「天高く, ウマ娘燃ゆる秋」 (Ten Tataku, Uma Musume Moyuru Aki)
“Autumn Skies and Horse Girls”
It was sad to hear the bad news about Special Week, whose real life horse passed away April 27th. While his horse-girl variant won a tie with Condor El Pasa last week, he was battling an injury he sustained from grazing, and passed away after 22 years of time on earth. His passing is bittersweet in that he left us much more quickly than the 25 – 30 lifespan of an average horse, and yet he was able to live to have been around during his thrust into the spotlight with the exposure Uma Musume gave to his legacy. The labor of love the series puts into the horses it covers is fascinating as well with the amount of dedication the show gives to depicting the horse-girls accurately with their real life counterparts in a way that pays tribute to them. It gave viewers who otherwise never knew much about horse-racing to get invested in learning more about it, and checking out Special Week’s races to see how the main character of the show performed in real life. Rest easy, Special Week.
As for the anime version, Spe-chan’s success in tying with a racing expert on a national stage has inspired Silence Suzuka to take herself to the next level. There has been some ominous hints that allude to Suzuka going away soon, but she is more upfront with her teammates and Spe-chan about the prospect of taking her talents overseas. Suzuka’s story is interesting as it is the first time we’ve seen a lot of development on her end, and rather than wanting to travel around like El Condor Pasa or some of the other horses from overseas, Suzuka wants to outright move overseas to compete on an international circuit. Knowing that Suzuka’s journey ended in real life even sooner than Special Week makes me worried about what the show might do to throw obstacles in her way, and time will only tell if they take her out of the picture or if they’ll capture Suzuka’s dream of competing in international derbies.
There is also some development for Hana, who is starting to feel the influence of Team Spica creep up on her as she tries to get her team to remain composed and continue winning races. She’s got a full roster of champions, but with Special Week and Silence Suzuka giving her a hard time, she’s having a hard time dealing with loss. Grass Wonder’s defeat was the hardest on her as she was strict about Wonder pushing herself when she just started recovering from an injury. Even if Grass Wonder is in the worst emotional state by the end of the race as she was out of commission for the longest time only to lose again, Hana put all of her negativity and harsh criticism aside to try to comfort her after her defeat.
Despite the rough time Hana’s been having in this episode, she did have a slightly easier moment when she shared drinks with the Trainer for Spica. They are rivals willing to revel in defeating one another, yet there is a little romantic tension as well with Hana finding herself caught off-guard with the Trainer offering her a drink and taking a long pause when asking her for a favor. Their rivalry has offered up some friendly competition among the two teams, but it would be interesting to find out if love eventually blooms between the two, and if we’ll get to the end of the show with an official pairing of the trainers. It wasn’t all about contemplating the future, however, as Spe-chan’s tie paved the way for Spica to have a victory training session on the beach and enjoy their time at the school festival. There’s some fun to be had with all the school festival staples being available for the girl’s enjoyment with butler cafes, fortune telling, food stalls, and eating contests where we learn about Oguri Cup’s love of donuts. It’s cute material, but also gives us food for thought on what the next steps for Silence Suzuka and Hana’s futures will be like.