Yowamushi Pedal New Generation
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation ?
The senior members of Hakone Gakuen are taking forever to bow out, not that I'm complaining. This week on Yowamushi Pedal New Generation, the Hakogaku cycling club concludes their third-year send-off race, and it takes the whole episode to do it. It's a great way to ease longtime viewers into a new team of members to root for by pairing each one with a respective mentor. If the senior members I like so much happen to like the new guys, I can't help but like them too.
We begin with Manami and Toudou. Manami certainly isn't new, but his heart-to-heart with Toudou gives him new life as a character. Previously we've seen him as an unflappable airhead, but now that Ashikiba is taking the “team airhead” role, Manami needs a new position. This week's discovery that Manami is holding a grudge against Onoda was surprising. It's hard to imagine carefree Manami wrestling with such negative feelings until we see it, and throughout it all, Toudou is a surprisingly great mentor. As laughable as Toudou's personality is, he takes his values seriously. As soon as he sees the sparks of a rivalry between Onoda and Manami, one that reminds him of his own with “Maki-chan,” the advice he gives Manami is pretty good. You can lose a race without losing a friend, and you don't have to be a bad sport about it.
Toudou has always been something of an older brother figure to Manami, but the next mentor and mentee—Arakita and Kuroda—have a relationship that hasn't been discussed before. It's not even that Kuroda has been slightly off screen this whole time: he's been a minor character ever since Manami beat him for the chance to race in the Interhigh. Finally though, that story is getting told. Arakita is a prickly character who takes a while to warm up to others, so the depiction of him heckling the first-years is spot-on and exactly what I imagined. He motivates prideful Kuroda in the only way he knows how—by antagonizing him. When Kuroda enters high school, it's clear that he's never had to put effort into sports before. (Side note: his backstory is fascinating because, like Arakita's, it suggests that other sports exist in the Yowamushi Pedal world, something that most sports anime tend to ignore.) Kuroda wants to get mad at Arakita for hitting the nail on the head, but he's so stubborn that the only thing he can think to do to get even is to work as hard as he possibly can. In the end, the guy he hates most turns out to be the teammate he most respects.
The third pair, Fukutomi and Ashikiba, don't have a history or any chemistry between them. Ashikiba doesn't really admire Fukutomi more than any of the other upperclassmen, so I couldn't have cared less about the outcome of this third race. What mattered about the other three (if we include Shinkai and Izumida from last week) was how an underclassman struggled to surpass the person they admire most in one final stand-off, so I would have liked to see spacey Ashikiba and stoic Fukutomi clash more. Their personalities are what make this show interesting—in so many other situations, Arakita and Kuroda or Toudou and Manami would not get along at all, and it's fascinating to see how road racing changes the dynamic. What makes Yowamushi Pedal a great show is how it tosses together a group of people with loud and disparate quirks and turns them into teammates, rivals, and friends. Without that, you might as well turn off the TV and go on a bike ride yourself.
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist
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