Yowamushi Pedal – 15

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Game on.

If you’ve been paying attention there have been a number of hints that the two second-years, Teshima and Kitaro Aoyagi, were going to be entering the drama soon in a big way.  Besides their presence in the OP and ED, within the episodes themselves they’ve sort of been hanging just on the edge of your frame of vision.  You look over and they’re gone – the camera never seemed to settle on them for long.  Kinjou has been making the odd comment here and there too, fully aware of what was coming.  But it was certainly easy to forget about them quickly enough.

Until now, that is.  This is definitely the week on Yowamushi Pedal were things get serious, starting with good-natured Onoda himself.  The stage has been set – all the Souhoku riders have settled into routines with the doctored bicycles, both the enemies and rivals (as Taichi would tell you it’s two different words, Crunchyroll) have been introduced, and the stakes have been clearly established.  Now it’s just about going out and making it happen, and that’s where the real competition begins.

Hakone’s Manami-kun may be a climbing specialist, but if that doesn’t pan out he might want to consider behavioral psychology.  His bottle ploy with Onoda had exactly the desired effect – it jolted the mild-mannered and unconfident phenom out of his routine and forced him to confront the fact that yes, he really wants to race in the inter-highs.  Even if that means (which it obviously does) knocking someone else off the team.  Onoda is something of a master at not setting his goals aggressively enough, and so it has been here – yes, finishing 1000K on that bike is an accomplishment, but it doesn’t get him where he wants to go.  The 1000 KM isn’t the point – making the team is the point.

This is really the first time in the series we’ve seen Onoda be this assertive, and I think it’s a real positive for his character.  As long as he keeps deferring to Imaizumi and Naruko he can never take himself – or be taken – seriously – as a rider.  The first crucial moment I was looking towards was when Naruko and Imaizumi realized their teammate was tying to be a threat.  There’s been a definite patronizing streak in the way they’ve treated him, though it hasn’t been malicious, and it’s certainly easy to be good-natured as long as Onoda is just trying to hang onto the back of the pack.  For now, I think both rivals passed the test – they didn’t turn against their friend, which is to their credit.  We’ll see what happens when places on the inter-high roster are at stake and Onoda becomes a real, practical danger to them.

Of course, nothing brings people together faster than a shared enemy – and Aoyagi and Teshima certainly provide that.  It’s an interesting conundrum, trying to figure out just where to stand on what they’re doing.   They’re playing the villain role at the moment, beyond a doubt.  But are they in the wrong?  They’ve clearly acknowledged that they’re not “elite” individual talents, so in effect they’ve joined forces and relied on teamwork and strategy.  Well, in truth whoever wins the Tour de France every year – even setting aside the issue of PEDs and blood doping – is riding squarely on the shoulders of his team.  The Ni-nens have devised a very clever strategy (the full details of which – including “tea time” – won’t be known until next week) that involves sending Aoyagi ahead and using Teshima as both a block and a distraction – and relied on their well-honed compatibility to save as much of their strength as possible.  There’s certainly nothing wrong with that part.

All that said, maybe it’s the sports-manga geek in me but what these two are doing still smells a bit off.  There’s the obvious point that if the first-years were riding unaltered bicycles this likely wouldn’t be a contest (which in itself calls Kinjou’s reliance on these results for placement on the team into question, though perhaps seeing if the first-years can overcome these tactics is part of their test).  But I also feel as if what Teshima did this week crossed a line, especially coming in a training event – playing head games with the opponent, practically causing Naruko to crash in blocking his passage – well, it sure isn’t GAR, that’s for sure.  The stakes are high, sure, but if those two read more sports manga they’d know that kind of behavior doesn’t get rewarded very often.  In the end I think these two mainly matter as an obstacle for the three first-years to overcome – but at least they’re that, unlike poor Sugimoto who it turns out was pretty much a speed bump all along.  But he is an experienced rider…

