It’s the team’s first official meet, and non-runners aren’t the only ones who have to face reality. Midway through the race, Kakeru decides to shoot for first place, and he almost pulls it off… at least, that’s how it initially appeared. But in the final few laps, the two best runners show that they have yet another gear to tap into. As a result, Kakeru soon learns that he’s just not on their level. Not remotely. What’s interesting is that this realization really, really ticks him off, and this pretty much ties a bow around Kakeru’s not-so-good day.
Everything else is pretty much what we expected. Other than Kakeru, Haiji is the only other person on the team to record a decent time. The other guys tried their best, but they’re obviously not ready. Hell, the Prince did so badly that the officials tried to get him to stop running. But we knew this. We knew this would happen. Haiji didn’t drag his boys to a track meet, because he thought they could win. He dragged them here so that they could gain invaluable experience. You have to know what it feels like to compete. You have to know what it feels like to run against people who aren’t your friends — people who will elbow you and jostle for position. You also have to see for yourself what it takes in order to win. Focus, determination, blah blah blah. All those sports-related platitudes aren’t just for show. They might be cliches, but at the end of the day, they still hold true. And right now, the harsh truth is that the team’s got no focus at all.
The twins are busy snapping selfies of themselves in their running uniform. The Prince dives right into a manga as soon as he gets to the track meet. Everyone else keeps going on and on about Fujioka, the track superstar. Even before the race begins, Kakeru has already convinced himself to be ticked off. He never thought they could succeed in the first place, and watching his teammates goof off just confirms it in his mind that this group is not even close to achieving Haiji’s wildest dreams. But is Kakeru truly being fair to his teammates? Or is he just taking his anger out on them because he fell woefully short?
I thought it was interesting how mad Kakeru got just because he finished third. Both Fujioka and Manas go to schools with superior training programs, so it would be reasonable to assume that those two probably train harder than Kakeru, too. So isn’t it expected that they would win? Kakeru tried to find an extra gear during the race, but he should know that 90% of success lies within the preparation. I didn’t even think he did badly. He’s just not at their level… yet. In that sense, he and his teammates are not so different after all. When we look back at the previous six episodes, can we truly say that Kakeru has been pushing himself as hard as he could? I would have to say no. So I think his anger is two-fold: watching his distracted teammates already put Kakeru in a bad mood, but getting schooled by the top two runners also made him realize that he’s guilty of the same mistakes as his teammates. But at the moment, I don’t think Kakeru is mature enough to look inward and reflect on his own shortcomings. That’s why I think he’s lashing out at everyone.