The beginning of this episode finishes off the flashback that Kinjou had during the previous episode as he was sharing what Sakamichi had gone through since the last Inter-High with Arakita. After hearing the whole story and better understanding Sakamichi’s motivations for his actions, Arakita realizes that perhaps Sakamichi has what it takes to win after all.

We then return to the race to the finish line between Sakamichi and Manami, where Manami is still in the lead with a significant gap. Manami thinks about Toudou and wonders what he would think if he could see the race, and Manami is surprised to see Toudou in the crowd. Toudou gives Manami some brief words of encouragement and Manami continues on his way.

Makashima is also watching from the sidelines, and Sakamichi is surprised to see him. Makashima suddenly starts running to the barrier, and calls out his words of encouragement to Sakamichi… which is exactly the same thing as something Makashima said to him earlier in the series. I thought this was a nice touch, because it makes for a nice tie back to earlier in the series. But this encounter and the memories of racing with Makashima gives Sakamichi the motivation he needs. Sakamichi catches back up, and he and Manami start jockeying for a position at the front.

Once it gets down to around the last 200 meters left in the race, both Manami and Sakamichi go all out. The way this last bit of the episode plays out, the viewer can feel the tension and the anticipation of these two riders as they aim to reach their goal: the finish line. Narration right at the end of the episode says the two raced and one of them crossed the finish line first… but it’s not said which one of the characters won. And this makes sense, since this is the cliffhanger that will make the audience want to come back and watch the final episode of the season.

Wow, this episode was quite intense. First, the intensity came from the emotions brought about by both Manami and Sakamichi seeing their mentors as they got closer to the finish line. And then, the way the episode cut between the racers and the crowd cheering at the finish line really ratcheted up the intensity level. Considering the title of the episode is, “Their Last Sprint,” I knew that they would have to be reaching the finish line at the end of it. But I also knew that there was no way we would know the winner of the race by the end of this episode.

The final episode will likely backtrack to Sakamichi and Manami’s last few meters of the race and allow the audience to see exactly what happens as they reach the finish line. After that, the remainder of the episode should be a “cooling down,” which allows both the characters and the audience to catch their breath after how intense this last stretch of the race ended up being. I’m looking forward to watching the final episode in order to find out which character won the Inter-High.

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