Yowamushi Pedal: New Generation – 10

You gotta love sports!

Yowamushi Pedal 3 - 10 - 01Honestly, I could pretty much write this post in a single sentence:  Sugimoto-kuuuuuuun – ganbare!!!  But that’s not the sort of world we live in, so I won’t – that’s a tweet, not a blog post.  Still, you get the essence of my drift I’m sure.  This episode had lots of good stuff going on (it may in fact have been my favotite of the season so far, despite the horrible cliffhanger ending I knew was coming) but in the end, it all comes down to Sugimoto-kun.  -tachi…

Yowamushi Pedal 3 - 10 - 02Bottom line – if you’re going to succeed in sports anime, you have to be good at the “sports” part.  A chunk of that is getting the actual sports right in terms of animation, realism and competitive drama – and Yowamushi Pedal certainly does that.  But it only really works if you care about the characters.  And that, to me, is the true strength of Yowapeda because it’s the strength of Watanabe Wataru.  He just cares so much himself – about cycling, and about the characters he writes who compete in it.  “Infectious” is the word I’d use, and his love for his subjects fits that bill.

Yowamushi Pedal 3 - 10 - 03Sugimoto…  I feel for this guy so much, maybe for the same reasons that George Harrison is my favorite Beatle (well, that’s also because he was the most brilliant and had a beautiful soul) – I feel for the overlooked and under-appreciated.  Sugimoto toiled in anonymity (and maybe even ignominy) for over two seasons, but I trusted there was a payoff coming, sooner or later.  That was my faith in Watanabe as a writer, and it’s paid off in glorious fashion with these last two episodes.  This isn’t for the glory of winning the Inter-high or beating a heated rival school- it’s just for the last domestique spot on the racing squad.  But the intensity here is off the charts, because what’s at stake is so viscerally relatable.

Yowamushi Pedal 3 - 10 - 04In terms of payoff, Sugimoto has certainly gotten it in dramatic terms.  But will the character himself reap the rewards?  That remains to be seen.  Kaburagi and Danchiku are formidable freshmen – that “SS” jersey stands for the elite all-ages cycling fight club they managed to pedal their way onto as middle-schoolers.  I thought it was cute the way Imaizumi encouraged Onoda to make Kaburagi feel indebted to him when he apologized for his behavior on the first day of school (Onoda’s discomfort with being a sempai remains a great subplot this season) but I inwardly groaned when he urged Kaburagi to show his remorse “in the first-year race”.  What – he needed more motivation to beat Sugimoto?

Yowamushi Pedal 3 - 10 - 05On the road, one thing is clear right from the start – Kaburagi and Danchiku have a clear advantage riding as a pair, while Terufumi has to tackle them solo.  He gets some encouragement from Imaizumi – indeed, this is about as animated as we’ve seen him get, as his pals notice – but that’s not the same as a drafting partner.  Sugimoto is not a lightning acceleration kind of guy, more a steady and relentless grinder – which sort of works to his advantage when the two first-years (it seems to be Kaburagi making the decisions) underestimate him when he makes his breakaway at less than awesome speed.  Indeed, their overconfidence is Terufumi’s greatest advantage.  Well – that is, until…

Yowamushi Pedal 3 - 10 - 06It’s a pretty gut-wrenching moment when the two first-years blow by Sugimoto (Danchiku’s “all-out” is pretty all-out), but the real psychic blow is when the van pulls away from Sugimoto to follow the leaders.  He even stops for a bit – but you knew from the episode title what was coming next.  Sadatoki’s arrival is everything you hoped it would be, and more.  He wants so badly to help his brother, and his brother wants so badly to win.  I think my favorite moment here (though Sadatoki getting Kaburagi’s name wrong was a close second) was Sadatoki’s excitement that Terufumi had finally asked for his help – that he was going to be the one leading, for a change.

Yowamushi Pedal 3 - 10 - 07That’s why it’s going to be so heartbreaking if Terufumi, in fact, doesn’t win the race.  And I could definitely see that happening – I still feel Sadatoki winning, somehow, though it seems like it’d have to be Terufumi making that decision because I don’t think Sadatoki could do it.  No doubt Sadatoki does a great job pulling his brother back to the leaders (he’s a natural leadout-train locomotive for some of the same reasons Tadokoro is), but what happens if we get down to the last few hundred meters and Terufumi realizes he simply doesn’t have enough left?  I think he’d tell Sadatoki to leave him behind and go for it – after giving everything he had pulling his brother.  We’ll see.  Hell, the first-years could win too – there are ways around that “sixth man” problem.  But I think I’m pulling just as hard for Terufumi now as I was for Onoda at the Inter-high, amazingly enough…

Kiiromake:

 

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4 comments

  1. N

    What was it that Mutta used to say? “It’s the big brother’s job to pave the way for his kid brother”, or something like that.

    I also liked how Kaburagi’s desire to surpass Onoda was contrasted with Onoda’s desire to do right by his team. And the SS jerseys – that certainly wouldn’t fly outside Japan, lol

  2. Yeah, best to let that one go, I think…

    I think it can be argued that Onoda really should be more selfish. If he’s going to be a great athlete, most of them do have that selfish gene. But in the context of this episode, it’s really Onoda who represents the “Sohoku ideal”. And Sugimoto too, more or less.

  3. V

    All i want to know is who will be the sixth man come on…

  4. r

    Thanks for the enthusiastic review Enzo, I loved the episode too. My feeling is also that Sadatoki will win the day with Terufumi’s blessings… In terms of the plot that’s the best solution because Terufumi doesn’t seem strong enough to win, but at the same time his brother’s victory would represent a kind of self-vindication… Besides, Kaburagi cannot win, not only because his arrogant, but most importantly he looks too much like Naruko – on the other hand, Terufumi’s looks are just… nondescript, while Sadatoki’s physical type will fit marvelously in the new Sohoku, he’s the perfect replacement for Tadokoro:D

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