Yowamushi Pedal – 03

Yowapeda - 03 -10 Yowapeda - 03 -18 Yowapeda - 03 -30

Yowamushi Pedal is the show than can makes sports anime fans out of muggles, if they’ll only let it.

I said back when this series was announced that Yowapeda was going to prove a good test case for whether a sports anime could make inroads with a demographically broad Western audience.  It’s not so much that this series is better than the competition – it’s outstanding, but certainly not the only outstanding sports series of recent years – but that it combines the sports elements (which it does very well) with a sensibility that feels very modern and mainstream.  In short, in many ways it’s the best of both worlds – but will that be enough?

All in all, I just can’t find much to complain about in the first three episodes of this adaptation.  It captures the charms of the manga just about perfectly, the casting seems spot-on and even if the budget is obviously not huge, there’s a lot of creativity and wit in the visual presentation.  This is a strong season for sports anime, but Yowamushi Pedal is at the head of the list for me because it does so many things well and offers the most appealing cast, including the main character.  This is a show that does the sports well enough that it would work if it were a straight sports anime, and does the character and humor side well enough that it could work if the theme weren’t sports-related at all. Put those two together and you have a show that has a tremendous amount of appeal.

Whatever you’re in this for (all six of you that are watching along with me) I think you got something to your taste in this episode.  There was a lot of geekery for the hard-core cycling fans in the crowd, that’s for sure.  We got a nice analysis of just what a steep hill Onoda-kun had to climb to keep up with Imaizumi, and I don’t mean the one they were riding.  In addition to the matter of the bike’s weight, both Imaizumi and Miki noticed that Onoda’s front gear was exceptionally small – a little trick his parents pulled to try and keep their son close to home.  It didn’t work, because he simply pedaled that much harder to get where he wanted to go, but it had a profound impact on the race up the school slope.

If you like underdog stories – a staple of sports manga – you certainly got one here.  One thing that should be abundantly clear is that this match race is exceptionally unfair in every way.  In addition to the matter of experience there’s the weight of the bike and now the gear issue – not to mention that Onoda rode half the race with the saddle where it was when he was in 4th-grade.  The mere fact that he was able to not only reel Imaizumi in three times but actually force him to “pendulum dance” in order to regain his lead is a minor miracle – and a testament to Onoda’s natural talent on the bike.  Riding that heavy bike with the small gear has forced Onoda to grow accustomed to a high cadence, but to keep up on a 20% slope he needs to go at something like 130 RPM – something a few Tour de France riders can do for short distances (like this year’s winner, Chris Froome, though other “power riders” prefer a higher gear and low cadence), but not on mamachari bikes.

Given all that it’s no surprise that Imazumi wins, but in the end it seems he realizes that Onoda is the only one who proved anything that day.  I also think Imaizumi feels a little ashamed when it becomes clear just how different his reasons for racing were than Onoda’s – and that moment comes when the breathless challenger says he’s doing it all for the anime club, because “I don’t have any friends!”  For Imaizumi it was a curioisity, an itch he needed to scratch – but the kid on the mommy bike rode like he had everything on the line.  And once again we see that Onoda is so unaccustomed to any kindness that a tiny compliment from Miki or a kind gesture from Imaizumi has a profound effect on him.  In the latter case, the beginnings of a full-on man-crush…

Sadly, it seems for Onoda that the dream of resurrecting the Anime Club is still a dream for now, though he is floored by Imaizumi-kun’s invitation to join the Cycling Club (whose members were spying on the race).  And now that the “Love Hime” theme has been planted in Imaizumi’s head like a Ceti eel, perhaps there’s hope after all – and the scene after the ED suggests that might have been Onoda’s plan all along.  Meanwhile the next major member of the cast is introduced on Onoda’s next trip to Akiba – a short re-haired kid named Naruko Shoukichi who immediately reveals himself as a bike expert by spotting the telltale signs of a serious rider on Onoda’s unassuming mamachari.  This, by the way, is the second time (the first is Kotoura-san) that I’ve mistaken Fukushima Jun for Fukayama Jun in the credits for a series and been relieved to discover I was wrong – that would have been disastrous casting for arguably the manga’s most popular character…

