Yowamushi Pedal Grande Road
Episode 24

by Lauren Orsini,

The story of Yowamushi Pedal and its sequel, Grande Road, spans 62 episodes. Is it worth it to stick around to the end? I can now answer that question with a resounding “yes.”

Whatever draws you to Yowamushi Pedal—whether it be Onoda's sunny disposition, the sport's culture of encouragement and positivity, or a variety of characters with diverse personalities learning to see eye to eye with one another—will not only persist until the final episode, but increase in intensity. Yowamushi Pedal Grande Road never loses sight of what it is, a sports anime with a lot of heart and an uplifting message of friendship and support, whether its characters fail or succeed.

Character development is a fantastic thing. When I was watching Imaizumi hold Onoda in his arms like a proud father, I thought back to episode one when his driver hit Onoda with his car and Imaizumi didn't care. When I was watching Makishima help Onoda to his feet, I remembered their first meeting, when the Peak Spider was so nervous he could hardly speak to him. Sure, these completed character arcs are things of beauty, but what makes this final episode particularly uplifting is that Onoda doesn't change.

Long before Onoda won this race, he'd been winning the hearts and minds of every opponent, including the chaotic Midousuji. We've seen a lot of people reassess their viewpoints because of Onoda, which makes it all the more refreshing that Onoda is still the cheerful geek he was from day one. Even after completing this impossible feat, Onoda is more concerned with making his team happy than he is with defending his new title. He won with them in mind, and any later success he finds will be because he's thinking of them.

It's a day of celebration for Sohoku, but that doesn't mean Hakogaku has been forgotten. Manami has tears of frustration in his eyes from losing to Onoda, but he still greets his friend and rival with a smile. The loss is even more devastating to the team's four seniors, but they accept it with encouragement and dignity. I can only imagine how torn up Fukutomi is over the loss, but he tells Manami to clean up and celebrate Sohoku's accomplishment with respect. This is their last InterHigh and their first loss in years, but even devil-may-care Arakita has the fortitude to comfort Izumida. The grace with which Hakogaku accepts their loss and supports one another is almost as emotional as Sohoku's surprise win.

The final third of the episode is pure fan service as Onoda takes his team to Akihabara, the dream he's nurtured all this time. This section is animated in a more cartoony style than usual to emphasize the humor, and it's laugh-out-loud funny to see the seniors out of their element and at the mercy of smiling, sparkling Onoda. One of the things Yowapeda does well is bring a motley cast of characters together and demonstrate their culture clash in an enlightening and uplifting way, and the Akiba section is perhaps the best example of this yet.

This is the point where I should be clamoring for another season, but I don't feel the usual urgency. The manga is ongoing and many things will change for Onoda, but for now it feels like everything has been wrapped up in a satisfying way. Of course I won't complain about another season, but for now the story has concluded by giving us everything it promised in the beginning and then some.

Rating: A+

Yowamushi Pedal Grande Road is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Lauren writes about anime and journalism at Otaku Journalist.

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