The home stretch ahead!
What They Say:
Onoda Sakamichi is a rather timid, anime-loving first-year student at Sohoku High School. Upon entering high school, he tried to join the anime research club, but after meeting Imaizumi Shunsuke, a renowned cyclist since middle school, and Naruko Shoukichi, who swept the Kansai cycling championship, he ended up joining the competitive cycling club.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Onoda was able to pass Teshima. Hot on his heels, Naruko and Imaizumi follow suit, holding up an exhausted Onoda as he nearly falls off his bike from the spring uphill. All is right with the world then, yes?
Even though Onoda was able to break Teshima’s hold in front of the first years and Imaizumi and Naruko were able to catch up to him, Aoyagi has made his lap and teams back up with Teshima to try and regain the lead with the home stretch in sight. All the senior students take a break, wanting to see the results of the battle between the first and second year students that they know are coming. With the yellow “no passing” sign coming out, once they break the lap line, there will not be any more passing allowed until morning, due to the safety concerns that night brings on the poorly lit racing track.
Onoda eventually falls behind the reinvigorated Teshima and Aoyagi, and Naruko implores Imaizumi to fall back for their comrade, declaring that they’ll come up with a plan, but he doesn’t want to leave Onoda behind. Imaizumi and Naruko argue back and forth while keeping the lead, and Naruko learns something about Onoda he had never noticed before.
As Imaizumi points out – Onoda races hard when he’s motivated by his friends, when he wants to succeed and wants them to succeed. But Onoda races hardest, pushes himself to the absolute brink – when he’s behind. Onoda leads poorly, as we’ve seen him be overtaken many times throughout the series already. But when he’s racing from behind, his focus is razor sharp and pinpointed in one place, and one place only – the person in front of him. It’s his strongest trait, and one that keeps him in a race no matter how close to the finish it is or how far behind he is.
We’re left with a bit of a cliffhanger at the end of this episode, with all five racers flying into the straightaway with “finish line” in sight. It’s not really a finish line though, since there’s still one more day of camp and several more kilometers to go, but for the first and second years – this is what matters. Teshima and Aoyagi are using their teamwork to push ahead, while Imaizumi and Naruko fight tooth and nail to maintain the minimal lead they have on them. Onoda, even though he falls behind the other four, is at his best when he’s behind, and is right on the heels of Teshima and Aoyagi, much to their surprise. It was an exciting episode, and the interaction between Imaizumi and Naruko is especially excellent, summing up so much of the series in a brief few minutes of conversation. It’s now clear that both Imaizumi and Naruko are not only friends with Onoda, but that they care about him too. They both want to win as well, to participate in the Inner-High, and express it very differently. What makes them both such great foils for each other is Naruko is fiery passion, and Imaizumi is calculated planning. Naruko wants to fall back for Onoda, and wants to come up with the plan later. Imaizumi, on the other hand, knows that if they do that, they will lose to the second years, and also that Onoda is at his strongest when he’s trailing the pack, and is convinced that is where Onoda needs to be if he’s to pass Teshima and Aoyagi again.
It’s great writing, and includes a lot of subtleties that the series keeps hitting on again and again. It also really cements that the first years are all friends now, even if Naruko and Imaizumi will continue to be ‘rivals’ to one and other.
Will Onoda pass Teshima and Aoyagi? Will Naruko and Imaizumi hold the lead that Onoda fought so hard to give them, paving the way for him to follow? We won’t know until the next episode, but this gets a high rating from me, as it’s all the best things of Yowapeda condensed into a single, 23 minute segment.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
Intel Alienware laptop, Windows 7, 25” HP2509m screen at 1920×1080 resolution