Tribe Nine Reveals the Team’s Greatest Trump Card – & It’s Not Who You Think

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Tribe Nine Episode 5, now streaming on Funimation.

Tribe Nine is part sports anime, part dystopian sci-fi series that follows various tribes as they play Extreme Baseball in Neo-Tokyo. The protagonists' tribe, Minato, is a man down as they mourn their ace, Shun Kamiya. In Episode 4, Minato's heir apparent Saori Arisugawa was kidnapped by the Adachi Tribe, and the remaining Minato members played for her freedom. The episode also saw the addition of a new member, the analytical and somewhat-condescending Kazuki Aoyama.

In Episode 5, the game between Minato and Adachi continued, but its conclusion provided a new perspective on both teams' motivations. Aoyama may have provided vital assistance that helped Minato to overcome Adachi's underhanded methods, but another, more-underrated Minato player proved themselves to be Kamiya's true successor in the final inning.

Kazuki Aoyama briefs Minato Tribe in Tribe Nine.

The episode began with Minato Tribe using all manner of unexpected tactics to tag Adachi's runners as Aoyama encouraged the team to stress test the rules of the sport as Adachi had before. Adachi's Hyakutaro Senju even derisively commented, "These guys and their sly tactics. I hate it!" Amusingly ironic given Adachi's own absurd tactics such as driving motorcycles and wearing disguises to get the upper hand. Minato's Haru Shirokane and Taiga challenged Aoyama's methods, implying them to be unsportsmanlike, but Aoyama pointed out the stakes of the game: saving Arisugawa from her kidnappers.

When Haru missed two pitches after failing to control the beam bat Kamiya left him, Aoyama theatrically complained that "Minato Tribe without Kamiya is worthless after all." Haru was on the verge of tears as Aoyama goaded the team, calling them "garbage" and saying he had "helped for nothing." The editing between a closeup of Haru crying and someone yelling, "We're not garbage!" made it seem like Haru was the one to yell, but it was actually Arisugawa, who had escaped from Adachi's bodyguard. A shot of the bodyguard smilingly cleaning up Arisugawa's garbage as he calmly explained her violent escape foreshadowed the true nature of her kidnapping.

Arisugawa complained about how pathetic it was that everyone kept talking about Kamiya when the team still lived on without him. She reminded Haru that Kamiya trusted him with his bat, as if she was about to call him out for letting his memory down. Instead, she smiled and told him to have confidence and not limit himself. Even though the strength of this scene is that Arisugawa doesn't need Kamiya to be great, the way she encourages Haru is still reminiscent of the late ace and could be a touching reminder of something she learned from him.

Saori Arisugawa smiles proudly in Tribe Nine.

Motivated by Arisugawa's inspiring words, and his memories of Kamiya's guidance, Haru completed a run. Aoyama punctured the celebrations by pointing out that there was no need to keep playing because the hostage had already returned. Arisugawa was not satisfied with this and stood in for him at the bat. Arisugawa insisting on taking an active role in the game as a point of pride was an exciting moment, and a good contrast to her relatively passive role and notable absence from the game in the previous episode.

Arisugawa said, "I'm not the type of person to play just for fun," but when Senju reminded her that she had never batted his pitches before, she smiled and said, "I can't wait." Just because Arisugawa takes XB seriously doesn't mean she can't enjoy it. Senju taunted Arisugawa about the speed of his "fireball" pitches, but she reminded him that she caught all of Kamiya's pitches. Minato Tribe had been lamenting Kamiya's absence throughout the game, and Arisugawa coolly reminded not just Senju but her own team and the audience that she has always been able to match his reflexes.

Saori Arisugawa prepares to bat in Tribe Nine.

Arisugawa hit the ball and shattered a glass dome at the field. Even Aoyama, who had been content to see the game end prematurely, couldn't contain his joy at seeing the incredible return. Senju blurted out, "That's what I wanted to see!" It turned out that kidnapping Arisugawa was merely a ploy to motivate Minato Tribe to return to their former greatness, as Arisugawa had deduced. Arisugawa tried to thank the team, but Senju's characteristic machismo prevented him from further admitting what they had done, claiming to postpone the game so he could look for the ball.

Arisugawa was later voted to be the newly reformed Minato Tribe's leader at the tribe's headquarters. Another way in which Arisugawa had channeled Kamiya during the game was her lopsided smile as she bragged about her skill. In contrast, after officially accepting the role of Minato Tribe's new leader, she shyly stuttered through her acceptance speech before dropping it and doing a team hand-stack instead. These two sides of her personality highlight how Arisugawa's strengths as Minato's new leader will benefit from what she learned from Kamiya as well as the things that make her unique.

Aoyama's arm was visible during the hand-stack, but his presence was curiously understated. Could it be that Aoyama expected that he would become Minato Tribe's new leader? Aoyama's mysterious preexisting relationship with Kamiya, his superficially similar appearance to him and the way he saved the tribe from failure when Arisugawa was incapacitated made it seem like the anime was setting him up to take Kamiya's place. However, in this episode, Arisugawa proved with her own skill and the way she motivated others that she's the right player for the job.

About The Author