Episode 14 sees Kinjou’s knee giving him trouble. At first, he tries to grit his teeth and push through, but he quickly realizes that it’s not possible. But during the time that he attempts to push on, the audience can see just how much pain that Kinjou is in. For me, he looked like he was in such excruciating pain that it was almost painful for me to watch that scene.
Kinjou feels the race is over for Sohoku and blames himself for this failure. From his facial expressions and from his thoughts, the audience can tell just how anguished he feels about the situation. I admit that I found myself feeling so bad for him and wishing I could just reach through my monitor and give him a hug.
Kinjou is surprised when Sakamichi comes up behind him and asks if he’s okay. Sakamichi reminds Kinjou of something he had said to the first-year during the first season, and Kinjou realizes that he almost forgot something as simple as supporting others when they’re about to fall. With renewed confidence, Kinjou orders Makishima and the first-years to climb the mountain and to make sure that at least one of them can get their jersey across the finish line before anyone else. After saying some encouraging words to the first-years, Kinjou pulls out of the race. As a viewer, I didn’t want to believe that Kinjou, the ace, was bowing out even though it was happening right before my eyes. Knowing about the knee injury he sustained in the previous year’s Inter-High was a definite clue that something like this would happen, but I kept hoping that somehow it wouldn’t act up on him.
As Makishima and the first-years work at catching up with Hakone Academy, we see Tadokoro with Shinkai. It was awesome to see that even though their teams are still competing to win the race, they are able to help each other out and be cordial to each other. It just goes to show that once you take away the competition aspect of racing, the members of these two teams have the potential to be friends.
Right at the end of the episode, I really enjoyed how Naruko surprises everyone when he takes the lead pulling the others for a climb and is able to go fast on the slope even though he’s a sprinter. I hope that somewhere during these last 20 kilometers that Shunsuke is able to do something truly important to help the team as well, since he was feeling like he hadn’t truly done anything up to this point. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of a race is in store for the remaining members of Hakone Academy and Sohoku, and seeing whether or not Kyoto Fushimi’s two remaining members can somehow manage to play a part during these final 20 kilometers.
Unfortunately, it looks like I’ll have to wait a couple of weeks in order to find out how the story goes from here. According to Crunchyroll, Episode 15 won’t be available for premium members until January 26, 2015, and for free users on February 2, 2015.
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