High Touch – For You, Who Gave Me The Smile
We’re here now, doing Stride together
This is pretty much a perfect penultimate episode. The majority of the lot threads are neatly tied up, leaving behind only the one that’s been a lingering presence throughout the series. It seems like Prince of Stride is heading to a nice little finale.
We begin with Nana, Riku and Takeru at Honan. Once again, Takeru recalls the three of them as children and even implies (and later confirms) that winning End of Summer was a promise they made back then.
The next day, it’s time for the semi-final match with Saisei whom they’ve never beaten before. Regardless, both teams are determined to give it their all. The match-ups are the pairs from before. Bantaro and Hozumi are as friendly as always, Kaede wants to earn the right to be Kyosuke’s biggest rival, Heath and Tasuku engage in passive aggressive banter, Riku and Asuma are just straight up friends, and Reiji and Takeru have their usual quiet rivalry. The dynamics are familiar and nice.
It’s pretty much guaranteed that Honan will win this match and that’s exactly what happens but all the same, it’s extremely fun to watch them race neck-to-neck. Stride is great to watch, even if this particular match didn’t have as much tension as it could have.
Notable events are Riku pushing his stamina to its limits and Takeru using their childhood promise as motivation to pull off a victory over Reiji. It turns out that Riku, Nana and Takeru participated in the End of Summer pre-party when they were kids. Though Takeru wasn’t as good a runner them, Riku kept him going. That explains why Takeru had such unwavering faith in Riku throughout their time in Honan. Later, they promise to win End of Summer in high school.
Takeru has always remembered but it seems like the recent match jolted the other two’s memories as well since they apologize to Takeru for forgetting him and renews their promise. Next up, it’s the finals against Kakyoin.
Holy shit, this episode is saccharine sweet.
That’s not a bad thing per se but some scenes may come across as cheesy. Oddly enough, this show makes it work.
And we finally get to know how Takeru knew the other two. It’s one hell of a coincidence that they chose the same high school despite Riku and Nana forgetting but they both seem to have other reasons for fixating on Honan. I’m impressed by how Takeru worked so hard for a childhood promise – do things like this actually happen in life? – and held fast to it despite the other two’s obvious obliviousness. Determinator, much?
At the end, Riku expresses his resolve to stop running away from his brother. He’s just in time too. I wonder if he’ll run against Tomoe in the finals.