“Naruko’s True Worth!”
And the race continues, with Naruko leading his team up the mountain in an incredible feat of determination and self-sacrifice, all to catch up to Hakone.
Naruko’s one of those loud-mouthed characters who actually has something to show for all his exuberance, and he really proved himself to be a brilliant teammate and a solid fighter all the way. Being the little guy that he is, Jin saw it in him that he’d be able to sprint his way to the top and lead the team at least partway up the climb, and boy did he deliver! He did exactly what Kinjou asked him as well, and was as flashy and bright as possible, garnering the cheers and praise from the onlookers, as well as impressing his own teammates. He’s the kind of character who thrives on the spotlight and loves people fawning over him in all the attention. He’s definitely one of Sohoku’s finest, with a big heart to back it up.
But as we all suspected, he wouldn’t be able to keep it up for long, and there came a point where he was pushing so hard that he was finally unable to see. Onoda made the difficult decision to keep letting him pull, and shouted out directions on the turns for him. It was a pretty dramatic show of teamwork, and such a great show of their friendship too, which I really appreciated. And it worked; they finally caught up to Hakone. But alas, he’d used up the last scrap of energy he had left and quietly apologised to Onoda and Imaizumi for not being able to keep his promise in making it through to the finish line with them. He slowly drops back, drawing away from the rest of the team and crashes into the side of the road, unable to ride any longer, much to his friends’ horror and dismay.
I think we should all give it up for Shoukichi Naruko, the real MVP of this episode. *round of applause*
And then there were three.
It’s going to be hard to beat such an exhibition of strength and power, but I’ve no doubt that the rest of Sohoku all have aces up their sleeves, and as I said, everyone gets their fifteen minutes of fame, or rather, an entire episode dedicated to their sports finesse. And we’ve still got a few characters left to show off!