Be honest – did you ever see the day coming when Midousuji wouldn’t be the creepiest guy on Kyoto Fushimi?
I have to say, something has felt a bit off about this whole buildup to the inter-high for Sohoku. I loved the Sugimoto arc but hated how it turned out, and now the whole Koga thing has me rather stumped. It starts off with a character dropping basically out of nowhere into the spotlight, and (seemingly) ends with some uncertainty about what the whole point of his arrival was. In Watanabe-sensei I trust – and he’s given me good reason. But at the moment color me just a bit perplexed.
For me, no matter how hard I try, it’s impossible to see how Sohoku is better off without Koga being a member of the Inter-high squad. He has more race experience than the others, and he’s a physically intimidating presence the team is sorely lacking. And it’s also an unavoidable conclusion for me that he deserves to be on the squad. He gave his body up for the team as a first-year when no one else stepped up, and worked behind the scenes for two years waiting for his chance at redemption. How, exactly, does a first-year race he wasn’t involved in and an artificial training camp sprint justify keeping him off the team?
Well, be that as it may, it looks like Koga is going to fall into the behind the scenes mentor role (and I suppose he can fix the bikes when they break down), so whatever (was it just me that didn’t hear 100% jest in his “get injured so I can take your place” line?). Meanwhile Chimera-kun and his sidekick Handsy have made a surprise appearance at the training camp. They’re obviously here to scout Sohoku, which is interesting for a couple of reasons. First off, that’s about as close to a compliment as you’ll get from Midousuji if you ask me – he’s worried enough about Sohoku to spy on them. And it also shows that Komari has become a confidante of his – and that’s obviously an extremely rare thing.
Midousuji respects freakiness in others, I suppose, and Komari-kun is certainly doing his best to be a match for him in that department. I was going to call the scene where he trolled Onoda and then felt him up “unintentionally funny”, but in hindsight I think it was quite intentionally funny. Not just the whole bit where Onoda took him for a Sohoku first-year and tried to use “Makishima conversation skills” to be a good sempai (which was hilarious). but the aftermath too – that was dark comedy for sure, especially Onoda’s facial reactions. Thank goodness Koga-sempai showed up when he did, because that was some serious stranger danger going on there.
The makeup of this Sohoku team continues to evolve, that’s for sure. Naruko seems intent on keeping his promise (to Midousuji) to stop sprinting and become an all-arounder, But he’s serious about it – maybe even setting his sights on the ace role. And even as the team loses one sprinter it seems to be gaining another, as Koga’s experienced eye has pegged Kaburagi is a sprinter type. There’s are some good sight gags surrounding this transition, and I’m inclined to support Koga’s notion that Kaburagi is an idiot rather than a genius – but at least the equilibrium of one red-headed sprinter on the squad is going to be maintained.
Meanwhile, we get our first look-in for quite a while on Makishima, who’s making quite an impression on his limey teammates. I desperately miss the interaction between Onoda and Maki-chan (even Onoda’s internal monologues about Makishima are pretty heartwarming) so the notion that Maki might come back for the Inter-high is certainly welcome news. If I were a betting man I’d speculate that this time around it might be Midousuji joining Onoda and Manami-kun on that final climb – but since I’ve been wrong on just about every speculation this season, you should probably assume that isn’t going to happen…