The episode opens with Sakamichi and Imaizumi trying to catch up with the lead pack, with Imaizumi wondering whether Naruko had actually caught up with the lead pack and is fighting them alone. I can tell that even though he has a rivalry with Naruko, Imaizumi is still legitimately concerned about Naruko. Imaizumi wants to pull Sakamichi so they can go faster, but Sakamichi argues that Imaizumi is the ace and should fall back behind him.
OK, Imazumi has just uttered one of the most humble things I’ve ever heard him say in this series: “I may be our ace, but I’m only half a man.” This is such a far cry from the Imaizumi that we first met at the beginning of the first season of Yowamushi Pedal. This one sentence illustrates just how much character development Imaizumi has gone through up to this point. He’s showing some very serious regret here, especially about the way he had treated Teshima earlier in the second day of the Inter-High. And we get a lengthy flashback of Sakamichi talking to Imaizumi as Aoyagi and Kaburagi rejoined them in the previous episode. After this flashback, Imaizumi regains his confidence and that they need to work together to catch up with Naruko. While I like seeing the character development for Imaizumi here, it’s still a bit of a bummer to see how down he was earlier in this scene.
We then go to where the Mountain Line is, and see Toudou getting a report from a couple of the current members of Hakone Academy’s team. Toudou seems to take the report well, even though it’s really no longer a race for the Mountain Line… it’s now a race for the second day’s finish line. Toudou makes the decision to watch the race from the finish line, since there’s no longer a battle for the Mountain Line. It’s a little disappointing that Manami and Sakamichi don’t get the race that they were expecting during the second day of the Inter-High, but this is a realistic outcome considering the situation in the race at this point.
We now move on the lead pack, where Yuto and Ashikiba are trying to catch up with Midousuji, Mizuta, and Naruko. Naruko insists on staying in front of the other two, and Midousuji is trying his hardest to break Naruko’s spirit and force him to move out of the way. This pisses Midousuji off, so he pushes Mizuta out of the way and catches up with Naruko. Midousuji’s not going to rely on words anymore, since his psychological tactics aren’t working, so he forcefully bumps his bike against Naruko’s. He adds an explanation to his actions, and it’s clear from the animation to Midousuji’s pissed and isn’t going to take this anymore. With this, Midousuji and Mizuta move on ahead.
Naruko hits the guard rail, which causes him to fall behind. We hear him hoping that Sohoku will catch up so they can have a fighting chance. Unfortunately, Naruko is running out of steam, and Yuto and Ashikiba pass him. Come on, Imaizumi and Sakamichi! Naruko needs a miracle, and he needs one now!
Oh, Naruko lets out a loud scream, calling for “Hotshot” (aka Imaizumi), and it seems like the other four riders heard him. Are they going to mock him now? Hey, it’s not the shout that got their attention… it’s the fact that the miracle happened. Imaizumi and Sakamichi have caught up! YAY!
Hahahaha! I love seeing Mizuta freaking out over Imaizumi and Sakamichi’s arrival. Even Midousuji has lost what composure he seemed to regain after passing Naruko. He can’t comprehend Imaizumi being there, because he swore that Imaizumi had given up earlier in the race.
I love how Imaizumi is praising the effort Naruko went through up to this point. Even with their rivalry, he’s still able to acknowledge Naruko’s hard work and effort. I believe I said this last week, but I’ll say it again now… I honestly believe Imaizumi will be Sohoku’s next captain. Over the course of his second year, he has mellowed out and has developed more patience with this teammates, and these are perfect qualities for a future team captain.
Midousuji’s so pissed off now that he’s bumping into the back of Mizuta’s bike, trying to force him to move faster. After a rude scolding, Mizuta starts picking up his pace. Midousuji tells him to keep going until he falls apart, and this takes Mizuta back. Mizuta seems to have believed up to this point that with how much he blindly and obediently follows Midousuji, that Midousuji would never see him as a pawn that be disposed on a whim. Mizuta argues that he’s the captain, and whines about the idea of being disposable. I think Mizuta is getting his just desserts here. Since we first met him, he’s been all about just kissing up to whoever he deemed to be worthy in order to try make himself more important. I think reality is going to hit this guy hard. Oh, Midousuji is trying butter him up, saying that if he pulls Midousuji through the Mountain Line first, that Mizuta will be “King of the Mountain.” But what do you want to bet that if they do manage to achieve this, that Mizuta will be tossed to the side so Midousuji can have the glory of crossing the finish line first? This causes Mizuta to pick up the pace, but I do believe that Mizuta will be getting a serious dose of reality sooner rather than later. Sadly, Mizuta thinks that Midousuji cares about him… sorry, dude, but you’re not even close there.
Hakone Academy is the closest to them, but even they’re having a hard time closing the gap between them, and there’s only 1500 meters remaining until the Mountain Line. But it gets worse, because Imaizumi has Sakamichi pull them to try to capture the Mountain Line. So Hakone Academy now finds themselves sandwiched in between Kyoto Fushimi and Sohoku. Talk about the proverbial rock and a hard place! What’s going to happen here? And if you think about it, Sakamichi has an advantage here. While the others have been riding hard for this race, Sakamichi had been able to conserve his energy because he was supposed to race Manami for this Mountain Line. As Sakamichi catches up to Kyoto Fushimi, Midousuji is outwardly panicking, while Mizuta seems to be lost in his fantasy of taking the “King of the Mountain” title.
Midousuji knows Mizuta is going to be at his limit soon, so he uses more “buttering up” techniques to try to make him last until the last possible moment. And Mizuta’s so stupid that he falls for it. At the same time, Ashikiba decides they need to piggyback with Sohoku in order to have a chance of getting to the front. Yuto is stunned at just how much faster Sakamichi is riding when compared to their little competition earlier in the race, and it causes him to lose focus on this race. But it’s definitely getting intense, the closer everyone is getting to the Mountain Line!
With one kilometer to the peak, Sohoku is catching up to Kyoto Fushimi, and Hakone Academy is catching up to Sohoku. Sakamichi wonders if Makishima is watching, and then we see Makishima up in a nearby tree, watching the race. YAY!
Hahahaha! 500 meters remaining, and Mizuta finally notices that Sakamichi is catching up. The episode is ending with all three times vying to cross the Mountain Line. But wait… Imaizumi moves ahead and is now neck-and-neck with Midousuji. Midousuji is freaking out, because he’s never seen Imaizumi so calm and having such a strong pressure. Oh, and it gets better. Yuto catches up to Midousuji as well, and Midousuji is in major shock.
Dang, this race got so intense, especially after Imaizumi and Sakamichi caught up with Naruko. I think it’s going to be another nail-biter, and another close race. But at the end of the episode, Midousuji hints that he has only option left, but doesn’t say what it is. I’m sure we’ll see it next week. Whatever it is, please don’t work in Midousuji’s favor!