Without a doubt, there are plenty of reasons to feel optimistic about Yowameda’s future as an anime. It’s sold quite well (it will likely average about 6000 units per disc volume), and sales of the new manga volumes have roughly tripled since the anime began. It’s very successful in terms of merchandising, and recently topped the Entermix poll of “Male’s manga that are popular with females” (Hoozuki no Reitetsu came second among ongoing series, Shingeki no Kyoujin third). By just about any objective standard one might apply, it looks like a winner commercially.
That said, there are no guarantees (and no announcements as yet). And there are a lot of interesting uncertainties about the story, many of which (anime-wise at least) seem contingent on whether the series continues or not. We have only seven episodes left and we’ve just completed day one of the inter-high – certainly, the anime can’t steamroll through more than one more day of competition. Especially with Onoda and Imaizumi thus far having had no opportunity to compete for their own glory, can things really just end after the second day?
The issue of Imaizumi and Onoda (and of course Manami as well – and the so-far odd-man out for Hakogaku, Shinkai) would be an interesting one even if we knew the anime was running indefinitely. This is a team competition, and each of them has a job to do that theoretically ties their hands in terms of fighting a battle to win (that’s the sad fate of domestiques). Only Naruko has had an opportunity, and that’s because the team had nothing to lose by letting he and Tadokoro duke it out with Abs (and indeed, there are hints that Naruko may play an even more important role now, but we’ll get to that). The manga can play the long game in a way the anime can’t, obviously, but even there it would be breaking some rules to have the inter-high end with that as the status quo.
For now, there are only three racers that matter – Kinjou, Fukutomi and Midousuji. The latter plays the role of party-crasher here, blowing past the other Hakogaku and Sohoku riders and catching the lieutenants with a few hundred meters remaining. It’s all according to the freak’s plan – rather than win easily (which he’s certain he could do) Midousuji has been saving himself to storm to the lead as late as possible for maximum effect (both dramatic and strategic). He blows by Yowai-zumi and Arakita with ease (not before getting a few more taunts in, of course) and continues his plan to catch the aces at the 150-meter mark, and finish them off in the final 50.
It’s very clear that Midousuji is no paper tiger – he has serious teeth. He’s good (Onoda-kun certainly knows this) but he’s also arrogant, and unsurprisingly he underestimates the two third-year team leaders. They’re genuinely surprised that someone has broken in on their private dance, but answer every move the freak makes and the three cyclists battle all the way to the line. A three-way tie? Well, that’s pretty strong dramatic license there – with times being measured in hundredths of seconds it’s almost impossible such a thing could happen in real life. But then, narratively speaking it’s really too early for any of these three to establish dominance over the others.
The fun doesn’t stop there, though, as we get an extended look-in at the post-race festivities. It’s great to see humorous interaction between the first and third-years again, and Toudou certainly throws his hat into the ring – demanding Maki-chan join him on-stage as he receives his red number badge (no polka-dot jersey?), which Makishima wisely declines to do, then taking Onoda’s hand and telling him he has nice eyes. But there’s serious business here, too – the first-years are clearly exhausted (Onoda and Naruka can barely stand, and Imaizumi doesn’t even try – though it’s as much his depression over getting pwned by Midousuji again as weariness). But it’s Tadokoro who’s having real problems, though he manages to hide them from everyone before confiding in Makishima. Is it flu, or just exhaustion that caused him to upchuck everything in his stomach? In any event he obviously looks like he’s going to be at less than full-strength heading into the second day – one which he’s promised the grommets is going to be even more fiercely competitive and exhausting than the first.