama’s picture in the back of his book. For awhile there, I was thinking he was some kind of hitman, which could have been an interesting turn of events, granted waaaay out of character. But no, this fits much better into the story, and it’s such a personal issue to settle with a group of close friends who thought they knew you. Once the information was leaked, Mizusawa was going to just peace out, but Wataru brought him back… after chasing down the bus and screaming at him. Fun stuff. The bead has rainbow flecks to represent his orientation.
Bead 7: Episode 6: Takenaka Yuta, black bead with blue flecks.
As captain of the Rhythmic Gymnastics team, Yuuta decides they need to add a more complicated move to their routine for sectionals. The first attempt of this move causes injury to a teammate as he attempts to leap over him. Stained by the incident, Yuuta finds himself unable to tumble anymore, and Wataru, who stumbles on the secret, helps him to overcome it. The black and blue flecked bead represents the nighttime practices that Wataru had with Yuuta to help him overcome his fears.
Hino's and sectionals' beads
Beads 8&9: Episode 7: sectionals, magenta and white bead with white flowers & Hino Tetsuya, silver rings joined together with crystals.
My other favorite episode in the series, which is not as much about sectionals as it is about the events that surround it. Hino, the most talented (by a soaring longshot) of the rhythmic gymnastics club, generally distances himself from the other members. While the original other four tried to get enough members to do group performances, Hino prefered to focus on his own solo. Even after the team gets enough members, Hino still opts out, ignoring everyone else.
the sectional uniforms
As episode 7 unfolds, (and some hints leading up to it) we learn that his father is an olympic coach, and he’s got an olympic athlete for a brother. Those are some pretty tough standards to live by. All his father does is criticize him for “running away” by doing rhythmic gymnastics instead of artistic gymnastics like his brother, though he’s never seen Hino perform. Wataru convinces Hino that he needs to stand up to his father, and at the same time, also convinces his father that he needs to come to sectionals to watch Hino. Well he does, and Hino’s hard coated (eye-candy of a) shell is broken, leading him to actually participate with the team.
Hino’s bead, the silver rings, represents his solo acts which involve him doing rhythmic gymnastics with a set of rings. The pink and floral pattern of the sectionals bead represents the new ‘girl’s cell phone cover looking’ (as quoted by Ryosuke) team uniforms.
Bead 10: Episode 8: Kashiwagi Yutaka, white with black spots.
Come to find out, the Rhythmic Gymnastics team coach is a former champion soccer player, which you find out way before this episode. But now the team starts to realize that it might be worth a shot to hire a coach who knows about their sport, and Kashiwagi hides how upset it makes him, after he went through a lot to gather a box of inspirational materials for them to use for the next competition. Because he’s not skilled in their sport, he decides this is the best he can do for them, and it proves to be more than useful, when the team realizes that he’s the coach they needed all along. The bead represents a soccer ball, obviously.
Bead 11: Episode 9: Kaneko Atsushi, black bead with white circles.
A new gangster starts at the highschool, and come to find out, he’s a childhood friend of Kaneko’s. Honestly, the episode is kind of, how to say… blah? yeah. Kaneko is the lightest in weight and the key component to a high flying jump that they’re trying to perfect for regionals. But he can’t do it. Apparently this ‘old friend’ of his said some moving words way back when and that was how he was able to do a back flip for the first time. Now he’s looking for more words of encouragement from him to do this jump. Well, this guy’s a jerk face, and was sent by the main antagonist to destroy the rhythmic gymastics club, and despite the members being framed for petty crimes and the obvious ties to Kaneko’s ‘old friend,’ Kaneko stands beside him. Then Wataru has some words to say, and so does Kaneko, and you know how these stories end, right? Well, exactly like that. No hugs involved though. The ‘eyes’ on the bead represent Kaneko’s glasses.
Bead 12: Episode 10: Ezaki Shoko, black with turquoise flecks.
I think that episode 12 is the only one that isn’t actually centered around a single person. Granted, the last one isn’t either, but if you go on based who had the most change in themselves because of the events of the episode, it would be the entire team. They have to start to deal with the fact that, yes they’re all wonderful friends, but only the most talented 6 can compete. Captain Yuuta asks the girl’s coach, Ezaki, to “judge” a test, mostly based off the implementation of the triple back hand spring. At first, they’re all terrible at the whole thing, and no one had even noticed when Kiyama was practicing with an injury.
Ezaki was furious that their teamwork suffered under the pressure. And, after pulling themselves together, they were able to nail the full performance as a team. I wanted to pick a bead that still represented someone, so I picked Ezaki who, for the majority of the series, despised the guys team and sought to have the disbanded. Though you slowly see her warm up to them, this is the first time she verbally recognizes their talents. The teal color of the bead represent the girls team’s practice uniforms that they wear for the entirety of the series.
Bead 13: Episode 11: Akabane Reiji (the dueche), black bead with yellow stripes.
I apologize for the vulgarity, but it’s true. Even if his two second half-glance-in-the-distance-while-contemplating-Wataru’s-moving-words face at his final appearance in the show hints at some turning point, he’s still the aforementioned word. A spark of hope doesn’t counter act all of the stupidly mean, arrogant, and jerk faced antics through the course of the series that he played a part of. I’m not going to give any spoilers to the last episode, so I’ll end my rant on Akabene with that. The black and yellow represents his hair, with his bleach blonde streaks. I guess he likes to think of himself as the Queen Bee. Watch carefully though, he changes his hair color and style without warning, and you’ll end up realizing that this new character you thought just wandered in is actually him with an even more emo ‘do.
So there you have it, the full explanation of the bracelet. Think me a giant nerd if you must, but I think my bracelet rocks.