「走る男」 (Hashiru Otoko)
“The Man Who Races”
Overtake!’s first episode offers an excellent gateway into the world of F4 racing as freelance photography Kouya Madoka sets his sights on an underdog team at the Fuji International Speedway. Little does he know what he gets himself into when the struggles of Komaki Motors inspire him to act as a sponsor for the team.
MOON OVER THE CASTLE
By breaking down the basics of F4 racing, the first episode helps to endear you closer to all the racers who show up for these events. While I thought it’d be daunting to race in the Fuji International Speedway, the culture around F4 feels like a more casual, inclusive environment for anyone who has the money and interest in racing.
It’s fascinating to witness a racing event where you have an even balance of ridiculously good prodigies and wealthy hobbyists who have professional racing on their bucket list. With a league of junior drivers, it offers a neat perspective where some drive for prestige while others drive for a much-needed change of pace from their day jobs.
Komaki Futoshi helps tie it all together for Madoka as he runs down why he personally wants to use his company’s resources to make Komaki Motors a formidable racing team. Because his son Koutarou is a mechanic for their F4 car, Futoshi hopes to cultivate his talent to help their young racer Haruka Asahina finally be recognized for his talents.
READY FOR THE CLOSE-UP
Character relationships are equally as foundational to the first episode as racing, however, as the anime wants you to have a clear picture of many of the key players in this series, and how they mesh with one another. Madoka’s personal motivation for photography has been waning for some time, and his anxieties aren’t personally helped when handling more intimidating experts on the track like the headstrong Tokumaru Toshiki. With Toshiki and the bubbly Harunaga Satsuki as the highest calibur racers at the event on the Belsorriso team, Madoka finds that he can only go through the motions when being led around by their team’s clean-cut professionals.
Through Komaki Motors, however, we get a more personal glimpse into the uphill battle that racers on a lower budget endure by making the most of a bad situation. Koutarou tries to handle many public matters as he tries to get Haruka to hum along to the theme of The Godfather with him and fights back against Toshiki. It’s through Madoka’s direct intervention that Futoshi instantly endears to the photographer, gets him up to speed on F4 knowledge, and lets him in on their personal aspiration to make it past the Dunlop corner where their wheels often give out. After the episode, I popped into Gran Turismo to confirm that Fuji’s Dunlop corner is a rough one.
I am curious as to how this will pan out since Madoka got his inspiration back right when he photographed Haruka sobbing. It might not be the most flattering picture to trot out when you have to let people know what drove you to sponsor a team and get your mojo back. But it might add a little extra spice to the story with that in mind, but for now, it should be neat to see how Madoka gets further invested into photographing F4 races.