This episode opens with Imaizumi, Midousuji, and Yuto battling for the second day’s finish line. The focus is on Imaizumi, who shows through his thoughts that he is not just determined, but very determined, to get Sohoku’s jersey over the finish line first. With 30 meters to the finish line, Imaizumi seems to be pulling ahead of Yuto, much to the younger racer’s surprise. But Yuto recovers quickly, and both he and Midousuji start showing their determination as well.

Of course, Midousuji’s thoughts show just how much he dislikes friendship, bonds, etc. in road races. But he just hasn’t seemed to figure out by this point that trying to do everything alone, without relying on his teammates, hasn’t worked out well for him overall. Yes, in the first Inter-High, Midousuji captured two of the colored tags during the second day, but in the end, he wasn’t able to finish the third day of the Inter-High and was pretty beat up. Sadly, going through that experience seems to have taught him nothing. Oh, my. The visual representation of Midousuji’s desire to win is a little… disturbing.

At this point, my question is: just how long is this episode going to drag out these last 30 meters? Considering the title of the episode is “Winner,” I expect we will know who crosses the second day’s finish line first by the end of the episode.

Hey, we’re down to 20 meters left, and all three riders seem to be neck-in-neck. But just as we hit this point, the opening credits start.

This is getting pretty intense now. All three are hurtling toward the finish line, and we keep cutting to shots of the finish line. The winner should be determined about any time now… unless we get a flashback sequence! Now we’re including shots of the crowd cheering for particular racers. But the pacing of the cuts is picking up, so we’ve got to be getting close to a resolution.

OK, a tire has just crossed the finish line, and the footage changes to black and white. But who won? Quiet shots of the crowd are showing up to maintain the suspense. And now we see shots of various people who are spread out over the course, and a voice-over talking about all the effort it takes to win a road race. The suspense continues… but please tell us who won!

Wow, the spectators don’t seem to know who won, since all three finished nearly simultaneously. This looks like it’s either going to be another tie like the end of the first day of the Inter-High, or it’s going to be a nail-biter. It was close, but the winner is determined to be…

… Midousuji?

Midousuji seems surprised and happy at the same time, and compares grabbing the victory to keeping a firefly from escaping. Which fits in with the flashback of Midousuji’s we saw last week. And he’s soaking in all of the cheers. Some people in the crowd are even saying they’re fans of his now. He brags about being the man who won everything… um, Midousuji, why don’t you wait until you declare this? You won’t have won everything unless you can cross the finish line first at the end of the third day.

Poor Imaizumi. He tried his hardest, but Midousuji managed to beat him again.

Onoda is close to reaching the finish line, but Mizuta suddenly comes up from behind and catches Onoda off-guard. Mizuta is very happy about hearing that Midousuji won the second day’s finish line, and that seems to have given him some new energy. And Mizuta starts bragging about passing the Mountain King. Come on, Onoda, beat this guy! Onoda has a flashback of Teshima telling him that if he has to race someone at the end, don’t let them win, because how they place affects the order they start in at the beginning of the third day.

Nooooo! Mizuta beat Onoda to the finish line. So far, this just hasn’t been a great Inter-High for Sohoku.

We then see Imaizumi at the Sohoku tent, apologizing profusely to his teammates. OMG, Teshima, you are being so cruel here. I don’t think Kinjou would have ever addressed Imaizumi in this way in this situation. Oh, phew! That’s not his real thoughts, he was just sharing the usual logic for the situation. Teshima, you had me worried there… as well as your teammates, by the expressions I saw on their faces. Even though Teshima is understanding, Imaizumi argues that they don’t know that he rode as hard as he could. Oh, Imaizumi, quit beating up on yourself! Apparently, Sugimoto had told Teshima all about how Imaizumi had been training and how this is the best that he’s seen Imaizumi ride. Apparently, Sugimoto even broke down in tears. Awww…

I like seeing how Teshima is trying to put the best spin on the results. They may not have done as well as they had hoped, but they all survived in one piece and will all be able to ride for the third day. Oh, Kaburagi, you said something that I think you didn’t mean to say. LOL!

