MY EMOTIONS! This episode was all about the days leading up to the day of Hakone, however it was not without some bumps along the way. That dodgy reporter with nothing else better to do decided to dig up into Kakeru’s past, and write an article about the shit that went down in high school. Luckily the team’s advisor and Haiji were able to quickly address the issue to the university before it could turn into a problem. But it doesn’t stop the gossip and causing a headache for Kakeru himself. This event however shed some more light how Kakeru doesn’t have a good realtionship with his family either, something he and Yuki can relate about. Yuki even opened up about his own family conflict, and how he hasn’t seen them since he started college due to his mother remarrying to a guy he hardly knows.
But the one who has it worst is our precious boy Shindo who has come down with a horrible fever! SOMEBODY HELP THIS BOY! It is looking a lot like Shindo was catching up on much needed extra bedrest, but shit, will he be able to run?! He has to, if he drops out, they won’t be ale to do it, and my heart would break in a million pieces. I wonder if the entire team knows about Shindo’s condition, or if it’s Yuki and maybe Haiji. I can’t imagine this would be something that slips under his radar.
I’m glad we were able to get at least some insight about Haiji’s past, and more about how long he has been dealing with his injury, but darn it, aren’t they a fickle one when it comes to revealing all the details. But understandably, it’s as Kazuma said, Haiji probably hasn’t said anything about it because he feels it’s not the right time to. Musa and Kakeru however are the only ones who know about it thanks to Kazuma sharing a bit about his history and friendship with Haiji.
The appointments of the sections was quite an emotional scene for me. Haiji revealed he made this line-up with the intention of winning. He shocks everyone by revealing he has appointed Akane Section 1, the starting line. He was chosen because of the entire group, he is the one who knows how to stay grounded and calm under pressure. He doesn’t let the external influences distract him.
Musa is chosen to run Section 2, he is confident he can make up for their loss ground, but also because he has been the most considerate and encouraging member of the team. In that aspect, it really does make it a wonderful thing for him to receive the sash from Akane. Section 3 and 4 are Jota and Joji, followed up by Section 5, Shindo because that terrain is made for him. Yuki will be Section 6, thanks to his core strength and stable center of gravity when it comes to running down the slope. Section 7 and 8 are Nico and King, both who are responsible for maintaining a stable pace and keeping calm despite running alone since it’s an area where the runners start to scatter. Section 9 is Kakeru, (which circles back to Section 2), who will be able to keep tabs on Kazuma’s placement in the race. If Rikudo isn’t signed up for the first half, they will know their strategy is to wait out in the first half and attack in the second. And finally, Section 10, Haiji will be responsible for making it to the finish line.
Damn it, I already know I am going to be in tears when it comes to Haiji, especially after what we have learned about him today. Four years ago, Haiji was not the same person he is today. He didn’t believe he was strong, and thought his athletic career was over. But Kazuma truly believe Haiji had it in him to make a comeback, and wanted him to go to Rikudo with him. In fact, Haiji was supposed to have gone to Rikudo, but because his injury, he didn’t. Also important tidbit was how Haiji had this injury for at least six years now, and got it while he was in high school. And what really left an impression on me was how Haiji’s coach didn’t kick him from the team. In fact, he was the complete opposite of Kakeru’s. He told him to be patience and rest. It frustrated Haiji, but it was for the best.
But now that we know more about how Haiji was while he was coping with the injury in high school, this brings about yet another question: What compelled Haiji to search for what it means to run? What inspired him to form this kind of team at Kansei University? We saw from the flashback that he looked like he had given up. He didn’t believe he had the strength to go on. Something or someone inspired him, and I’m looking forward to finding out just what that was.
With the race kicking off, I’m hoping we will finally be able to see a bit more of other characters like King and Nico, who have been otherwise kind of left in the dust in terms of being fleshed out. I am curious to see how the pace of the race will go, since based of the preview, we will probably see Akane, Musa and Jota run in next week’s episode. This series is listed to have 23 episodes, so that means there’s five more episodes after this. Personally, I hope they don’t rush it too much because like I said last week, I would like to see the characters’ reflecting on how far they have come in the last six months.
Either way, I’m probably going to be an emotional wreck while watching this for the next few weeks.
Oh and one more thing: Kazuma is so cool, god I love him even more now. He doesn’t believe winning is everything, even if he finishes first, if he feels he lost to himself, then it’s a loss. For him, he runs because he values his goals and ideas he sets for himself than being obsessed with being the winner of the competition!