Yowamushi Pedal New Generation
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 14 of
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation ?
Is talent innate or cultivated? Can effort ever truly surpass genetic advantage? These were the questions Yowamushi Pedal New Generation tackled in “The Ordinary Man and the Genius.” At training camp, Teshima Junta went up against Koga Kimitaka, and we even got to see how it ended. In a genre rife with supernatural abilities, Yowamushi Pedal manages to stay down to earth by presenting a rivalry less about talent and more about grit.
Only in a sports show would Teshima be considered unique because he isn't some sort of preternatural sports genius. Here, being naturally talented is the norm. Sure, sometimes charcters don't instantly recognize their existing talents (Ashikiba once thought being 6'6” was a negative factor, for crying out loud), but most of their development arcs come from learning to harness the characteristics that make them unique. Teshima does have his ability to strategize, but that's nothing compared to Koga's hulking shoulders and racer's legs. Even more intimidating than that is Koga's confidence. Koga has always been told that a lot is expected from him, and he has the track record to prove it. An injury kept him down for a year, but it hasn't done anything to smother the confidence he's spent years of his cycling career building up.
But Koga is more than a roadblock, contrary to what I thought last week. It was a slow burn figuring out what this guy has been doing during all that time he spent slightly out of the frame. While that's still a cop out, it was rewarding to discover so much history between Koga and Teshima. Nothing feels manufactured about their years of nuanced history. It all centers on Teshima, the realist who recognizes that people have limits, telling Koga not to race with an injury on the second day of the Interhigh—Teshima was right.
In the end, this feud comes down to a difference in mindset, but this race shows enormous growth for both cyclists. This episode delivers an inspirational bit of optimism without being preachy: that mindsets aren't static, that people can change. Koga's incorrect mindset was that if you're naturally talented and everyone's counting on you, it doesn't matter if your body is hurting. Teshima's incorrect mindset was that believing you have certain unsurpassable limits isn't pessimistic, just realistic. With this race, they both meet in the middle. Teshima realizes that past losses don't equal future losses forever, and Koga realizes that past success doesn't equal future success, especially when your rival is motivated by putting his position as captain on the line. In the end, Koga was thinking of the past during that sprint, and Teshima was thinking about the future.
Koga's had so much bad luck that it's hard not to feel bad for him. The very thing Teshima envied him for—everybody's high expectations—really weighed him down. The way he reacted to the pressure caused him to injure himself not once, but twice. The silver lining is that after years of passive-aggressive tension, Teshima and Koga are friends again at the end of the race. It's this humanistic side that makes Yowamushi Pedal so endearing. In a genre where athletes are constantly jumping the shark with superpowered abilities, Yowapeda's focus has always been on day-to-day interpersonal relationships. Teshima, the ordinary man of the Sohoku cycling club, is exactly the hero Yowamushi Pedal deserves.
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist
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