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.