Yowamushi Pedal New Generation
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 17 of
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation ?
One week after an episode titled “The Second Inter-High” comes an episode titled “Start!!!”, but don't let those three exclamation points fool you—we're not starting the Inter-High on Yowamushi Pedal New Generation just yet. Instead, it's another week of brewing tensions and rivalries before our teams hit the road. We check in with nearly everybody in a series of brief vignettes, but I wouldn't characterize this episode as filler. Between several strained encounters and one major character reveal, it looks like even the small stuff is going to prove important to the upcoming race. The variety of scenes is a bit disjointed, but it all comes together in the end through each cyclist's common thread—a memory of the absent, graduated seniors. If the intended outcome was to make me miss them, it certainly worked.
Midousuji is a cartoon supervillain, and not just because he's drawn in two dimensions. He's gaming a system designed to let sick or injured riders rest in order to hide his trump card (and perform some excessive psychological warfare on a teammate at the same time). Apparently there's nothing Mizuta or Yamaguchi can do about it, despite being older—Midousuji has called the shots since the moment he joined the team. It's nice to see that even losing hasn't dulled Kyoto Fushimi's evil edge, because this dysfunctional team injects some much-needed chaos into what could otherwise become a pro-friendship echo chamber.
Take Komari, for example. This guy needs to learn to keep his hands to himself. It's an interesting sequence—Imaizumi grumbling at Sugimoto for slapping his back in encouragement, but then finding himself at a complete loss for words when Komari slides a hand up his bicycle shorts and actually moans. Having these two very different moments of physical contact right next to each other shows just how uncomfortable Imaizumi really is. He doesn't even have a comeback when Komari asks if he's not feeling well, leaving the defense to Sugimoto. Cycling is not a contact sport, but Komari has already had several opportunities to rub Sohoku's muscles, and the race hasn't even begun. I imagine that Komari's mid-race antics are going to give Midousuji's amphibian sound effects a creepy run for their money. Honestly, it's already becoming difficult to watch!
While Komari attempts to fondle his rival, Ashikiba won't even stand next to his. Joined by their forgettable volleyball friend, Teshima and Ashikiba have a weird, solemn display of competition that culminates in Teshima tossing Ashikiba a friendly sports drink, and Ashikiba—in dramatic slo-mo—intentionally failing to catch it. I'm sure this wasn't intended to be as hilarious as it was. It feels like one of those displays of excessive masculinity where manly men refuse to use umbrellas or something. Basically, it's funny because some guy is avoiding common sense to stick to his questionable principles.
Speaking of gender, we were finally introduced to Shinkai Yuto today. Now you see why his face has been hidden this whole time—he looks like a color-swapped version of his brother, Hayato. And then there's the explanation of the feminine-looking mask: “I kinda want to be a little girl,” he says. A portion of the Yowamushi Pedal fandom has interpreted this and other lines from the manga to indicate that Yuto would like to be female, but creator Wataru Watanabe hasn't given a direct answer on the matter, saying only that he'd explain it later. Based on the anime introduction alone, Yuto appears to be a man in touch with his feminine side. More surprising was the revelation that he's a climber, not a sprinter like his brother, and potentially Onoda's most significant rival in this race.
As if Onoda didn't already have enough to worry about! This shy nerd isn't used to being the center of attention, and it's freaking him out. Who else but Aoyagi could dispel his fears—he doesn't talk much, but when he does, Onoda listens. But what really seems to comfort him is the discussion of their graduated teammates, Tadokoro and Makishima. Throughout this episode, the departed seniors serve the role of ghosts—I think Kyoto Fushimi would be much better off with kind Ishigaki still there. Shinkai Yuto only makes us remember his brother. And when you consider that the awkward Makishima was Onoda's mentor, it's no wonder he's nervous now! Now the younger athletes they've left behind will need to face their own fears while gunning for each other. It's a tense and often creepy episode, as socially graceless teens attempt to intimidate one another. I'm looking forward to them finding an athletic outlet for those nerves.
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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