「あなたの為に」 (Anata no Tame ni)
Well, not anything, if you have a long-term goal, the most meaningful motivation behind it might not be to make a friend proud or do your friend justice. That’s something that Special Week learns as she loses the latest derby with Silence Suzuka in mind. She was so focused on winning the same race Suzuka did, making Suzuka proud by following her footsteps, and emulating Suzuka’s success that she didn’t bother to find the true motivation behind why she raced in the first place. Spe-chan was there for her mom, but Suzuka’s recent injury made her focus too much on the idea of arriving as Suzuka in spirit that she didn’t bring her A-game to the race, and that really made Grass Wonder angry. It took the trainer’s words to realize this, but the effort she did to match Suzuka didn’t do her racing abilities justice when her clouded thoughts dwelled deeper on her friend’s recovery and legacy than trusting her own abilities.
Speaking of Grass Wonder, she turned out to be an interesting character in this episode as we see from her perspective frequently this time around. Since she was in Suzuka’s shoes earlier in the series with her injured leg, this was the first time in a while that she was able to channel all of her energy and determination into winning. Most of all, because of her point-of-view as a formerly injured horse, she brought her A-game to challenge Spe-chan to use all of her effort as well. Grass Wonder is fascinating in that she was deliberately provoking Spe-chan by trying to encourage her to race at her best, and then call her out for not even giving her best when she got second place by a long shot. Because Grass Wonder spent all of this time injured, her reaction to Spe-chan losing felt like a slap to the face when this is what she was greeted to after getting back in top shape following her Tokyo Derby loss. While many of the girls in the series have been supportive and understanding, Grass Wonder is the first rival that aimed to antagonize Spe-chan to get her to do better.
Suzuka’s recovery is another plot point in the episode where we see her rehabilitation coming along smoothly. By the time the episode ends, she has the ability to go on a jog to train with the other girls, but we see the long and steady process it does take for her to regain the ability to walk normally without a wheel chair. Between takes of her trying to walk with support and the cast being replaced with therapeutic pads, there’s no expense spared in showing the lengths it takes for Suzuka to get to the point where she could even stand on her own two feet again. It is far different from the horrid fate that often meets injured horses, but it’s nice that they didn’t make horse girl injuries as true to reality as the other allusions the show does to real-life horse racing, and that Suzuka’s injury didn’t end up being a death sentence. For now though, Spe-chan needs to find a way to allow Suzuka to heal while also getting her groove back by remembering the motivation her mother gives her to be there, racing and winning against the best.