From episode 8. Itchan thinks about why she didn't want to lose to Akari, and realizes the painful truth. Itchan stood by Akari while she was struggling and encouraged her as she improved, but she didn't want Akari to surpass her. In wanting things to be "how they were" she was denying Akari the right to reach her full potential.

In my opinion, Itchan's mixed feelings about Akari's improvement didn't diminish her character, but instead made it more real. She was a faithful friend, but she was only human, not a saint. I think these episodes will strike a chord with anyone who has ever had to compete against a friend, athletically or otherwise.

I generally collect Battle Athletes cels for the scene and character rather than the artwork, but I really like the tones and lines of this cel. Plus, it shows off Itchan's cool baseball-themed nightshirt. :-)