Yowamushi Pedal – 13

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The first Fall show to weigh in for Winter may just be the best, and the new year finds it still in rhythm.

OP2: “Yowamushi na Honoo (弱虫な炎)” by Dirty Old Men

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Yowapeda starts 2014 with a new OP and ED – I like the former the better of the two, especially for the very clever animation sequence.  The feel of the series is just a little different too, as it seems as if we’ve shifted to a more overt focus on the coming battles.  The theme of this episode is definitely rivalry – both within and between teams.  That, and on just how many weirdos ride bicycles competitively.  It’s not like the gang at Souhoku are vanilla by any means, but compared to the rivals we’re meeting those boys are positively normal.

One thing I’ve noticed is that there’s been almost no focus on Onoda-kun’s dream to start an anime club for several episodes, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s going to return to prominence in the story at some point.  It’s natural given that the cycling has become serious business both generally and for Onoda himself, but about the only hint we’ve gotten were the “Love, Hime” Blu-rays he brought to the training camp.  I wonder if it boils down to the fact that as much as Onoda loves anime and manga, the main point with the club was that he desperate for friends – and now he has them, which renders the need for the club moot.  That’s sound narrative construction, but I kind of hope it doesn’t end there.

Of course right now he and all the guys have bigger problems on their hands, namely cycling 800 miles in three days (in Onoda’s case, 835).  The dynamic between Imaizumi and Naruko proves interesting here, as their rivalry drives them to push themselves to exhaustion, riding without any intervals (breaks) until Imaizumi loses his water bottle and basically collapses.  Naruko, surprisingly, is the one who seems to talk sense – they shouldn’t be worried about keeping up with third-years on unmodded bikes when finishing 1000 KM in any fashion would be huge under the circumstances – but he seems swayed by Imaizumi’s GAR (and I would say a bit foolish) insistence that anything less than dominance is unacceptable, and intervals are for sissies.

As for Onoda, he seems more or less unmoved by such concerns at the moment and content to try and wrangle 1000 K out of his undersized body any way he can.  I’d been wondering why the first-years hadn’t thought to ease back a bit during the day and ride extensively at night, when it’s cooler and less punishing, and while I don’t know if they eased back much they certainly do take to more night riding.  And Onoda learns an important lesson in cycling – it’s a lot easier to push yourself forward when you’re following other riders in a pack.  There’s the matter of wind resistance but there’s a strong psychological factor involved too, in focusing on the back of the rider in front of you and just turning the pedals.  That’s why you see breakaway groups in races like the Tour de France continually rotating the lead – and why the other riders get very testy if one of the group refuses to take their turn at the front.

There’s a little something for every rooting interest on the personal side here, with Onoda blushing at the mention of Miki-chan as well as lots more of Naruko and Imaizumi glaring at each other and being joined at the hip (not to mention an extended scene in the bath featuring Imaizumi looking on impassively as both his teammates nearly drown from exhaustion).  There’s also the matter of publicity – the first time we’ve seen this factor into the equation, as the newspapers and even TV start requesting interviews from the schools competing at the inter-highs.  Naruko scores some major points with Kinjou by refusing the offer to be the Souhoku representative – an offer made, I suspect, as a test of Naruko’s ability to resist it.

It isn’t just Souhoku getting interview requests, and we spend our most extended time yet with the two other principal schools that appear fated for starring roles in this series.  Kyoto Fushimi is the clear villain of the piece – or rather, their captain Midousuji is.  He represents everything Yowapeda rejects – he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about his team except as bodies to fill out the 6-man requirement for inter-highs, and he never worked his way up to the ace role.  His character is the most “cartoonish” in the series so far – there’s just not a lot of subtlety there, though I suppose it’s just possible we’ll see another side to him eventually.

Hakone Private Academy is another matter, though – a much more nuanced rival.  These are seemingly the princes of the sport, the best team in the country, but while decidedly weird they don’t play as villains.  We’ve met Makishima’s climber rival Toudou – he loves his hair clips and mirrors – and Onoda’s fated (at least) rival Manami, who seems like the odd man out with his team for his eccentric behavior.  This week we’re introduced to the very weird Izumiya Toichirou (Atsushi Abe) who’s not only named his pecs – that would be strange enough – but named them “Frank” and Andy”.  They seem the polar opposite of Kyoto Fushimi and Midousuji – a team-first group where “everyone is an ace” – and I suspect it’s they who’re going to be the last Souhoku rival standing when the inter-highs finally go down to the wire.

