「響け, ファンファーレ!」 (Hibike, Fanfare!)
Ever want to see some of the best horses in Japan square off against one another? Uma Musume has you covered with its last episode covering a match with a pool of the most popular characters from the series pitted against each other. For the horse-racing aficionado, it’s a dream match between highly coveted horses as each are neck-and-neck and charging to the finish line. It’s inoffensive and mainly aims to reinforce how important the relationships the horses have are in motivating their drive to win, but it’s a nice way to cap the series off on a good note.
While it does remind us how performance isn’t always a guaranteed ticket to success considering how even the most talented girls can easily lose a race by a wide margin, the largest treat from this final episode was how much it showed Team Spica’s development up to this point. Gold Ship really is a saint as the only member of the original team left, but seeing members start to show up slowly and surely with the Trainer’s poorly-made flyers and eye for talent is inspiring given how it all paid off with Silence Suzuka and Special Week going on to winning prestigious matches for the team. The time skip near the beginning of the episode shows every member of Spica gaining a victory in the process, showing that the team effort from the team as a whole had come so far from where they all started.
An exciting prospect the episode gives us is how they leave the door open for more material and stories to be developed from the first season. These 13 episodes have been, for the most part, Special Week and Silence Suzuka’s story, putting nearly all of the spotlight on the high and low points of their pursuit for glory, but during this episode, it showed how much potential the other members of Spica had at having great stories if they were ever to do another season. With future material dedicated to Vodka & Daiwa Scarlet’s rivalry, the relationship between Gold Ship & Meijiro McQueen, Rudolf’s growth as she looks over her pupil, Oguri Cap’s bond with her old friends, and even a shifted focus on Team Rigil, it has enough to work with to be as engaging as this season, and gives us more time to embrace the series before the phone game is released in the future. Add to that the new horse girl who goes through the same “vetting” that Spe-chan went through, and the door is definitely open for the world to be expanded on further with any future content from the series.
Uma Musume had a lot to live up to considering how absurd the concept had seemed from the beginning, but it exceeds far past the expectations that were placed on the show. A show about real life horses that appear as cute anime girls racing around a track and performing a victory concert after every match sounds as shameless and crazy as it gets, but Uma Musume goes against the grain by transforming what could’ve been ridiculous into an enthralling and heart-felt sports anime. The bond between Special Week and her teammates in Spica, Silence Suzuka in particular, is tightly-knit as they work to help each other grow as a family unit that sprints together towards their goals. Each of the races are surprisingly tense and exhilarating with how much build-up there is until the races’ climaxes, and the anime is quick to drop the idol business as to not let it bog down the episodes with filler or songs galore. Despite many of the derbies on the show being based on Japanese horse races from the late 1990’s, knowing who wins ahead of time doesn’t impact the show’s strength in completely sucking the air out of the room for the cast and audience as the girls are seconds away from the finish line. It’s a light-hearted, cute, and fun sports anime to follow, but will also sneak up and surprise you with how good the story is. The high quality of Uma Musume‘s races, characters, and narrative make this anime an exciting watch, and has me looking forward to any future material to come from the series. Until then, have a special week!