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  1. t

    oh just another great episode of YP.
    they really know how to handle things.
    starting with Onoda determined face to enter inter-high and then they bring you this challenge. so we have great competition between first and second years, and inter-high is on the stake, no one can allow himself to lose. as you said a few weeks ago in DnA – there is always competition inside a team on "who will be in the starting lineup". and it's also here in YP.
    the second years have the upper hand. they knew this will come to a competition like that (unlike naive first-year maybe except Imaizumi) and they prepared and saving energy for that. but that's what you call experience. that's why they are second-years and our guys are first-years.

    now here is the thing I suddenly thought about last week. in ep #05 Kinjou stated that only 2 will be picked to inter-high. now ever since the beginning I was getting the hunch it's gonna be Naruko and Imaizumi (although they have tough challenge with Teshima&Aoyagi). but it's impossible to imagine it without Onoda especially with his determination now. making his statement to those 2 very interesting. but I think those 3 are so well together, it's hard for me to imagine them as rivals too, it's like the third years…I don't see them like that. besides, inter-high is a team play….so if there is a rivalry in the team (which is natural), they still have to cooperate in order to win,
    and there is more – inter-high is for 6 people. Hakone-school and weird-guy of the purple-shirt-school has 6 (and stated he need 6 people) so how is that only 2 more will be accepted to inter-high if we count to 3 third-year that makes 5…unless someone got picked already??or one is just a reserve or something? or I missed something?I really don't know…S:

  2. e

    Last thing first: the omake. The milk! 1) Oh my yaoi goggles! 2) Don't panic! Was that 'sell by' date or 'consume by' date?

    Even in the light of bottley-token-of-sport-bromance-fueled determination Onoda is still selling himself a bit short. So amazed at Imaizumi and Naruko for catching up to the quiet one and the permed one? Sure he is laps behind on total count but he is keeping pace with them too on the single lap now. You can do it Onodacchi <3.

    P.S.: poor Sugimoto :,D.
    P.P.S.: Makishima. Ah <3
    P.P.S.: I had never thought tea-time – oh blessed leaf of the gods – could be scary. Until now.

  3. A

    Teshima's antagonizing of the first-years does seem a bit extreme, especially considering that next year, the third years will have graduated and Teshima and Aoyagi will be the most senior members of the club (If the series ever gets that far). Hopefully between now and then they learn to be more supportive of their kouhai.

  4. s

    The more I think about it the more I see the Captain using the handicap bikes to help both 1st and 2nd years. For the 1st years, the benefits are obviously to push them to the next level. For the 2nd years I think it's a bit of a mental boost and to keep the club viable once the 3rd years graduate. From the context clues we're given the 2nd years probably didn't make it to the interhigh last year and are burning to go. On the flip side they're well below the 3rd year's level. If the elite 1st years just had their normal bikes and just crushed the 2nd years it might be the last straw. At which point the 2nd years might quite and you have the 3 years graduating next year, so there would only maybe 3-4 1st years which is below the 5 needed to be a club.

    Of course I'm could be over reading into the situation but with how foresighted the Captain is (and the voice of god doesn't hurt either) it could easily be something he would do.

  5. A

    Progressively better. Good soundtrack introduced for this part of the training arc. Can't wait till next week to find out what happens next. The way they fleshed out everyone's abilities are very well executed.

  6. i

    Teshima and Aoyagi are certainly not 'elite' riders but they are very much capable of providing support to the third year should they make the team. And I suppose in the future to the first years, who all seem more like lone riders than team players, will gain a lot of experience of that sort from them. But probably Kinjou will teach the first years more in the inter highs should they make it. Also you said the 1st vol of YP is on the astore but I can't find it there.

  7. N

    Two different words that are written and spoken the same 🙂 The ambiguity itself is almost like a third meaning, but try and get that across in translation..

  8. Well put. Japanese is full of those kinds of words (German too) which makes subtitles and dubbing an inexact science.

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