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ED2: “I am ready” by AUTRIBE featuring Dirty Old Men

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  1. t

    it's not first fall series to weigh in for 2014. Log-Horizon was the first (I think) and it actually went really well for LH (namely, I really loved the last episode of LH).

    anyway, a new year bring out new OP and ED for YP. I guess every cour we'll have new OP&ED (as kingdom is doing with its 3cour season that has 3 OP&ED sequence).
    well, I really liked the previous songs. I was really attached to them. but those aren't that bad or something. I still need to give them another hearing session next episode.
    and yeah, I too liked the new OP a lot due to its cleverness in animation. the way it's combining the written info on the OP…I fell for it, I admit.

    I really missed YP. one week break was too much 😛
    and our fellows keep pedaling hard for the goal of 1000 KM in those 4 days. not to mention the individual goal of both Naruko and Imaizumi to surpass their Senpais. but that will have to wait.
    I admit I was a little surprised with Imaizumi's attitude. it's OK to want to become better and all. but it was like..putting some grey clouds above his head. I didn't like the way he expressed himself, even though he was exhausted and under a lot of pressure, both physical and mental. and that's the purpose of this training camp.
    but Naruko did score some points with his attitude both to the captain and to Imaizumi. with the captain it's obvious, with Imaizumi. well, first it was really nice for him to stop and pick up the bottle and speak like that. I love his spirit. and second, when he was swayed by Imaizumi, he dropped the bottle. maybe it seems bad but I think it's totally out of respect to his rival Imaizumi.

    as for Onoda, well we didn't see much of him at all this episode. besides, it's kinda absurd to show his Otaku nature when he is in intense camp. all he does is riding, sleeping and showering. I guess the comic touch will return.
    but it's true, little by little he is drawn to the world of cycling.

    besides, Onoda wasn't the center of attention because of the change in atmosphere.
    the new OP+ED and the whole atmosphere kinda changed because of full-time introduction to the rivals we are going to have down the road.
    so it's only natural to YP to start warm engines toward that.

    good to have you back YP (:

  2. K

    For the anime interest of Onoda, I have not read the manga so I can't tell you much, but in the special episode which was out last summer, onoda shared his passion for anime with Makishima, just like how he did with imaizumi. It was fun to watch 🙂

  3. I'm going to have to cave and watch that raw, it looks like.

  4. e

    :,) episode summary for the non-Japanese in case please.

  5. N

    a slight misspelling of the title there

  6. d

    Ahh, Yowamushi came at the perfect time for me. This season hasn't been bad so far, but I haven't seen anything great either (then again, I've only watched about 5 or 6 debuts, and they are debuts), but Yowamushi just came back stronger than ever. Am I the only one that thought the art improved slightly? Somehow the animation seemed better to me this time around. As always this episode kept me wanting more.

  7. e

    Not fond of Kyoto guys' ace but other than that it was as good as usual. And his captain at least should provide some inner conflict later on hopefully.

    Dat Tadokoro special *to drool or not to drool*.
    What's wrong with pecs guy ? I've named my pecs too *hello from Gina and Anita * and not by chance – all hail Lollobrigida&Ekberg boobs goddesses – :D. I do wonder if he named his pecs after someone relevant. Didn't ring any bike bells for me on the spot (well I heard 'Eddy' instead of 'Andy' at first and thought of Merckx but the subs told me another story).
    The Hakone guys do seem a promising bunch. And Manami as the odd first year climb lover of the bunch is quite a nice rival for Onoda in the inter-highs (because Onoda will manage to take part I'm assuming. Right? RIGHT?) . He even has some shiny aura. Oh tenshi teki to our radiantly smiling MC. Go Onodacchi go! XD

  8. J

    There are a couple of current cyclists who are brothers called Andy and Frank Schleck. They're both pretty famous in the cycling world as Andy has won the Tour de France once and runner up twice.

  9. Yeah Jo, you got it – I don't know how I didn't catch that. Of course they've also both been suspended for blood doping, so mixed messages, Kids…

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