Yowamushi Pedal New Generation
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 15 of
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation ?
With Koga and Teshima's years-long feud resolved, the floodgates have opened on a slough of new conflicts for the characters of Yowamushi Pedal New Generation. Both inside and out of Team Sohoku, new rivalries are brewing and threatening to clash. This was a fast-paced episode that covered a lot of ground, but it didn't feel rushed. It provided a satisfactory bookend to the training camp arc, rife with comic relief. Next week the show will jet right into the Inter High, so this low-intensity episode allowed us to get our bearings first.
First up: Onoda vs. Komori. I love the way Yowamushi Pedal's direction treats Midousuji like a horror movie villain. When Midousuji and Komori showed up to cause trouble, the weather took a turn for the worse. Midousuji was sometimes seen through an unsettling fisheye lens effect. In Komori's scenes, the music was subtly reminiscent of the shower scene in Psycho. Just in case you forgot, these two are bad news. Since Onoda now recognizes Midousuji on sight there's not much that second-year can do, but Komori is virtually incognito. He has the good luck of running into Onoda, who's more concerned with appearing to be a good upperclassman (even if he doesn't recognize Komori's face) than he is worried about any potential threat.
This scene reminded me so powerfully about what makes Onoda such a lovable protagonist in a similar way to Deku from My Hero Academia—he's so kind, modest, and unassuming. Komori himself observes that he doesn't sense any “pressure” from Onoda; this is a guy whose speed comes from internal strength, not external conflict. Even faced with Komori's creepy grin and wandering fingers, Onoda speaks kindly about Imaizumi and Midousuji, of all people. But when he trips and gives Komori an opening to feel his muscles, the purehearted mood of the scene takes a turn for the uncomfortable. How are friendship and teamwork going to triumph over a degenerate like Komori, who basically has the same ability as Kazane “Butt Toucher” Aoba in Keijo!!!!!!!!? Midousuji is his own brand of weird, but I wouldn't be surprised if Komori tops it.
Next there's Naruko vs. Imaizumi. I like Naruko for the same reason I like Toudou—he brags and he works too hard to stand out, but he has the talent to back it up. (Naruko and Toudou have barely interacted, but they're so similar that I'm sure they'd hate each other.) Now Naruko has put aside his flashy new sprinter tires in order to become an awesome all-rounder. Who said Midousuji never did anything good? At least he's inspired Naruko to improve, to “evolve” as Onoda puts it. Naruko and Imaizumi are second-years now, but their interactions are pure grade-school, responsible for a lot of this week's comic relief. Their pact for the loser to become the winner's “slave for a day” is something ten-year-olds would do. I didn't expect Naruko to straight-up win the four-day training camp race, but New Generation has been all about these sorts of surprises, in which characters far surpass my previous expectations of them, just as Sugimoto did earlier.
Finally, Kaburagi vs. himself. The more time this first-year spends on screen, the more I like him. I was downright cold to him a few reviews back, because I didn't like how perfect he seemed to be, but every week we learn more about he's just a big idiot. This week had two visual gags, both in English and requiring no translation, in which Kaburagi almost realized what Koga and Aoyagi have already observed about him—that he's a sprinter, not an all-rounder. First of all, how can you cycle for this long and not know what you're naturally good at? Secondly, isn't it about surpassing that? Why else would Naruko try to become an all-rounder even though he knows sprinting is his strength? I also noticed that Kaburagi's textbook was open to a short story about Love Hime and her butler. Great easter egg!
Finally, the episode ends with a treat: a look at how Makishima is doing! Makishima has certainly left his mark on Sohoku (and when Onoda tried to emulate this awkward spider's conversational mannerisms, he was doomed from the start), but we haven't seen the show's most popular character in a while. Does this mean our beloved seniors are coming back to observe the Inter High? I sure hope so. Now that all our our younger characters are coming into their own, it'll just be the icing on the cake.
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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