Episode 13 sees Sohoku’s third-years pulling ahead of the first-years. However, the first-years were given a job by Kinjou to stay with them until they reach the mountains and then see them off. We see Shunsuke taking this hard, thinking he really hadn’t done anything and that it’s his fault why they’ve fallen behind Hakone Academy. Naruko feels the same way, but both are surprised to see Sakamichi watching the third-years’ backs. After Sakamichi explains that it feels like the third-years are communicating with them and are trying to tell them to get stronger, this simple statement causes a major realization for both Shunsuke and Naruko.

When Hakone Academy comes into sight, Fukutomi tells Shinkai to shake them off. Sohoku works hard to not only catch up, but to come up beside their rival. Through an interaction between Fukutomi and Kinjou, two different philosophies emerge: Hakone Academy represents making any sacrifices they need to in order to win, while Sohoku represents trying to work their hardest as their entire team.

When Hakone Academy suddenly increases their lead again, Sohoku’s philosophy is put to the test when Tadokoro declares that he will be the one to pull Kinjou and Makishima to the best possible position before cutting them loose. Both Tadokoro and Kinjou have emotional flashbacks about their three years together in the club, which incorporates a lot of footage we’ve seen previously in the series, either from earlier flashbacks or from events that we saw take place earlier in the series. Tadokoro ultimately has to fall away and be left behind by his team, which hits Naruko especially hard.

I have to say that of the characters who have had to break away from their team, Tadokoro’s leaving hit me the hardest. I was moved when the Hakone Academy team members had to fall away from their team, but the fact that we were able to get to know Tadokoro much more than we did the Hakone Academy members before the Inter-High made his leaving much more difficult and emotional. As Tadokoro fell out of the race, I kind of felt like I was losing a friend. And it appears that Tadokoro’s effort may end up being in vain, because something happens right at the end of the episode that affects the Sohoku team.

The ante for the race was already being upped right near the end of the Fall 2014 season, but it really went up by the end of Episode 13. With what happens right at the end of this episode, it could potentially change the course of what happens throughout the remainder of the series. While I’m still rooting for Sohoku to somehow find a way to win the race, it’s starting to look less and less likely that this will be how the Inter-High ends. As of right now, Hakone Academy has a lot of advantages going for them during the next stage of the race. But, I could always hope that somehow, the “Princess Hime” song will somehow help motivate Sohoku to try to keep going and actually help them catch up with Hakone Academy.

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