Yowamushi Pedal – 25

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“Chimera Ant” has nothing on Yowamushi Pedal.

Forgive the briefness of this post, as it’s pushing Midnight here already and tomorrow is another full day of travel.  Time is a theme here, because this episode of Yowapeda continues the presentation of perhaps the longest 400 meters in sports history.  The thing with Hunter X Hunter is we’re seeing the same few seconds play out from many different perspectives, in many different locations.  Here things are just taking a really, really  long time.  It’s a common device in sports anime, and it isn’t one of my favorite elements of the genre.

The sprint battle itself was a good one, but to be honest it’s not one of the more compelling developments in the series for me and I’m glad it’s over.  Izumida is a so-so adversary – he’s more weird than frightening or sympathetic (Andy and Frank have personalities?) and the whole “Abs!” thing behind his persona is pretty one-note.  Izumida kind of falls in an awkward place for a sports opponent in anime/manga – he’s not someone you want to hate, but neither is he a guy you really want to root for.  Add to that the fact that his gimmick is kind of silly, and, well…

For all that, I hated to see the spring come down to something completely random like cones (exactly three cones) blowing across the road.  Kind of an asspull, to be honest, and I’d have liked to have seen how this would have turned out in an honest battle.  Seeing Tadokoro and Naruko pull ahead because they plowed right through the cones and cut their faces is kind of, well…  Again – silly.  It’s not Shounen Jump ridiculous but it isn’t exactly realistic either.

The best part of the episode (except perhaps from Kishio Daisuke and Matsuoka Yoshitsugu giving us what “!” and “!!” sound like when verbalized) were the flashbacks to Naruko and Tadokoro’s past struggles.  Naruko especially needed a little fleshing out, as we knew less about his pre-Yowapeda background perhaps than anyone else on the Sohoku Six.  Poor little Red Bean – it’s easy to see where his Napoleon complex comes from.  To be honest, though, I still think Yowamushi Pedal is at its best when it presents the story from Onoda’s perspective as the wide-eyed, amazed newcomer experiencing an exciting and slightly scary new world.  Long spells where the story completely bypasses him haven’t been strong patches for the series so far, and I’m hopeful that he and the rest of the team return to the spotlight next week.

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  1. t

    I agree with the points you've pointed out here.

    let's leave aside HxH, you're right that it's a common element in sports to blur the time dimension in the critic moments. and it's OK to do it. we see it in all kinds of sports. sure, it's less realistic, but it's enjoying and allow us to grasp it much better. however, it's right to do so only to a certain extent. and I agree with you that this time it was.. a bit too much. I felt that way too when I read that part in the manga.
    in addition, I am also happy to finish with Izumida (and his abs of course – Andy and Frank) and the first checkpoint. now that we cleared it up, the group and other fellows can stick out. and yeah, especially Onoda since he is our beloved hero here.

    still, when sports anime is dealing with the dimension of time when racing in the money time, you expect some kind of extra value. and I think we got that element here. sure, it's only Naruko and Tadokoro with their past, so it wasn't Onoda which I'd prefer, but it was nice since it bears some meaning of winning and losing, especially both of them which might look odd (Naruko is very short, Todokoro is kinda big) and I like it how the flashback is connected to the race and them still fighting despite it's so tough for them as the odds one who kept losing but fighting all along. I think they did it right. can't say it's perfect or it was really touching (Onoda is much more interesting in that case) but, it was good.

    there is also the controversial part of the cones. on the one hand, it has meaning (which is also connected to what I discussed about in the previous paragraph), it shows us that there are things not in our control (even with reflexes) during a fight/race and that there are circumstances. games are decided in a split second. that are kinda harsh sometimes, and it applies to YP too. also, it shows the spirit of Naruko and Tadokoro. they didn't care for the cones and stuff, they see only the goal in front of them, unlike Izumida.
    on the other hand, I agree it's kinda…too convenient. it's not the way I wanted Shouko to win. but it's only the first checkpoint so..I can live with that.

    all in all, a fine episode, one hurdle of the first day is behind us. but I hope for more and I am sure will have it in the follow episodes.

  2. J

    I really don't like how they have to stress the distance left in the anime. Sequences like this should just let it flow properly instead of emphasising the slowed down time, since it's obvious we won't get the winner until right at the final moment. The chapters covered didn't have that much problem in the manga because they don't have to spell out everything to you. As of result, the anime feels more frustrating than the manga counterpart. I was actually surprised that this whole sequence took place in the final 500m instead of further back. Hopefully the anime staff can learn from their mistakes and refrain from doing this backfired unnecessary cheap tricks in the next checkpoint.

    I mentioned before that Izumida is lacking some real game time experience, and the cone is a good way to demonstrate his downfall. He lacks the drive and the desire to take the risk against quality oppositions, and it shows here. They didn't tell you that part earlier for no reason. It's an honest battle, as it demonstrated that athletes are not gym junkies, the mental department to handle every unforeseen circumstances are equally if not more crucial. In short, Izumida still got a long way to go before he's considered a proper top athelete. You just don't blame on the bounce of the ball, you create your own luck.

    Another issue with GE's assessment here. One reason why YP was so good because you can just feel the passion for cycling from every athletes involved. They are not evil adversaries, just great cyclists from another team who want to win as much as the Shouko team. There's no binary shonen-style "they are evil" type of mentality here. It's just like watching sports in real life.

    Lastly, this Day1 gives everyone a stage to shine, and that's all I'll say.

  3. Midousuji is doing a pretty good impersonation of an evil adversary so far.

    I'm reading the manga behind the anime, and I have to say I didn't find this section to be all that different – I wasn't counting, but it seemed as if they mentioned the distance to the finish just as often.

  4. N

    Someone said in the comments of the previous episode that this is where he dropped the manga because it was getting too weird. I can totally get behind the sentiment, but I know (or at least, strongly hope) things will start picking up again once we get Onoda as the lead again

  5. J

    again, this is as weird as it gets.

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