Yowamushi Pedal New Generation
Episodes 1-2

by Lauren Orsini,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation ?

How would you rate episode 2 of
Yowamushi Pedal New Generation ?

In the high-powered world of high school road racing, Yowamushi Pedal New Generation protagonist Onoda was the only one to reject the pressure and embrace cycling as a hobby. Or at least, that's how it used to be. After his mentor, Makishima, left for college in England, Onoda is going through some personal stuff, so he's not the smiling climber we remember. And with a new captain, a new team dynamic, and new rivals, is Onoda ever going to get his groove back? The first two episodes start slow, gently bringing us up to speed with a new year at Sohoku.

Between the manga, the movies, and now the TV show, Makishima has left for college three times in canon, and it never gets any easier for Onoda. He's been falling a lot on his new bike, and with the reliable captain Kinjou gone, he doesn't have anyone to psych him up again. Or so he thought. Ever since the training camp arc early in season one, Teshima has been almost as quiet as the mute Aoyagi, and certainly inconsequential to the plot. Now Teshima is embracing his new relevance head-on, rejecting an invitation to have fun with friends in order to devote everything he has to the upcoming Inter-High. And he's doing his best to fill Kinjou's giant shoes. “Team Sohoku supports each other,” he tells a dejected Onoda. “Sounds like something Kinjou would say, right?”

Aside from his words, Teshima is also trying to take the pressure off Onoda by becoming a better climber, training to match Makishima's best time. He's not there yet, but he's working on it “little by little,” which is not just a healthy way to approach things in life, but a good overall message for this episode. Little by little, we're easing into the regime change and seeing it pay off. The departure of the third-years has definitely messed up the chemistry, but it's gradually getting better as we meet their replacements. The show is absolutely playing the long game, putting key characters who will later become relevant in background shots.

If Sohoku is struggling under a power shift, it's even tougher at Hakogaku where the team is losing not three but four extremely personable third-years, leaving Izumida (you know, the “abs abs” guy) and the airheaded Manami (represented in this episode by a pointedly empty chair) to hold down the fort. It's a blessing when Kuroda returns and Ashikiba is introduced for the first time, with Ashikiba making the more entertaining first impression. His ostentatious character design continues the Yowamushi Pedal tradition of producing cyclists that are anything but carbon copies of one another—all long limbs and a heart-shaped birthmark, contrasting with a soft and deliberate speech pattern. Between a signposted past with Teshima and a dangerous vibe, he's already an interesting new threat. Now that he's setting up to race against a still-vulnerable Onoda, there's a possibility that he'll set back even the progress our protagonist has made.

This initial arc follows Teshima's mantra of “little by little,” but nobody comes to Yowamushi Pedal for quick outcomes, especially not after it took three episodes during the Inter-High arc for Kinjou, Fukutomi, and Midousuji to cycle fewer than ten kilometers. The pace gives us time to readjust to new happenings at both Sohoku and Hakogaku, allowing both new character rapports (Teshima and Onoda) and old ones (Makishima and Toudou) to shine. It's a slow start, but with so much change in the air, it gets the timing right.

Rating: B+

Yowamushi Pedal New Generation is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist

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