Yowamushi Pedal – 19

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Don’t lie – I know most of you were singing it in the shower the last time you heard it in an episode…

Yowapeda is back in a much more mischievous and balanced mode, with the non-stop intensity of the training camp behind us.  Plotquakes aside that was a very exciting string of episodes, but there’s no denying the atmosphere was a lot heavier than the first cour had us used to with this show.  I did miss both Onoda’s otaku side and the series’ quirky humor (one of the reasons I enjoyed the OVA so much when I watched it) and happily, those elements are very much back in the mix this week.

I haven’t talked about it much, but I really love the job Yamashita Daiki is doing as Onoda here.  I have no idea how old he is and he hasn’t done much anime work yet but I suspect that may be about to change, because there aren’t many male actors that can convincingly pull off playing teenagers who’re physically on the younger side of their peer group.  I love the way the “Love, Hime” OP is like his personal amphetamine – sing it and his powers are exponentially increased – and Daiki delivers it with gusto (someone even made an hour-long video loop of his last 28-second performance).  There was one especially hilarious moment this week where Sakamichi is weakly proclaiming his fighting spirit to Kinjou, finishing with an “I’ll do my best” – after which there’s a full two-second pause before he delivers the polite “Desu!”  Very funny as written, of course, but the delivery is what really sells the moment comedically (and since the “Desu” isn’t in the manga, it was either added by the director or Daiki ad-libbed it).

That weakness (well, it fits the title) is very much in-keeping with the theme of the episode.  The first order of business is make-up classes after the training camp, but not before Kinjou delivers a pretty harsh critique of Sakamichi’s overall strength level and his usefulness to the team.  It’s the first part of a one-man “good cop/bad cop” presentation, but Kinjou is interrupted before he gets to the good cop’s dialogue and Sakamichi is left believing he’s been left off the team.  It falls to Mr. Pierre – who it turns out is an English teacher too, and let’s the Cycling Club off from their last lesson of the day – to deliver the good news.  And along with it, Sakamichi’s official inter-high jersey (luckily, that make them in his size).

I like Mr. Pierre a lot – he adds an interesting and slightly skewed perspective and seems like a genuinely nice guy – but I’ve been having my doubts about Kinjou after the training camp.  I continue to believe he’d be well-served to be a little more accommodating to Onoda’s lack of experience and step back from his hard-ass routine to give a little more actual coaching.  But of course in this instance he’s got a plan in mind.  He needs to convince Onoda that he needs to raise his game, narrow the gap his inexperience and lack of technique opens between he and his teammates.  And there’s a very legitimate reason why Onoda is a crucial figure in this upcoming race – he’s a true wild-card.  That very inexperience and rough technical skills make Onoda the hardest guy to figure out (both for his team and the opponent) and that includes trying to guess just how high his upside really is.

It’s a very nice moment when Sakamichi gets that jersey – he certainly busted his ass to do so.  But heavy is the head that wears the crown, and said uniform really seems to bring home to Sakamichi just how real all this is.  As in, he has the potential to screw it up for everybody else if he’s not really up to the task – and he’s serially convinced he’s not up to the task, so why should this be any different?  The lack of confidence can be an irritating trait in a main character but Sakamichi wears it as well as any could, because he always manages to break through in spite of his wavering self-belief – and because in his position, any rational person would have doubts.

Still, the pressure is clearly weighing on the tireless terrier when the team makes another practice ride to Minegayama.  Nothing saps an athlete’s power like tension, and even if his bike no longer has 10 KG wheels the inter-high uni feels like it weighs twice that much to Onoda.  Here’s where Kinjou really stands tall – all the third-years do, in fact – establishing the kind of supportive environment that’s closer to what we saw before the camp.  It happens to be true, of course, that road cycling is a team sport, but more importantly this is the only way to help Onoda get his feet planted underneath him.  As long as he focuses on himself he’s screwed – but as a part of a six-man unit, the burden doesn’t seem quite so heavy.

There’s some nice character development in this episode, which is also welcome after the camp arc.  TeshimAoyagi watching the others put on their jerseys and talk about team spirit definitely had a bit of an edge to it, though they’ll obviously suck it up and do their part.  The general dynamic between the third and first-years is as good in this episode as it was early in the series (and that’s damn good).   Naruko and Imaizumi continue their hilarious engagement.  And there are some interesting and winning Miki moments, too, especially when she, in Aya’s words, “gives Onoda the wrong idea”.  I’m not so sure she isn’t giving him exactly the idea she intends to give him, but it’s clearly going to be a while before we find out for sure (if we ever do).

