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.