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Yowamushi Pedal Grande Road
Episode 4

by Lauren Orsini,

After a full ten episodes of non-stop racing, Day Two of the Interhigh is finally complete. The almost painful anticipation for the finish line is over, and the momentum has slowed a bit.

But honestly, I love these in-between episodes. Each of the three main teams regroup in their own way, and we get to see a lot of good quality time between the characters finally doing something other than racing the crap out of each other.

After the intense emotional trauma of last week, this installment is a respite. On the horizon of Day Three, anything is manageable as long as you're part of a team. Sports injuries, staving off exhaustion, anxiety over not finishing first—that's nothing compared to the Yowamushi Pedal characters' beautiful, unbreakable bonds of friendship. There's plenty of time to chill in the hotel room, take a long soak in the bath, or reflect on first year memories by the lake.

However, a storm is brewing. Nearly every action, big or small, was foreshadowing something. Makishima gives a fairly metal speech to the first years about “riding over corpses,” basically a goth take on (seriously) staying optimistic giving it their all tomorrow. Toudou has a heart To Heart with Manami, requesting the younger climber take over in the event that something unexpected happens on Day Three—almost absolutely guaranteeing that something will happen. Don't even think that Onoda's simple ride to the pharmacy down the road will be uneventful—the fact that next week's episode is titled “Three Kilometers to the Pharmacy” making it pretty obvious that it factors heavily next time.

But let's go back to Toudou for a moment, and not just because he's my favorite character. Fukutomi lets Toudou know that he's counting on him tomorrow, which suggests that the Day Three race is going to play to his strengths as a climber. Toudou in turn tells Manami, also a climber, to support him. It's looking pretty certain that Day Three's race is a climber's battle, perhaps ending with one big old mountain. We know that Kinjou's down for the count, ready to ride tomorrow but “perhaps not as the ace.” And we know Onoda's a stellar climber. Could Onoda be about to make up for his dire lack of screen time of late, and SAVE THE DAY?

Yowamushi Pedal hasn't forgotten who is paying the bills, with plenty of bath time fanservice that wasn't in the manga. I think this has something to do with the manga being geared at elementary schoolers long before it found an audience with fujoshi, leading to these bonus scenes. Further service: the way everybody's shirt seems to say something nudging about the wearer. (For example, Toudou's #8 sweatshirt refers to his birthday, on August 8, and the fact that his first name, Jinpachi, is spelled with the kanji for 8.)

Somebody who didn't have a good Episode Four: Midousuji, whom we see only twice, huddled in the fetal position. I think the anime still has a happy ending in store for everybody's favorite mutant psychopath, as his absence here only serves to make my heart grow fonder and wonder, “Was he really so bad as to deserve all that?”

Rather than acting as a sleepy lull between races, this in-between episode resolved old tensions while kindling new ones. Teammates had heart To Heart talks, drowsy first years had a moment to rest. Next week, we'll be ready to race again.

Rating: A

Yowamushi Pedal Grande Road is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Lauren blogs about anime and journalism at Otaku Journalist.

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