Yowamushi Pedal New Generation
Episode 25

by Lauren Orsini,

How would you rate episode 25 of
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation ?

Just as quickly as it arrived, it's time to say goodbye to Yowamushi Pedal New Generation. Overall, this season was not as satisfying for me as the previous two, and a lot of that has to do with a major character reshuffling—not only saying farewell to the not-insubstantial third-year crew, but allowing the rest of our previous Inter High racers to take a back seat to new ones. Even as I ended up loving every one of these new guys (sometimes to my own surprise, as with Kaburagi), the process took a lot of warming up. With the slower pace in mind, this week's finale was as strong as it could have been: giving us the return of some familiar faces and a decisive, if not completely satisfying, conclusion to the latest checkpoint.

Teshima is a nice guy—too nice, some would argue. When Manami has trouble with his bicycle chain around the 300 meter mark, he doesn't thank his lucky stars and sprint to the finish. Instead, he waits for Manami to catch up (and Manami can't believe it either). This is unbelievably chivalric, and it's not the choice I personally would have made, but apparently this is a thing in the world of professional cycling—something Yowamushi Pedal author Wataru Watanabe knows a lot about. During the 2010 Tour de France, when Andy Schleck (yes, the same Andy Izumida named his pectoral muscle after) had trouble with his bike chain and his competitor, Alberto Contador, sprinted ahead to win the checkpoint, cycling enthusiasts frowned upon Contador's decision. In any other sport, it's obvious that you rely on luck as well as skill, but apparently, the “right” thing to do is a little different in cycling.

What's painful is that Teshima was this close to winning the checkpoint, and he chose not to take that chance. A lucky break is honestly the only thing the narration suggests that Teshima could count on to win, since he's not a climbing genius like Manami. But Teshima has a sort of perspective that nobody else in this show has exhibited—a cognizance of a world outside of cycling. He'd win the checkpoint, sure, but he'd have had to go against his convictions to do so, something that would stick with him long after the race is over. After all, the only point of winning the mountain checkpoint is a red tag, and despite the mental surge that might have given Sohoku, it doesn't prohibit them from winning the race overall. And as we discover, Teshima actually did achieve his goal of motivating his team. They're so impressed their ordinary captain never gave up that it makes Hakogaku's trash talking completely ineffective.

Through all this excitement, whither Onoda? Apparently, that singing paid off and he appeared at exactly the right time—though it wasn't for the moment I previously expected. His goal was never to relieve Teshima of his responsibility of the mountain checkpoint, but simply to “support” him, as he says. Onoda does that quite literally when Teshima risks falling over. It's a funny moment to see the race's #1 rider using his considerable talents to support #5, but also a reminder of what doesn't change about how Team Sohoku rides, even in this new generation. Last year, it was Onoda wearing a lower number tag and being supported by higher tags when he was about to fall over, and now he's returning the favor. It's really nice to see Onoda's sunny face again, but seeing him in a supporting role reminds me that he's no longer this series' sole protagonist we return to between other characters' development. This cast has gotten too large for this story to center around Onoda anymore, and it's bittersweet.

Speaking of bittersweet, there's an extended post-credits scene that checks in with three former Sohoku members who I certainly missed. I'm so glad that even as Yowamushi Pedal extends its coverage to more and more cyclists, it doesn't leave anybody behind. It's clear that we'll follow Tadokoro, Kinjou, and Makishima into adulthood, weird fashion choices and all. It's hard to say goodbye to such great characters, but I also wonder if this refusal to let go is what made Yowamushi Pedal New Generation slower-paced than its predecessor—so many different people have to share the spotlight now. But when it counts, it still retains the heart that made me fall in love with Yowamushi Pedal in the first place—its focus on well-developed characters with powerful goals and strong convictions. In the end it doesn't matter who wins a particular checkpoint or even the race; what matters is that we continue to have reason to root for whichever character takes it. I really hope Season 4 happens soon, but not because I particularly care if Sohoku wins Day One of the Inter High—I just want to see Kinjou, Tadokoro, and Makishima's faces if they do.

Rating: B+

Yowamushi Pedal New Generation is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.

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