I would have to say that was among the most preposterous Yowapeda episodes ever. That’s not entirely a criticism, though I do think there was an inevitable dropoff after the emotional crescendo of the first-year (and Sugimoto) race. That silliness is one of the defining characteristics of Yowamushi Pedal without any question, a big part of its charm. I’m not quite as fond of it when it applies to the sports side of the ledger though, and it crossed over that line a bit in this episode.
Kaburagi… I dunno, he isn’t growing on me yet. Give it time, I suppose – and I suppose it might be about time for Sohoku to have a genuinely unlikeable team member. Still, when it came time for the Chiba preliminary race, I wasn’t entirely thrilled that Teshima allowed Kaburagi to fill the ace role. Why – because he asked for the responsibility? To teach him a lesson? I mean, this is a pretty important race for starters – win or go home where the Inter-high is concerned. But then there’s this: guys like Naruko and Imaizumi (not to mention TeshimAoyagi himselves) have worked hard in supporting roles and paid a lot of dues. Why should the honor of the finish line – even a largely ceremonial honor, as Teshima clearly expected no trouble – go to Kaburagi?
Then there’s what happened in the first lap of the race (after Kaburagi had told his teammates he didn’t need their support, he’d win on his own). Kaburagi got a (much-deserved) flat. So Teshima has the entire team wait for him? No, I’m sorry, the Onoda-Tadokoro situation in the Inter-high is not analogous at all. That was a multi-day race, with more time to catch up. And as a grand tour, it would require all of the Sohoku Six to be intact for the team to have a chance. Here, the team had only 9 laps to catch up and if they were lapped, it would be a disqualification. No, they 100% should have left him. Or, at the very least, since was was the “ace”, one of the others should have swapped bikes with him and waited behind for Miki and the spare tire. The risk was far, far too great to do what Teshima did.
Well, be that as it may, wait Sohoku did. And Teshima showed some of the same nasty cleverness he did in the first season (water bottles really are totems in this series, aren’t they?). We were then treated to the deliciously ludicrous (almost Willy Wonk-ian) spectacle of Aoyagi’s version of Tadokoro’s leadout train. Damn, that’s a lot of oxygen. None of this is making me like Kaburagi any better. As with the first-year race, he did very little of the work himself and reaped the benefits. And then, at the end, he still didn’t really seem grateful for the underserved honor Teshima had bestowed on him. At best, he could be said to have grasped just how inferior to the other Sohoku team members he still is, but that if anything made him more defiant. Maybe that’s a good thing, I don’t know. At least he’s earned the derogatory nickname of “Showoff”…
In the aftermath, the turn for the bizarre continues with a visit to the reliably bizarre Midousuji-kun and Kyoto Fushimi. Midou seems to have found himself some sort of secret weapon – a new blue-haired teammate named Komari (Fukuyama Jun). In the first place, Komai has taken on the role of masseuse for the team apparently. But as if that weren’t weird enough, Chimera-kun clearly believes there’s something else about Komari that no one else needs to know about yet, something that makes him a valuable threat. Given the source, I don’t even want to speculate on what that might be.
The last part of the episode is the best – and probably not coincidentally, the most Onoda-centric. His priceless reaction when he receives a phone call from Manami-kun is classic Onoda at his loveable best. Then, there’s a great sight gag involving Manami and a movie poster. Turns out Manami is in Akihabara, on a short stopover with his teammates. I love that he called Onoda to tell him that – and I love that Onoda fiercely pedalled to Akiba even knowing he’d never get there in time. The idea of Onoda’s two worlds crossing over like that was just too much for him to resist, but sadly he did indeed arrive too late. Manami left him a calling card, though – his water bottle (water bottles again) cementing beyond a doubt that these two remain the fated rivals of Yowamushi Pedal.