Yowamushi Pedal Grande Road
by Lauren Orsini,
This was a real in-betweener episode of Yowamushi Pedal Grande Road, where a lot of small events happened one after another with hardly any substance. It's an expected fault for an anime is sticking strictly to its manga source material. Obviously, I can't claim to be an expert on transforming manga into anime, but it seems like you could upset people no matter what you do. Since manga is paced differently than anime, some directors might take liberties with the source material in order to create more dynamic stories for each episode, but risk offending the purists in the process. Yowamushi Pedal appears to be going the more conservative route, depicting each and every bit of inconsequential dialogue from the manga, including a lengthy and dull bit of exposition between three race spectators that we'll never seen again.
As a result, we got a hodgepodge of sequential events for this episode. There was tension in the form of the characters experiencing anxiety over what may or may not happen, which did little to actually build suspense and more to just bide time. There were flashbacks, in which Team Sohoku reflected on the past two days of racing without any new information. Then there was a talk between Toudou and Onoda that brings Onoda down, and a talk between Makishima and Onoda that brings him up (we just never know if socially awkward Makishima is going to be a helpful senpai or give a terrifying lecture on corpses.) There was a day-long race with no end in sight.
Things got wild at the end, but I think Yowamushi Pedal was being a little melodramatic. Some characters faced minor misfortune in the race today. They didn't die or get injured, they were just mildly inconvenienced, and yet they were mourned—MOURNED—by their teammates as if we'd never see these characters ever again! These boys' worlds are very small, where tiny milestones are rewarded with hugs for just a little too long, and the memories of their captain's orders the night before are delivered with emotional music.
The most dramatic part of the episode was supplied by Machimiya, whose true colors have been telegraphed from a mile away. As with Midousuji before, Machimiya's underhanded tactics are what set him apart as a true villain. In this cutthroat race where everyone is an antagonist to begin with, you have to do something pretty devious to set yourself apart. Machimiya's womanizing ways continue to be a major indication that he's unforgivable. Perhaps at this point, the manga artist realized that this story designed for elementary school boys was picking up a huge adult female fanbase, and this is a great way to get women to dislike him. We know very little about him except that he'll do anything to win, even leave teammates behind. Sound familiar? It's exactly what Fukutomi and Kinjou told their teams the night before.
Yowamushi Pedal Grande Road is never boring, but this was one of those episodes where it flew by and left me wondering, "Wait, did anything significant actually happen?" It's a hazard of an anime that painstakingly devotes itself to documenting every sneeze from the original manga. The next episode will ostensibly focus on just one of the main characters, and it should be a much-needed improvement.
Yowamushi Pedal Grande Road is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about anime and journalism at Otaku Journalist.
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