Episode 16 sees Shunsuke leading the remaining racers from Sohoku to catch up with the three remaining members of Hakone Academy. When they catch up, Shunsuke declares himself to be Sohoku’s ace, and a furious race develops between Shunsuke and Fukutomi. When Toudou tries to pull away to help Fukutomi, Makishima is determined not to let him pass.

As Shunsuke and Fukutomi battle it out, Fukutomi realizes rather quickly that Shunsuke is someone he shouldn’t underestimate, especially after Shunsuke pulls ahead of him on more than one occasion. Shunsuke shows Fukutomi just how determined he is to win when he’s blocked in between a wall on one side and Hakone Academy on the other, and Shunsuke allows himself to hit the wall and cause injuries to his knee and elbow in order to get past Fukutomi. It was so amusing to see the usually calm and collected Fukutomi looking absolutely panicked as he realizes that Shunsuke is truly a force to be reckoned with.

This episode also has a flashback for Shunsuke that provides more backstory for him. In this flashback, we get to see Shunsuke as an elementary student, and I believe that this is the farthest back we’ve seen any of the flashbacks in the series go. Through this flashback, we see how Shunsuke got into bicycle racing, as well as how he met Miki. This flashback also reminded the audience of how snooty Shunsuke used to be. This was a great reminder for me, because it’s been so long since I saw the early episodes of Yowamushi Pedal that I’d forgotten just how aloof and snooty Shunsuke acted back then. It just goes to show how much Shunsuke has evolved as a character over the course of both Yowamushi Pedal and Yowamushi Pedal Grande Road. I’d also forgotten that Shunsuke and Miki were already friends at the beginning of Yowamushi Pedal.

Shunsuke may feel confident about his chances now, but near the end of the episode, the audience sees Midousuji picking up his pace in order to catch up with the leaders. I’m almost afraid that Midousuji will catch up with Shunsuke and Fukutomi and rattle Shunsuke’s confidence, since Midousuji has that effect on Shunsuke from a race they competed against in the past. But at least it appears Midousuji will finally be important to the story again after being completely absent from the series for several episodes. I was starting to wonder whether or not we’d see Midousuji again.

At this point, the third day of the Inter High is getting closer and closer to the end. It’s explicitly stated that there are only 15 kilometers left until the finish line, so expect the remaining episodes to become more and more intense the closer the leaders get to the finish line. At this point, there’s no clear-cut winner, and I believe that Midousuji will end up throwing a wrench into the works for the battle that’s going on between Hakone Academy and Sohoku.

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