After all the build up in the last episode, this twelfth instalment of Basquash! brings us to the beginning of the Open City Basketball tournament... Not that there's much point referring to it by its official name, as everyone has taken to calling it Basquash anyway.
This particular episode is actually split into two sub-episodes, for no reason other than to be cool and different I suppose. Anyhow, the first half of the instalment chronicles Dan, Sela and Iceman Hotty's first game, against a set of triplets who rely upon magic and illusion as their primary tactic. Although Dan and Sela are drawn in by their slight of hand, Iceman Hotty sees through it all, thus thwarting their opponent's plans at the last moment and turning the tables to allow them to grind out a 1-0 victory. Not the most thrilling of games your likely to see despite the attempts to be clever, that's for sure.
The second half of the episode is billing as Eclipse's debut in the tournament, but as they win before the credits on this section even finish rolling there's nothing to see here. However, there's more than a slight suggestion that both Eclipse's prescence and the entire tournament are simply part of some wider (if unbelievable) plot going on in the background. What could the plot in question be? I have an idea or two, but we'll have to wait until the next episode at least before we can say for sure. That is, assuming that Turbine City can stay standing long enough to complete the tournament - It's certainly taking a pounding at the moment...
As Basquash! episodes go, this was a pretty average affair - It wasn't bad, but the whole thing seemed somewhat shorn of its usual dose of attitude, taking on a rather more sedate and thoughtful aura which is rather at odds with its subject matter. Indeed, this was even reflected in the tactical nature of the Basquash game depicted in the episode, which was more "Code Geass meets basketball" than the kind of high octane stuff we're used to from this series.
Unfortunately, this is also coupled with the fact that the visual aesthetic of the series has definitely slumped in the last couple of episodes - Although this instalment wasn't quite as terrible as episode eleven was in place, it still feels like a far cheaper production than the almost sumptuous animation quality we've been used to with this show. Overall then, I fear that the staffing changes to this anime are leaving it to hang out to try, breaking the formula which seemed to be working so well for the series and replacing it with something far more bland and generic. Fingers crossed I'm wrong about this though, it would be a real shame to lose the "real" Basquash! to market forces.