The ultimate race of the second Inter-High for Onoda and his teammates at Souhoku High Bicycle Racing Club has finally arrived at the finish line! The fifth season was frankly quite long to wait, but truly, it’s worth it. This season brings the third and final day of the 42nd Inter-High Bicycle Racing Competition where only the survivors race, especially from the top 3 teams in the series: Souhoku, Hakone, and Kyoto Fushimi.
This season consists of 2 cours of premiere split into 25 episodes. It is a direct sequel from the previous season which focused on the first and second days of the 42nd Inter-High. The first episode directly gives us the preparation for the final day, and each episode afterward gives the heat and fierce races to claim the sprint finish, mountain finish, and obviously the overall finish.
This anime is animated by the same studio that also worked on the four previous seasons in which TMS Entertainment, and the cast of voice actors also fully return to reprise their roles. It is adapted from a manga under the same title which currently is still ongoing with the creativity of Wataru Watanabe who authors the series in Akita Shoten’s Weekly Shonen Champion magazine.
Plot / Races
As previously mentioned, the whole Inter-High races in the series are always split into three phases: the sprint, the mountain, and the overall. Now let’s just talk about the entire season under those three phases, shall we?
The beginning until the sprint finish line is probably the most challenging part of the race for the main protagonists. Not only Souhoku has separated away, but they must also overcome the dilemma to leave or believe in their captain.
The dynamic duo between Teshima and Aoyagi truly becomes the spotlight of this phase, and the sacrifice of Kaburagi is also touching and shows how he has grown up as a person. On the other hand, this phase truly shows how dangerous and menacing Midousuji is as always. His charisma and ability to read the situation make him the ultimate threat for nearly in every episode.
The second phase is the mountain track where the battle of the rivals, Souhoku and Hakone is finally on. After both teams won the sprint line together, the race for the mountain finish line is filled even more with passion and ambition.
This phase is once again highlighted by Teshima who challenges Ashikiba and eventually wins the King of Mountain title over him. Aside from the pinnacle of the mountain battle, the surprise plan and attack of Hakone designed by Kuroda and executed well by Izumida are simply the best shocking moment of this season.
Finally, the last ride to the finish line. Now truth be told, the last phase is probably the most underwhelming part since Kyoto Fushimi and Midousuji seem not utilized optimally in this season, not to mention the predictable and kind of forced final sequence rematch between Onoda and Manami. The pacing for the final race is also dragged out with slow flashbacks and conversation scenes outside the race which did not seem to be presented that way in the second season.
Surely the final phase is the most dramatic one with the terrors of Kyofushi and Hakone despite Souhoku’s leading, and another sacrifice by Naruko who pushes his body until he can barely see. The motivation and tension between the two “aces” for Souhoku and Hakone are also tremendous, but it seems the final sequence only repeats the dynamic of the previous Inter-High final race.
This anime has many characters in the roster considering the story is a team sport consisting of six members for each team. Now since it will be forever to talk about the entire character, let’s just focus on a few outstanding characters in the fifth season.
The first one, obviously the MVP must be presented to Teshima. A young man who claims to be an ordinary racer, but with his heart and discipline, has finally been able to overcome the struggles and proves that he truly deserves to be a part of Souhoku members, especially its captain. This season truly gives a ton of spotlight to him, and it truly gives more layers to his characterization and moments in the story.
Another outstanding character is also from Souhoku, the newcomer and the only 1st-year member, Issa Kaburagi. What is so amazing about this character is how passionate he always is during the three-day race, and how much he has learned and developed himself in such a short time. He gets to see his seniors, and adapts the Souhoku racing style perfectly, which makes him a truly entertaining yet also charming character at the same time by the end of the race.
Other cool characters come from Hakone, Izumida and Kuroda. These two characters deserve to be put together because they are the pillars of the team. The genius mind of Kuroda and the burning spirit of Izumida simply make the Hakone team becomes intriguing and exciting to see. Oh, and let’s not forget Doubashi who is a newcomer but extremely agile and destructive during his sprint race with Kaburagi.
Last but not least, arguably the best antagonist in the whole sports series, Akira Midousuji. It’s kind of unfortunate he is not able to shine once again during the third day and seems to be shadowed by the members of the other teams. But once again, Wataru as the creator shows how frightening and amazing his character really is. He is the one who always turns the table and finds strategic movement to topple the top teams, and his performance never disappoints once.
Honorable mentions should be given to the three main protagonists of Souhoku which are no other than Onoda, Imaizumi, and Naruko. They truly prove that the three of them are not the same kids anymore from the previous Inter-High, and their dedication and effort for the team become the main attraction of this team, especially with the surprising riding style of Naruko, the ace potential and performance of Imaizumi, and of course the simplicity yet undying ambition of Onoda that makes him once again the overall winner of the Inter-High.
TMS Entertainment has not ever disappointed the fans and viewers with a dropping quality in its animation. What is really beautiful about this anime’s animation style is it mixes perfectly 2D and 3D graphics in one scene for multiple characters.
It can be spotted that most of the time, the head of the characters is made using hand-drawn animation, but the torso and legs are made in smooth CGI. The surroundings and environments are also polished well, giving the vibes of the real views of the story setting which is in Togichi prefecture, Japan.
VA & Soundtrack
The voice actors nailed their performances in every season, including this one. Nothing ever goes wrong, especially Jun Fukushima who dubs Naruko, and Kouji Yusa who dubs Midousuji. The opening and ending theme songs are pretty catchy and fun to listen to, especially the first one “Keep going” by 04 Limited Sazabys, which truly embodies the spirit and effort of the racers.
This season gives a sheer amount of cool and epic moments that may become headlines in the head of the viewers and fans such as:
- The final dynamic combination of Aoyagi and Teshima
- Midousuji tricks the “piranhas” pack
- Surprise attack and sacrifice of Izumida
- The hard work and victory of Teshima on the mountain finish line
- The sacrifice of Naruko who keeps pedaling although his vision is limited
- The final sprint duel between Onoda and Manami
This season brings various surprises, emotional, and inspiring moments like usual. The characters are always compelling and interesting with their very own story and motive, and the race is always unexpected nearly in every episode, even though the final race and finish may be predictable.
With the finish of the 2nd year story arc for Onoda, let’s just be patient and wish there may be more seasons and stories to come, considering the manga is still ongoing further at the moment.
Overall Rating: 7.75/10