End of Summer – And Beyond
Stride – A trail created by relaying trust and connecting emotions
Here we are. The end. And I gotta say, the final match was minimalistic and sentimental and cheesy as all hell but these characters make it work.
The opening scene is Riku and Takeru running through a field of sunflowers while Nana narrates about stride and sentiment. What even is this show?
Moving on, there’s over a week till the final and Honan is training. Takeru is once again assigned to be their anchor, i.e, final runner, but he pleads for Riku to be allowed to run against Tomoe instead. Riku, surprised but pleased, joins in and the rest of the team acquiesce. I guess I was right in my guess last episode. Then again, Riku running against his brother has been predictable for a while.
Anyway, everyone is pumped. Nana seems ready to face her father head on.
The match itself is kinda anti-climatic though. As the first three (Heath, Kyosuke and Hozumi) run, Riku delivers a long speech to Tomoe about all that he has experienced with the others in Honan and how he’s there because he wants to run with Tomoe and also to fulfil a promise he made. Meanwhile, we catch glimpses of Honan’s previous opponents cheering them on. Tomoe seems happy with the matured, cheery Riku.
Takeru, when it’s his turn, has his own internal monologue about how that childhood meeting with Riku and Nana gave him a goal to aspire too. He uses his feelings to fuel his run against Pinky and manages to connect with Riku, complete with a heartfelt ‘thank you’. Riku and Tomoe run and then…
It fades to white.
Next thing we see is Nana rushing to school, followed by Riku and Takeru jumping the gate in an altered version of the scene in episode 1.
We then get some nice scenes of the quirky everyday lives of Honan Stride/Shogi club members while the narration bludgeons us over the head about how they’re all friends whose journey continues on. Thankfully, we do find out from a magazine article that Honan did indeed win. Good work, Honan.
My original reaction to the fade-to-white included more curses than is appropriate here so let’s just say that I was very miffed. I wanted to see that ribbon break dammit. But I think that by that point, showing them win was less important that illustrating the bonds they’d developed with each other. PoS has never been shy about its fixation on the emotional component of the game and that’s especially true in this episode.
Speaking of, is the whole ‘previous opponent turned cheer squad’ thing a normal thing for sports anime? My experience with them is limited but it was there in Prince of Tennis as well and now Kuroko no Basket is showing signs of it. As far as tropes go, it’s one I like even if I’ll get increasingly incredulous if I pause to think about it.
Well this is it. This has been a really fun show to watch and review. It’s nothing special but all the same, it’s an interesting story with a unique premise. It’s also rather predictable at parts but that alone isn’t really a negative.
Knights of Sidonia won the mecha poll, though Heavy Object was a close second. But I’m leaving on a trip tomorrow so it’ll be a while before I can get to it.