The beginning of Episode Nine backtracks slightly to Teshima and Ashikiba agreeing to race each other, and then the episode launches into a flashback of how Teshima and Ashikiba became friends and raced together in middle school. The vast majority of this episode focuses on the flashback, and it’s not until right near the end that it returns to the present time and shows the race between Teshima and Ashikiba.

I was actually quite happy to get such a long flashback in this week’s episode, because it really helped to develop both Teshima and Ashikiba as characters. Not only that, it helps the viewer to better understand why these two characters have acted the way they have toward each other up to this point.

The flashback begins with Ashikiba transferring into Teshima’s class in the fifth grade (hence, the title of the episode). I liked seeing the two of them at this young of an age, as well as getting to learn about Ashikiba and his love of music, since it helps to explain why he hears classical pieces in his head when he gets fired up in races. Usually, the flashbacks in Yowamushi Pedal up to this point have focused on the characters in middle school or in the very early years of high school. I think the only other flashback we’ve gotten in the series that has included a character as an elementary student was Midousuji’s. After seeing this episode, though, I have to admit that the elementary school aged Teshima and Ashikiba were quite adorable.

However, the majority of the flashback focuses on the two of them in middle school and being part of their school’s bicycle racing club. This portion of the flashback, especially what happens right at the end of it, provides important emotional beats that explain these characters’ motivations. From what’s said during the final emotional beat of the flashback, though, I suspect I can already guess who’s ultimately going to win in the current race between Teshima and Ashikiba.

With all of this flashback to set up the race between Teshima and Ashikiba, I feel confident in saying that at least part of the next episode, if not all of it, will be focusing on these two characters and their race. I’m curious to see how this is resolved to determine if my guess about the ultimate winner of it is correct.

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