Yowamushi Pedal – 35

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Yes, believe it or not, he actually got freakier.

Two eps in a row without Onoda, apart from a cameo and the omake this week?  It’s a stretch, especially given that we’ve only got three more episodes left until the hiatus, but this whole inter-high arc is taking on a very Hunter X Hunter quality of late.  Abandon the MC right after his most dramatic moment – why not?  If your supporting cast is good enough it can work – and while the Yowapeda supporting cast isn’t on a par with “Chimer Ant” it’s still pretty darn good.  Midousuji isn’t my favorite among that group but this was probably his most interesting episode to date.

The drama is playing out at many points along the course here, though perhaps the most inherently dramatic story – that of Onoda’s heroic quest to drag Tadokoro back to the field (whoops, there goes another rubber tree plant…) is seen only in passing (and not on the left).  At long last Naruko and Makishima have caught up to Kinjou and Imaizumi, meaning Sohoku at least is a band of four now – though they’re still short-handed against Kyoto Fushimi and Hakogaku as well as new foe Kumamoto Daiichi, who passed with a full squadron of six.  And we find out later that the reason the two Sohoku trailers have caught up is because Imaizumi temporarily abandoned the race, forcing Kinjou to pull up and talk him into riding again.

Talk about a study in contrasts, that’s Imaizumi and Kinjou here.  Imaizumi is seriously jeopardizing the team with his immaturity, not for the first time during the event either – I know he’s a first-year, but look at the way Onoda and Naruko have comported themselves for comparison.  But Kinjou is the model of moderation here, maybe too much so – but it seems that he did manage to get Imaizumi’s head out of his own ass and back into the race (though he merely trails the other three Sohoku riders and looks sorry for himself).  And when Naruko simply can’t pull anymore and Imaizumi refuses to answer the bell, the ace steps up to take a turn pulling the team himself – definitely the right move under the circumstances, with Kyofushi and Hakogaku pulling farther ahead.  When the Kumamoto captain brings the news that Onoda has indeed brought Tadokoro back to the pack, Kinjou decides there’s enough reason to hope that it makes sense to try and salvage the day.

There is a downside for Hakogaku and Kyofushi in letting their sprinters contest the checkpoint – their own trains are down to five members, and that might it a tad easier for the chase teams to stay close.  There’s a bit of interplay between Midousuji wannabe Mizuta-kun and the Hakogaku third-years, but the camera mostly focuses on the two in front – and it’s an interesting mental and physical duel between Shinkai and Midousuji.  Superficially they could hardly be more opposite, but we’ll see by the end of the episode that they share more in common than Shinkai would probably like to admit.

Midousuji is indeed pretty close to the supervillain threshold at this stage, and as such he’s always got another surprise up his sleeve (or under his shorts).  The first of them is that his panic attack has been a ruse – “Oscar material” indeed, as Shinkai calls it (and that’s a literal translation) – he’s been playing possum, and he certainly had Shinkai fooled.  But that’s just the beginning – at this point Midousuji pulls the same stunt he pulled on Imaizumi, more or less, and plays head games with his rival.  This time he pulls a rabbit out of his hat – it turns out he does indeed research his opponents thoroughly.  Not only does he know all about the bunny tragedy that stalled Shinkai’s career, but he knows (and now so do we) that as a result of the rabbicide Shinkai has a block about passing on the left.  He certainly plays hardball, this one.

This is obviously pretty scummy behavior, but Midousuji is here to be the bad guy, not a subtle and complex character (and that’s not a strength of the writing, in truth).  But he has become a rather fascinating freakshow, and his skeeviness does have a sort of Platonic ideal to it.  Faced with this challenge Shinkai wavers, hesitates, falls back – but eventually he unleashes the “Oni of Hakone“, the straight-line demon that he was before his setback, and he’s almost as freaky as Midousuji in that mode.  I actually think this is Midousuji’s strongest moment in the series, because after Shinkai blows by him – on the left – he realizes his plan has failed and he’s going to have to rely on his talent.  And it’s easy to forget, he has a ton of that – he’s really, really fast.  Rather than caving he responds in kind to Shinkai’s transformation (the restraining bands around his quads were a nice touch) and unleashes his own massive burst of speed.  This is what we haven’t seen from Midousuji yet – a straight-up battle of strength and will, and it can only do the character good.

