Review

No amazing opening for Episode 24, as per the other episodes this season. However, the rest of
the episode makes up for this loss. It starts with Cunningham and Takeshi going at each other
for about a minute. Andrei comments how Takeshi has really grown when nobody was looking.
I’d like to think of it as him tapping into his own power when he’s up against Cunningham.
After all, he has to be good to beat Cunningham.
Meanwhile, Liz and Amy are fighting Jan and Dew. They aren’t doing so hot, but they do
manage to pull away from their opponent’s attacks. Jan and Dew really know how to
coordinate a move when they are almost able to cut through Liz’s mech. They continue
fighting one-on-one. Then Sir Hamgra reminds them that they are better than these girls, and
he wants them to prove it.
Before we see more of them, we cut back to Takeshi who is taking a beating from
Cunningham. He confides to Andrei that he’s tired, but that he won’t quit. Then they enter
the final lap. Incessant fighting ensues. Nobody wants to stop. Even Benjamin Bright notices,
and expects that somebody would have switched to Speed Mode by now.
As they continue fighting, a discerning eye will notice that the finish line is drawing near. We
see all three pilots from both teams going all out against their respective opponent, and it
seems that nobody wants to lose. As Takeshi and Cunningham near the finish line, we see
both of them literally pushing each other, as their momentum makes them cross the finish
line. It’s too close to call.
Meanwhile, the audience loves the race. We see people stand up and cheer, as everyone else
anxiously awaits the results. The replay tape reveals the true winner, and it is Takeshi.
Cunningham then meets Takeshi on the track, and congratulates him. He also reveals why he
like hanging out on the track, the “mystery” from Episode 13 and way back to Episode 4. In
Episode 13 (Uncut, for those who are going huh…buy the DVDs!) we see a scene where
Cunningham really isn’t sure why he hangs out on the track. Oh, but he knows…he always
knew.
This part really hits home-it shows how their relationship has really become genuine
throughout the series. Takeshi knows how Cunningham feels when he says the track gets his
blood pumping. Takeshi admits that he’ll have to keep getting better if he wants to keep
beating Team Velshtein. Team Velshtein finally acknowledges them as a worthy team, and
they leave.
Takeshi looks at Liz, and Liz is expectedly surprised to see him looking at her. Takeshi thanks
Liz for her being a very helpful teammate. Liz wonders why it took him so long to realize this
truth. She reminds him of Amy and Luca, and also thanks her. Liz then shoves him and he
falls. Takeshi wonders why she did that, and she says she’s not used to him being so nice.
Interesting scene, to say the least.
We then see Team White Snow planning a little spectacle for the unsuspecting Team Satomi.
It’s very peculiar to see how Team White Snow is really trying to bring them down. It's a
different kind of rivalry than we’ve been accustomed to. However, the rivalry between Andrei
and Sir Hamgra hasn’t left. Sir Hamgra comes down to the area where Andrei is. They talk
about a few things.
Sir Hamgra actually wishes Andrei good luck in the next race. Andrei offers him a night out,
and Sir Hamgra accepts. It seems that all this time, they really haven’t changed. But that’s
exactly why they are able to get along so easily. They have missed each other. It’s a great time
to see them come back together, and wraps up that story.
The members of Team Satomi are all getting ready for bed. Liz is anxious about the next race.
Amy encourages Luca. And Takeshi…well, his sister is around. When she stops bugging him,
Takeshi finally gets the puzzle apart-the one he’s been working on since the beginning of the
season. As he excitedly calls Yuri back into the room to show her, he accidentally puts it back
together. Whoops!
He then resorts back to playing Watch World, where Mini-Bear comes back to fight him and
beat him. Of course, it’s Max from Team White Snow. We know that, but he doesn’t. He takes
the fight lightly, instead of a knock to his ego. The next day, a short team meeting occurs.
Andrei says very little, and Takeshi is surprised. Amy reminds him that he could have said
some more of the usual stuff, and it would have come off as redundant.
As Takeshi leaves the meeting room and walks away, Andrei catches up to him and introduces
his wife and daughter. Takeshi thought he made up that story, but I didn’t. Still, the scene
shows how Andrei was able to overcome personal obstacles to be reunited with his loved ones.
Andrei asserts that Takeshi was the one who helped him, and his wife adds that the whole
team’s determination has helped Andrei not only as a coach, but a person. It’s a great moment
for everyone.
Jesse and Mark meet up in the garage, where Mark is working. He says he got a call from Ichi
on how to improve things. Jesse doesn’t feel like she contributes much, but Mark tells her
that sometimes just being there is what matters. He’s right. Liz and Amy are working out in
the gym room of Team Satomi’s base. They wonder where Takeshi is. He is eating a hot dog, of
course.
As night approaches, Takeshi heads back to the training room, where he seems to be
meditating alone. However, he is not alone. Team White Snow appear. Zanak wants a Kendo
match. Takeshi doesn’t really feel like it since they’re already matched up for the finals
tomorrow. Judy reminds him of what they did to Amy, and he draws his sword.
Takeshi suspects that Zanak wouldn’t have let him back down from this fight. Max and Judy
sit back, and Max wonders if Zanak can beat him. Judy is confident, and Max is now excited.
Zanak then reminds Takeshi that it isn’t too late to back down. Takeshi then talks back,
calling Zanak a “punk bitch”. He also informs Zanak that he’ll be destroying Team White
Snow tomorrow.
Takeshi has been taking crap from Team White Snow for the whole season. This is a great
ending line for the episode because it really gets one amped up to see the next episode. That’s
how TV shows are supposed to operate. This episode leaves one with a suspenseful feeling of
what’s to come in this short subplot, and even what’s to come in the finals. This is a great
episode.
Takeshi and Cunningham
have had many battles
with each other. It all
comes down to this one.
What may be a final bout
between the opponents
turns out to be fun for
both.
Team Satomi and Team
Velshtein exchange some
final comments after the
race.
Additional Pictures
USA original air date: August 12th, 2006
Japan original air date: March 29th, 2006
Original Japanese Title:
Winner's Circle
Summary

Team Velshtein and Team Satomi continue their battle against each
other. The winner moves on to play Team White Snow. Both teams
are great, but who is really going to pull off the victory? Meanwhile,
many mysteries surround Andrei and Sir Hamgra. Will they finally
be able to get along despite one of them losing the race? This
episode features a surprise look at two new characters reintroduced
into somebody's life.
OVERALL SCORE: 8 out of 10
Toonami Version Differences

-6 seconds were removed from the episode, though I
don't know where. I believe it was some footage of
Team Satomi's dojo; before Zanak and the others
from Team White Snow appear. No dialogue was cut,
as far as I can tell.
Additional Information
Episode 24: Winner's Circle