Yowamushi Pedal New Generation
Episode 5

by Lauren Orsini,

How would you rate episode 5 of
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation ?

This episode of Yowamushi Pedal New Generation puts a fresh sports anime spin on the oldest storyline in the book. While Sugimoto becomes briefly relevant again as big brother to a potential cycling powerhouse, Naruko races off to Osaka to do some soul searching and encounters an unlikely rival. This episode's story is so long that it omits the opening theme, clearly split into two storylines. However, neither story concludes satisfactorily, and both leave me wanting more.

A massive middle-schooler arrives to observe the cycling club's practice—it turns out that he's Sugimoto's brother, a “little” brother only in name. What's interesting about this arc isn't Sadatoki's uncanny ability to mimic any cycling style he sees, but the new dynamic arising between Imaizumi and Teshima. Imaizumi is pretty harsh in this storyline, demanding that Sadatoki prove himself before he's allowed to cycle with the team, which leaves Teshima the role of placating him. It seems like Imaizumi has yet to respect Teshima's status as captain. Can you imagine him second-guessing Kinjou this way? In true sports anime style, friendship wins the day—Teshima is gentle and understanding and most importantly, correct, so Imaizumi starts to obey him. (Even when it comes to giving Sadatoki a very awkward smile!)

It's great to see how conflicts play out in Yowamushi Pedal, where characters can be stubborn and uncooperative without the story encouraging you to hate them. It wasn't so long ago that Teshima was a combative second-year, giving his all against Imaizumi at training camp. Imaizumi is the source of much conflict this week, but since we know it's brought on by his own anxieties about next year's InterHigh, we forgive him. And just to make sure we forgive him, he's the number one source of comedy this episode, both during the show and in the after-credits portion, looking as awkward as can be.

Imaizumi's anxieties have also rubbed off on Naruko, who takes a three day vacation from cycling practice to go to Osaka and do (what else?) some cycling. Naruko's racing arc is uncannily folkloric. He decides to race three different people, and if he loses even one race, he'll give up sprinting to become an all-rounder. As it usually goes in these stories, the first two races are against nobodies and mean nothing. But then who should show up but Midousuji, our favorite lizard-shaped group hallucination.

The same tactics taken to endear us to Imaizumi can't be adopted for Midousuji, who's shown as even more inhuman than usual. The creepy sound effects that follow the movement of his joints are paired with the kind of background music you'd usually hear if an alien invasion was taking place. His toad-like pupils and grand-piano-grin signal that it's time to take this race seriously. And now that we're all fired up, the episode comes to a close. Even this longer-than-usual episode wasn't long enough to conclude anything. Sure, that's Yowamushi Pedal's bread and butter, but after an episode last week that concluded THREE races, I've been feeling spoiled.

Rating: B+

Yowamushi Pedal New Generation is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist

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