「スピカの夢」 (Spica no Yume)
“Dreams of Spica”
The direction that the Trainer’s development goes through has been impressive as his character’s trajectory has shifted away from the laid-back demeanor that got Team Spica too enveloped in their comfort zone. It was bound to happen sooner or later since the girls couldn’t just continue coasting off of the casual “anything goes” training regimen with the amount of losses they’ve racked up lately, but it’s a pleasant surprise to see the Trainer take his role far more seriously now that the stakes have been raised with Silence Suzuka’s injury. Since then, he’s dealt with having her injury weigh down on him as a failure to ensure Suzuka had better control of her strength, and needing to rein in Special Week after she lost matches with her head in the clouds and her focus being entirely on Suzuka instead of her opponents. Spe-chan and Suzuka needed to hear the Trainer tell them directly to form a clear-cut rivalry and challenge the girls to face each other in a friendly competition as it helps to condition them to take their own abilities into account when aiming for their self-improvement. Most of Team Spica has been comfortable on the sidelines, but to truly enhance their own efforts and match the caliber of talent that Spica’s most skilled runners, they needed to challenge one another and build a more solid rivalry to push each other to excel at their abilities that made them want to be athletes in the first place.
This episode was also what marked a larger shift in Spe-chan’s attitude as she hadn’t quite gotten the hang of the Trainer’s advice at the end of the last ep until now. While she had food for thought when he told her to rethink why she wanted to be the best runner this whole time, she had still gave an excessive amount of her attention to Suzuka now that she’s well enough to start running again. For a majority of this episode, she was lethargic, distracted, and overly concerned about Suzuka’s well-being despite knowing that she needed to prioritize her own strengths before living underneath her best friend’s shadow. As soon as the Trainer chewed her out for trying to help Suzuka instead of race past her, it set something off in both Spe-chan and Suzuka. For Spe-chan, her greatest enemy has been her compassion and idolization for her friends clouding her trust in her own abilities, and placing others before herself, but the Trainer had brought everything back into perspective, where for Suzuka to get the motivation to be in full shape, Spe-chan needed to race past her and position herself as her rival. That way, rather than setting the both of them back, Spe-chan utilizing her strengths to their fullest would give those around her incentive to feel proud to race against her and act as a sign of respect towards herself and her competitors.
For Suzuka, being told to get back up and push against the fear that holds her back was also something she needed to hear. It was definitely understandable to see why Suzuka had felt the complete opposite of how she did before with the fear of another injury setting her back from wanting to get back to racing. While the Trainer has been supportive and understanding of her concerns and anxieties, he also told her to pick herself back up as a way to encourage her to alleviate the fear that comes with pushing past everybody as quickly as she used to. It is difficult to work against anxiety, but the Trainer’s intuition was correct in that it gave Suzuka a reason to push herself by making Spe-chan redirect her attention towards racing past her.
And with El Condor Pasa’s defeat against Broye at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in a match mimicking the results of the 1999 race, it raised the bar even higher up for Spe-chan or Suzuka to reach the distance that Pasa was able to after her victory in Tennoushou. Spe-chan, in particular, was given further incentive to work hard after getting a heartbroken call from Pasa, who took defeat with stride up until she had to face the fact that she had worked this hard to go international only for her chance to move forward to be taken away at an instant. What it means for Spica’s chances to reach Pasa’s level is still up in the air, but for now, it’ll be interesting to see if they are able to match her, or if Suzuka will be able to go against her real life counterpart’s fate by taking part in more races in the near future.