Yowamushi Pedal New Generation
Episode 20

by Lauren Orsini,

How would you rate episode 20 of
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation ?

Yowamushi Pedal New Generation sure knows how to drag a story out, even when it's (ironically) a sprint! All I can say about this week's episode is that if it hadn't wrapped it up—in the nick of time, no less—I would have thrown a bike at my TV. That said, I wouldn't recommend that viewers simply fast forward to the end to figure out the result—there's a lot of character development densely packed in the lead-up. This sprint may have taken some time, but the storytelling kept it interesting and tense.

Aoyagi's ballooning torso wasn't doing the trick against Doubashi, but the upperclassman had another trick up his bike shorts. This week we met “Bambi Style,” which is surprisingly not Psy's latest K-pop hit but a fawn-inspired cycling style, in which Aoyagi thickens up his thighs. Paired with blown-pupil doe eyes, it's on a Midousuji-level of body distortion. We're certainly seeing a level of shonen anime power-creep in Yowamushi Pedal's second season, but I have to give it points for creativity. We've come a long way from the time Naruko tucked his jersey into his bike shorts and called it his ultimate technique. Aoyagi's body is capable of strange, disturbing things, but it's apparently master strategist Teshima who gave him the idea to do it. At its core, this show is about relationships, and we can see Aoyagi and Teshima's even when they're apart—Teshima, back in the pack with Onoda, isn't concerned at all.

There's another relationship showcase between Kaburagi and his god, who is actually Aoyagi. Kaburagi doesn't have any faith in himself to sprint—despite all evidence to the contrary—but he'll believe anything a piece of paper tells him to do. It appears that Aoyagi also believes in god, because despite saying there was only an infinitely tiny chance that Kaburagi would catch up to him in the sprint, he'd prepared for it anyway, writing a note on a piece of paper and tucking it in his back pocket just in case. On some lizard-brain level, Kaburagi realizes that his god is actually his upperclassman, as evidenced by him seeing Aoyagi's face when he thought about it. In general, this is more about Aoyagi's character than Kaburagi's. Usually Teshima speaks for Aoyagi and gives him all his good ideas. But when Aoyagi is faced with such a dense underclassman, he finally has to use his words. Through both monologue and flat-out, exasperated orders to Kaburagi, this is the most we've heard out of him yet.

Kaburagi's idiocy turns out to be Doubashi's one weakness. Just about every cyclist in Yowamushi Pedal has an “image animal.” (Koga's is a pizza, and I still can't get over that.) Doubashi's own wild animal hasn't been made clear yet, but he's certainly something predatory. Rather than lagging behind Aoyagi's “Bambi Style,” he's invigorated by the thrill of the chase. But when it comes to Kaburagi, the road monster is at a loss. He can instinctively sense other cyclists' intent, but since Kaburagi doesn't consider himself a sprinter and therefore has no intent until nearly the finish line, Doubashi never saw—or sensed—him coming. This is what really makes today's sprint too close to call until the very last minute. As they converge on the finish line, it's hard to say who we should root for, because both characters have given such heartfelt pleas for their own victory. It's a can't-miss episode that ends on a satisfying note.

Rating: A

Yowamushi Pedal New Generation is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.

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