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Overtake! – 08

Overtake! is hitting pretty much all the right notes for me.  The marathon episode was kind of a placeholder, but apart from that every swing has connected.  It confronts the emotional conflicts it raises directly and without a lot of fanfare, but doesn’t gloss over the seriousness of them.  The only thing that would really level it up is if it were running fifty episodes, like it should be.  So much is being teased out here that will only be resolved in the most abbreviated fashion in deference to the schedule, and that’s a real shame.

My read on that look from Ena-san at the end of last week’s episode was spot-on.   And it makes sense – Belsorriso needs a driver, and Haruka is a damn good one.  And young enough to mold in their preferred fashion.  I described it as a very Capeta moment, and it is.  Auto racing is a brutally expensive sport (F4 is about the upper limit of what a ragtag outfit like Komaki can do).  When Capeta graduated from carting he joined a large race team (Formula Stella) because that was the only way for him to move up in the world.  But for him it was a cleaner decision, because Ikari isn’t even involved in racing beyond carts.

This is assuredly the right decision for Haru in the long run, as Futoshi makes clear in no uncertain terms.  F4 is as far as he can go with Komaki and he’ll have to leave eventually if he wants to keep racing.  But still – it hurts.  Futoshi and Koutarou are basically his family, and this feels like a betrayal even though it was in fact Koutarou’s idea (it was also his idea for Arisa to go talk to Satsuki in the hospital, it must be noted).  It goes deeper than that, though.  Haru’s goals with Komaki are simple – pass as many cars as you can.  Belsorriso is a clinical, regimented operation.  A team – and Haruka won’t be the leader of that team.

I like the fact that Overtake doesn’t make this into a good vs. evil scenario.  Ena-san is a good guy – not only a friend of Haru’s dad, but someone who does care about his drivers.  If Futoshi is going to hand his boy off to someone else I’m sure he’d prefer it be someone like Ena-san.  But Tokumaru is a lot to take.  His grudges have not disappeared, and he hasn’t seamlessly slipped into the role of #1 driver.  The weight of responsibility that goes along with that role sits heavily on him, because he’s not at heart a guy who likes to put other people first.  That practice session with the two of them drafting was extremely tense, and portends what I think could be a rocky race-day relationship.  What Belsorriso needs is not something that comes easily to either of them.

As for Satsuki, he’s certainly feeling the pressure of being out of the picture.  This is a business, and it can a cruel one – there’s no guarantee his place will be waiting for him when he comes back.  Arisa urges him to think less like James Hunt and more like Hunt’s good friend Niki Lauda, who fought his way back from a rainy day crash that almost killed him and won multiple Formula One championships post-accident.  It’s his place Haruka is basically taking, but with Tokumaru likely moving up to F3 after the season, who would Ena-san have in mind as his ace for the following year?

Not forgotten in all this is Kouya – not forgotten by Haru, anyway.  In some fashion he’s clearly searching for himself, which he’s really been doing since the firestorm over the Touhoku photo.  But Haru needs him now – he’s facing his own doubts about what’s right and wrong and what his own future should look like.  The two of them have always been in a symbiotic relationship, giving the other exactly what they needed at this point on their respective journeys.  Kouya has clearly lost his way again, but it might be in helping Haru find his that he gets back on track himself.

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