Yowamushi Pedal New Generation
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 22 of
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation ?
Come on, Onoda! I thought this episode of Yowamushi Pedal New Generation was going to be the one where Onoda proves he earned the right to the #1 tag. Instead, it's a completely different story about Teshima, Manami, and an assistant cyclist we just met. I'll have to wait another week to see what happens to my favorite character. In the meantime, this build-up episode manages to fill twenty minutes without offering any real payoff.
Once again, Onoda is in last place. Other cyclists are cornering Onoda to a dangerous extent, in which the slightest brush forward means Onoda will scrape another cyclist's ankle with his pedals. (Onoda wrongly assumes he's the one at fault.) I don't get why Onoda is at a loss here, since he overcame basically the same problem last year, by cycling recklessly on the very edge of the course and singing at the top of his lungs. This behavior feels like it should be squelched by race officials, but instead it's a setup to establish character for two cyclists from the forgettable Kawahara Gunpei (those guys in pink jerseys). I do not care about the assistant or the ace climber, both of whom will surely be crushed by Onoda and Manami, and I'm not sure why they're being introduced at this point. It reminds me of the third Yowamushi Pedal movie, in which the Kumamoto team was briefly introduced and abruptly trampled by Sohoku so completely that it put their entire presence in the movie into question.
It's almost a relief to return to some familiar faces. Hakogaku and Sohoku both send a climber into the mountains at this point. Izumida's trash talk and “abu-bu” laugh reminds me of Midousuji. (Where is that weird purple lizard, anyway? This is shaping up to be far too much like the first day last year, in which Hakogaku and Sohoku duked it out uncontested until Midousuji came out of nowhere mere kilometers before the finish line.) With their genius climber Manami, Hakogaku seems to have the upper hand. But Teshima, the character who stands out simply because he's actually normal, is keeping up. I really appreciate the voice acting here—as Manami chatters effortlessly, Teshima is clearly out of breath. It's the first time somebody has actually sounded like they were climbing one of Japan's steepest mountains.
It's a reminder of how much suspension of disbelief I usually have while watching Yowamushi Pedal. Sticking Teshima in the mix is like having an average person participating in the Olympics, just to show how incredible even the last place Olympians are. This dose of reality made me question everything else. For example, what does taking the mountain checkpoint have to do with taking the finish line? Is it somehow related to honor, the way whoever wins the sprint checkpoint gets to ride in front, no questions asked? Or is there a practical reason, like the team requiring less time to regroup a six-man formation? This is not a good headspace to be in when watching a show in which a lizard man literally sheds his skin.
Normally, character development and contrasting personalities are what make Yowamushi Pedal New Generation my favorite show of the week, but this just didn't materialize today. Manami and Teshima are less contrasting than simply mismatched, and I don't care about the pink-jersey team at all. Onoda, please come back! Your team—and your viewers—need you.
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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