Yowamushi Pedal New Generation
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 24 of
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation ?
Now you see him, now you don't. This was another episode of Yowamushi Pedal New Generation where the most engaging character was offscreen for most of it. What kept this episode interesting was the mere possibility that Onoda would appear to save the day—so really, the absence of Onoda was itself a huge plot point, a la “Waiting for Godot.” While Manami and Teshima skirt around the absence of a man who never appeared, the latter stresses how “ordinary” he is while paradoxically becoming more extraordinary every minute. With one kilometer to the checkpoint, this episode leaves us tense and waiting. Anything can happen in this show that's as unpredictable as a road race itself.
Teshima has made a name for himself by being the one normal guy in a team of high-powered cycling geniuses. So if Teshima were to grow stronger and win, would he lose that relatability? At the beginning of the episode, we're treated to the knowledge that even Koga and Sugimoto don't have faith in their cycling team captain to win a race—ouch. But as it continues, Teshima's “ordinary” title fits less and less. He'd rather be in bed after dinner and a bath, but Teshima perseveres to the point that all the onlookers are cheering his name. Eventually, in his relentless chase of Manami, he passes the race front-runner like it's nothing. Early on, I was hoping for Onoda to “save” Teshima, but it seems like Teshima can just as well save himself.
Things are going less well for Manami. I really like when Manami's psychotic side emerges, his eyes bug out in that creepy way, and he talks a lot about “feeling alive” through increased pain. This masochist is no ordinary man, but it's interesting to see him get inspired by Teshima and even a little jealous of the pain Teshima is going through: “This is enough to make you feel alive,” he says. This is coming from a kid who used to fantasize about being stabbed just to feel alive—I will never forget that conversation between Manami and Class Prez in season one. Manami is fearless, not only unafraid of pain, but welcoming it as he switches to an ever higher gear. There's no way Teshima can beat him, or is there? When Manami's chain breaks, it's a reminder that anything can happen in a road race. It's like that time Toudou beat Makishima in middle school because Makishima got unlucky with a flat tire—the victor isn't always the most talented person, but the most fortunate.
In other words, by the end of the episode, Teshima still has a fighting chance—and he doesn't even need Onoda to make it happen. The only problem is that making Teshima a champion removes his established reputation. That said, he can still be relatable—it just depends how he wins, I think. Onoda is the strongest guy in the show in my opinion, but he's still extremely relatable because he never takes his wins for granted. At the end of the episode, we were back where we started—with no verdict on the mountain checkpoint, and no Onoda. We were simply, pardon the pun, spinning our wheels. I admire the show for its ability to keep the tension taut for an entire (too quick) episode, but get to the climax already!
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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