Yowapeda - 03 -7 Yowapeda - 03 -8 Yowapeda - 03 -9
Yowapeda - 03 -11 Yowapeda - 03 -12 Yowapeda - 03 -13
Yowapeda - 03 -14 Yowapeda - 03 -15 Yowapeda - 03 -16
Yowapeda - 03 -17 Yowapeda - 03 -19 Yowapeda - 03 -20
Yowapeda - 03 -21 Yowapeda - 03 -22 Yowapeda - 03 -23
Yowapeda - 03 -24 Yowapeda - 03 -25 Yowapeda - 03 -26
Yowapeda - 03 -27 Yowapeda - 03 -28 Yowapeda - 03 -29
Yowapeda - 03 -31 Yowapeda - 03 -32 Yowapeda - 03 -33
Yowapeda - 03 -34 Yowapeda - 03 -35 Yowapeda - 03 -36
Yowapeda - 03 -37 Yowapeda - 03 -38 Yowapeda - 03 -39


  1. p

    If you have read the translated part of the manga…I was really amused when they started talking about 'past winner of Tour de France' (I assume…I don't really know much about cycling).
    in the manga they went on and on about Lance Armstrong if I remember right (this must have been before the scandal broke).

  2. Well, that would have been around 2008 or so, and while there were lots of rumors nothing had yet moving proven. But Froome does use a similar high-cadence style, so it makes sense that the anime would go that route (until Froome's inevitable positive test results come out, anyway).

    It's a shame that doping has hit cycling so hard, because it's damaged – not unjustifiably – the sport's popularity in Japan as it has elsewhere.

  3. e

    This was one engaging race for sure and not even the weird CG collateral effects (it's as their inner thighs and crotch were never never in contact with the saddle even when they were supposed to… ) managed to break the tension. And they managed some wisely sprinkled technicalities too. Also those draining road grids gaps are indeed bitches, almost threw me off the bike once.
    Imaizumi showed some nice bits of empathy at the end and Onoda is oh-so-lovable. Plus the Hime Hime Kira Kira keeps haunting me :,DDD.

  4. Y

    I guess I'm one of those 6 people then… How do you tell the popularity of a show? I'm a fan of anime but I pay zero attention to the more "technical" parts so I'm just curious…

    This season kinda sucks for me. In a way I'm watching more shows than usual, but none of them really excite me (Mushishi… Natsume… Where are you?! 😉 And at the end of the day, I've noticed the one I’m most enjoying so far is Yowamushi Pedal. I guess it probably just comes down to really likeable characters… And the kinda cute character design is growing on me too.

  5. I go by the amount of traffic it generates in major discussion forums (which to some extent can also be used as a measure of how a show is doing in Japan). I suspect this will do better there than in the West, as there's a greater tolerance for sports anime generally and Yowapeda is quite popular with fujoshi.

    Have you tried Gingitsune? Kind of a low-rent Natsume. And of course Kyousogiga is my favorite of the season.

  6. Y

    Gingitsune is definitely on my watch list, but I'm not entirely sold yet. Who am I fooling though… I know I'll be watching it… There's just too much of what I love about Japanese culture in there 😉

    Kyousogiga… I watched ep #00 and was completely lost. Your favorite huh? Maybe I'll give it another shot then. Thanks!

  7. I would watch the 5 short ONA prequels (about 5-7 minutes each) and then pick up with episode "1". It will make more sense, though, that sense of being lost is part of the experience for me.

