「再び – ただあなただけあなたに」 (Futatabi – tada anata dake anata ni)
“Again – Just You, Only You”
Prince of Stride wisely decided to slow down the pace this week, resulting in the series’ the strongest episode yet.
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve attributed all of Prince of Stride Alternative’s issues to an overzealous pace—crucial story elements and character development were being hastily addressed, leaving for a show that just lacked substantial emotional investment. Though the characters were distinctive and fun, they didn’t have a whole lot of depth, for the show failed to exploore their motivations and past demons. This week’s episode took time to flesh out the team history, dynamic, as well as significance of the sport.
We finally get to learn why Honan’s Stride Club is a shadow of its former glory. This further developed Heath into an individual weighed down by the struggles of his past, but who nevertheless trucks along—fueled by his passion for the sport, and his faith in the club’s revival. We get a sense for how truly strong-willed and determined our captain is, a guy who’s forced to carry the burdens of the club’s downfall and infamy. I wish that his character arc was more explicitly laid out—maybe provide some scenes during the club’s heyday where he’s maybe a bit naïve or insecure about something, so that his growth since then would be more clear.
The development provided, though, was great enough. We got the sense that he’s too mired and haunted by past event to be progressive and recruit Kuga again. Throughout the show, we got many glimpses of him alone in the club room, remorsefully staring at the club lockers. Clearly this was a guy stuck in the past. With the help of the first-years, however, Heath has finally realized that the club’s revival will not come by treading on the past, but instead by looking tofuture opportunities to gro—which starts by asking Kuga to come back.
Speaking of Kuga, he turns out to be far more likable character than I initially anticipated. In previous brief glimpses we got of the guy, he seemed somewhat bland and cocky of a character—just like a generic cool guy. While we have yet to receive an in-depth look at his character (something I expect will come in subsequent installments), he seems equal-parts competent, mature, and selfless. Especially when hearing how he took the fall for the petulant cruelty of his senpai, as well how he recognizes the necessity of Kadowaki’s blessing in order to fill his role—he’s nothing but likable. I look forward to getting to know him as the series progresses.
Another highlight this week came in the form of Kohinata’s development. We’ve never seen him even close to being as ticked off as he was this episode. Just like his captain, Kohinata was also unwilling to give up the past, to the point of hopelessly believing in Kadowaki’s ability to come back. His appreciation of his green-haired classmate’s efforts in rebuilding their club—in his captain’s conviction to stick with it—did good for his character. He’s kind of justified in feeling upset about Kuga coming to replace someone who stuck around during the club’s lowest moments—for all he was concerned, Kuga didn’t deserve a spot on the team. I also appreciate how his relationship with Kadowaki is further emphasized.
Just like his captain, though, Kohinata had to learn to let go of the past and accept the natural progression of time, thanks to his kouhai. The first-years, then, comes to represent the hope of the club, and the arrival of the future, seeing as how they catalyze pivotal points in the plot this week. Thus, the club’s dynamic as a fleshed-out team—as a unit—is complete. Each member is important to the personal developments of others. I’m excited, now, to see how the series will progress from here. High marks for taking the time to flesh out the main cast—something I was worried would be remiss.