Wow – are we really starting the Inter-High already? I make it a practice not to read ahead of the anime when it comes to the Yowamushi Pedal manga so I don’t know if the source material bears it out, but it sure seems like things are moving faster this season than in the first two. That would jibe with the fact that Onoda is less of a presence, since those textural episodes tended to be great showcases for his quirky charm. On balance I don’t think that’s a change for the better.
Be that as it may, it is indeed Inter-high time – and indeed, Koga will apparently be on the sidelines, rendering his mini-arc somewhat puzzling. I’m still not feeling Kaburagi as a member of the Sohoku Six, but he’s apparently going to be part of the mix whether I am or not. The race kicks off in Utsonomiya, a way stop between Tokyo and Nikko (and home of the monkey izakaya) and Tachibana-san is along for the ride. Do I detect the hint of romantic foreshadowing with Onoda-kun? That would certainly be a left-field development in Yowapeda (and I’d been holding out for Miki, in any case).
A continuing theme this season is Sohoku’s quest for respect – and Teshima is right, the first time someone wins out of the blue they’re generally dismissed as a fluke. The press is always more interested in the team with the big bus, and we all know who that is. The funny thing is, Hakone Gakuen has just as much turnover as Sohoku but they have the story to back up their claim to continuity. With the newly shaggy Izumida in charge I suppose they’re still the favorites, though he’s carrying a bunch of newbies untested on the big stage too.
There are certainly a lot of questions still to sort themselves here, not least of which is what Sohoku rider is gong to make the final charge on the final day. In theory Imaizumi is the ace now, or so we’re told – but it’s Onoda who bears the #1 tag. And he earned it. So would Watanabe really shift the focus away from him now? I guess we’ll see. I guess in theory Manami isn’t the ace for HakoGaku either (though he does seem to have become the team ikemen),
As for Kaburagi, he’s his usual pre-race intestinal disaster area. This leads to a run-in with Doubashi (Ono Daisuke), the “Road Monster” who’s the biggest mystery man in Hakone’s arsenal. I hope Kaburagi isn’t so weak-willed as to have his belief in Onoda eroded by Doubashi’s taunting, but that’s definitely being played up as a thread. And finally, Naruko (poor guy – all his fans are dudes) is setting old scores with Midousuji – setting up what seems to be a side battle for the main race.