It’s really going to suck when Overtake! ends in two weeks. I have a pretty good idea how that’s going to go down, and I do think it will be in a way that honors the development we’ve seen over these past ten weeks. But there’s so damn much tread left on these tires – this is a story that has endless possibility. The only saving grace is that at least as an original series, the writer can craft an ending that makes sense in the time they’re allotted to do so. That’s better than a truncated adaptation with a nonsensical ending (or none at all), but it still leaves so much unfulfilled potential.
There was no way Overtake was going to try and follow up last week’s emotional blockbuster – that would have been pointless. But that was designed as both an episode that could stand on its own and feel complete, and one that set up the final arc of the series. There’s a lot of unfinished business at the racetrack, and it starts with Haruka turning down Belsorriso. I don’t think anyone could call that a huge surprise – narratively it makes perfect sense. But I don’t think it’s a slam-dunk decision. There’s more to life than ambition, and credit to Haruka for having more to him than that. But maybe you do have to be that ambitious to really make it as a star driver.
From Haruka’s perspective, he is right about one thing. If he wants to be governed by sentiment, this is the time he has to do it, because as he gets higher up the ladder there will be no place for it. I can’t possibly fault a kid for being as sweet-natured as Haru is, and loyalty is something to be admired. He wants to take that first step up the ladder (to the podium) with the people that got him this far – a group that now includes Kouya.
The domino effect of Haruka’s choice seems to have impacted Tokumaru the most. “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”, indeed. Tokumaru is finding being the one with the target on his back extremely unsettling, especially without Haru there to goad him forward. So much so that he tells his zaku #2 driver to go ahead and take the lead in the next race just to avoid the burden of leading the pack and to slip into his comfort zone, Haruka only qualifies 14th for that event, rendering it unlikely it can be the one that sees his dream come true.
As for Kouya, he’s certainly not all the way back, turning down Sae’s offer to send him model shoot work. But he does seem to have walked away from last week’s events with an air of acceptance that wasn’t there before. He determines that the first photo he takes is going to be of Haruka on the podium – a noble sentiment indeed, though a cynic might suspect that it’s partly a convenient excuse to delay confronting his demons.
Once the green flag comes out, Tokumaru quickly lets his domestique pass him and Haru quickly sets about proving that qualifying was a fluke. The grass is always greener, and it’s not so pleasant for Tokumaru to be in second when the one in front of him is slower than he is. Especially when Haruka starts scything through the field, eventually barking right at Belsorriso’s heels. Tokumaru winds up in front after the pressure drives his kouhai to a mistake, and Haruka surges all the way to second. The problem is that in passing 12 cars in an 11 lap race. you’re going to use up your tires – and that’s exactly what he does. If the race had been a couple laps shorter, that podium might have happened.
This is the path Haru has chosen, and it’s going to be the harder one for as long as he chooses to follow it. It fits his relationship with Kouya, for whom the past dozen years have been a constant struggle. I have no doubt Haruka will find that podium finish a lot more satisfying having earned it with his surrogate family than if Belsorriso had handed it to him on a platter. What comes after that is another matter, but – sadly – that’s not something that’s likely to be a part of Overtake’s story.