Rival – A Promise For August
When you listen to their breathing, can’t you sort of hear what they’re thinking?
As hinted in the last episode, this one explores Honan’s joint training with Saisei and the birth of an amicable rivalry.
We begin with post-exam de-stressing, followed by a cartoonish montage of some of the matches Honan won in the interim. It’s summer now and everyone is excited for End of Summer event. This whole scene illustrates wonderfully how the quirky cast of this anime play off each other in entertaining ways.
Then it’s on to the training shenanigans. Saisei has excellent (expensive) infrastructure that even tempts Takeru’s stride-obsessed heart into transferring. They start off with a practice match that Honan loses by 3 seconds (1s less than the first time they played against Saisei) and then proceeds to do some devilish training that made me sweat by just looking at it. Saisei’s team must be monsters. Seriously.
Honan is understandably awed
An apple-eating contest and table-tennis match sneak into the middle of training, probably so the audience won’t collapse from secondhand exhaustion.
Nana gets some solid advice from Shizuma, Saisei’s Relationer. The idea of interpreting thoughts through a runner’s breathing sounds pretty preposterous but Nana seems to get it so I guess I’ll just consider it stride-logic. Shizuma follows it up by mentioning ‘nestling close to feelings’ so yeah, definitely stride-logic.
Honan’s like me after too many crunches
Following training, there’s a barbeque and fireworks at the beach – does that count as a beach episode? Nah, probably not. Plus they’re all fully clothed for most of it so the point is moot anyway.
They all part on friendly terms but with outspoken determination to beat the other team at End of Summer. In addition to the general team rivalry, there seems to be some sort of pair-bonding going on as well since each Honan member has a Saisei member they’re attached to and vice-versa. It’s a refreshing kind of rivalry. There’s virtually no vitriol, just smiles and competitiveness.
Bonding through self-inflicted tortu-uh, training
I have to admit that Takeru’s thing for legs is starting to become one of my favourite running gags of all time. Sure, it’s kinda creepy when you think about it but there’s something superbly amusing about a stoic character losing his shit over random people’s muscles and gushing over it with that deadpan expression firmly in place.
I like PoS’s humor in general. It’s great light-hearted fun.
I smell more drama
A notable aspect of this episode was Takeru recalling glimpses of both Nana and Riku as children while they’re lighting fireworks. It’s loudly implied that he’s remembering a similar scene from their childhood but it’s also clear that neither Nana nor Riku remember anything of it. Even Takeru’s declaration to Reiji (Saisei’s captain) that he must win is accompanied by a meaningful glance at Riku and Nana. Clearly, there’s something going on here and I’m curious to know what it is.