Yowamushi Pedal – 24

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This just in: both of Izumida’s pecs have been suspended for blood doping.

Abs!  Abs!  Abs!  Abs!

This was definitely the week Yowamushi Pedal got its freak on.  It was certainly entertaining, but I confess this isn’t the side of the series I like best – with guys talking to their abs and “special moves” being revealed and lots of manservice, the whole thing begins to feel a little too Shounen Jump for comfort.  What saves it is that edge of quirky humor that Yowapeda always has going for it, that little bit of extra irreverence that keeps it from falling fully into that trap.

As expected, the focus of this episode (and likely next week’s, too) is on the sprinters.  That means almost no Onoda and very little of the rest of the Sohoku Six four, with the most important moment in the peloton coming when Fukutomi drifts back to chat with Kinjou.  This is also the best scene in the episode IMO, as Fukutomi is refreshingly blunt about what happened the year before – there’s absolutely no way to make it right, so the best he can do is to try and beat Kinjou in a straight-up fight.  Kinjou seems to respect this, and the past more of less put behind them – leaving the two captains to banter over the sprinters they’ve sent with the breakaway.

That’s certainly an interesting group.  Izumida is, I’d say, probably the second-most outlandish person in the cast after Midousuji (though admittedly it’s not close).  Frankly he’s a bit much for me – I like my sports anime a little more grounded.  Not only does he talk to his abs (abs!) but he seems to think they talk back to him using their own special twitchy sign language.  We get a little background here, showing us Izumida’s struggles as a freshman until Shinkai-sempai told him he had a “nice body” and planted the seed in his head that he should hit the weights and not just the roads if he wanted to get good enough to matter on the best cycling team in the nation.

Weird or not, Izumida isn’t a villain the way Midosouji is.  He’s arrogant – his running conversation with the chasing red bean and old man bordering on taunting – but there’s no malice behind it.  And he raises a very valid point – if Sohoku is lucky enough to have two sprinters strong enough to contest for the “stage win” of the first checkpoint, why don’t they use their numerical advantage to try and break down the solo HakoGaku rider?  It is, as he says, basic cycling tactics – and for the two of them not to share the burden by drafting (Tadokoro is obviously the logical frontman here, but they should be alternating), instead racing as two individuals rather than a team, violates every principle of team cycling in a road race.

It’s at this juncture (with about 800 meters left to the checkpoint) that first Naruko and then Tadokoro bust out the signature moves they were planning on hiding from each other until the final sprint to the line.  For Naruko it’s taking his tiny form and making it even lighter and thinner, shedding every ounce of extra weight and tucking himself into a torpedo shape (effectively mimicking a time trialist) for the “Rocket Sprint”.  For Tadokoro, fittingly (and quite unusually for a sprinter) it’s making himself even bigger – as in puffing out his lungs to their ridiculous 8500 cc capacity (“Oxygen!”) and powering his sprint by funnelling scads of oxygen to his muscles.  Abs!  Oxygen!  Attention!

All this is pretty silly, to be honest – and we’re really talking about a KM-long spring that would take less than a minute for these guys in a real race.  There’s a certain element of risk involved in puffing things like this out so much – I mean it obviously works wonders in Hunter X Hunter, but sports anime are playing a dangerous game when they slow down time this much.  We’ll see if Yowapeda can pull it off – frankly I’m rather hoping it doesn’t take up the entire episode next week, because I’m less interested in the sprinters than in the battle of the aces (and seeing where Imaizumi fits into it) and even more, in seeing Onoda, Manami (“Manami-kun!”) and Makashima go at it on Mt. Hakone.

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  1. J

    "he seems to think they talk back to him using their own special twitchy sign language". Apparently the equivalent of eyebrows twitching is a sign language as well now. There's really no need to unnecessarily read too deep into that.

    Also there are plenty more stuff to come. You are underestimating how epic this Inter High is.

  2. H


    Epic Inter High arc is EPIC.

  3. t

    "Izumida isn't a villain the way Midosouji is"

    I think it's true not only to Izumida, but all Hakone high school members.
    yeah, they tend to be arrogant and all and they aren't our beloved characters. but no doubt they aren't the bad guys. the have some respect and dignity to others. they..show some spirit and sportsmanship in their will to be the strongest and all.

    anyway, when I read this continuous moves of sprinters ("abs abs" or naruko screams "ora ora") it felt bizarre. now, seeing it animated and especially after reading it once, it was hilarious. I couldn't stop laughing of how bizarre but funny that was.

    one might wonder why Naruko and Tadokoro aren't cooperating. I am finding it a bit weird since they wanna win. of course for themselves but for the team too. but it's something common in races. I think that..at this stage, it's more about personal achievement. of course it also bears importance for the winning team as an advantage showing their power right at the start. but I believe there will come a time when it'll be extremely important to cooperate for the team, and they will do it. besides, last week we were informed that Kinjou knew it would come to this and didn't instruct them to cooperate, so I guess he wants they will finish first since it's important, but for now, it's not really a bother.