  8. b

    Make it seven as I'm also in this. And I totally loved this episode and the series so far.
    I like underdog stories like this along with them beating all odds to win and the satisfaction of them proving that they have something in them to be proud of.
    That race was certainly exciting. Noticed a bit of CG at times but compared to Machine Doll, Tokyo Ravens or even Ars Nova, this isn't bad at all. The energy was there throughout the last stretch that I was glued to it. The whole match was certainly unfair for Onoda but the fact that he was able to push Imaizumi like that with just a mamachari and those other conditions makes me excited to see how he'll fare if he had a proper bike and some training.
    And been waiting for the 3rd character. He's knowledgeable in bikes and he's in Akiba so probably an otaku as well. Best of both worlds? Onoda might like this guy.
    Really looking forward to the show and I'm glad I picked this up.

    That Hime Hime song. Can't get it out of my head. And isn't Onoda suppose to hide his powerlevel so why is he singing out in the open?

  9. s

    i like this show as well.

  10. t

    it was an excellent episode.
    we got to see everything – thrilling sports, feels, comic touch. it was established well and carry out the foundations even more.
    the sports stuff was interesting. we couldn't know who will win for sure. so great. but we got to see that "bike pedal" is real sports with important factors (experience, tools etc) that must be considered.
    that scene with onoda saying with half-smile "I don't have any friends" was so strong. it conveyed the feels better than the manga.

    YP proved it full potential this time due to the above.
    onoda VA is doing his job so well. he contribues both character and atmosphere.

    hime hime song was sooo funny(it might have been funny as the ED song). I love how they can switch between atmosphere, yet it feel so genuine.

    I love the animation, it so lively,

  11. Yamashita Daiki (I love interpreting Japanese names: "Big Tree Below the Mountain") really is doing a fine job with Onoda – it's pretty rare to hear a seiyuu who actually sounds like a kid.

  12. t

    oops my last paragraph about the animation has been halted.
    well the animation is good and lively. and adjust itself to the atmosphere.
    to be honest Enzo, I am surprised you didn't say anything this episode about the "this-who-mustn't-be-named" CGI. at the first minutes after the OP I noticed some of CGI, though it wasn't prominent, it was there. and although it was for tiny moments here and there, it was present. not in such a bad way, in elegant and minor way, yet it was CGI. still, probably most didn't notice…and it didn't disturb the atmosphere at all.

  13. I don't mention CGI unless it's badly integrated. Every series out there is using it, pretty much – it's just a question of how well. I thought it was fine here, so why mention it?

  14. d

    On top of that, technically it is all CGI, digital art. Hand drawn anime went out in the 90's, so its been almost two decades.

    People are only worked up when anime is poorly done, if it were well done you wouldn't notice (or care, except in a positive fashion).

  15. t

    Scanning an image that was drawn on paper (what happens now for the majority of character animation) is very different from generating the image on a computer directly (CGI).

    You can see that with how the characters look in Ars Nova this season that is actually all CGI

  16. B

    "This, by the way, is the second time (the first is Kotoura-san) that I've mistaken Fukushima Jun for Fukayama Jun"
    Yes! (╯°□°)╯
    Manabe is back!!

  17. m

    I;m glad I gave this a shot is all. Let's see where this show takes us!
    Oh and "Yowamushi Pedal is the show than can makes sports anime fans out of muggles, if they'll only let it." Quite true! This is one of the very few sports show I have ever watched after Chihayafuru (not "mainstream" sports I guess) and KnB (more of a fujoshi attraction for me, the sprts part is like magic lol)

  18. R

    Enzo, I just want you to know that pretty much all the sportsmanga/anime I've gotten wrapped into since Oofuri ended has all been your fault. And I love you for it.

    I've never been a big sports anime fan. Ginga, Area no kishi, giant killing, now daiya and yowapedal I all picked up because I saw them on your blog XD Not all of them were at the same level of enjoyment but this is more sports anime in about a year or so than the rest of my life combined. So good job. Definitely watching this like a hawk. I powdered through the manga after you put it on the fall preview list as a show you were looking forwards too

  19. That's music to my ears, Rita.

  20. d

    I am 9th commenting on this blog alone so there's definitely more than 6. The physics presented are extremely unrealistic– things like 2km being too short to go 70+ kph, and but oh it is a fun show. Imaizumi nearly losing at the climb I'll definitely buy however since he's a simply wimp at climbs (compared to his competition).

