On one hand, this episode feels rushed. Just last episode we learned about the Sports Festival and now we’re halfway done with it. And despite being a school-wide team event, we see just a single interaction with the first-year Class-A and no interaction at all with the other Class-As and Class Ds. It feels like a ton of story was left on the cutting room floor.
On the other hand, what we do see is interesting. Last week was all about Ayanokoji trying to teach Horikita that she needs to learn to lower herself down to other people’s level if she wants to help them rise up to hers. This week, he’s trying to teach her a companion lesson: to rely on others when she has reached the limit of what she can do by herself.
Horikita is injured and incapable of rallying the class to action. However, even with her poor personality, there is one person she has won over completely: Sudo. Thanks to her standing up for him and preventing him from being expelled, he has a crush on her to end all crushes. And just like her, he is not having a good day.
Sudo promised his team victory and yet is unable to deliver. He’s being targeted directly in every event and no one is stepping in to help him, nor are they taking advantage of the situation to bring home the win for the team. He is torn between anger at himself for not being good enough and anger at everyone else for not stepping up. And so he storms off, unwilling to listen to either Hirata or Ayanokoji. Horikita might just be the only person that can reach him through his anger, but can she get over her own ego enough to ask for his help?
But even if Horikita is able to grow as a person and Sudo is able to act like a leader who leads from the front (rather than one who just tries to do everything himself), it doesn’t change the fact that the whole class is still set up to fail. While Ayanokoji is doling out lessons to Horikita, he’s teaching the class as a whole an even greater one: you can’t rely on a single person to bring you victory—everyone needs to do their part and work together. Of course, the surest way to make that lesson hit home is to have the class rely on Horikita and Sudo and then crash and burn.
Basically, he is doing what they do at bootcamp—tearing everyone down so that they can be rebuilt into a cohesive unit. Sure, there will be leaders and there will be followers but no one gets to slack off while others work and no one has to take everything upon themselves. Their recent victories may have given the class an ego but that’s going to be erased now. The status quo that Ayanokoji is setting up shows that they have succeeded and can again but only by working as a group—not by relying on one or two key figures to handle every problem.
• I’ve thought about it more and I’m not exactly sure what the point of the traitor bit is. It could be that Ayanokoji’s creating the “traitor” as a rallying point, a common enemy for the class to unite against. Or maybe he’s just setting up a patsy or a double agent like I guessed last time.
• Kushida actually betraying the class makes no sense from what we know about her so far, and Ayanokoji’s “proof” is garbage (and likely a lie he crafted). I mean, they just stated last episode that there was a pattern to who was chosen as the VIP. Ryuen didn’t need Kushida’s help to figure out the pattern—he just needed enough traitors from across all the groups to make an educated guess. He didn’t even need to know a single Class-D traitor. In fact, I’d buy Hirata as a traitor before Kushida. Her goal is to be the most popular girl in class—being a traitor in no way helps her achieve that.
• Honestly though, if there is a traitor for the Sports Festival, I’m betting it’s Ayanokoji himself. He wants Class-D to lose after all.
• On a personal note, blackmail plots always piss me off. You can only be blackmailed if you allow yourself to be. It’s always better to face things head-on than to give in to the blackmailer’s demands, especially since it’s never a one-and-done thing. All Horikita had to do was to throw away her pride and ask her brother for help and all would’ve been fine—but there’s no way she’s grown enough for that yet.