Yowamushi Pedal – 18

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Low-key, that was not.

No question about it, sports can be a brutal lesson in the unsentimental nature of fate – just ask Tom Watson.  That, and a reminder of the hard truth that more often than not, talent wins out in the end.  That said, I was never too wrapped up in the story of TeshimAoyagi for reasons I’ve already laid out. And the simple fact is the three first-years are busting their asses too, and doing so with huge handicaps – this wasn’t the plucky underdog story that Teshima had built it up to in his mind.  It’s not Imaizumi, Naruko and Sakamichi’s fault that they happen to be exceptionally gifted.

This was definitely an episode that played up the drama big-time.  Maybe a bit too much for my tastes – for one of the very few times Yowamushi Pedal laid it on a bit too thick, I thought, especially when Kinjou was making speeches about the nature of sports and the brutality of competition (though I did like his analogy of the end of a road race being like a 100-meter dash at the end of a marathon).  Of course the fact that I’m slightly down on Kinjou at the moment might be coloring my view of those scenes a bit – I get the method behind his madness, but there are some things in the way he’s chosen to handle this training camp that I don’t really agree with.

The first order of business is obviously resolving the brutal cliffhanger of last week.  On paper, Naruko should have been the one to win that sprint to the line.  He’s a sprinter by specialty, and there’s a reason breakaway groups trying to steal flat grand tour stages try and drop sprinters before they get to the final few KM of the stage.  Happily that’s exactly what did happen – score one for realism, as Naruko won the stage, with Imaizumi in tow.  But what really mattered was that all three of the first-years finished ahead of both the second-years.  Even with their hobbled bikes, they came out ahead – at this point there can be no possible doubt as to who’s more deserving of going to inter-highs.

To Teshima’s credit, he doesn’t seem to be in denial mode.  Of course with he and Aoyagi so physically broken they can’t continue it’s not as though he can deny the truth, but after the fact at least he’s gracious in defeat to the “elites”.  There’s still the matter of finishing the 1000K though, which is no formality – especially when the fourth day dawns with rain, and especially for Onoda.  Here’s yet another example of where his inexperience is really highlighted – actually trying to ride a racing bike for the first time in the rain is no easy thing.  Naruko and Imaizumi are joined at the hip and they manage to finish their thousand not long after the third-years, but Onoda is far behind – and this becomes an even bigger problem when he breaks the pedal on his borrowed bike.

I have a couple of issues with the way Kinjou has handled Onoda here.  The handicap thing is what it is, and if he chooses to be rigid – “no 1000K, no inter-highs” – that’s his choice.  But he’s really made no allowances for Onoda’s inexperience.  In the first place – and this is on Naruko and Imaizumi too – how is it that no one rode with Onoda on the last day to try and help him, as he had the highest hill to climb to get to 1000K?  I would have thought the other first-years (who were assured of making it) or Makishima might ride with Onoda as it’s far, far more difficult to engage in a long ride on your own.  And just because they finished their 1000K, there was no rule that they all had to stop.  Why didn’t someone – Makishima, Naruko, anyone – keep riding with Onoda, trying to help him get to the goal?

Biggest gripe of all for me, though, is this: how is it that no one thought to give Sakamichi a pair of god-damn cleats?  Riding in sneakers is a monstrous disadvantage, on top of all his other handicaps – would it really have been too much for Kinjou (or anyone else, though it was ultimately Kinjou’s responsibility) to at least give Onoda proper racing footwear and pedals?  It falls to Teshima to do so after Onoda’s equipment failure (I’m still not 100% clear on why Teshima was there at that moment), really redeeming himself for his earlier dubious behavior.  I bought this totally – I could definitely see Teshima being quicker to come around to the home-grown, self-taught Onoda than the pure-bred Imaizumi and Naruko – that, and intensely curious to see just what this freak of nature could actually do fighting on even terms with proper equipment.  This was good karma, here – Onoda has been nothing but kind and supportive to everyone else, and he was owed a little help from an experienced hand at this stage.  It’s just mildly disappointing that it had to be Teshima to be the one to offer it.

With all that said, the moment Ononda crossed the line was an exceptionally well-earned dramatic payoff (I knew Naruko would hug him), and there can be absolutely no question that the tireless terrier earned this trip to inter-highs.  I have great expectations for him, riding on a proper bike with proper equipment, and even a bit more training under his belt.  As Teshima said the job of the first-years is to put the third-years on the top step of the podium (though it would defy every law of shounen if they did), but I can’t help look ahead to next year.  It’ll be Sakamichi, Imaizumi and Naruko’s turn to try and ascend that podium then – and they’ll need help in doing so.  That, perhaps, might be TeshimAoyagi’s time to truly redeem themselves, and to stamp their ticket to inter-highs better late than never.

