Yowamushi Pedal New Generation
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 3 of
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation ?
Is there a single character in Yowamushi Pedal New Generation who isn't super weird? Of course not. Part of what makes Yowapeda so endearing is that everyone has a bizarre personality outside of biking, which they somehow incorporate into their hobby. Hakogaku's newest freakshow, Ashikiba Takuto, is ordinary only in the way that he adheres to this pattern. This episode is a high-energy cliffhanger, but it's the character development that really shines.
Ashikiba is larger than life in every sense of the word. Unlike leggy Midousuji and his tiny bicycle, 202-centimeters-tall Ashikiba (almost 6'6” in feet, holy crap!) has a massive bike frame to match his lanky body. Pair his imposing physical presence with the fact that the soundtrack bursts into Beethoven—in this episode, we heard both his Fifth and Ode to Joy, which are both resounding, high-impact audio blasts. Ashikiba is a pianist, and he swings his giant body like a metronome to pair his passions for music and cycling. There's a little bit of the newly absent Makishima in a climber who swings back and forth as he dances, though of course Makishima swayed his bike frame also, not just his body. Kudos to Wataru Watanabe for churning out one unique, lovable weirdo right after another.
However, it's Ashikiba's interactions with the other characters that make him so instantly engaging and keep him from being two-dimensional. We saw signs of this in his introduction last week, but it turns out that he's kind of an airhead. He mistakes Imaizumi for Onoda, then Imaizumi for Naruko, and then, ridiculously, Imaizumi for Sugimoto, before matter-of-factly insisting that he hasn't said anything incorrect. This is one of those gags that gets funnier as it goes on, because it gets increasingly audacious that Ashikiba would continue to flub his introductions with such unwavering confidence. These interactions go from funny to sentimental when Teshima shows up, and it turns out the two are childhood friends (something that Teshima oddly left out while talking to Aoyagi in a “he was slightly off screen the whole time” sort of story edit). It's a sudden reveal, as these things seem to go in shonen stories, but the dialogue feels heartfelt. “I wish I could join [your team] instead,” Ashikiba says, and you know this chill guy means it. He's in this race to fulfill a promise to his seniors, but in his heart of hearts, he remembers that promise he made with Teshima to succeed together.
Of course, the episode cuts out with 2 kilometers to go because cliffhangers are the bread and butter of Yowamushi Pedal, but if you want my opinion, I'm with Kinjou—neither Teshima nor Ashikiba are going to win this race. They both have some serious emotional baggage from being thrown back into each other's lives after a childhood friendship cut short by a long absence and only hearsay about each other (like when Ashikiba hears secondhand that Teshima's performance at the training camp was nothing to write home about). Neither of them seems to realize that Ashikiba and Teshima are not evenly matched thanks solely to Ashikiba's lethal genetic makeup—Ashikiba is too stunned by the reunion and Teshima is too focused on his burden as the captain of an Interhigh-winning team. But Teshima's literal and figurative uphill battle isn't going unnoticed. The immediate impact it has on Onoda and Imaizumi to fire them up (with Imaizumi even feeling himself grow hot) shows how visceral their reaction is. Everyone in Yowamushi Pedal is a weirdo, but the cast's chemistry is undeniable. I'm excited to see how their mutual determination pushes them further than any of them would go on their own.
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist
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