Every Night and All Appendix

Some notes on titles, translations, venues, and full details of the Nationals bracket for this ‘verse.

The Titles

The title of this arc, and the stories in it, is taken from the Lyke-Wake Dirge which might seem like an odd choice for an arc centered around triumph. But one of the major threads that kept coming up, as I thought about what makes Nationals significant to the players and their growth, is the question of what they can give to each other: what opportunities the captains can give their players, what support teammates can give to each other, what push to grow opponents can give to each other. And that’s the heart of the Wake, after all, what you’ve given. "Fire and fleet and candle-light" are the shelters of the dead soul before it sets out on its journey, named over again in each refrain, so that was the title of the first story in the arc, when everyone is pulling together and readying to launch into the oddesy of Nationals. The body of the Wake makes it clear that progress in the soul’s journey is contingent on having supported one’s fellows in life: "If ever thou gavest meat or drink / The fire shall never make thee shrink." The Nationals story proper is about courage, yes, but courage rooted in connection and the sustenance any given player has been able to give to others, whether as leader, teammate, or opponent. Tezuka’s attitude, which is consistently held up as a correct one by the narrative through Regionals, suggests that only connection, having something greater than oneself to fight for, makes for good tennis. And the end of the Nationals story is the beginning of a new one, a new year, with new teams (partially or wholly) and new leaders who have to find their own way now. Death and rebirth, in a way.

I doubt I’ll ever actually get back around to it, but the Invitational arc would most definitely have been named "If Ever Thou Gavest," because that story, to my mind, has to come back around to the high-school captains, and what they gave or maybe did not yet succeed in giving to these alarmingly brilliant but certainly not perfect kouhai of theirs, who are coming back to them in the spring. Tezuka’s recklessness, Yukimura’s trauma, Tachibana and Chitose finding their way back, what path forward Kite will choose, all of those are going to be major challenges for the people who are about to be their captains (again, in some cases). Alas that we didn’t get many characters who seem even vaguely up to the challenge in the U-17 arc. By that point, canon was going for the gold in the multi-shark vaulting event.

Headcanons and Characterization

One of the things that this arc absolutely required was a re-consideration of Echizen’s character, based only on what we see up through Regionals. How would that character handle losing? Up to that point, we see exactly two examples of Echizen losing. One is against his father, and this is clearly an established state of affairs; he always loses against his father, and always has. Winning against his father, though, is just as clearly his personal measuring stick for his own progress. To date, it’s one that has yet to move at all. So I posit that, first of all, Echizen doesn’t actually have any real sense of how to measure his own progress, or even figure out whether he’s progressing at all.

He also has an extremely skewed relationship with winning and losing. The single other time we see him lose is against Tezuka, and it would be easy to dismiss that as a fluke. Every other match, no matter how stacked, no matter how daunting, he always wins. Echizen has only had those two unmoving absolutes in his game, so far. Winning is a given. At the same time, losing is an unpassable wall. So I further posit that Echizen doesn’t know how to deal with losing, doesn’t have any real concept of a loss as something less than absolute, something that can be worked past or overcome.

So Echizen expects to win against everyone who isn’t his father, but underneath it must run a constant, tiny thread of fear that he won’t, that he’ll fail, and to him, failure is an absolute. And to fail against someone his own age? That had to be a huge shock, something he couldn’t really process at all, and at that point I doubt he had even a little bit of the collectivist, team-play context to understand the anchor that Tezuka was trying to give him by giving him the responsibility of playing in support of the team (collective wins, collective losses, less individual pressure). So he had to be pretty at sea already, when they get to the Regional Finals.

And then it happens again.

