Yowamushi Pedal – 37

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I sort of feel as if I’ve written this post before.

Normally it would be a real broadside to say that an omake was the best part of the episode, but the omakes in Yowamushi Pedal are so consistently good that it’s not necessarily so in this case.  This one amounted to one of the funnier sequel announcements in anime history, only after a seemingly sincere introduction revealing itself to actually be a S2 announcement for “Love, Hime”.  The reactions of Imaizumi and Onoda at the end (was he so pleased about the S2 announcement, or Imaizumi being fully hooked?) close the sale.

Truth is, this was a pretty average episode by Yowapeda standards (which are pretty high) for the same reasons many of the lesser eps have been such – nothing from the Sohoku Six, and too much Midousuji.  And this wasn’t the good Midousuji either, the one who’s actually showing off how beastly he is with his riding and not just his mouth.  This is Midousuji at his most Chimera Ant – the one you just want to tell to shut the fuck up.  I mean seriously, this is a goddam race, not the Lincoln-Douglass debates.

I don’t have a whole lot new to say on the subject if Midousuji himself – not until and unless he shows some character development anyway.  As for the impact he has on the others, it is sort of interesting to imagine how you’d react to someone like that in a competitive situation like this.  Izumida is definitely a freak but I kind of get why it’s so hard to just tune Midousuji out.  As annoying as he is he seems to have a remarkable ability to find the most infuriating or hurtful thing to say to any opponent at any time (good research, I suppose).

As we saw at the close of the last episode, HakoGaku was splintering under KyoFushi’s relentless pace.  I originally thought Arakita might have intentionally slowed to try and keep Shinkai from falling off the back, but it seems he broke too – leaving only the four Hakone riders to stay with Kyoto Fushimi.  And then Midousuji skipped right from Step 10 to the dreaded “Step 13”, which meant another hard acceleration and jettisoning his sprinters like the space shuttle dropping its external fuel tanks.  Fukutomi and Toudou give chase, leaving Manami and Izumida – and here, it was my sense that Manami did intentionally slow down in order to stay with Izumida (his legs should be the freshest in the team).  That leaves Kyoto with a four-man break (and two riders abandoning) and Hakone scattered into three pairs (with the Sohoku Six somewhere not far behind Shinkai and Arakita, presumably).

Ishigaki, the good-hearted former KyoFushi ace who lost the team to Midousuji, wastes a lot of breath trying to convince Fukutomi to give up the crown with dignity.  But what’s the point of such speech?  Don’t assume anything about the opponent’s weakness, for starters – and it’s up to Fukutomi how he wants to try and lead his team.  If he can keep up, shut up, rider faster and try to break him.  There’s entirely too much talking in this episode for my tastes, and not enough shutting up and racing.  HakoGaku obviously isn’t going down this weakly, and that’s good – it’s always more interesting watching Midousuji when he’s really being challenged.

Next week is the season finale, of course – the series will return after a three-month break – and I’m assuming that will mean a fortuitous shift in focus back to Sohoku and Onoda since it seems unlikely you’d go into the hiatus focused on anyone else.  There’s no denying Midousuji has largely succeeded already in making this his race – he’s won the sprint and mountain zekken both for the second day, and turned Kyoto Fushimi into a legit crowd sensation (which Ishigaki is rightfully in awe of).  If Midousuji weren’t quite such an outlandishly villainous freak it would be easier to focus on the legitimacy of his tactics.  But that wouldn’t change the fact that Sohoku – and especially Onoda – are the most engaging characters in Yowamushi Pedal by a wide margin, and that the series is at its best when the camera is on them.  I hope that’s the case next week, and for much of next season.

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Omake:

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17 comments

  1. e

    The omake was clever and cute but… Enzo! No screenshot of the ending card this week? Onoda got the ominous 'glinting glass+dark aura in the bg' treatment. Color me me intrigued.

    When KyoFushi's nominal captain took over the speaker role I sighed with relief. Much more palatable even if it still left me with a 'good cop, bad cop' aftertaste. Acknowledging talent is one thing but he's still totally enabling Midou's most unsavory tendencies and has left the whole team at the latter's mercy (or lack thereof).
    Next week and a shift of focus can't arrive too soon.

  2. We've had a few Onoda ogling end cards already, though…

  3. B

    Have you noticed though, that over the course of the past few episodes, Onoda was creeping closer and closer to the girls? He was pretty far away 4 episodes ago, but now he's right behind them. Funny touch!

  4. S

    I felt like I had your words ringing in my ears the entire episode. "It just isn't the same without Onada". It really isn't. Fukotomi doesn't interest me at all. He's not a good guy, and he's not a bad guy, per se. He's just … boring. You can criticise Midousuji for being balls to the walls over the top, but Fukotomi is the complete opposite, and not in a good way.

    Was I the only one who interpreted the omake as a Yowapeda season 2 announcement? I thought it was hilarious in that regard, but I guess it was announced ages ago, I'm rarely in the loop of these things.

  5. S

    For me it’s the complete opposite since Midousuji slowly became my favorite character. He’s the archetypical overpowered villain, the guy you’re supposed to hate (yet I don’t) and it’s what makes him stand out above the rest. I’m getting fed up with the so-called goody chivalrous characters preaching about friendship, having fun cycling and relying on teammates. It’s a race, not a tea party!

