This episode’s official title (not just the dumb ones I make up each week) is ‘The Azumi Autumn Ride Part 1’, so it’s obvious the girls are not going to finish their ride this week. It also means that the last episode that will be aired at this time will be the conclusion of the ride, as the final two episodes are going to be DVD only.
The episode begins with Ami ending up separated from the rest of the group because the riders are being started in small batches. I think that this sort of thing happening is pretty improbable; usually in events like this, or anywhere else where there’s people allowed to do something in small batches (e.g. theme parks), the staff will take groups into consideration and maybe ask if the other girls wanted to stay back for the next group and let a few riders from a smaller group go in front. They’re all wearing the same custom jersey and everything, it’s pretty clear they’re part of a group or team! Even if for some reason the rules were really strict like this, why didn’t a more experienced cyclist offer to drop behind in Ami’s place because they could easily catch up? Hinako, is this part of your weird hazing that I suspect that you’re carrying on? It just feels like weird soap-opera level drama injection.
As it is though, we get to see some great Ami reaction faces. She’s really worried about being left behind and not getting to finish the event so she becomes quite distressed about the whole thing and pushes herself pretty hard to catch up.
After Ami catches up, the girls stop and take it easy at the first Aid Station (not the First Aid Station, I’d think of them as a rest stop), and ‘Miss Chow Hound’ (Saki, I feel like Chow Hound is an expression I have not heard outside of Daisuki’s subs, maybe it’s regional?) makes herself busy sampling the snacks. It seems that the ride is supposed to be a casual distance cycle with lots of tasty (maybe regional?) food available for the cyclists to try at a number of different stations.
The rest of the day follows a similar pace. The girls ride for a bit, then stop and have something to eat, and they take it easy and have lots of fun!
At the second stop, the girls have miso onigiri (miso rice balls) which sounds really nice, and is something which would be easy enough for me to make at home. I may give it a go! I wonder what sort of miso paste was used there? It might be white or it could be dashi miso I guess, it doesn’t look like red miso.
I’m not too sure about this whole premise because of the fact that when you’re cycling a long way, you’d want some long-burning energy things to keep your stamina up, having lots of little gourmet snacks would probably leave you feeling kind of nasty.
The day’s other foods include pickled vegetables, Paris-Brest (a kind of sweet pastry), pork soup, ramen (possibly tonkotsu (pork) ramen, but there’s no confirmation of this), and dumplings.
At the half-way point (whatever that slide thing is, it looks fun!), Ami is worried about finishing on time but the other girls reassure her that they still have plenty of time and can take it easy. This again brings up one of the issues I have with this show; Ami seems to be the only one who has any serious personal struggles or doubts. I don’t expect deep interpersonal drama or character development from a show like this, but it would be nice to have some sort of humanity from the other characters outside of a single slightly humorous character trait. Good friends do their best for each other because they all have different strengths and weaknesses. They don’t just do their best for Ami and not have any issues when she’s not around. A show where no-one has any personal struggles and it’s just comedy is fine, but having one person have personal struggles and the rest not feels rather jarring.
When returning, there’s a new song playing; キミと (And You), sung by the same artist as the show’s opening. It’s an easy-going piece with a light pop sound and some piano accompaniment. I think that it suits the easy-going feeling of the cycling event quite well.
I’d agree that a lot of things are more fun with friends! While there’s a charm to eating alone, sharing things with the ones you care about brings its own special flavour to the table.
Right at the end of the episode, the girls have some of the support staff tell them that they’re the last group and that if they keep going at this pace they may not have time to finish the event. It looks like next week will be about Ami trying to finish the event in time. It doesn’t feel like there’s enough ride left to fill an entire episode, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens!