At the end of the previous episode, it was being set up for a flashback of Sakamichi and Manami running into each other at an aquarium. This episode opens in the flashback, when Mr. Pierre has the team take a break at the sea after a race. Mr. Pierre gives aquarium tickets to Imaizumi, Naruko, and Onoda for their break. There was an amusing bit where Naruko wonders out loud what high schooler would enjoy going to the aquarium, and Onoda suddenly reacts with such excitement. And when they actually get to the aquarium, Naruko is the most excited one of all.
Onoda offers to buy drinks for the three of them, and as he does, he gets lost in thought about Mr. Pierre’s motivation for this break. He gets so lost in thought that he forgets where Imaizumi and Naruko are. Just as he panics, someone offers to let him use their phone… and it turns out to be Manami. Before the Inter-High, Sakamichi kept referencing wanting to race Manami on the second day at a certain location. It turns out the two of them had made an agreement here to have a race together on that day and at that location. It was nice to finally get the full backstory for this.
Most of the first half of the episode focuses on this flashback. Shortly before the commercial break, though, we do return to the current time and see Sakamichi and Manami talk right before their race officially gets underway… and Sakamichi pulls ahead of Manami.
After the commercial break, we see Toudou near the finish line… and that he has found Makishima. Toudou talks about how it must be fate that the two of them found each other and that it’s the climbers from their respective schools that they trained last year who are once again competing for the finish line. We get a flashback to Makishima and Toudou’s race in the previous year’s Inter-High, before we hear Makishima wondering to himself if what he did for Sakamichi last year was actually training. But the last thing he thinks are words of encouragement for Sakamichi before we return to the race. As I watched this scene, though, the thought that kept popping up in my mind was the fact that I’ve missed seeing Toudou and Makishima interacting with each other. While we did have a scene or two of this in the previous season, it’s been a few years since the previous season aired, so it’s really been a while.
At this point, there’s under two kilometers left until the finish line. We see Manami pull back ahead again before the air starts thinning out. Sakamichi has a flashback to Teshima explaining that this will happen at the finish line and what reactions a body will have during a road race because of this. We also get to see the advice that Teshima gives for how to overcome this, and when we return to the current time, Sakamichi follows those instructions. He not only catches back up to Manami, but he passes him as well.
It seems like this final stretch of the race will be extended out by interspersing flashbacks, thoughts, or scenes of other characters in order to fit the story into the remaining episodes. This thought is highly reinforced by the end of the episode, where Manami is having a flashback to Kuroda pulling him to catch back up with Hakone Academy. Right at the end of the episode, we hear Kuroda make a comment about reminiscing to the past as they ride right before the ending credits start. It appears that this is trying to do what the ending of last week’s episode did: set up for a flashback that will take up more than just a few seconds of screen time. However, this time, it’ll be a flashback within a flashback.
But, unlike last time, we have no idea what the flashback that’s being set up is going to be. At least at the end of last week’s episode, both the final scene and the title of the episode in the preview let the audience know what to expect. Here, the final scene doesn’t give any clue, and the title of the episode doesn’t really give the viewer any ideas, either. So it’s going to be interesting to see what Kuroda’s flashback is going to end up being about.
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