    Midousuji is a winner, a fighter, someone who’s willing to make sacrifices and make his hands dirty for a better result, even if he has to overstep boundaries (though I hope he doesn’t go as far as injuring opponents or sabotaging road racers). He’s not only extremely talented, he’s also a hard worker: He thinks of strategies, controls the pack, engages in psychological warfare, targets the weak points of opponents and engages in many 1-on-1 battles. I loved his speeches in this episode since there rings a certain truth in it and it shows how far he’s willing to go for win.
    Midousuji has the confidence and mentality of a pro and I therefore think he deserves to win the Inter High.

  6. G

    Though I also like the other characters and the various different perspectives to the sport, I also love Midousuji . My favorite Mido moment was at the end of ep.35 vs Shinkai. Hayato made a declaration: "I'm Hakone's #4, the ace sprinter!" and passed Midou. His reply after reflecting on it was perfect. His killer instinct became terrifying, he raised his hands and screamed "I am Midousuji Akira-kun. I am the winner." That's the difference between the two of them. Both have surpassed humanity, but the one is a speed demon the other is victory personified. Of course he won. His exact phrase I believe was "boku wa, zettai shori sore wa watashi" which is an even more powerful declaration than the translation lets on.

    I've noticed that most people either hate him or find him a one dimensional mustache twirler or demand a backstory to humanize him a bit . Of course I would have no problem to see how he grew up to become the -sort of- person that he is but he is already interesting dammit! Just the scene I described above made me shiver. And yes I'm also sort of rooting for him to win, though I like most of the cast. Also the theme of surpassing humanity and becoming something else through bike riding is prevalent through the series especially since the inter high started. We have wolves, spiders, demons, bullet trains. Midou is his own thing. I actually like Enzo's Chimera Ant comparison but I wish he would see past the surface of the character and engage with him on his own transhuman-alien level.

  7. I do see past it, but I don't think it works nearly as well in this context (for what I believe to be obvious reasons). I also think that, as much as I love Watanabe-sensei, he's not in a class with Togashi when it comes to using a character like this in allegorical terms.

  8. G

    Could you elaborate on these obvious reasons? (no sarcasm, I just can't seem to phrase it differently)

    We do agree that Togashi's in a class of his own though

  9. Togashi has established a reality whereby the Chimera have come to exist. He's built an entire bio-cultural lexicon around them. Midousuji is a guy in a bike race in a world where as far as we know the normal laws of nature apply. He doesn't fit. I do appreciate that he raises interesting questions about ethics in sports – as I said in the post – but in this context he comes off as a dramatic device. And, unlike Togashi, so far Watanabe has done nothing to show us the world from Midousuji's perspective. He may yet do that, but wouldn't that amount to the kind of "backstory" you heap derision on in your comment?

  10. G

    First of all liking your Chimera Ant comparison had nothing to do with actually comparing the two series, which is obviously impossible. I meant that as in: he has a certain humanoid/hybrid/insect like quality and I find that "Chimera Ant" describes him surprisingly well. That's separate from what the species actually are in hxh or any thematic parallels.

    Another misunderstanding is my "heaping derision" which is nowhere to be found in my comment, in fact I said the opposite "Of course I would have no problem to see how he grew up to become the -sort of- person that he is" What I meant is that he is already interesting without a backstory, but I trust the writer to deliver if he so chooses to go that way.

    And no I would disagree on both of your points.
    -He does fit. In a series full of freaks and eccentrics he is the ultimate one. He breaks convention by seemingly being a conventional freak, but actually going much further than what is usually expected of such "types". The laws of nature apply to him but… maybe they don't? He is almost unnatural that is, he feels like he's transcended humanity. And that's great. So yes the fact that this thing exists in a bike race may seem absurd but I love the audacity of it and how powerful his presence is.

    -Also we did see the world from his perspective. See ep.35 and his thoughts before going all the way. He lives for total victory but the difference between him and the others is that he has completely shed his human skin, while the others only half do that either as a power up or as a nickname. His alien state of being is constant because that's who he is.

  11. Well, you're certainly entitled to that opinion. I don't share it on any level, especially as regards the way he fits in with the series and the extent to which he's been used as a POV character. For me it's a case where I'm pretty sure I get what Watanabe is trying to do with the character, but I don't think he's pulling it off. YMMV.

  12. G

    I think YMMV is one of the saddest phrases ever, cause it's always used to end a discussion instead of reaching a sort of common understanding. It's a very cynical "can't be helped" kind of phrase if that makes sense. But that's ok, I tried my best to explain why I like the character at least.

  13. Whatever. The discussion is circular at this point so I'm excusing myself.

  14. Z

    -He does fit. In a series full of freaks and eccentrics he is the ultimate one.

    I've expressed similar thoughts elsewhere, however at the end of the day it remains a minority opinion here.

  15. c

    "…leaving Mashima and Izumida – and here, it was my sense that Mashima did intentionally slow down in order to stay with Izumida (his legs should be the freshest in the team). "

    By Mashima do you mean Manami? Speaking of, I wonder what hus future role will be. He was (and still is, judgng by the OP) set up to be an important rival but he's been sitting almost mute for most of the Inter High.

  16. Yup, Manami, sorry. And in the manga intro page, he's always shown in full-size along with the Sohoku first-years – everyone else (including Kinjoutachi) are small. He's clearly very important, presumably as Onoda's soulmate/fated rival.

  17. H

    "And this wasn't the good Midousuji either, the one who's actually showing off how beastly he is with his riding and not just his mouth. This is Midousuji at his most Chimera Ant – the one you just want to tell to shut the fuck up."

    Haha, yes! Sometimes I wish some of the characters in Chimera Ant would shut the fuck up lol.

    Seems pretty unnatural to be riding so intensively and still yapping on like Midousuji does.

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