Footrace or death? Well, I’d die.
The class receives a new order from the King: The entire class is to run to the summit of Nuegakubi at the end of the nearby island chain. Every eight hours, the person farthest from the summit is punished. Oh, and no vehicles or equipment. Obviously, Natsuko takes off running while the rest of the gang work together to get Ryou sane enough to run. As they get going, Nobuaki realizes that Aimi is staying behind. After having been used by Natsuko so horribly, she has given up the will to live and won’t run. Too bad! Nobuaki picks her up and starts running. Along the way, they run into Riona, who has terrible stamina. He stops off to help her rest with a can of juice, then continues, urging her to catch up with the rest of the group later. While this goes down, a terrible thing happens. While the main body of students run up the stairs of an overpass, Takuya grabs Masatoshi and pulls him down the stairs. The poor boy hits the ground, unconscious. The rest of the gang continue on without him. When Nobuaki catches up to them with Aimi, and hears about Masatoshi, he runs back to help. Along the way, he runs into Riona again, and the three continue on their journey at the back of the pack. Along the way, however, the strain of trying to save everyone is finally getting to Nobu, and he begins having hallucinations. As the sun rises, and the first punishment of the race nears, Masatoshi succumbs to his injuries and passes out, falling into the ocean by the roadside. Despite Riona’s protests, Nobuaki dives in after him. He isn’t able to save Masa (And we’ll talk about why in a bit), and he cracks, surrendering to death. His hallucinations, however, take on the forms of those who died. They urge him forward. He and Riona continue on, moving to the first island of the chain. As they go, Nobuaki stops to tie his shoe. Phones go off. The first punishment is about to happen. Riona realizes he tied his shoe for the express reason of being further behind than her. Strangulation looks to be in his future…
…But it probably won’t. My guess, this show doesn’t have the balls to kill off its main character anywhere except the final episode. Why would I say that? You remember that Nobuaki is also the author of the original text games? Do you really think he’d give himself anything but the epic final death? Of course not. Beyond that, let’s talk a bit about why Nobuaki couldn’t save Masatoshi. The writers and directors of this show have no concept of how CPR, water, or breathing works. See, when you do CPR on someone underwater, you aren’t really helping anything. What happens when it works? Their first breath is…. water. Good job, you brought them back just to drown them again. And, now that you have pushed out all the contents of your lungs into them, what do you have to breathe? Water! So you both drown. Pushing on their chest while the two of you are in the open water? You just pushed them through the water! That does them wonders in getting them breathing again! So, after all this effort, no air in his lungs, what happens? Nobuaki has hallucinations. Hallucinations that somehow kick him through the water, forcing him to swim more. During this scene, we see and hear him gasp multiple times. There we have it, folks! Nobuaki should have already been dead of drowning before we ever finished the episode! So, just remember kids, don’t try this stupidity at home.
My problems with this episode don’t begin or end with Nobu’s struggle with seawater safety. There were a couple of points where this character would catch up with another character, but the distance they were behind was significant before they stopped to chitchat with Nobuaki. The first meetup with Nobuaki and Aimi with the rest of the group should not have happened at all. You say, what if they just took different routes? If that were true, then Google Maps is playing favorites with them. Literally, every one of them has a cell phone. Most have smartphones. They have a way to navigate the fastest foot route to Nuegakubi. If they aren’t all taking that route, then Nobuaki is working seriously hard to save a bunch of morons. Easier solution: this show is poorly written.
So, what about the animation and art? Okay, this is going to make me look bad, but I see errors. There were a bunch of animation errors throughout, and the one that drew my attention to that fact? Riona’s misshapen boobs when we first caught up with her. Horribly mangled, and looking kinda saggy for a high school girl. Really, the reason these characters stop to talk all the time is so that the animators don’t have to spend so much time animating this crap with the constant movement. That begs the question: why have it be a footrace episode, then? The voice acting wasn’t anything stellar. It was there. Nobuaki cried some more. That’s about it.
This episode could have been interesting, but terrible writing pulled it into mediocrity like Takuya pulled Masatoshi off the stairs. The animation didn't help it a whole lot, and the errors that showed up only hurt it more. I give this episode four cans of juice out of ten.