At the awards ceremony, we see that Midousuji took first at the finish line, Imaizumi was second, and Yuto was third. No wonder why Yuto was looking so down in an earlier shot. Midousuji grabs the mic from the emcee and says he only has one thing to say about the day’s race: “Gross.” He then claims there was something wrong with the mic, and then says he was in a close race and that he was able to keep racing until the end due to the fans, his teammates, and the support staff, and his two strong rivals. Nice acting, Midousuji… not! We know you really don’t care about any of those people. Oh, and then he goes on to call his rivals lizards. Yeah, the crowd is understandably confused. And then he goes on to call them imbeciles and that they rode without courage of strength. Damn, talk about bad sportsmanship. Emcee, grab that mic away! Oh God, now he’s doing his “gross” dance on the stage. *facepalm* Please stop while you’re ahead, Midousuji!

And now Midousuji is trying to egg on Imaizumi and Yuto to react to his taunting. This gloating is just terrible. I repeat: emcee, grab that mic away! Midousuji is now spouting out his philosophy on road racing to the crowd, and the expressions on people’s faces are appropriate: they’re shocked as hell. I think he may have just lost some of the fans he had gained at the end of the race. One idiot in the audience says Midousuji is right, that winning proves who’s the best. Some people are saying that Midousuji isn’t a champion, he’s a ruler. Oh God, people, don’t say stuff like this, you’ll only inflate Midousuji’s ego!

But after that performance, Midousuji ignores the reporters shoving microphones in his face. Ugh, he thinks he swayed people to his side. After this, I just can’t root for Kyoto Fushimi to win the Inter-High. Come on, Hakone Academy or Sohoku! You need to knock Midousuji off of his pedestal!

We get a scene of Teshima and Aoyagi having a moment, contemplating on the fact that tomorrow is the last day of their last race together. Teshima mentions he has a small wish: that during tomorrow’s race, the two of them can sync up their movements and breathing and do their Synchronizing Straight Twin. Uh-oh! Aoyagi fell and his gripping his knee. This is NOT a good sign. He claims it’s nothing, but if Yowamushi Pedal has taught me anything, these riders will try to ignore these things and try to ride anyway (like Kinjou with his knee during the third day of the Inter-High).

That night, Teshima seems to having some thoughts of regret about how he relies on Aoyagi too much. He wonders if Aoyagi is really hurting and how this will affect the next day’s race. Aoyagi, meanwhile, is having his own thoughts, and he thinks about how Teshima’s cheerfulness always saves him. Yep, he really is in pain, though, because he pushed himself too hard. Oh no, this is not going to be a good start for the third day. Ohh… he goes to Danchiku and asks him to get some things for him. Even though Aoyagi is injured, he is determined to ride the next day. And he asks Danchiku not to tell anyone about this. Oh, this can’t end well, can it?

Onoda has had his gears replaced, and he’s going to test them out before the next day’s race. When it’s dark out. By himself. I’m a little worried about what could happen. As he rides, Onoda thinks over the fact that Sohoku hasn’t won any of the colored number tags this year, even though they’ve trained and worked so hard. He’s also worried about expectations: since he won the third day last year, he thinks people expect him to win the third day again this year. Onoda starts singing the Love Hime song, but is surprised to see another bike on the road in front of him. Oh, it’s Toudou! Aaand… that’s where the episode ends. Phew! At least nothing bad happened to Onoda like I had feared!

So I believe we have two episodes left for this season. Obviously, the next episode will see Onoda spending some time with Toudou, but what else will happen, who knows? I wonder if the third day of the Inter-High will start before the final episode of this season, or if we’ll have to wait for whenever the next series starts to see the third day.

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