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  1. t

    YP has relaxed a bit after the intense camp. and that's good.
    of course, this isn't totally carefree as before. in the beginning they laid out the foundations with Onoda's otaku side. but obviously now the main stuff is sports and all feelings related to it, so there is less room for being otaku (this isn't Genshiken after all LOL) and it's true (otherwise he wouldn't have to record all the shows LOL)..but they put the right touch when needed. and indeed, without Onoda's VA it was totally different. he really get into the character be it Otaku side or when Onoda is freaking out when he can't step forward and so. YP wasn't the same without him.

    and you said it well – heavier. this is exactly the feeling Onoda is having, because wearing inter-high jersey and represent the school, be part of the "ultimate" team and all..this isn't easily for a rookie like Onoda. a lot of expectations and responsibility. no doubt he earned it and proved himself after 19 episodes. but he can't let them down now. and this what the episode was about. it was some kind of mental preparation for Onoda.

    I love Mr Pierre too. we don't see him much, but when he does show up..it's like a different presence on the screen. that geezer. he is always involved even if we don't see it. and in fact I feel like he is giving the team and Kinjou a lot of space to decide what to do and all.
    I hope we'll see a lot more from him.

    in the end of the day, it was good episode for YP.we had some nice interaction with the secondary characters like Mr Pierre, Kanzaki and all.
    all in all, kinda relieving pressure but still gives us signs that inter-high is around the corner and our guys can't rest assured yet.

    BTW Enzo, Kinjou said that completing the 1000 KM wasn't the real demand for inter-high (otherwise Teshima and Aoyagi would make it) but to test the true strength in real battle. is this now make more sense about the match and camp-arc?you had your thoughts that a few things were weird..so maybe with that saying it's make more sense?

  2. I get that, but I still have some issues with the way he went about the whole thing. If the second-years had won that sprint to the line, would he have kept his promise to let them go to the inter-high despite the fact that the first-years were riding hobbled bikes?

  3. t

    well obviously we can't tell for sure.
    but yeah, I believe that if second-years were the winners and didn't have to quit due to injuries, they would have made to inter-high.
    you saw how Kinjou was strict that he said that if Onoda(or anyone) can't complete 1000KM then he won't be in inter-high. period and even Makishima who said it was harsh couldn't do anything about it (unlike the time he did help Onoda realize his bike was modified…).

    now yeah, it's hard to tell for sure what would have happen "if"..(there is only the S;G choice available to us..LOL)
    but I think the point here was that the 1000 KM and bike's modifications and all, had one purpose and it was to bring both first and second years to the edge and see who eventually can take it.
    because in the end, it's not about bike's technique, equipment or strategy (who knows..maybe Teshima and Aoyagi would have planned a different strategy if the first-years' bikes weren't modified. or if first years would know it's a race in first place) but who has the true strength given unpredictable circumstances. and both first and second years met those unpredictable circumstances during that race. in the end, first years won (well they had unpredictable wild card – Onoda). that's what I tend to think….

  4. e

    Aye. I'm as guilty of Hime Hime Kira Kira as charged :,D. – you didn't link the loop video though! Hidoi :,c –

    It was a good episode. I wonder what's with dem cliffhangers (Kinjou… you just stopped your speech like that?! Ok you made up for it later with the nice rescue but still ) and blond gaijin English teachers in sports club in anime though :p. Anyway Mr. Pierre is a nice mix of seemingly easy demeanor and piercing stares. Suitable for bestowing the Bycycle Ranger Armor – I mean the jersey – on Onoda-hime. May the GarMoe be with thee and may you conquer dem hills of earth and female terrain alike.
    And now that the colourful best possible team is all fired up Manami(He Framed By Sakura)&Co. await in their turf. Good thing there seem to be lots of to-be-climbed goodness there…

  5. Link added.

    The amazing thing is that is has a 112-6 positive rating…

  6. e

    Guardian-sama <3.

    Dude that thing is addictive. before I realized it more than 2 mins of that video had gone by…
    In my hearts of hearts there will come a moment in YowaPeda where/when the whole team breaks into song. Possibly in an official race context. Please let it happen :,DDDD.

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