Right at the beginning of the episode, there was a great scene of Izumida talking with Teshima and apologizing for mocking him on the first day of the race. To be honest, it’s been so long since I saw the episodes of the first day of the Inter-High that I’d forgotten that this event had happened. So this served as a nice reminder.
But the tranquility and cooperation between Sohoku and Hakone Academy doesn’t last when the pack catches up to them. Unfortunately, Teshima is swallowed up by the pack, and it seems like all hope for him is lost. At the same time Teshima is swallowed up, Kyoto Fushimi pulls away from the pack. I had a feeling that Midousuji was going to pull a stunt like that, since we know he’s always trying to find ways to use people in order to get the result that he wants. And with the pack losing its leader, it basically falls apart. Teshima tries to get others in the pack to cooperate with him so he can try to catch back up to his team, but no one wants to help. That is, until Teshima sees a familiar yellow jersey… it turns out that Aoyagi let himself be swallowed up by the pack so he could help Teshima catch back up to their team.
Teshima has concerns, of course, since he knows that Aoyagi had injured his leg during the previous day of the Inter-High. But Aoyagi is determined to help Teshima, and the two of them use their synchronized riding to catch up with Kyoto Fushimi. But, if you hadn’t already guessed, Midousuji had a plan set up for this scenario… Yamaguchi and a second-year rider are left behind to challenge the two Sohoku riders to a two-on-two race. Basically, the winner will be whoever can get their second rider over the declared finish line first. Teshima knows he can’t say no to this challenge if he wants any kind of a chance to catch back up with the other Sohoku riders.
We get a flashback of Midousuji giving this order to Yamaguchi the previous night, and in his thoughts, we see that Yamaguchi is frustrated with all of Midousuji’s unreasonable demands of him. Even though Yamaguchi doesn’t like confrontation, he grabs Midousuji’s collar, says his piece, but then says he’ll go along with Midousuji’s phase. Obviously, we knew he was going to, since we’re in the middle of it when this flashback appears. While it was nice to see the quiet Yamaguchi trying to stand up for himself, I already knew that he had to cave in. Well, the good news for Yamaguchi is that since he’s a third-year, he’ll be graduating before long and be able to leave Midousuji behind.
But after this flashback, we see that Yamaguchi has the resolve to try to win this challenge and to see it through. Right near the end of the episode, Aoyagi uses his “superhuman” technique to help him and Teshima to catch up with Yamaguchi. But the final scene shows the audience that Midousuji is aware of Aoyagi’s injury and has factored this into his plan.
From the title of the next episode, it appears the focus will be on the two-on-two race between Kyoto Fushimi and Sohoku. And if that holds true, it’ll be another episode where we can get some more focus on Yamaguchi. I’ve been grateful for this, though, since Yamaguchi has been around since the beginning but hadn’t really been focused on much prior to this. I’m also curious to see how this two-on-two race will end up playing out.
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