Yowamushi Pedal New Generation
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation ?
You've met Sakamichi Onoda. Now get ready to meet Onoda-senpai! This week on Yowamushi Pedal New Generation, it's time to adjust to a new pecking order, where Onoda, Imaizumi, and Naruko are no longer at the bottom. Cherry blossoms are fluttering through the air, which is the official anime signal of a brand new school year for the Sohoku team. This episode feels like the real beginning to the new season, just nine episodes late. It's an optimistic episode full of firsts, and a much-needed switch from nostalgia to promise for the future.
This is the first time we're meeting most of the first-years on Sohoku's cycling team. Sugimoto's little brother Sadatoki is back, but he's joined by a slough of fresh new faces. Kaburagi and Danchiku seem to be the most fleshed-out as characters. They practically have a little comedy routine going every time they talk, with Kaburagi's brash declarations never quite backed up by Danchiku's trembling knees. In a way, Sadatoki's earnestness, Danchiku's seriousness, and the redheaded Kaburagi's arrogance make them each feel like Onoda, Imaizumi, and Naruko's new first-year replacements, an obvious underclassman for each of them to mentor. It'll be interesting to see if that's how their relationships unfold. That's assuming all three remain on the team, and the results of the First-Year Welcome Race will shed a lot of light on how likely that is to happen. By the end of today's episode, the race has only just begun.
This is the first time I've ever cared about Sugimoto. He's been all talk and no self-improvement for a long time, and it's often felt like Sugimoto was incapable of self-examination. It'd be one thing if he was a poor cyclist and knew it, but he didn't even seem to care that he was worse than the others. Now that he's seen the light and wants to work hard to get on everyone else's level, he has endeared himself to me. Props to Imaizumi, by the way, for acquiescing to help Sugimoto improve. It's in Imaizumi's interest too, as everyone (Ashikiba, for example) confuses him with Sugimoto anyway, so it's basically his reputation on the line as well. Sugimoto is going above and beyond, training between classes and even participating in the First-Year Welcome Race when he doesn't have to. This has the potential of being a real redemption arc for Sugimoto. It's amazing to see how New Generation is transforming a throwaway side character with one joke into somebody the audience might actually root for.
Finally, it's the first time Onoda has ever been called “senpai!” I laughed out loud at each of Onoda's awkward interactions with his underclassmen. Other than the post-credit scenes, this season of Yowamushi Pedal has been lacking in humor, especially humor involving Onoda, and I didn't realize until this week when we finally saw some hilarious situations. From the dramatic irony of Kaburagi attempting to educate Onoda about Onoda's greatness to our bespectacled protagonist accidentally insulting the first-years, it feels like New Generation has finally found its center. It's not joking all the time, nor is it mourning Makishima, Kinjou, and Tadokoro any longer. It's an earnest episode looking straight toward the future, and I'm energized to see what happens next.
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist
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