“The Final Strategy”
In which basically everything happens according to plan and is a tad bit predictable but still kind of cool in that shounen die hard sort of way.
It’s the final climb and Hakone’s riders have been pretty much dropping like flies, but the rest of them have a long way to go before the end. Hakone’s still got Manami, Toudou and Fukutomi, so his strategy is pretty clear from all that, but unfortunately for Sohoku, their ace isn’t quite as well as he said he’d be and every time Kinjou tries to make for the climb his knee starts to give out. As it usually is with these boys, who are so unfailingly self-obsessed in their own skill and strength, Kinjou has a bit of a breakdown, believing that he’s let his team town and that he’s failed Sohoku as a captain and as their ace.
But who else should step up with that perpetually dorky, slightly confused grin except for Onoda, who taps him on the back and asks him whether he’s feeling okay because he look a little bit ill. *sigh* yet another predictable move, but the sentiment of the situation was quite real and enjoyable in a bit of a gushy and admittedly sappy sort of way. Kinjou realises he’s still got three very fresh and very willing first years who ought to have a bit of the spotlight, and so slaps himself around a little and then gives them the orders. He sends Makishima on with Onoda, Imaizumi and Naruki, basically telling Naruko to be the flashiest he can be and that one of them, it doesn’t matter who, must take the jersey across the finish line. If that isn’t inspiring, I don’t know what is. But nothing is more painful than knowing that your leader is going to have to drop out of the race because he just can’t ride anymore, and knowing that you’ve got to carry that burden all the way to the finish line. Well, it’s a big deal in sports anime and I think we all just go along for the ride, haha!
On the brighter side of things, though, way back in the race, Jin lets Shinkai in on a little secret about their resident red beansprout; that he’s possibly the most dangerous teammate of all because he’s yet to reveal his full potential, and sure enough, we’ve got Naruko seriously pushing it as he pulls the team by sprinting up the mountain. Seriously, this boy has some guts and I think he’s going to be quite the inspiring cyclist.