Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road – 20

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I’ve heard of head-butting, but that’s taking it way too literally.

If you’re a sports anime fan, you probably know the announcement that Diamond no Ace was unsurprisingly renewed for another season came this week (hopefully this will be some reward for all of the frustration we’ve endured these last several episodes).  I’m very pleased with that, but I’ll be even more pleased if Yowamushi Pedal gets its renewal announcement soon.  You have to think it’s coming – in every respect but manga sales Yowapeda is an even bigger hit than Daiya – and there should be enough manga to continue the series even without a hiatus.  But the pessimist in me will always worry until it becomes official – being an anime fan will do that to you.

In the meantime, this season will obviously conclude with the finish of the inter-high – or perhaps if we’re lucky, that will come in the penultimate episode and we’ll get a coda for the finale.  The meat of this ep was certainly given away by the title, “Imaizumi vs. Midousuji”, and that’s exactly what we got.  It doesn’t amount to a huge surprise even without that clue, because those two taking each other out to clear the stage for Onoda and Manami (and that third-year quietly tagging along) was always one strong possibility.  It’s too early to say that’s what’s happening, but you’d be forgiven for leaning that way after this week.

For Imaizumi’s character arc, this turn actually makes a lot of sense.  Of course he wants to win, but he’s won plenty of races.  His white whale isn’t winning the inter-high, but facing down his demons  – or demon, in this case.  It’s not just about beating Midousuji, it’s about rising above being obsessed with him.  And he seems very much to have done that, thanks to Naruko and Onoda’s friendship and camaraderie.  Every move Chimera-kun makes, Imaizumi counters, matching him attack for attack and dubious tactic for dubious tactic.

The problem with this scenario is that even if it makes sense for Imaizumi not to be at the center of the drama in the end, I’m not so sure that makes sense for Midousuji.  But there’s no way Midousuji can survive to contest the finish and not Imaizumi without Imizumi’s end looking entirely like a failure.  We’ll see how it plays out, but right now it sure looks like we’re headed for a double-knockout – the way Imaizumi especially is being portrayed looks a lot like the other warriors just before they fell on their sword (especially Arakita).

Midousuji, for his part, seems to have slipped back into full-on villain mode, but I rather hope his story doesn’t end there because I felt he’d made some progress.  He reveals yet another chimera power-up, starts calling Imaizumi and Onoda “pigs”, and resorts to serious aggression to try and throw the Sohoku boys off (literally and figuratively).  Yeah, blood flying from where he and Imaizumi bump heads repeatedly is a bit of dramatic license, but Yowapeda kind of makes that sort of thing its stock and trade.  The big drama comes on the lone downhill of the final ascent, which both Midousuji and Imaizumi take at high-risk speeds (how much risk to take on downhills is a huge decision competitors in mountain stages must make).  Chimera-kun almost buys it slipping on the storm drain, but manages to save himself through sheer will power and technique.  That’s the thing, Midousuji’s talent and will to win truly are impressive, and I like his character better when he’s more than just a monster to be defeated.

The big mystery man here continues to be Fukutomi, who should be the heavy favorite in this final quintet but is barely making a peep.  Only Onoda keeps up (almost) as the two arch-rivals in-front duke it out, but Fuku-chan slots in behind Manami, head down.  Is he laboring, or playing possum?  We’ll know very soon, one way or the other.  For comic relief, the episode provides a return engagement for Hirota-san and… what was her name?  These two are hilariously drawn, and I wonder if Hiro-kun is a bit of a self-deprecating author insert here (though Onoda is obviously Watanabe-sensei’s main avatar).  Also, the omake gives us a sample of Manami’s mystical powers.  Is it a Kami, or kami?

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Omake:

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6 comments

  1. w

    Yeah I don't think I could ever complain about them drawing blood in an episode where Midosouji very literally transforms. And holy crap the tension going down those slopes! I have a dreadful feeling this battle will end with a crash.

    I think we may be seeing a hint of something more than a desire to 'just' win in Chimera-kun. I get the sense he's relishing in the challenge Imaizumi is giving him in a way that he wasn't for his day 2 battles.

    Speaking of Yowapedals success, you probably already know this but S2 has so far been doubling S1 in terms of disc sales. So yeah, a follow-up is probably on the horizon. Hopefully we'll have more before the end of the year.

  2. m

    It's fun seeing Midousuji's multitude of faces – those Keroro like eyes, then that incredibly mutated transformation. Sasuga chimera.
    Now that you have mentioned it, I too feel that Imaizumi and Midousji will end up bring each other down. It's impossible that Fukutomi, the only experienced Inter High rider here will go down easily defeated, he should know the nature and brutality of this race better than anyone else. It is hard to think of anyone else winning other than him.

  3. m

    bringing*

  4. C

    Her name is obviously Cap-chan and she's the best girl.

  5. J

    I wonder what last year's Tour de France director would have made of that clash of heads…

    It was quite an eye-opener to see Midosuji's flashbacks and remind myself of how out-of-place he seemed amongst the cast in his first few episodes. There's a Kefka-esque quality to the way he has become so much more threatening by (almost) dropping the antics and revealing a mountain of determination to go along with his colossal talent.

    As glad as I would be to see Fukutomi finish 5th, quit cycling, leave Hakone Academy and move abroad it would be quite a stretch to have him play no further part in the finish. Even if Sohoku's team spirit has done fatal damage to his philosophy at the very least he can drag Manami up to the front. He's clearly been banking on Manami for a "just in case" scenario like the one he now faces. It looks like the next episode will focus on Midosuji again though, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him bow out taking Imaizumi with him.

    Here's hoping to some good news and a renewal announcement soon. Not to take anything away from Death Parade/Parasyte/Yona but there's a remarkable infectious quality to Yowapeda (which doubles when Onoda is under the spotlight) that keeps me interested and entertained each week.

  6. Z

    They're still on the inter-high? o_O

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