Yowamushi Pedal New Generation
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 4 of
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation ?
Out with the old and in with the new—it's almost like there's some sort of theme to Yowamushi Pedal New Generation. In this episode, four younger cyclists worked to unseat their third-year mentors with mixed results. The third-years have really set a high bar, both in personality and biking prowess, but this episode shows that the younger set is ready to pick up the baton. This week's story has more payoff than usual, with two race conclusions and lots of drama.
“Uh, wh-while I was watching you ride, my body got so hot,” Onoda tells Teshima, but his reply is even less likely to come out of a high school boy's mouth: “I'm happy to hear that. I'll note that in my journal.” It's tempting to construe this as a flirtatious overture, but in Yowamushi Pedal, it's far more likely that these characters are just that excited about cycling. Everything about Onoda and Ashikiba's face-off indicates just how dramatically they regard road racing. Both of them having something to prove, and a third-year mentor to prove it to. The melodrama is real: Onoda reveres Makishima deeply and speaks of him almost like he's dead. It was extremely cute when Onoda mimicked Makishima's mannerisms without even thinking about it!
Ashikiba's backstory is equally over-the-top. The idea that a 6'6” Japanese high schooler would be made to feel like his towering height is anything but an asset is absurd. You'd think the basketball, volleyball, and baseball teams would be just constantly recruiting Ashikiba. But no, it takes Fukutomi telling him to “take the path that leads forward,” (almost word-for-word what he told Arakita, which just goes to show that Fukutomi has one piece of advice and just sticks to it) for Ashikiba to consider that being the tallest athlete in possibly all of Japan might be a good thing for him. By the way, talk about shonen manga power creep. Remember when Midousuji was 6'1” and that blew everybody's minds? Next season, we'll have a 12-foot sprinter who will turn out to be two extremely tall cyclists in a trenchcoat, revealed as dramatically as possible, of course.
In the end, Onoda's dedication to his unseen mentor comes out on top. (Not that Makishima will hear about it any time soon, RIP Makishima.) Instead, it's Ashikiba who has to break the news to an extremely real and present Fukutomi. It's so painful for him to justify his loss that I can almost feel him trembling through the screen. Fukutomi doesn't go easy on him, telling him “You're all talk.” Is this the same guy that told Shinkai “it's fine” for losing a sprint during the Interhigh? Fukutomi is just plain fed up with people letting him down.
While the first half of the episode focused on climbers Onoda and Ashikiba, the second half told the story of sprinters Naruko and Aoyagi. It's been great to see Aoyagi (and Teshima, for that matter) get more screen time. I loved them during the training camp arc, but they became very one-dimensional for a while after that. Now we're seeing their motivations shine through. Naruko and Aoyagi don't win against Tadokoro, which makes it all the more painful to see the third-years' graduation party afterward, like it's coming much too soon at a time when Tadokoro still has more he can teach his sprinter protegees. It was never going to be a clean break, going from the “old generation” to the new one. The way Yowamushi Pedal has always treated graduation like something akin to death fits with its overall melodrama.
Normally Yowamushi Pedal keeps me hanging, but with two finished races in one episode, I don't even feel that desperate to hear Naruko and Imaizumi's mysterious conversation. “You must have noticed.” Noticed what, exactly? That there aren't six shoo-in Interhigh picks? That there's two sprinters and two climbers, but only one all-rounder? Something else entirely? I have no idea if it's going to pay off or just be an unrealistic new storyline. Today's episode was entertaining, but it definitely veered into melodrama territory.
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist
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