And so with the team still heading downhill at considerable speed, I can only see the show going uphill from here. Am I in the wrong? Or am I right?
Back at Tokyo, Iida and Instructor Gotou reminisce about the time they had to undergo similar training, and some lighthearted teasing from Gotou. Back with K4, everyone is at least alright after the crash with the overgrown roots.
Entering a new tunnel, they can’t do the same old trick anymore due to the narrow tunnel. Shou kicks off from the wall and slams against the opposite side of the draisine, landing it back on all four wheels before they exit the tunnel.
With the speed still going, Haruka notices the lever leading to the cogwheels on the bottom and tells Shou to start pedaling. The gears are part of an old mountain ascent system now only found on the old line, and with it they can manage their speed and not worry about the curves. While initially not making the match, Aoi helps and Naoto manages to have the gears catch onto the teeth.
With the successful match up, Shou finally reveals that he had hurt himself in the push-off attempt earlier, and they continue on their way. Naoto wonders if the ABT gears will hold off until then. Some fanservice-y parts later when Aoi slips and falls out, they enter their last tunnel and after safely clearing it, the ABT gears finally break.
Returning to the main line, the regenerative brakes added on the end of the draisine break down due to the immense heat it generated as it was helping slow the draisine down. Using the actual brakes, it is less effective due to fade. Noting that they need to save the brake until they get to the station, Naoto asks Shou to take over.
With the last set of turns being a gentle S-turn, which becomes dangerous in the speed they’re going with no brakes, Aoi and Naoto do the balance thing like what they did in the tunnels, with Naoto and Aoi yelling all they want. Past the straight and into the last curve, all of K4 joins in to keep the draisine from flipping.
Pulling on the brake, Shou inadvertently destroys it. As a last-ditch measure, he jumps out and attempts to slow the train down by himself (briefly working), but only end up pulling off the regenerative brake equipment off. Aoi tells them to jump, and Koumi and Naoto go first, and Aoi getting off before the draisine crashes at the end of the track.
Delivering the organs to the representatives at the station, Naoto finally comes clean. While fessing up to his failure as a temporary leader, he admits he wanted to be a driver for JNR. Even with that, he professes to be with the Public Safety Crew now, and asks if they’ll stay with him in K4.
Back in the training ground’s simulation, they pass, albeit barely. Teasing the three in saying either they fight or kiss, it’s alright as long as they passed. Instructor Narita says Naoto still has a lot to go to being a driver, but when he’s ready, he should come back.
Heading towards Noa’s concert nearby, Aoi stares at a frilly dress, with Naoto saying that such kind of clothes look pretty nice and cute on her. Aoi reaffirms to him that she intends to stay with the Public Safety Crew, with Naoto intending to still aim for the driver’s course. With that she says she still has no choice but to protect the trains he drives, though he points out for that to happen, that the two of them would have to flunk the OJT and not get hired by JNR. She says she’ll be alright, though not too sure about Naoto’s due to his driving.
That was a most satisfying arc. While the last two episodes weren’t as talky talky blog posts, I can’t really say much about a runaway draisine. I’ve already said what I wanted to say about K4 in last episode’s blog post, and I am highly liking the turn of events the love triangle has taken. Poor Mari and Noa, they know they’re supportive only to the main triangle.
Shou surprisingly got some glamour time this episode, though most of it was to show his excessive strength (and equally excessive appetite at the end), and so the arc wasn’t a total loss for me. Iida seems to be more caring of K4 (in her own words) though Gotou thinks she’s looking at a certain temporary leader. Maybe she’ll be the 5th wheel and bump Noa up the ranks?
Anyways, with 3 episodes left in the 12 episode run, maybe we can see the RJ terrorist group in person? 9 episodes of character growth is fine for a multi-season offering, but for a one-cour series, the ‘incidents’ should’ve been more interconnected for the average viewer to digest. Unless I’m REALLY dumbing down the intelligence of the average anime viewer.
RJ wasn’t a neglected antagonist in my mind, they were always there, just overshadowed by Naoto, Aoi, and Haruka’s character and romance growth.