I agree with @Pepe, this arc took a very safe path to Takafumi’s problem. There’s nothing that is badly done, but nothing is exaggeratedly good enough for me to think that this was a great arc. Overall, I gave it a 3/5 because it lacked “personality”.
That said, there isn’t much to say, and, unfortunately, I foresee a boring podcast (let’s hope it doesn’t end up being that way). If anything, I’d like to highlight one of the themes in this arc, and it is one that is directly mentioned by Kanako at a certain point (excuse me, I forgot to screenshot it). It goes something like this (Inaccurate quote warning):
“I want him to quit field and track because he wants to quit, not because he tries to run away from what happened 3 years ago. It’s like he left it unfinished.”
I’m very fond of this message. One should do whatever he is doing until the end or until he wants to quit, but quitting because of something unexpected just feels wrong, it’s as if you are running away from dealing with your problems in life. Of course, if he had been rendered unable to run again, I could understand it, but Takafumi had to clear his mind and see how track and field, Coach/Kanako/Takafumi relationship and Sakagami’s family where all different matters that had to be addressed separately.
Yeah, I feel a bit like you. I mean, it wasn’t that Kanako was treated badly in this arc, but an arc for her or more backstory about how she dealt with that whole situation would have been greatly appreciated and it could have been enough material for a great arc. If some emotional scenes were thrown in that backstory, combined with the OST track “memories”, I can assure that this route could’ve easily been a 5/5. A route similar to that of Kyou in CLANNAD or Matsushita in Angel Beats! First Beat.
The more you advance in the Tomoyo’s After the more clear the message of the VN appears to the reader: Kanako is the true MVP. (Or that would have been my opinion if I hadn’t finished the whole VN. )
Anyway, to sum it up, it was a decent arc, and, while it didn’t do anything wrong, it lacked the ambition some other routes in other KEY VNs have. Unfortunately, the fact that it wasn’t ambitious and that the arc was pretty understandable and straight forward is something horrible for the bookclub, since interesting discussions are unlikely to pop up. Even then, I hope that this thread will gain affluence and replies before the podcast!