The pre-requisite Midosuji episode, complete with depressing flashbacks and the outcome of the race!
It’s only 250m to go until the finish line, and Midosuji, Kinjou and Fukutomi are giving it their all. At this point Midosuji raises his arms in victory, knowing his success, but realises that the other two are slowly gaining on him. Nevertheless, in true Midosuji fashion, he pumps his legs faster and keeps on moving forward, intent on showing them and everybody else what a winner looks like. He’s reminded of what he told Imaizumi about his mother during the middle of the race that made them rivals, and laughs to himself, saying that he’d keep on cycling even if his mother died in the middle of a race.
Cue flashback and what everybody already guessed. Midosuji Akira didn’t have a very good childhood – unsurprisingly. His ill mother was in hospital most of the time and he was a pretty awkward child with a quiet voice and a bit of a stutter. He didn’t excel at school sports, didn’t have any friends at all, and was bullied a lot by the other kids. Still, there was a real sweetness about him when he was a child and he very clearly adored his mother, promising that he’d become a real athlete and win, just for her. He kept something his mother told him to heart: that he had beautiful teeth and that all athletes should have beautiful teeth. I know, it’s just teeth, but it’s pretty symbolic towards the end of the episode. After winning his first race, though, he cycled the usual 20km to the hospital only to find her in worse condition than before, but he tried to make her promise to come to his next race, where he’d win, just for her. While she tells him that she’d love to see him race, though, she also makes him promise that no matter what happens, he should keep moving forward, words that ended up defining him, and not in the best of ways at all.
After she dies, he pushes himself, vowing to keep his legs moving and to keep going, just as his mother told him. He casts out everything else except the drive to exceed all expectations, others and his own, and to win and be victorious over all else. So during the last few hundred metres to the end of the race, although his legs are cramping and refusing to move, he forces them to, regardless of the damage he’s doing to them. He’s 50m to the finish line and literally hurting himself to win when his front tooth cracks, stunning him for a very short moment. He looks down, confused and startled, only to look back up and realise that Fukutomi and Kinjou have managed to overtake him, making him just another loser in the race.
While I feel like I knew he wouldn’t win, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him because not only was he so impassioned by victory and by success, but because that promise he made to his mother became warped and cruel and just turned him into a very unlikeable person. It’s sad because he really loved his mother but he twisted her words and became something she probably wouldn’t have liked at all. Will he become a better person? Probably not. But I kind of hope he reexamines himself and the relationship he had with his mother and realises what she wanted him to be.
The more tragic news, though, is that that it looks like Fukutomi took the race, leaving Kinjou in second place, losing once more to Fukutomi, his most respected rival. It’s a pretty sad day for Sohoku but the series isn’t over yet! There’s still more to come and I believe that before this is done, Onoda and the rest of the team is going to surprise everybody.