Yowamushi Pedal – 31

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There are a lot of questions about Yowamushi Pedal’s future, but none about this: it’s one of the best anime of the last year.

Without a doubt, there are plenty of reasons to feel optimistic about Yowameda’s future as an anime.  It’s sold quite well (it will likely average about 6000 units per disc volume), and sales of the new manga volumes have roughly tripled since the anime began.  It’s very successful in terms of merchandising, and recently topped the Entermix poll of “Male’s manga that are popular with females” (Hoozuki no Reitetsu came second among ongoing series, Shingeki no Kyoujin third).  By just about any objective standard one might apply, it looks like a winner commercially.

That said, there are no guarantees (and no announcements as yet).  And there are a lot of interesting uncertainties about the story, many of which (anime-wise at least) seem contingent on whether the series continues or not.  We have only seven episodes left and we’ve just completed day one of the inter-high – certainly, the anime can’t steamroll through more than one more day of competition.  Especially with Onoda and Imaizumi thus far having had no opportunity to compete for their own glory, can things really just end after the second day?

The issue of Imaizumi and Onoda (and of course Manami as well – and the so-far odd-man out for Hakogaku, Shinkai) would be an interesting one even if we knew the anime was running indefinitely.  This is a team competition, and each of them has a job to do that theoretically ties their hands in terms of fighting a battle to win (that’s the sad fate of domestiques).  Only Naruko has had an opportunity, and that’s because the team had nothing to lose by letting he and Tadokoro duke it out with Abs (and indeed, there are hints that Naruko may play an even more important role now, but we’ll get to that).  The manga can play the long game in a way the anime can’t, obviously, but even there it would be breaking some rules to have the inter-high end with that as the status quo.

For now, there are only three racers that matter – Kinjou, Fukutomi and Midousuji.  The latter plays the role of party-crasher here, blowing past the other Hakogaku and Sohoku riders and catching the lieutenants with a few hundred meters remaining.  It’s all according to the freak’s plan – rather than win easily (which he’s certain he could do) Midousuji has been saving himself to storm to the lead as late as possible for maximum effect (both dramatic and strategic).  He blows by Yowai-zumi and Arakita with ease (not before getting a few more taunts in, of course) and continues his plan to catch the aces at the 150-meter mark, and finish them off in the final 50.

It’s very clear that Midousuji is no paper tiger – he has serious teeth.  He’s good (Onoda-kun certainly knows this) but he’s also arrogant, and unsurprisingly he underestimates the two third-year team leaders.  They’re genuinely surprised that someone has broken in on their private dance, but answer every move the freak makes and the three cyclists battle all the way to the line.  A three-way tie?  Well, that’s pretty strong dramatic license there – with times being measured in hundredths of seconds it’s almost impossible such a thing could happen in real life.  But then, narratively speaking it’s really too early for any of these three to establish dominance over the others.

The fun doesn’t stop there, though, as we get an extended look-in at the post-race festivities.  It’s great to see humorous interaction between the first and third-years again, and Toudou certainly throws his hat into the ring – demanding Maki-chan join him on-stage as he receives his red number badge (no polka-dot jersey?), which Makishima wisely declines to do, then taking Onoda’s hand and telling him he has nice eyes.  But there’s serious business here, too – the first-years are clearly exhausted (Onoda and Naruka can barely stand, and Imaizumi doesn’t even try – though it’s as much his depression over getting pwned by Midousuji again as weariness).  But it’s Tadokoro who’s having real problems, though he manages to hide them from everyone before confiding in Makishima.  Is it flu, or just exhaustion that caused him to upchuck everything in his stomach?  In any event he obviously looks like he’s going to be at less than full-strength heading into the second day – one which he’s promised the grommets is going to be even more fiercely competitive and exhausting than the first.

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  1. N

    6000 units for a DVD release is considered a lot? I had some vague assumption that sales will be counted in tens of thousands rather then thousands – it seems like a tiny figure for a nation of about 130 million.

  2. 6000 for a sports series especially is quite good (though not in the Kurobas/Free class for obvious reasons). Anything that averages 5 figures is a genuine hit, and an awful lot of shows come in at 2K or less.

  3. Incidentally, the last part of your comment is a big part of the problem with the anime industry as a whole, and why you keep seeing so many formulaic shows that check off certain boxes being produced every season.

  4. R

    It is small, but ironically outside the occasional hit with the general public, like attack on titan, the number of Bluray and DVD buyers are relatively small. And they were for a long time traditionally otaku and more recently fujoshi (who are responsible for a lot of the sales for sports anime, funnily enough) so all the shows pander to the to an extent.

