The episode opens with a slight recap of what happened at the end of Episode 12, establishing that Imaizumi and Sakamichi are in the lead and trying to stay there, and that Yuto has dropped back to help Kuroda fend off Midousuji and Kishigami after Manami is sent ahead.
Midousuji keeps trying to taunt Yuto, but Yuto starts out successfully rebuffing him and getting ahead. But Midousuji catches up each time. In the midst of this, Kuroda asks Yuto why he fell back instead of moving ahead to try to keep Sohoku in check. Through what he says, Yuto makes it clear that he finally understands his limits (that he doesn’t have the energy to put in a serious fight to the finish line) and that he has come to better understand what it means to be a team player. So we see another first-year in this Inter-High finally becoming a little more humble during the third day of the race. Kuroda goes ahead to catch up with Minami, and Yuto decides to use what energy he has left to try to keep Midousuji from getting ahead and catching up with Kuroda and Manami.
Even though Yuto’s lost a lot of energy and it seems like he may be about to give up, he remembers a conversation he had with a couple of upperclassmen, and the dialogue ended with: “Don’t give up.” Remembering this gives Yuto the inspiration he needs to keep going. Yuto’s new desire to fight awakens Kishigami out of this slump, and he’s suddenly obsessed with wanting to touch Yuto’s muscles. When it seemed like Yuto was going to give up, Kishigami wasn’t interested. But seeing the worn-out Yuto finding a new drive to keep going, Kishigami starts talking excitedly about how this positively affects the muscles and now he wants to touch Yuto. Kishigami declares he’s going to stay back to try to accomplish this, and we see Yuto trying to dodge Kishigami. The impassioned explanation that Kishigami was giving about muscles, though, was written and delivered in such a way that it realistically came across like an otaku excitedly explaining his interest. But in Kishigami’s case, it wasn’t just excitement… it was also obsession.
Midousuji moves forward on his own, and we get to hear his thoughts. He knew Kishigami would be dropping out by the end of the race, but he hadn’t expected him to get distracted like this at this point. But then Midousuji shrugs it off, because he’s of the mindset that the only people who are able to move ahead in the race at this point are those who are seriously determined to win and won’t be distracted by other things. Near the end of the episode, Midousuji begins riding more recklessly, but it’s pointed out that what’s he doing will shave off time. So it’s being established that he’s trying to catch up with the riders farther up.
The episode ends with Kuroda catching up with Manami, and Naruko riding right behind them. Naruko shows off his improved skill for climbing as he challenges Manami to a race, and Manami decides to accept. From the title of the next episode, it’s safe to say that it’s going to focus on the race between Naruko and Manami. But the big question is going to be: Will Midousuji catch up to them in the next episode and disrupt their race?
It was interesting to note just how late in the episode that the commercial break eyecatch appeared. When it showed up, I was like, “We’re only halfway through the episode? I swear it feels like it’s been longer than that.” When the story continued, there was at best maybe two or three minutes remaining before the ending credits started. I think it was a case of that there wasn’t a good spot to place the break in the middle of the storyline with Yuto, Midousuji, and Kishigami, so they had to put it in the spot in between their storyline and the storyline of Kuroda, Manami, and Naruko. The episode only included just enough of Kuroda, Manami, and Naruko to establish the setup for the next episode, though, so that’s why the segment after the eyecatch was so short.
I’m looking forward to seeing the race between Manami and Naruko and what transpires. As the racers are getting closer to the finish line, the episodes are getting more exciting. As a viewer, and I can feel the tension increasing with each episode.
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