Although she’s still going to be racing, Rin finds out that she has to use a regulation Rideback for the competition, so it can’t be the Fuego. She’s given a model called the Balon, but Rin has trouble with it because it handles differently than what she’s used to. Before the race begins, Tamayo is interviewed and asked about her father cheering her on, but she claims that he has nothing to do with this. It turns out that her father is a powerful figure in the government, and her older brother is an elite bureaucrat in the police. In fact, at that moment, her brother Ryuunosuke is meeting with the newly arrived commander of the GGP peace-keeping force, Romanov Kallenbach, about the military use of Ridebacks. In any case, Tamayo and Rin first have to take part in the qualifying race, and Rin continues to not perform as well as she did on the Fuego. Whereas Tamayo finishes first, Rin only gets 17th place, and Hishida decides to unplug the Balon’s ACS riding assist device for the actual race after studying the Fuego’s data.
Tamayo takes the lead right from the get-go, followed by the Cobra brothers, and Rin is at the end of the pack. Rin, however, slowly starts to move her way up the standings by passing other racers, and she’s soon in the top 10. Near the end of the race, Tamayo gets attacked by one of the Cobra brothers so that the other can get ahead of her, but she manages to keep up and eventually retakes the lead. By this point, Rin is fourth, but right as she tries to pass the person who’s third, the Balon’s engine gives out. Rin thus can’t finish the race, and Tamayo ends up winning. That night, while everyone else is celebrating, Rin goes out for a ride with the Fuego. When Okakura finds her by the waterfront, she apologizes for the Balon, but he doesn’t blame her. He does, however, ask her why she decided to make that jump back when she first rode the Fuego, and Rin’s answer is that although she was confused, she trusted the Fuego. She then rides off on her own and makes another jump with the Fuego.
Note: I know I’m behind on this series, and I’m trying to catch up when I can. I haven’t given up on it. Also, please use spoiler tags if you’re going to talk about episode four or five. I haven’t watched further than this episode yet.
That was a good race, but I’m a little disappointed Rin couldn’t make a comeback at the end. If I were to put this in sports anime terms, I’d say that it’s understandable that she can’t reach the top so easily or else she’d have nothing to shoot for, but it’s not clear to me in this case that Rin actually cares about being the best Rideback racer. Instead, what seems important to her is her kinship with the Fuego, and I feel like the final sequence this episode (which incidentally was a very pretty scene) was akin to her making up with the Fuego for straying with another Rideback. I say that last part half in jest because it seems that Ridebacks are being portrayed somewhere between loyal pets and boyfriends.
More importantly perhaps is the fact that the political/military side of things is getting more screen time, and I get the feeling that Rin will eventually have to face off against military Ridebacks and/or this Romanov guy. The preview seems to hint that something (perhaps terrorism) will happen at the university, and Rin and Shouko will get caught up in it, so next episode looks pretty exciting.