Once that checkpoint is settled (I’m not sure who I expect to win, but I’m leaning Shinkai) those two will undoubtedly fall back and wait for their teams, and that will turn the attention to Sohoku’s daunting challenge of trying to stay in touch with the leaders with a fragmented team, and do so without bleeding themselves (and Kinjou) dry on the second day.  We have three more eps left, and presumably the season break will come at the end of the second day.  Also, this is definitely one of those weeks where the omake is a must-watch, for it provides evidence that the disease is indeed spreading..

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  1. e

    This episode was a bit odd for me and a bit of a let down honestly. At least if you watch it soon after #33(og glorious episode)-34. I still find Midoufreak pretty hard to swallow and really really distracting. The other characters' gimmicks and specials moves are other funnier, more interesting or more endearing to me but the more I see of his character the more I'm pulled out of the story. Occasional blind spiking has nothing on this guy imho :,D. And to top that he almost got outfreaked by mr. Bunny Issues in demon mode…
    in conclusion this epi worked for me only at 50%. And the flashback bits while offering cute bunnies (heaven knows I've had my fill of RL bunnies lately including bunny fingerkissing – they definitely use their [tiny smooooooth] tongue. If you smell of peppermint even more so – and bunny biting your butt in bed. That hurt both literally and figuratively :,D ) mostly gave Hakone's captain some coolness points in my book. In light of RL bunnies the oni part sort of make sense though. Still… I could do with more singing rather than what we got this week. The heart wants what it wants.
    *still waiting for a full team Hime Hime performance*

  2. I liked this one much better than last week's. Te each their own…

  3. N

    It really bothered me that the episode opened with Makishima and Naruko already caught up with Imaizumi and Kinjou – I actually stopped watching and went back to the previous episode, thinking I must have somehow missed it happening. Then when we flashed back to Imaizumi taking a stop I thought 'oh well, I guess they show the reunion moment next', but that didn't happen either. I don't know if this is the anime following the manga or the anime being desperate for time, but it's really annoying.

  4. t

    the anime following the manga pretty precisely ever since the beginning.
    in the manga there is a chapter (#124, first 6-7 pages. especially pages 4-6) of Shouko in disadvantage without Onoda and Tadokoro, where it's much more clearer from Kinjou's monologue/flashback moment that Makishima told him and he(=Kinjou) is surprised and reviewing the situation.
    however, Imaizumi's temporarily break-down isn't shown in the manga (at least not there..maybe in further chapters that aren't subbed yet). you actually can see in that chapter that the fact Kinjou is riding in front inspiring Imaizumi and open his eyes, but we don't see his break-down with Kinjou back there, not in the manga.
    it's interesting because the manga didn't push that scene there, probably because we will see Imaizumi's development later on, but the fact the anime did so…I wonder why…

  5. Yes, that reunion wasn't shown in the manga either, and honestly, it didn't bother me. I think Watanabe wanted the impact moment of seeing the four riders together plus, in the big picture, it's a small victory – without the entire team they're still at a big disadvantage.

  6. N

    "Superficially they could hardly be more opposite, but we'll see by the end of the episode that they share more in common than Shinkai would probably like to admit."

    LOL. You made my day.

  7. L

    LOL he did indeed get freakier, and I'm way turned off by these weirdos. Here's to hoping the story follows Onoda next week.

  8. R

    I just can not take the series seriously whenever Midoufreak is on screen. To the point where it does actually impact my enjoyment on the show because at one point I just kind of pause the episode because nah, not really interested, and then forget to go back. That's actually what put me nearly 3 weeks behind a while back. I just kinda lost motivation to watch it for a while XD

    Which is too bad for a series that's really gripping overall.

  9. Z

    I can't take a show seriously when two guys clad in yellow (one of which is physically ailing) are able to overtake the field by singing an anime song. Not that it isn't in good fun mind you, which is what I'm here for. Not babysteps accurate cycling action.

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