「いきなりのデビュー戦」 (Ikinari no Debyuu-sen)
“The Debut Race out of Nowhere”
Special Week isn’t the only thing that was super fast this week; so was my first episode post! So much so that it came out right at the gate right before I found out that Episode 02 quickly followed. Pairing the two together was a wonderful decision as the second episode helps to alleviate any of the concerns that those might’ve had for what tone the show would be going with. Rather than attaching this to the first episode (apologies for flooding the main page with double the Uma Musume), it would do justice to how this one justifies its concept by backing it up with its investment in world-building and its genuinely great cast.
Continuing where the first episode left off at, it explains the mechanics behind the races and the hierarchy of groups that Special Week’s Team Spica has to contend with. Special Week’s first race was engaging as it showed us just what her resolve meant to her in trying to wing it with the strategy of going about it her own way, and presenting it as a straight-up race. If it weren’t for the horse tails and ears, you could mistake it for being a fun track-and-field anime with shades of peppy school life antics. The idol aspect could be fleshed out a little more because it does feel the most tacked-on, but it’s also easy to understand as it could be explained as a way for a horse-girl to have versatility with mastery in athletics and showmanship. There aren’t as many prominent athletes that are good musicians, but perhaps Special Week can bridge the gap with some practice and preparation.
One aspect of Uma Musume that is great is how nice the cast has been so far. Aside from the feistier characters, everyone has been helpful or supportive to Special Week as she transitions into her new life at Tresen Academy. Tokai Teio is pumped up about showing Special Week around at school and opens up to her about her admiration about student council president Symboli Rudolf, Symboli herself wants to back up Special Week in her efforts as she takes it upon herself to help her understand the lesson in the academy’s motto, Fujikiseki is familiar with Special Week’s history and wants her to integrate into her dorm with ease, and Gold Ship is just a delight to watch. Even the Trainer isn’t as uncomfortable as he was in the first episode, and wants Special Week to understand what he means when he tells her to go with her own gut for her first race.
The most impressive turn of events is how wonderful Silence Suzuka has been. She takes to Special Week way quicker than most model students in anime who are the object of the main girl’s idolization. Special Week sees her as the ultimate star, but in sharing her room and life story with Silence Suzuka, she receives something far more fascinating with Suzuka’s admiration. Even though Suzuka could easily use her star athlete status to be above everyone, she’s so enamored with the drive that Special Week carries enough so that she goes out of her way to give her a pep talk and call her “Spe-chan” before sending her off.
What helps the second episode gain so much traction is Special Week as a character. Her quirkiness as a “fish out of water” is a lot of fun, but at the same time, we understand why she has the drive and talent she came to the academy with as her training has kept her equipped with strength, speed, and resilience. This also lends itself to her own origin story as she grew up with the idea that her foster mother’s push to instill her training onto Special Week was to carry on her birth mother’s dying wish. Some of the girls within the academy are familiar with who her late mother is, and their kindness is in part due to seeing how she wants to fulfill her mother’s legacy, but the introspection that Special Week tells Silence Suzuka of hints at an underlying wisdom behind the goofy, ditzy image that her inexperience with city life projects. Where preserving her foster mother’s dedication to living up to her birth mother’s dream gave her the drive to become the best racer in Japan, and the talent she has to back it up is as strong as ever. It’ll be neat to see where the show goes from here, and if it’ll take time to delve into the backstories of the other girls in Tresen Academy.
ED: 「Glow Up Shine!」 by The Cast of Uma Musume