Episode 11 sees Arakita pulling Manami and Sakamichi up to the front of the race, where their aces and assistants are. Midousuji and Ishigaki from Kyoto Fushimi are also there, but Midousuji doesn’t seem worried when it looks like Hiroshima won’t be catching up. In fact, he feels confident even though they only have two members. Yes, I think it’s safe to say that Midousuji has definitely returned to his old self. We also see the remaining members from Sohoku and Hakone Academy catch up with the rest of their respective teams as well.

So the race between Sohoku and Hakone Academy begins. The sprint checkpoint is coming up, but Hakone Academy is only concerned with reaching the finish line. At first, Shinkai is the one pulling Fukutomi, but Arakita asks to switch. As Arakita rides, it becomes obvious that he used too much strength when riding against Hiroshima. However, he’s determined to finish his job. But before they can cross the sprint checkpoint, Arakita starts falling back, so Shinkai returns to the lead position.

It gets rather emotional here as Arakita falls back and is passed by all of Sohoku and the two members from Kyoto Fushimi. Arakita has several flashbacks of what he went through to get to this point, but it appears he doesn’t have any regrets. Sure, he’s a little disappointed that he won’t be able to cross the finish line with his team, but he seems satisfied enough with the fact that he was able to finish the job that Fukutomi had given him.

We also get to see the thoughts that the other members from Hakone Academy have of Arakita after he falls behind. I thought this was a great moment. It was a nice send-off for Arakita, and it also allowed the audience to see that the team members were actually a more cohesive unit than they may have appeared at times during the series.

The episodes of Arakita, Manami, and Sakamichi racing against Hiroshima really helped to develop Arakita as a character. I actually came to like him by the end of Episode 11, and I’m actually a little sad that he’s not going to be part of the main storyline going forward. Hopefully we’ll be able to see Arakita again after the third day of the Inter-High ends. I suspect that seeing the end of the Inter-High will probably be right at the end of the Winter 2015 season, since Yowamushi Pedal Grande Road is supposed to end then.

I’m looking forward to seeing how this race between Sohoku and Hakone Academy plays out, as well as whether or not Midousuji and Ishigaki end up having any chance of competing with them at the finish line.

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