Before the ultimate race between Teshima and Ashikiba to claim the title of King of Mountains, this episode allows us to look back at what happened between the two friends in the past.
The Transferred Tall Student
We are going back to the elementary school days of Teshima when he met Ashikiba who is just transferred to his class in the fifth grade. Ashikiba who is good-looking and tall easily captures girls’ attention, and it makes the boys in the class jealous, except Teshima.
Knowing Ashikiba’s name leads Teshima to get to know and befriend him. They both become much closer as friends, especially after Teshima is interested in Ashikiba’s love and talent for the piano. They both have been always together ever since, including when Teshima tells Ashikiba about his interest and experience in the road race. At the moment, Teshima just started riding bicycles and long story short Ashikiba also gives a try in the road race.
The AshiTeshi Combination
Time flies fast until they graduate from elementary school, and both of them decide to continue their education at Minami Middle School where they also join the racing bicycle club together. Due to their good performance and inseparable riding, they get called as AshiTeshi (abbreviation of Ashikiba and Teshima) by the other club members.
But unfortunately, despite their good performance in training and club practice, they are nothing when it comes to real races. They join multiple different races together, and their results are always disappointing. This situation is taken seriously by Teshima who wants to claim victory, but Ashikiba takes a different approach. He only joins the race for fun since he can ride together with his best friend and enjoy the beautiful scenery across the track despite actually having latent talent and potential to win the race.
A Clash Between Two Different Riders
One day Teshima wants to ask Ashikiba about which senior high school they will get into in the future, but Ashikiba answers the question shockingly by saying that since his parents constantly move every few years due to jobs, he will move soon and not get into any high school in Chiba prefecture. This response brings shock but also a determination to Teshima.
Because he thinks that Ashikiba only has limited time from now on, he wants to help his talented best friend win the next race and claim the title of the King of Mountains. Teshima practices hard to assist his best friend to win the upcoming race. But when the race is finally beginning, turns out Ashikiba refuses to try hard to win a podium and just wants to stay enjoying the scenery. This decision makes Teshima extremely disappointed and angry at him, and they both get into a fight where Teshima even grabs Ashikiba’s collar and yell at him.
Ashikiba’s Deep Apology
The heat between these two friends leads them to be silent on each other, and Ashikiba try to quit the bicycle club. But after listening to the explanation from their clubmate named Higashido, Ashikiba finally realizes how wrong he really is. He did not understand Teshima’s intention and efforts to make him win the race and easily play as the victim in the situation.
Ashikiba immediately rides his bicycle in the middle of rain to find and ask an apology to his best friend who is still practicing despite being soaking wet. A few turns and kilos crossed, Teshima is nowhere to be found, until suddenly when Ashikiba is losing his hope, he hears a man’s hard breathing from a slope behind him. The breathing is coming from Teshima who practices climbing hard even though his friend is on the edge of quitting cycling.
A Promise to be The King of Mountains
As soon as Ashikiba sees Teshima, he quickly hugs and apologizes to him, but Teshima takes everything easy and he already forgives his friend. Due to this revelation and situation, Ashikiba decides to give another shot at cycling and take Teshima’s assistance to win the King of Mountains title in the next races.
All of the stories happened in the past, and now we are back to the current moment where Teshima no longers assists Ashikiba, but races against him. This time they are no longer cooperating and helping each other to claim the title of King of Mountains, they now battle against each other to win the mountain finish line and take the victory for their team and themselves.
This episode heavily focuses on the past of Teshima and Ashikiba. The backstories of both of the battling racers are completely useful to dig deeper into more layers and connections between them. We no longer see the duel as a sprint race between a captain and an ace from two different teams, but now we can sense more deeply how important and dramatic the race is for both of them.
The backstories also give more evidence and explanation related to Teshima’s personality. Teshima is the captain and key player of Sohoku, and at the moment he will decide whether the result of the race may be beneficial for his team or not. With the rich narrations and emotions told from the past story of Teshima, we can tell how he has been all this time ever since he got serious about cycling. He can be stronger when he fights and puts effort into his friend, and he will keep pedaling his bicycle despite any hardship and obstacles across his path.