At that point, I posit that the underlying thread of uncertainty and anxiety would come roaring to the surface. Echizen would be actively afraid that two loses to his own age bracket mean he’s hit another immovable wall, and that he has no idea when it might happen again (the latter, at least, is probably true). It would have unsettled his entire view of his own game, knocked out one of the two things he’d thought were absolutes. On the bright side, this is exactly what should happen, at this point in this kind of story; it’s Echizen’s opportunity for true growth. On the not-so-bright side, the story has not yet provided him with enough time to really understand any examples but his father’s. This is where the tennis season really constrains things. He’s only had a few months with Seigaku! In another season or two, he would have time to process, to struggle, to come to understand what happened and to rebuild his idea of what tennis is and how it should be played. In another half year, even, his teammates would have time to understand what his struggle really is. The story doesn’t give us that kind of time, though. This was actually quite a difficult issue to find a way past, narratively.

Fortunately, we do have a character with enough experience and perspective to bridge the gap, to understand where Echizen must be at and speak to him there: Ryuuzaki Sumire, the woman who trained Echizen Nanjirou and then saw him back down from the game, the woman who has trained Tezuka Kunimitsu and kept him from completely destroying himself. She clearly knows how to talk reckless geniuses down from the ledge. Ryuuzaki is the character who has the potential to understand why Echizen is afraid, and the integrity to support him while she urges him on past that fear.

So we’ll get Echizen where he needs to go. He’s just going to spend a lot of Nationals trying not to freak out.

Vocabulary

A few notes, because I made some unusual-for-me choices with translation this time.

For one thing, I have translated 無我 の 境地 (muga no kyouchi) as "no-self" throughout. That is both the most literal available translation of 無我, and one of the English phrases most commonly used for it. I do normally stick to fandom-consensus translations and author-glosses, if there are any, not least so most of my readers know at once what I’m talking about. But this one has grated on my soul from the first.

I’ve also rendered 寿中学 (chuugaku) as "junior high school." Normally I use "middle school" for this one, given the age ranges in question, but this is Tenipuri. Konomi declared that these characters are in middle school and then proceeded to draw and write them as if they were high-schoolers at the least. Junior high feels like it matches that feel just a bit better.

Nationals Venue

FET translated the name of the Nationals venue as Tokyo Municipal Arena (possibly this was the Metropolitan Gymnasium, since 育館 does indicate a competition site or arena), so I presume that’s what Konomi wrote down. If you look at the manga visuals, however, the venue is clearly the Ariake Tennis Forest and Coliseum. The center court is pretty unmistakeable. It looks as though Konomi clustered the first day on the courts nearest the coliseum parking lot, but I picked a little differently to allow for at least a little more mystery between different blocks. On the photo below I’ve designated courts A-H (lower set) to be used on the first day, for Rounds One and Two. Courts A-D (upper set), which have some nice margins or bleachers for onlookers, are used on the second day, for Quarter- and Semi-finals, which seems to match Konomi’s choice for QF at least. Finals are held on the stadium court, in the Coliseum. Courts are lettered rather than numbered, as is more common in professional tournaments, to discourage any inclination to assume that number equates to skill or talent (as is also quite common in professional tournaments).

 

aerial view of Ariake tennis park marking four pairs of courts all in a line, and two other pairs separated by trees

 

Note that Ariake has gotten a major renovation for the 2021 Olympics, and the latest pictures will no longer look quite like this.

 

Nationals Bracket, Every Night and All Universe

This whole section is for people who have a deep need to know crazy levels of detail. You don’t need any of this information to tell who’s playing whom, or to get the flow of the National games in this story. But the canon bracket drove me, personally, absolutely nuts, and I put a fair amount of time into re-working it, so here you go.

Picture version:

Prince of Tennis National tournament schedule

HTML version, with further revisions:

A Shitenhouji (Osaka), seed | |
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—Champion
BYE  
Nashikari Gakuen (Kanagawa) |
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Kushimakitou (Kagawa)
B Shishigaku (Kumamoto) |
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Saint Icarus (Yamagawa)
BYE   |
Fudoumine (Tokyo), seed
C Seishun Gakuen (Tokyo), seed | |
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BYE  
Maikozaka (Kyoto) |
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Joushuuin Dai Fuzoku Shimizu (Shizuoka)
D Takashiro Gakuin (Fukuoka) |
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Hikogashima (Yamaguchi)
BYE   |
Echigo Hira Daini (Niigata), seed
E Nagoya Seitoku (Aichi), seed | |
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BYE  
Maki no Fuji Gakuin (Hyogo) |
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Yamabuki (Tokyo)
F Tsubakikawa Gakuen (Hokkaido) |
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Hyoutei Gakuen (Tokyo)
BYE   |
Okakura (Osaka), seed
G Higa (Okinawa), seed | |
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BYE  
Midoriyama (Saitama) |
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Rokkaku (Chiba)
H Kyouyou (Tochigi) |
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Murigaoka (Aichi)
BYE   |
Rikkai Dai Fuzoku (Kanagawa), seed

