Yowamushi Pedal New Generation
Episode 19

by Lauren Orsini,

How would you rate episode 19 of
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation ?

Back to your usual cliffhanger tricks, Yowamushi Pedal New Generation? After a fairly satisfying week-to-week pace, the show is back to its old routine of launching into grand flashbacks right before a pivotal checkpoint in the Inter High. This week, even four kilometers is too lengthy a distance to cover in half an hour! The agonizing suspense is maintained thanks to expert storytelling, which makes it hard to know who to root for in this race.

Out of all the characters in New Generation, Kaburagi gets my award for “most improved.” Starting as a nondescript Onoda groupie, he's really begun to stand out through sheer, repetitive idiocy—I mean this in the most charmed way possible. It's amazing how skilled Yowamushi Pedal creator Wataru Watanabe is at portraying different types of idiots: Kaburagi and Ashikiba, both introduced this season, are both airheads in completely different ways. Kaburagi refuses to take advice from anyone or consider the possibility that he might be wrong about something—but quiet Aoyagi finds a loophole. Kaburagi won't listen to people, but he'll take written notes as the word of God—literally! Thus begins a coaching relationship that could only happen between these two particular characters, because only Aoyagi is shy and subtle enough to consider leaving notes, and only Kaburagi is dumb enough to take them at face value, assuming they were sent to him by a spiritual soda.

Kaburagi's flashback is light and funny, but Doubashi's is serious and sincere. It addresses the big question—“why wasn't a powerhouse like Doubashi in the Inter High last year?”—while endearing us to Doubashi in a way that makes me feel he has just as much claim to the first sprint checkmark as Sohoku. He's got too much talent and a chip on his shoulder, and he keeps getting in fights. (During this flashback, I can really hear his voice actor Daisuke Ono's teen delinquent flourishes come through, reminiscent of his role as Jotaro in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.) Once again, there's a parallel here—Doubashi's bad attitude (and excellent facial expression) is akin to Arakita's, yet his conduct is nothing like Arakita's. Where Arakita is compared to a tamed wolf, Doubashi is a different kind of beast. And where Fukutomi became Arakita's mentor, it's Izumida, perhaps the single most masculine and muscular cyclist in the show, who takes over Doubashi's training. Where Fukutomi quelled and controlled Arakita's aggression, Izumida has let Doubashi's loose. There's something primal about the red aura that surrounds the pair during training.

As Kaburagi, Aoyagi, and Doubashi sprint toward the checkpoint, the art becomes as wild as Doubashi's riding style, with thick, scrawled motion lines emphasizing their speed. It's an interesting contrast with this season's emphasis on CG animation for cycling scenes, interrupting these fluid graphics with stark, drawn stripes. The flashbacks did a great job building up the story side of this race—the visuals do the same but more immediately. Both Kaburagi and Doubashi are flawed people, but they've put everything on the line for this sprint. But it's still a cliffhanger with one kilometer to go. It'll be another week until we know who won—but in that time, Yowamushi Pedal has given me a lot to think about.

Rating: B+

Yowamushi Pedal New Generation is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.

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