The episode opens with Miyahara (Manami’s friend and class rep) having a reunion with Sakamichi’s mother near the finish line. It was kind of funny how Sakamichi’s mother was trying to play matchmaker for Miyahara and Manami. We also get some humor when Miyahara teaches Sakamichi’s mother how to use the camera on her smart phone, because she had never realized her phone had a camera. However, the scene gets a little more serious when Sakamichi’s mother talks about how she’s glad to see her son has gotten stronger since he was a child, but is also a little sad that he’s starting to drift away from her. This even includes a flashback with a little Sakamichi, which is something I don’t think we’ve really seen before in the series.
After this, most of the episode sees Miyahara having a flashback to last year’s inter high and being around Manami after his loss. Even though we see this through Miyahara’s point of view, it still shows just how much Manami was struggling with that loss. We’d only seen hints of his reaction to it, but this flashback really fleshes out what Manami was like between the loss at the Inter-High and the start of this year’s race. You really had to feel for Miyahara during this flashback, because she obviously cares about Manami but has no idea what to say or what to do to try to help him. She gets some surprising insight from Toudou, and it was rewarding to see his insight into Manami bear fruit by the end of the flashback.
This episode focused so much on Miyahara’s flashback that we only ever saw the race in current time during two scenes. The first was a very brief scene that was basically one of the final scenes from the previous episode. The second scene is when Manami and Sakamichi are heading toward where Miyahara and Sakamichi’s mother are. Miyahara realizes that the crowd is louder than last year, and she’s afraid that Manami won’t be able to see or hear her. But after she thinks to herself that it doesn’t matter if he does, she cheers for him… and the audience can tell that Manami picked out her voice from the crowd.
At this point in the race, Manami is ahead. When Sakamichi follows behind, his mother calls out to him. Like last year, he think he hears her voice, replies in the affirmative, and then pedals harder on his bike to catch up to Manami. It was a nice touch that after Sakamichi thinks he heard he mother’s voice, he has a flashback to the same incident that his mother had earlier in the episode and he expresses how he’s gotten stronger since then.
Even though most of this episode consisted of a flashback, it wasn’t there to kill time. This flashback truly fleshed out Manami and what happened to him since he lost the previous year’s race. I really felt for Manami as I watched the flashback, because of how he had taken on such a burden of being the final racer for a school like Hakone and losing the race. That’s not an easy burden for anyone to bear, and even someone as carefree as Manami is going to be affected.
When the title for the next episode appeared on the screen, it was surprising to see that it was “Kinjou’s Final Job.” We know Kinjou is in the crowd at the finish line, so this seems to indicate that he’s going to be doing something at that point. This also means that the title seems to be indicating that Manami and Sakamichi will be reaching the finish line at some point in it. They probably won’t reach it until the end of the episode, but that event is looking likely. If that’s the case, then it seems like Yowamushi Pedal: Limit Break could end with Episode 24. I’m very curious to see what exactly happens next week.
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