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  1. e

    Omake: soooo… Imaizumi must have set the timer of his TV recorder to catch the latest Love Hime episodes while he was away on camp himself musn't he? LOL

    Drama! But I cheated and read the post beforehand this time so I was prepared (and I could better appreciate Makishima's sorta '-_-' faces during Kinjou's speeches, fufu ) .
    On your observations about Onoda's equipment issues can't tell I disagree (I find especially baffling a) nobody realized Onoda was missing a pedal on that passage on the finish line vs b) they noticed… but did jack squat c) Onoda himself didn't ask for help in that moment <— pride? didn't wish to be a burden? it's not like he can pop a pedal out of thin air though. Did he think asking his seniors would be a disqualifier in itself? Hmmmmm)
    But I do think Teshima being the one to help wasn't a disappointment. If anything he was the only one suitabe for the job. In order to redeem himself hard that is. And being the schemer he might have been wandered right there with the goods as that was a good stopping point for Onoda in the circuit…

    Manamicchi is waiting <3 :,D

  2. I think Onoda not asking for help is the easiest to explain. Kinjou has been a brick wall, no help whatsoever – "swim or drown, your call" – and I think Onoda was simply afraid to show any weakness there. A better question is why none of the three third-years – or Onoda or Imaizumi – noticed and said something.

    I'm fine with Teshima being the one to help, as I said – that part makes sense. I just think it's sad he had to be the one to give Onoda cleats after all this time.

  3. e

    Where they waiting for Onoda to figure out the cleats issue (and ask for a fix) for himself you think, as part of his 'learning the hard way' test? They really piled up handicaps on him in any case.

    I wonder if the 'noticed? yes/no and said something' could be explained with the first sentence above. Not really satisfied either way personally.

  4. t

    "how is it that no one rode with Onoda on the last day to try and help him"
    because Naruko and Imaizumi tried to pass the third-years. and after that they were focused on the goal. besides, even in days 1-2, they didn't ride with Onoda. what's so different now?
    not to mention the obvious, they never thought Onoda needs help. they believed in Onoda all along. and I don't know how much they were helpful (of course except for when the pedal broke).

    "how is it that no one thought to give Sakamichi a pair of god-damn cleats?"
    LOL it never occurred to me to ask that. it is indeed weird. I mean…he is in the club for at least let's say weeks or 1-2 months. and he even raced on the first day in the first-year race…but no one told him to get proper riding shoes?maybe Onoda wasted all his money on blu-ray and Hime…so no much left for that LOL.

    as for "I'm still not 100% clear on why Teshima was there at that moment". in the manga, at first, Teshima saw Onoda struggling from the window. only after some time(not much) he met Onoda and helped him.

    but more surprisingly is Onoda. why he didn't stop, took a break and go asking someone to help fix the bike? sure, maybe the others should've taken an active role in that…but it's more natural to go and ask for help. I am sure that if he would've done so, then someone could have help him fixing or replacing the pedal from someone else's bike or something…

    that way or another, it was still great camp and all. last moment were really tense. I feel bad for Teshima and Aoyagi. they really did their best but sports can be really cruel. they did the right thing to stop racing.

    BTW, OVA is subbed (by the guy who is also subbing the manga right now) if you are interested. it's really good. as long as inter-high hasn't started(there is still time until start)…it's the ultimate time to watch it, now or in a couple of weeks after next 2-3 eps maybe.

  5. What's different now is that it's sink or swim for Onoda, and they never would have beaten the second-years without him. Cycling is a team sport, even in so-called individual races – if Onoda needed support, I think someone should have ridden with him. It's much, much easier when riding with a person or group.

    Thanks for the tip on the OVA – I'll check it out.

  6. j

    Yeah, from using underhanded methods such as ramming other people's bikes to esper-level support (right, just walking around with cleats and new pedals) from Teshima.

    Not really buying that. I said this last week but the writing is showing some weird holes. Like what was the point of that whole spiel on rain when the weather clears up right as Onoda gets new equipment?

  7. Well, if it's as tdt says and the manga shows Teshima watching Sakamichi struggle from inside the lodge, that makes more sense for me.

  8. j

    I was talking more about the huge change in heart on part by teshima. Are high schoolers really like this? I mean, I know it's just an anime, but the writers made him seem to be way more villainous during the race than afterwards. Just seemed off.

  9. l

    I don't watch this (since I'm following the manga), but I have to say the animators seem to be doing a decent job with regards to the cycle frames. That Look model in the final screenshot is pretty accurate, right down to the fork and seatstay design.

  10. K

    Can someone explain to me why it's easier to ride with cleats than sneakers? I don't understand the logic behind that.

  11. Basically, your foot becomes one with the pedal. There's no wasted energy through slipping or having to exert to keep your foot planted. Every bit of exertion is directly passed on to the bike.

  12. F

    It also effectively doubles the amount of force being applied to the pedals in that the rider can now pull up with one foot as the opposite is pushing down. This way each foot is applying force to each pedal through 360 degrees of rotation and not just 180.

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