Episode 10 opens with a slight recap of Machimiya headbutting Arakita and Arakita’s response to it. But most of the episode sees Arakita remembering how he became a part of Hakone’s team and how he was a lot like Machimiya back when he was a first-year.

While we’d seen some of this story in a brief flashback bit during the first season, this episode takes that brief backstory and embellishes it out a lot more. This flashback even includes appearances by Shinkai and Toudou when they were first-years, and they just looked so little. While I’ve already seen Sohoku’s third-years, Fukutomi, and Arakita as first-years in other flashbacks, this is the first time that the younger Shinkai and Toudou have appeared prominently in a flashback as first-years.

This flashback shows how much Fukutomi worked with Arakita when he first decided to be part of Hakone’s team, and it leads up to the two of them working together in order for Arakita to achieve his first win in a race. Through this flashback, we get to see how Arakita came to ultimately trust in Fukutomi and start bringing about a change in his attitude. Sure, Arakita has an attitude problem as a third-year, but it’s nowhere near as bad as the attitude he had back when he was a first-year. And after watching this flashback, I believe that a great job was done embellishing the already established backstory and making it work with the various other backstory flashbacks that we’ve seen for the members of Hakone’s team.

We return to the present right near the end of Episode 10, and Arakita is ultimately able to pull Sakamichi and Manami ahead of Mahcimiya and his team. Not only do they pull ahead, they also win the contest that Hiroshima had challenged them to in the previous episode. Machimiya’s reaction to the loss genuinely surprised me, because I didn’t think he would back down quite so easily. I suspect this action was somehow supposed to redeem him, but I’m not convinced. Machimiya has come across as such a complete and utter jerk from the first moment he was introduced, and his reason for hating Hakone so much wasn’t as strong of a justification for his behavior as it could have been. In the end, I’m not convinced that Machimiya was that great of a character.

And at this point, unless Hiroshima truly gets back into the race, this could mean that these characters ultimately will only have a small role to play in this season. So it’ll be interesting to see whether or not Hiroshima’s role in the story has ultimately come to an end.

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