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The Fall 2022 Preview Guide
Yowamushi Pedal Limit Break

How would you rate episode 1 of
Yowamushi Pedal Limit Break ?
Community score: 3.7

What is this?

It's the third day of anime otaku Sakamichi Onoda's second Inter-High race. His seniors have graduated, but he leads this new generation of the Sohoku Cycling Club as its ace cyclist, wearing the #1 tag. After two grueling days competing against its formidable rivals, Sohoku has one last chance to sprint to the finish and repeat last year's victory.

Yowamushi Pedal Limit Break is the fifth anime season of Wataru Watanabe's manga and streams on Crunchyroll on Saturdays.

How was the first episode?

Lauren Orsini

How far Yowamushi Pedal has fallen! Starting off with a bang in Fall 2014, the cycling anime quickly won over a sizeable audience for its upbeat attitude and unconventional characters with a wide range of eccentric personalities that even the most unathletic of viewers can relate to. But by its fourth season, Yowamushi Pedal: Glory Line in Winter 2018, the show's viewership had dwindled so much among ANN readers that it wasn't even selected for the streaming guide. This turned out to be the right decision considering Glory Line's disappointing conclusion—right in the middle of the Inter-High—and its cryptic “See you later!” end card. At the time, it was unclear whether this meant Yowamushi Pedal was ever coming back.

Yowamushi Pedal Limit Break picks up right where the fourth season left off, though it's to be expected that all of the race's hard-won suspense has deflated considerably after four years of nothing. There's a lot of necessary recap to get viewers up to speed (it's the last day of the Inter-High, Sohoku hasn't won a single event, and they've got one last chance to win it all) which eats up precious minutes. The show also makes use of the sometimes-irritating but always effective sports anime trope of having a bystander loudly introduce the characters and explain the rules of the event. But things get more interesting once you've managed to survive that slog, as the story returns to what Yowamushi Pedal does best: showcasing its quirky characters through their interactions with each other. Amidst fairly standard visuals straight from the manga source, like blank backdrops and split screens, it's the anime's moving character performances and familiar uplifting background music that are most gratifying to come back to.

This episode's focus on teamwork—even across multiple teams—reminds me of what made Yowamushi Pedal successful in the first place. This is a sport with the time and space for a lot of back-and-forth banter between friends and rivals. The Inter-High is an endurance race so the competitors conserve their energy for key moments, and spend a lot of time chatting in between. This gives the show's “Best Boy” Onoda (if you doubt me, just look at the writing on his shirt) time to have an emotional heart-to-heart with the usually stoic Imaizumi—the exercise endorphins clearly help this dude open up. First-year Kaburagi learns an important lesson about teamwork as Sohoku works together with their frenemies from Hakogaku toward a shared goal. It's a collaborative environment that allows even a freak of nature like Midousuji to masquerade as a regular guy, sort of. But just what are our resident misfits in the Kyoto Fushimi Cycling Club up to? The episode cuts off in the middle of their conversation. Whether it's four years or one week, linear time doesn't seem to matter here. These plotlines start and stop without regard for your memory or attention span, cementing this title as one that's probably best saved for a marathon viewing session, rather than week-by-week. By the end of its cour, we'll at least know if this season will conclude at a more satisfying place than the last one.

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