Alterations

Most of my alterations have to do with better reflecting the populations of the regions and prefectures. I have redistributed the seeds, swapped a few teams around, and reassigning them to other locations. Konomi gave Kansai six teams to Kantou’s seven (six not counting Hyoutei). Kantou has just shy of twice the population of Kansai. Chuubu, which has roughly Kansai’s population, gets a much more reasonable four teams, so I swapped out Kabuto (from Nara, which is one of the smaller prefectures of Kansai) and Kuroshio (from Wakayama, which is tiny) with the last two teams from the Kantou Regional best eight to give them a more proportional eight (nine counting Hyoutei). This leaves another problem, though, because Konomi decided that both those schools would be from the Tochigi prefecture, which is one of the thinly populated inland prefectures. It’s less than a quarter the population of Kanagawa, who have, without further tinkering, only one team representing them. While statistics and averages are surely not the be all, end all of who has more strong teams, I have a hard time seeing this one. Given that, I reassigned Nashikari to the Kanagawa prefecture. For similar considerations of population density I reassigned Okakura to Osaka.

The results look like this (population given in millions, as of 2010 census):

Kantou: 42.6 (8 teams, plus host slot)
Tokyo: 13.1 (4 teams)
Kanagawa: 9 (2 teams)
Saitama: 7.1 (1 team)
Chiba: 6.2 (1 team)
Ibaraki: 2.9
Gunma: 2
Tochigi: 2 (1 team)
Kansai: 22.7 (4 teams)
Osaka: 8.8 (2 teams)
Hyougo: 5.5 (1 team)
Kyoto: 2.6 (1 team)
Mie: 1.8
Shiga: 1.4
Nara: 1.3
Wakayama: .9
Chuubu: 21.7 (4 teams)
Aichi: 7.4 (2 teams)
Shizuoka: 3.7 (1 team)
Niigata: 2.3 (1 team)
Nagano: 2.1
Gifu: 2
Ishikawa: 1.1
Toyama: 1.1
Yamanashi: .8
Fukui: .8
Kyuushuu: 13.2 (3 teams)
Fukuoka: 5 (1 team)
Kumamoto: 1.8 (1 team)
Kagoshima: 1.7
Nagasaki: 1.4
Okinawa: 1.3(1 team)
Ooita: 1.2
Miyazaki: 1.1
Saga: .8
Touhoku: 9.3 (1 team)
Miyagi: 2.3
Fukushima: 2
Iwate: 1.3
Aomori: 1.3
Yamagata: 1.1(1 team)
Akita: 1.1
Chuugoku: 7.5 (1 team)
Hiroshima: 2.8 (1 team)
Okayama: 1.9
Yamaguchi: 1.4
Shimane: .7
Tottori: .5
Hokkaidou: 5.5 (1 team)
Hokkaidou is a prefecture, but tends to get counted as a region as well, because of its area
Shikoku: 4.1 (1 team)
Kagawa: 1.8 (1 team)
Ehime: 1.4
Tokushima: .8
Kouchi: .7

Even more inexplicably, Kansai had four seeds to Kantou’s two, so I assigned one of those to Kantou (thus making Fudoumine seeded, as they deserve for being third at Kantou Regionals) and assigned another to Chuubu to level it with Kansai. For those who are curious about such things, in this ‘verse Shitenhouji was first in Kansai and Okakura was second. Nagoya Seitoku was the Chuubu champion and Echigo Hira Daini was second place.