What better way to build up the tension than starting off the episode with the howling winds of an incoming storm? This is is only the very start of the final qualifiers, and my heart can’t stop pounding, and now it hurts because I am terrified for Haiji, who looks like he’s about to run into one of the guys who had just crashed into the water table. It is so dangerous for something like that to happen, especially in wet and slippery conditions with many runners behind them. I’m praying he manages to get around the guy or jump over him— I’ve done that once before when a runner fell in front of me. I was running too fast for me and was too close to slow down and go around, so I hurdled over them. But even if Haiji were to jump, I can still see it being hard on his knee. At first when I saw the preview, I thought Haiji would be pulled to the side after getting into an accident, but after watching it a couple of more times, someone else is sitting with him, (I think it’s Shindo, I looked at everyone else’s numbers, and 504 was the only one missing), so I’m wonder if this means the qualifiers will be wrapped up by the end of the next episode.
Nevertheless, this isn’t a race where one can stop to take a break, much less can Kansei team afford to let anyone fall or lag too behind. While they only have ten members, teams are allowed to enter up to fourteen members, and then start twelve, and then they will combine the time of top ten runners to determine the team’s time. So it’s an understatement to say how much is riding on the line, and how important it is for everyone to be in tip-top condition both mentally and physically for the qualifiers. Akane was definitely feeling the nerves, he couldn’t even tie his shoelace, but Kakeru helped him calm down. (BROTP!!!) But it’s not just the team who are anxious themselves, but Haiji too, who vocalized his own fear of doubts coming to the surface. It helps that he has Kakeru to talk with, as someone who understands the sheer amount of pressure and the scale of the challenge ahead of them.
And really, Haiji has a lot of his shoulders. Although he has the retired coach as their club advisor, I actually wonder how much he has been helping Haiji. He says his joints aren’t good anymore, yet Haiji just witnessed him jump around as if he had no problem at all! So I’m going to assume he probably does give him some pointers of a sort off-screen, by at the end of the day, it’s Haiji who is giving out the instructions. As the coach said, Haiji might as well hold his own coaching lectures (I second that).
We also got a taste of development Yuki’s end. Since a reporter had featured the team in the local paper, most of boys’ parents have seen it and are excited about it. However it seems Yuki isn’t on good terms with his family, and perhaps his parents, or at least his mother isn’t happy about him participating in such event. I am curious to see if there will be any more development on that end of the spectrum should they succeed (they better!), or it’s just part of showing not everyone is celebrating about the attention being drawn to them. On that note, it was nice to see Yuki looking out for Kakeru, asking him how he felt about being filmed for broadcast. Damnit, this series has so many best boys.
Lastly, can we take a moment to appreciate Hana? I like to think of her as the eleventh member of the team, because although she isn’t running with them on the track, she has done so much as to help them. The girl is running all over the place, keeping tabs on the leader’s time of how far ahead they are from the rest of the pack. The team has come in with a game plan, with hand signals prepared to communicate directions to each other. This is why it’s so important they don’t lose track of each other. If they fall too behind, they won’t be able to get the signal unless they have another person pass on the message on their behalf, as Hana is doing right now.
Also apparently Musa is convinced she at least has a crush on one of the twins. Haha, I wonder how accurate that is though. Nonetheless, it was hysterical to see Musa giggling about it and Kakeru struggling to wrap it around his head when he considers the twins to be one and the same ahaha!