At the beginning of Episode Seven, we see Shunsuke trying to race against Shinkai in order to see who will reach their ace first. When they catch up, it’s obvious that Shunsuke is out of breath and has to push himself rather hard. With what we see later in the episode, I have a feeling that his being out of breath will end up being an important detail as we continue through the third day of the Inter-High race. From here, Fukutomi and Shinkai suddenly pull ahead and don’t wait for their other team members, so this forces Shunsuke and Kinjou to go on ahead as well in order to fight for the lead position.
However, most of the episode focuses on the remaining members of Sohoku and Hakone Academy still working together under the short-term truce. The more experienced riders realize that it’s taking longer than they expected to reach the aces, and come to the conclusion that the battle for the lead has already started.
Sakamichi has a flashback during this section to a talk Kinjou had with the team the previous night. Here, we learn that on the third day, not everyone will necessarily be able to cross the finish line, and that they have to leave any injured or exhausted riders behind. Poor Sakamichi feels sad about it, but this becomes important later in the episode when the pack catches up to them and one team member from both Sohoku and Hakone Academy are swallowed up by the pack.
As we see near the end of the episode, Machimiya did something I totally expected. He gathers up the other members of his team and reveals to the pack that he used them in order to get his own team closer to the front. Machimiya and his team pull away, leaving a shell-shocked pack behind. I have a suspicion that the team members from Sohoku and Hakone Academy who are currently stuck in the pack will find a way to lead the pack forward.
In this episode, I noticed a new effect I hadn’t seen done with the animation before. There were a couple of shots of Shunsuke and one of Sakamichi that showed them looking very surprised by something that they’re told, and these shots weren’t colored in. With similar scenes in the past, they were colored in. The first time I saw this done, I wondered if perhaps there had been a rush job on the episode and that somehow the shot hadn’t managed to be colored before it aired. However, seeing this appear two others times in the episode led me to believe that this was done for an effect. I’m not sure if it was effective, though, since I focused more on the fact that the shots weren’t colored in than on the expressions on their faces.
So far, the pacing for the third day of the Inter-High is what I’ve come to expect from this series. From seeing the title for Episode Eight, I’m thinking that it’s going to have a strong focus on the riders who are now stuck in the pack and what they may end up doing. I’m interested in seeing whether or not these riders will somehow be able to break away from the pack and catch back up with their respective teams.
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