Yowamushi Pedal New Generation
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation ?
This week's episode of Yowamushi Pedal New Generation started out with a leisurely “fun ride” for the Hakogaku crew, and the story followed suit. It took about half an episode for any real conflict to appear, for this team to stop back-patting each other and pick up the pace. But even with the slow start, Hakogaku still managed to sprint toward a satisfying conclusion, which is what's seriously spoiling me about this latest season of Yowamushi Pedal—I'm more accustomed to cliffhangers that drag a handful of kilometers on for ages. If you've missed Hakogaku these last few weeks, this week is all about them.
If you find Toudou's haughty bragging insufferable, you probably aren't going to like this episode as much as I did. This episode starts with some third year fanservice right off the bat, as Fukutomi, Shinkai, Arakita and Toudou each mug for the camera more like idols than high school cyclists, complete with their own poses and signature phases, accompanied by googly-eyed fangirls and starstruck first-years. With all the buddy-buddy back-patting going on, I'm left wondering how they're not crashing their bikes into one another and falling over. This is the third years' last hurrah, but they're so self-congratulatory that it hurts.
That is, until Izumida shatters the mood with some harsh words. “You are weak,” he chides them bluntly, noting that for Hakogaku, second place might as well be last place. (Uh, Izumida, aren't you forgetting about your role in the devastating Interhigh loss?) This completely changes the mood, and the alleged “fun ride” becomes an honest-to-goodness road race. We don't get through all 120 kilometers (74.5 miles) in one go, but we start—and conclude—a neck-and-neck race between Shinkai and the junior who admires him most, Izumida.
We're going to be seeing a lot more of Izumida now that he's the new Hakogaku captain, and initially I wasn't very excited about that—we've already seen his character development arc, right? But it looks like he's still got room to grow. First of all, we meet Fabian, his lower back muscle. Like his pecs, who are named after the Luxembourgish cyclist brothers Fränk and Andy Schleck, Fabian is also named for a famous road racer: Fabian Cancellara, who just so happens to be Fränk and Andy's longtime teammate. Your cycling knowledge is showing, Wataru Watanabe!
More interesting is the rapport that Izumida is developing with his remaining teammates. Izumida and Kuroda call each other by their first names, indicating some history. Joined by Manami, they have an admiration of a particular third-year in common: Izumida admires sprinter Shinkai, Kuroda admires Arakita, and Manami admires Toudou. Ashikiba is a bit too airheaded to follow in Fukutomi's footsteps, but he rounds out the foursome with some variety. Kuroda and Ashikiba act out a wee comedy routine (unbeknownst to Ashikiba) in a preview of how their personalities are going to clash over the next fifty episodes or so, with Ashikiba as the ditzy straight man to Kuroda's sarcastic remarks.
The curtain has closed on Izumida and Shinkai's act, and now it's rising on a battle to the summit between Manami and Toudou. They'll likely cap off this send-off race in a final sprint to the finish line between Ashikiba and Fukutomi, with Kuroda and Arakita assisting, of course. It was a slow beginning that left me wondering if there would be any conflict at all, but now we're well on our way to witnessing a satisfying changing of the Hakogaku guard.
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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