Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road – 23

Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -3 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -9 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -13
Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -36 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -41 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -45

Considering how great the episode was, this really sucks…

I knew Nabeshima-sensei was going to do it, but it was still a swift kick in the nuts when the credits rolled.  Now it’s like you DVR’d (I almost said “taped”) the Super Bowl, and have to wait a week to watch it.  Do you avoid TV altogether?  Twitter?  The fucking internet?  Going in I was really hoping this was going to wrap up this week, letting the finale be the coda the series deserves (but few good series ever get).  At least it seems we’re going to get our result early in the last ep, giving some time over to the aftermath.

The thing is, of course, that this isn’t the finale – not really.  Yowamushi Pedal the manga is more popular than ever, and just this week there were two new Yowapeda anime projects announced at Anime Japan – an OAD (“Episode 22.5” – so whatever happened between last week’s ep and this one) and an original theatrical film penned by Watanabe-sensei.  It seems inevitable that there’s going to be more of the TV series, too, though I’m frankly surprised we haven’t seen that officially announced yet.  This season will end having covered about 2/3 of the manga, so there’d be enough source material for three more cours or so without taking any break at all.  I assume we are going to see one, though (perhaps 6 months to a year) to give the manga a chance to extend its lead.

This episode was a real barnburner, even if I was constantly clock-watching as I hoped against hope we’d see the end of the race.  It became obvious by about the halfway point that wasn’t going to happen – 500 meters is an eternity in Yowapeda time – so at that stage I sort of resigned myself to the inevitable and just enjoyed the rush.  The first half of the ep focused largely on Manami, and gave us what I’d call the only real misstep – I really didn’t need to see a flashback we’d basically seen already with a few hundred meters left in the race.  It felt like a delaying tactic, and it was – we didn’t learn anything about Manami from it that we didn’t already know.

Where we are learning about Manami is in the racing itself, and we’re definitely seeing his potentially fatal flaw – arrogance.  Like Icarus, he risks his wings by flying too close to the sun.  Rather than listen to his captain’s advice and stay in eighth-gear – or even ninth – Manami has to go all Nigel Tufnel on us (if his racer had an 11th, he’d have used it).  Manami is too focused on pushing himself, on testing his limits, on the aesthetics of the race – and not enough on simply winning it.  Those qualities are positive ones in an athlete – as long as they have the perspective to manage them.  Manami, it seems, doesn’t.  Not yet.

Onoda-kun, by contrast, has no such issues.  He’s only concerned about winning – and even that only because it’s become clear he has to do it or no one else on his team will.  On a bike, Sakamichi is a very straightforward thinker – he needs a goal and once he has it, he won’t wilt until it’s achieved.  Just as I think there’s an athletic ideal that’s somewhere between the extremes of Midousuji and Sakamichi, I think he and Manami can take something from the other (indeed, Midousuji clearly rooting for Manami seems to show he sees a kindred spirit).  Onoda – whether he wins here or not – needs to be more self-driven.  He needs to want to win not just to support his team, but because he believes he’s the best.  And Manami needs to understand that Fukutomi has put the fate of the entire team in him, and he needs therefore to prioritize winning the race over any personal passions.  To do less is something of a betrayal of Fuku-chan’s trust.

As is, what we see here is classic Onoda.  Even employing Naruko’s classic “two-click dancing” he can’t reel Manami in – not, that is, until he sees him.  And once he does, his own wings emerge in glorious fashion.  When Sakamichi smiles and when he sings (even internally) he’s an unstoppable force.  Clearly, as a competitor Sakamichi is best when he’s chasing (a common trait among many great athletes).  Once he has Manami in his sights it’s inevitable that he’s going to catch him, and turn the finish into an all-out sprint between two exhausted kids too young to know any better.

Whilst the Manami (re)flashback felt like a delaying tactic, the cutaways fit very naturally into the flow of the episode.  We needed to see all these characters, how they were reacting to what was happening.  Naruko was going crazy with exhausted exhilaration, the Sohoku bunch living and dying with every second (Kitarou-kun’s reaction was my favorite), the sprinters just trying to survive, and the climbers settling in for a dash for third-place while their thoughts are elsewhere.  And we had Iinchou and Mama-san, the latter of whom finally realizing that it was indeed her son racing for the glory.  That was an altogether more serious and sad moment than I expected, especially Onoda’s “Of course my Mom wouldn’t be here” reaction to “imagining” her voice.  It’s going to be emotional when he sees her – I hope we get that moment on-screen.  Perhaps my favorite of these inserts, though, was seeing Arakita (and Abu).  “I pulled those kids out of the pack” Arakita thinks to himself bemusedly, and it’s a good reminder of the crucial role he played what seems like months ago.