    YP this week episode maintains the pace, not hurrying anywhere (although our sprinters are) since they didn't finish this leg of the race. also, it keep telling us of the rivalry between Hakone and Shouko.

  4. You pull that stuff on a pro cycling team, you're out of a job pretty quick. I know this is high school and not the same, but it is odd to me that these two would be doing so little to help each other when they have an obvious advantage over the Hakone rider.

  5. t

    yes and no.
    basically you're right that in pro cycling, the main guideline is to ensure that team wins. not only cycling, but close sports too like formula-1 (same principle since it's also a race, just with cars). and I remember a time when someone didn't cooperate when it was win or lose situation (for the entire competition after a year!) and you're right – this is unacceptable and probably it's a good way to find yourself out of work.

    however, don't forget that still, each one of the teammates wants to be the winner of a single race or leg of the race (like in DnA when we had the "friendly games" but in fact everyone was kinda competing in order to demonstrate how good they are, both individually and in a group, 'cause if he can't show a minimum level of cooperation with others, then there is no reason to pick him up, though arguable in some sports more and more today, but let's stick to basics).
    thus, in some cases (and I am positive that it applies to pro cycling too) they let the teammates go all out and whoever wins..just wins.
    but of course in a real pinch that bears significant importance, they must cooperate, otherwise it's bizarre.

    as for YP, I know that it's high school level (though they are aiming to be as much as pros) and I agree that it's still somehow weird that they chose not to cooperate when they really had the chance if they chose doing so. so yeah, I still feel it as weird because it's something natural you're expecting to see, even if it's high-school. but what I was saying is that..maybe it doesn't really a game-change for now and the reason behind it is that Kinjou foresaw thorough it.

  6. m

    I have to say I laughed throughout the whole episode. And I'm not even into slapstick humor, but this was ridiculously funny.

    Comparing YP to DnA, which is on the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of realism, I've decided to just accept the irreverent, exaggerated nature of this anime and enjoy the ride.

  7. t

    "Comparing YP to DnA, which is on the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of realism"
    what do you mean by that?which of them exactly are you referring as "the opposite end of the spectrum of realism"?either way, I think both YP and DnA are fair and square in terms of realism. obviously we are talking about anime and all so it's not 100% realistic. but to some extend, the sports in both make sense, isn't exaggerated, and just bring the sports of it as possible.
    in second thought, I can see why one might YP as being realistic (and too weird maybe). you have Manami riding on the wind (admit or not..it sounded a little out of the blue), Midousji is too weird, Izumida and his "abs abs" (seriously when I first read in the manga I was.."WTF is wrong with this guy") and even this episode when they keep riding for the same 1KM in 20 minutes (though it's not a problem, it's taking the time in order to show as much of characters' thoughts and feelings).
    but I still think it's in the fair range of realism in the broad spectrum.
    if you wanna see a sports series that is in the end of the spectrum of realism – try Kuroko no Basket. this is much more bizarre – Saiyans playing basketball.

  8. m

    When I say YP is "unrealistic" I certainly don't mean it as an insult. Closest term I can think of is "fantastical." The cycling knowledge is thorough and sound, but as you pointed it out yourself, the characters are pretty out there from the colorful hair to the living pecs. And I'm enjoying the silliness. The refreshing optimism is a nice change after a marathon of depressing animes.

    In contrast, DnA is so realistic, it's actually pissing watchers off–you know the ones who complain that Sawamura is "too weak" and "not the main character." He's a freaking first year. It's going to be hard to steal the spotlight, especially at a powerhouse like Seidou. Everything from the characters' physical appearances to the pace is so convincing, I could imagine Seidou being an actual school and the characters real people.

    KnB is ridiculous, I'll give you that.

  9. Y

    Wow… This just got really silly really fast. Not sure what to think… Wait and see I guess. But if this sets the tone for the whole arc, it'll be a huge let down for me :'(

  10. R

    This was around the point where I stopped reading the manga because it got a little too weird for me. Talking to abs being the first sign. I still LIKED it but just decided I needed a break, and since the anime caught up now would probably be a good time to bite the bullet and jump back in, seeing as all of my friends have assured me that it gets better (although which definition of better they're using I'm not sure XD)

  11. J

    This is as "superpower-y" as it gets, unless you count the crazy dancing as a superpower too

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