「夢の舞台」 (Yume no Butai)
“Stage of Dreams”
If you read up on the results of the 1999 Tokyo Cup race, or watched it online, you probably had a general idea of who was going to win this one. Much like Suzuka’s injury or Pasa’s victories/defeats, real life does act as a spoiler to many of the results of Uma Musume‘s recent races. However, it doesn’t discount the emotional impact of the race as the episodes before this were all setting the stage for Special Week to go from a diamond in the rough to an impressive runner, fighting the odds to be able to shake off France’s very own Broye.
Everything that Spe-chan, her friends, her mentors, and her loved ones had done up to this point all culminated to this, and the anime spares no expense to make her win at the Tokyo Cup as momentous as can be for her and those around her. The emotional weight of Spe-chan’s journey to pulling off a victory against Broye could be felt across the stadium as crowds roared, the girls of her academy cheered her on, the Trainer and Toujou rooting for her in unison, and her foster mother shedding tears all the way through as she shared Spe-chan’s proudest accomplishment yet with her late friend. Silence Suzuka’s happiness and her encouragement for her friend to keep on trucking despite feeling winded helped Spe-chan during the final stretch.
They also did a great job with the friendly rivalry going on between Spe-chan and Broye. Thanks to Pasa’s ill-guided attempt at getting Spe-chan to tell her and her fellow racers off in French, they had a good way to rile up the crowd and create a tense yet cordial relationship between her and the rest of the racers. Add that on top of Broye kissing her cheek as a greeting to get her flustered, and the unintentional mind-game Spe-chan played with Pasa’s one French phrase set the stage for a race where the two were both on competitive terms. Her fellow races did take the French term for “don’t get too cocky” much more seriously as they were temporary elated by the idea of putting Spe-chan in her place, but Broye took both her phrasing and the defeat by her hands with stride as she repeated the phrase Spe-chan used with a wink and a smile. Although Broye was set up to be the strong adversary for Spe-chan to win against, she was a very pleasant rival as we saw her prep up with a last-minute workout at her hotel and make press runs before she faced off in the Tokyo Cup. It was a treat to see how they handled the French language too with the admirable job her seiyuu does at speaking French.
Though it was easy to see where it was going, it still made for a thrilling episode that was emotionally impactful and rewarding for Special Week as her victory cements her position as the racer she aspired to be. It might’ve been the most cinematic way to end the series, but Uma Musume has one more trick up its sleeve with the next race being a dream match between the girls at Spica and the more popular members of the cast.