    When that last character the last character was introduced, expected a villain, but this anime is not about antagonists but gaining respect with fellow sportsmen.

    This is solid anime overall. Predictable, but solid in presentation and execution. That gets my viewership and support.

  21. J

    make it 10 here. This series certainly has its own charm to it without resorting to too much tiring cliche even if the basic formula is still there

  22. S

    I'm definitely right with you there sir. I have to say, I'm glad I read your blog as regularly as I do (even if I rarely have anything meaningful to add to the discussion).

    As a writer and a blogger it was you that got me really into sports anime (first with your posts on Kuroko, and then pretty much making me see both Giant Killing and Cross x Game).

    And again. this was a series that for all intents and purposes I was going to avoid, but man is it good.

    I agree that it won't make waves in the west, but I think among the hardcore anime watching audience, there's a genuine chance of success!

  23. S

    Oh and before I forget, thank you for all the great writing and championing the sports genre of anime in the blogsphere. Its gotten to the point where I too, this season am blogging a sports series (something I'd have thought impossible a few years ago XD)

  24. Thanks, Ken. I'm not as big a fan of KuroBas as you, but it's a legit hit and it's good to see it get such excellent coverage.

    Have you watched Ginga e Kickoff? My favorite sports anime of the last few years.

  25. S

    Ginga e Kickoff is on my list to bulk watch in the holidays (Being a college student+blogger is intense enough). I ended up missing it when it was airing (was busy with my major's graduation project at the time) and haven't had the time to really watch it yet XD

    I'm looking forward to it though. I'm a big fan of Football, and I'm hoping that its more along the lines of Giant Killing quality and less Area no Kishi XD

    I won't say KuroBas is the great sports show but it does get me nostalgic for them good old basketball shows of old (Slam Dunk).

  26. R

    I watched the first season of KuroBas and found it boring and formulaic in the middle — and I couldn't get myself engaged in stories about Koroko and Kagami. However, it really ended on a high note — the Kisa vs Aomine arc was good. I liked how Kisa tried and stretched himself beyond his limits, and the way the show played up the theme on teamwork was right-on and moving. Because of the last arc, I'm watching the second season. It's okay and still at its early stage of introducing the new characters. Both KuroBas and YP are shounen sports series, but I find KuroBas more conventional while YP more refreshing.

  27. K

    I am one of the 6 lol actually I would go as far to say this is my favorite of the season so far. I like sports series a lot but its more that I like stories that focus on friendship. The series is just so charming.

  28. i

    Clearly there are more than 6 people watching Yowamushi Pedal and that's great as it is head and shoulders above the rest of the anime this season. I'm not above hnnngs for man-moe and Onoda (I've never heard of a Japanese person with a first name like Sakamichi, sounds more like a surname every time I hear it) really brought out the love with his never give up spirit and confession (might as well be one) about not having friends. Hnnng.

    I really loved Oofuri for the same reason and that comparison alone makes Yowamushi Pedal great. Bishounen like KnB aren't my thing but the funny, plain (unsparkly), soft ones in the above 2 are really to my liking (in anime only though, lol).

    Also YP has an amazing mix of character, sports adrenaline/suspense and age old story of never give up that never becomes old. I read the whole manga in one weekend sitting. It's about as good as classic underdog sports manga gets and is very addictive and hilarious. Diamond no Ace is of the same ilk but YP captivates me an edge more for some reason. Must be the Hnnngs

  29. Lol, I guess it is more than six. 12?

    I agree about Onoda – I actually find him more likeable than Ren, because he actually does act forcefully to try and make his life better. I think the appeal of Yowapeda starts with empathy for him, and he's a very good MC.