We know there can no more cliffhangers, at least – our climax has to come next week, and the earlier the better.  With everything having built up to this point I think TMS made the right decision in giving us our first really “straight” omake of the series – it was just a compilation of everyone sending their thoughts to the two grommets racing to the line.  I suppose this was really the only ending “Grande Road” could have given us – it had to come down to that fated pair, right from their first random meeting and stress-free race up a hill together.  Watanabe has definitely broken some shounen rules in ending the race this way, but Yowamushi Pedal never fit neatly into the sports shounen box anyway – so really, what better way to prove it?

Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -10 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -11 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -12
Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -14 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -15 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -16
Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -17 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -18 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -19
Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -20 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -21 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -22
Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -23 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -24 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -25
Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -26 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -27 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -28
Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -29 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -30 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -31
Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -32 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -33 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -34
Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -35 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -37 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -38
Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -39 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -40 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -42
Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -43 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -44 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -46
Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -47 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -48 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -49
Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -50 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -51 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -52

Omake:

Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -53 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -54 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -55
Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -56 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -57 Yowamushi Grande Road - 23 -58
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

5 comments

  1. J

    *The following are the thoughts of a non-manga reader, who is now convinced that Onoda will win the Interhigh*

    Hmmm, good episode overall, but it definitely needed more "Hime".

    I can deal with the clear delaying tactics, excruciating as it was to watch the seek bar fill up. However, I preferred this flashback to the previous one, I think it did a better job at presenting both sides of the win at all costs/win the "right" way argument. I was glad that Manami didn't just collapse as a result of his hubris and forced his legs to continue, but the fact that he was slowing down as he went up the gears was a realistic way to get Onoda back into view. As we have ably seen once he has a sight, the terrier within him simply will not let go.

    It looks like the revelation I was hoping for (as hinted in the OP) won't come to pass this season – like you I still want to see Onoda become a true racer by finding his own motivation separate from the wishes of his friends. We all know that it's easier to chase than to lead and that's not something I think Onoda could handle at the moment. Fortunately he doesn't need to but post-Interhigh he's going to be even more vital as a senior team member and he will have to pick up some leader/mentor qualities to pass on to whoever joins the club next year.

    The cuts to the other team members (and Midosuji) was handled really well and it highlights the fundamental difference between the two teams – there is a lack of cohesiveness in Hakone's team – it may seem minor, but having the senior members giving conflicting advice to a junior shows that Froome-utomi has approached the team building from an individualistic point of view – and with big talents come big egos. In contrast, everyone in Sohoku is totally behind Onoda, just as he would be in their position. The first-years have deferred to the third-years totally, and it will work out for them.

    Something that caught my eye this week – when Mrs. Sakamichi cheered for her son she slammed the advertising board so hard that broke the strap of her handbag. A nice touch to show where Onoda gets his determination from.

  2. Heh, I didn't notice that bit with the handbag strap.

  3. A

    I consider myself a huge audiophile, so I gotta say, those last 10 seconds of the episode were ******* intense!

    Just because it's part of the trade in sports anime, I will always groan when they throw a comedy sequence or a flashback right in the middle of an important match. Can't they just get that out of the way at the very beginning and not lose momentum for the rest of the episode? Is that really so complicated, or am I missing something important?

  4. C

    It had to come down to Onoda vs. Manami, but I still think Imaizumi should have won. Onoda's MC powers are sometimes unnerving.

    Well, it's kinda complicated. Could Imaizumi have defeated Manami? Who knows. I guess I kinda wanted/expected Onoda and Manami to cancel each other out like Maki-chan and Toudou.

  5. E

    Nice episode. Even while demonstrating how GAR he is, Onoda shows that hes still a vulnerable kid with his thoughts about his mom. I like this side of Yowamushi Pedal, its characters and their interactions are very spot on usually. Of course the episode ends without showing who won with the 'Onoda!' suckerpunch in the omake…. I've come to expect everything from this series since it ended the previous season without even bothering to wrap up the second day interhigh.

Leave a Comment