  5. N

    What weirds me out is that manga is apparently selling in the millions (I took a look at the best selling manga of 2013 to get some notion of the figures, and was more than a little surprised to see that Hunter x Hunter made it to #8, despite being on hiatus), so it isn't like the potential market has vanished.

  6. R

    That's part of the problem. Despite the seeming logic that manga buyers would = anime buyers, it usually isn't. There are a few exceptions, but generally just because a manga sells well doesn't mean the anime adaptation will.

    Digital streaming also has a large part to do with that (it was also one of many reasons DVDs saw a large drop in sales number in the west too)

    Also keep in mind the manga sales your looking at are probably cumulative over a much longer period of time. The numbers Enzou is looking at are (I assume) the first estimate based off of pre-orders. The anime might sell more or less later, but it's like comparing the opening sales of a video game over its lifetime sales.

    Not to say any of the original problems aren't very real as well.

    To be fair, I buy DVDs but I buy a LOT more manga, so I kind of understand the divide.

  7. No, I'm talking about actual sales for the anime in most cases. Bear in mind the bulk of an anime volume sales come in the first week. In Yowapeda's case I'm estimating an average based on sales for the released volumes and a guess as to the remainder, with the normal drop-off rates.

  8. B

    With such small sales numbers, it doesn't surprise me there's a lot of subcontracting in foreign countries. Which makes projects like Anime Mirai all the more important to keep a certain savoir-faire and yet hopeless as long as this business model continues.

  9. l

    6,000 DVDs is a moderate figure. Used to be sales numbers greater 10,000 DVDs as the main benchmark for a show to considered a big seller. However, in this current day where there's less interest in purchasing DVDs and BDs and more towards streaming services, it's quite good.

    With only 7 episodes left, they may just squeeze in the end of the 2nd day of competition and leave the anime-only watchers in a bind. Whether there will be a cliffhanger or not, I'll keep mum about it.

    As of this moment, the scanlation has not reached the end of the 2nd day of competition while the current manga chapter is already dealing with Onoda, Naruko and Imaizumi as 2nd years.

  10. R

    The scanlation is a one man project by a fan with a big heart so I don't think you can expect them to reasonably translate faster than they are right now

  11. l

    I'm not expecting the scanlation to be faster. I'm just informing those who are thinking about following the scanlation that it has not reached the 3rd day of the competition yet. So, if they want to find out the conclusion of the inter-high competition, there's still a long way to go.

  12. R

    Ah, ok then.

  13. p

    I'm really not a fan of the Midousuji character. It's always feels a bit condescending to the viewer to have a character you're so obviously supposed to hate. If they have some redeeming quality, things can become interesting, but Midousuji barely even looks human. I suppose one good aspect of adding him in the mix is that it changes up the formula of the two schools sending their guy up, keeping the wins and losses pretty even between them. But since Kinjou and Fukutomi have this interesting past, I would have been happy if the episode had just focused on them. And as you say, the 3-way tie is a bit hard to swallow.

  14. m

    For some reason, I've seen a lot of doujinshis starring him (as the freaking girl role, to boot), so either the fujoshis have really weird taste or his personality develops in the long run. I hope it's the latter.

  15. K

    The creepiest thing about Midousuji to me is the fact that he's a teenager, and most likely lives with his parents. I just… I can't imagine him sitting there talking or eating dinner with mom and dad, they must view him the way the mother did in "We Need to Talk About Kevin".

  16. Z

    He probably just sits there staring at his food intently, muttering kimo!

  17. Well, I've made my view on Midousuji clear – he's not my favorite either, he does seem like a straight-up straw man character. Hopefully we'll see some development on that front.

  18. The average Manga volume costs 500 yen. The average BD/DVD volume costs about 9000 yen. No real mystery there.

  19. m

    Enzo! The next issue of Weekly Shounen Champion will have a major announcement concerning Yowapeda! I hope there is a second season, we will have to wait a week and see, *fingers crossed*.

  20. Thanks, that's great news – I'd bet a bottle of Ardbeg Ugiedal that it's a S2 announcement. Or at least OVAs.

  21. m

    You would have won it. Yowapeda is getting a second season in October! We will have the second seasons of Mushishi and Yowapeda… Autumn is looking great already. I am so excited!

  22. w

    I actually thought Midosuji would prove too arrogant here, and be soundly beaten by the third years. I'm not sure how his stategy throughout would fare in a real-life race, but he does seem just a little too overpowered.

    Also, lesson. Don't marathon a series that's not finished airing. The wait is even more agonising.

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