  30. n

    I am a lurker in your blog and I rarely comment (well, in different usernames xD) but I would like to tell you that there's really more than 6 who watches this show and reads your blog 😀

    Based from the forums and tumblr, this is not popular among western viewers which is kinda said because this is definitely an anime worth watching. Well, as you say the other sports anime is hogging all of it ugh

    But Daiya no A is my favorite sports anime this season and Hajime no Ippo is my best sports anime this season but, yeah, it's still early to say.

  31. Well, I get stat reports so I know the blog has way more than 6 but with Yowapeda I wasn't so sure. Nice to see such an enthusiastic response – maybe this will be the quasi-official English gathering place for fans, like it seemed to become for GeK.

  32. R

    I never left the GeK ship after your posts practically hoisted me up and threw me onboard (of all the series I had not planned on watching, that was like….probably second place) so here's hoping.

  33. R

    You know, it's weird that Yowamushi Pedal feels different from other sports shows even when it's also touching on the popular themes — an underdog's struggle, a relentless attitude, etc. I like the light-hearted tone of the show, and three episodes in, we're already seeing more of both Onoda and Imaizumi. Yes, it's Onoda's hidden talent that attracts Imaizumi's interest on him, but it's his singular motive and emotional outburst that warms up Imaizumi. That sequence is handled nicely — it's not over the top in my view. We only see glimpses other competitive cyclists, and I wonder how the character dynamics will turn out. I like that the characters are introduced first — that will make watching of the races more engaging and exhilarating. Too bad that this show only focuses on the boys, but it's still an interesting watch so far.

    I just found out that there was an OVA released in the summer. Has anyone watched it yet? I can only find the raw version though.

  34. i

    I watched raw. Watching raw hurts my head a bit because I have to translate everything in my noggin but for a show this good that's fine.

  35. R

    Good that you understand Japanese. I don't and will have to wait for the sub version to come. The same goes for Chihayafuru OVA — I have been waiting and waiting and still no sub yet :-(.

  36. i

    Even if I was blind and deaf I'd still watch Chihayafuru – raw or not lol.

  37. I'm not at all surprised no one has subbed the Yowapeda OVA, but the Chihayfuru one really surprises me. That show has quite a following.

  38. R

    The sub is out…whoot whoot! Well, I meant Chihayafuru.

  39. t

    lol you just talked about it and it got subbed.
    it was nice and funny. simply a screentime with our beloved characters. half of it was Sumire's time. nothing bad about it..but it was simply an ova..not something really..hard-core related to chihayafuru/karuta. simply nice.
    BTW about YP
    hmm actually now it would be a waste to translate it. 'cause it something more advanced in the series. and we are only at the beginning (:
    I was surprised it wasn't subbed when it came out..but then I realized how little interest the show had (which technically didn't air at the time).

  40. Z

    Elianthos, Ronbb and Ishruns are a given. Also Thedarktower (who seems to be watching almost everything this season?)

    Count me as one of those statistics watching this too.

  41. R

    Welcome to the club :-).

  42. e

    We'll conquer the steepest hills together :°) . Singing Hime Hime.

  43. M

    For me, I think this is going to be the most enjoyable show this season, which is hella strange because I can't even ride a bicycle. I've ridden exactly three times. The first and second times resulted in minor injuries but the third time, I ended up breaking my arm and I haven't gone anywhere near bicycles since. I don't even particularly like sports or anything, both in real life and in fiction. But man, I'm really liking Yowamushi Pedal. It's too soon to see, but yeah, so far so good. 🙂

  44. Get right back up on that bike, Michelle!!

  45. q

    Usually I can't stand sports anime. I've found that if I've played the sport, I find myself yelling at the characters when they're playing games. (The only other 'sports' anime I've watched were Ryo-Kyu-Bu and Moshidora, and even then I found myself going "What are you doing?! Do this or you'll completely-! SEE! I told you! D:<". True story XD)

    But this was fun and exciting! And I never thought that I'd say that about bike racing either. You win Enzo! I like Yowapeda! I'll keep watching! 😀

    Plus, Onoda and Imaizumi seem like good characters to watch. :3

  46. Soon you'll be singing "Hime, Hime" in the shower…

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