Yowamushi Pedal New Generation
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation ?
This week's Yowamushi Pedal New Generation was the story of a grudge match I never asked for but was unexpectedly delighted to witness: Naruko vs. Midousuji. The pair have not previously had much interaction, but the way their personalities clash made for a surprisingly intense cycling battle. I'm getting incredibly spoiled by watching races start and finish in the same episode, especially in a show known for its interminable InterHigh. This episode compactly goes from pre-race trash talk to shocking conclusion all in one go.
I should have expected that Naruko and Midousuji wouldn't get along. Midousuji has a very difficult personality, to put it lightly. Where other cyclists of the show are earnest and determined, he's cynical and weird. Even in this episode, he's really just racing against himself, according to his own code and goals that are hard for others to comprehend. The most telling moment of the show came from his senior Ishigaki's perspective. Ishigaki is such an upstanding, pure-hearted upperclassman that when he sees one of the younger members dejected and muttering to himself in the clubroom, his first impulse is to comfort—even when that younger member is the hideous group hallucination we know as Midousuji. Ishigaki would fit right in at Sohoku. You can imagine him massaging Naruko's ego, having Naruko take it way more warmly than Midousuji did in this scene. While Ishigaki assumes that Midousuji is upset about his time, he has no idea that Midou has his own measures of excellence. He was even wearing constraining bandages under his jersey—no wonder his time was worse than usual.
Meanwhile, Naruko wears his heart on his sleeve. He's loud and honest and always himself, even to people like Midousuji, who will definitely try to use that against him. It absolutely takes Midousuji aback when Naruko really does bet something important to him. Midousuji's bet, on the other hand, is so over-the-top that you know it's insincere. Contrasted with Midou, anyone would look good, and this episode definitely made me appreciate Naruko more than I have in the past. His superficial obsession with flashiness is just the surface level of a soul-deep commitment to trying his hardest at every turn. It was fantastic to watch Naruko get serious. When he began tossing his water bottle and even his bike saddle, I knew he meant business.
But for Midousuji, there wasn't much of a human element here. You get the feeling that he's a scientist trying to create the right parameters for an experiment. It didn't have to be Naruko; it could have been anyone sufficiently speedy, all to create the ultimate Midousuji under pressure. The animation and sound effects really upped the grossness level during Midou's transformation, to the point that it was kind of hard to watch. Midousuji is all things gross, with eyes that look reptilian and amphibious and a creepily insectoid body. Naruko is only human (and he just biked two races with all his might beforehand), and that's why he never had a chance. Still, it seemed like he might win up until the very end, making for a thrilling neck-and-neck race between the human (on Naruko's side) and the supernatural (on Midousuji's) that made it loads more fascinating than any ordinary road race.
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist
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