This week was probably one of the slowest episodes so far, but I am absolutely loving the set up. When Kakeru confront Haiji about how they should put off participating in the preliminary qualifiers, Haiji’s response was a powerful one. “Are only the chosen ones allowed to participate?”
I liked they way they tackled the subjects of “controlling expectations” and being “the ones not chosen”. And what better way to do it than deliver a power statement to challenge such ideology than to have Kakeru confront Haiji about how they should put off participating in the preliminary qualifiers, fearing they would get hurt/demoralize them. To that, Haiji’s response was, “Are only the chosen ones allowed to participate?”
And it doesn’t just apply to running, it applies to just about everything. Far too often, the ones who are ‘not the chosen ones’ are the ones who struggle the most, and there are many of us, and it’s frustrating and demoralizing to say the least. We saw this play out with Youhei, who has been attending job fairs, but no matter where he applies, he hasn’t been able to even pass the initial screenings. As result, we are seeing how the constant rejections are taking a toll on him. He has become more bitter, especially in regards to the team’s enthusiasm to training, and was having none of it when Haiji declared they will be forbidden from working jobs (though to be fair, even I thought was pushing it a bit far, some people need to make money Haiji…).
However despite Kakeru’s concerns and suggestion to hold it off until at least some time in May, Haiji doesn’t believe it’s worth putting it off. In his view, regardless of the outcome, they need to at least try so they know what kind of reality they are dealing with. (Note: Currently, the date is around April 11th, and Haiji wants them to participate on the 29th, giving them barely two weeks to prepare!)
Now I don’t know exactly how it works, but considering throughout the Spring and Summer, there are competition just about every week at Tokyo Sports Uni, I imagine they would probably be able to have multiple chances during that duration (of course, in the end, it’s the matter of whether or not they are in the condition, or close enough to pull it off during that time frame).
In fact, by the sound of it, it seems even though Haiji has been super optimistic about their group and their potential, even he knows that as they are right now, they will likely fail. However even if they were to fail, that doesn’t make it their cue to give up. Instead it should be used help them get a better idea of the kind of progress they need to make. In a way, this event is likely to serve as a stepping stone so they work towards making Hakone not simply a dream, but a reality they are working towards. So I wouldn’t be surprised if this event is where they were to collectively fail to qualify, but they will come back stronger perhaps later into the summer before the deadline, with the intention of making the cut. But who knows, I could be wrong, maybe a miracle really will happen? Regardless, it will be interesting to see how the group would handle failing it.
However while the majority of the group have finally committed themselves to the club (except for Yuki and Akane, who are being dragged along for the ride), that doesn’t mean everyone actually believes they can pass the preliminary qualifiers. Nico is one of those people, who simply runs because it’s the only time he feels “clean” (aka free), leaving behind all of the stuff that is weighing him down on a daily basis. But he doesn’t actually believe they will qualify, showing his skepticism of the process.
Overall slower episode, but I really liked that we are seeing more sides to all the characters. It was charming to see how Kakeru’s personal resolve is to learn how to communicate better with others, as he is actually quite a shy guy and tends to give off the wrong impression. The scene where he confronted Haiji about postponing their participating showed us he is actually a softie who doesn’t want anyone to get needlessly hurt.
Oh and one last thing: We were given a glimpse of the overall time for everyone, and the majority of the group averages around 20 minutes, Kakeru being the only one just under 15 minutes (beating the requirement of less than 16:30), followed by the twins who are just 18-20 seconds over the time. Interestingly, Haiji’s time is still not up, so I don’t think we will be seeing him compete in the meet qualifiers on the 29th.
PS: The boys are freaking hilarious when they are drunk, especially Sugiyama (who shocked everyone revealing he has a girlfriend haha!)