Yowamushi Pedal – Episodes 1-38 Review

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What can I say, I’m a slut for a Sports Anime.

So let’s say, hypothetically speaking that watching anime in general is not my guilty pleasure. That’s a fair statement, actually. Anime isn’t my guilty pleasure because I don’t feel guilty when I watch it! Sports anime, however, is. I don’t know why I love them so much. Is it the Nakama? The competition? The realism?  Maybe it’s the fact I’m about as physically competent as a sea cucumber and have never been good at exercise myself even if I liked watching sports. All I know is I love watching them, and this one is no exception.

Yowamushi Pedal

Summary:

Yowamshi Pedaru literally translates to Weakling Pedal, and it centers around Sakamichi Onoda, an otaku who just entered Sohoku High School and is looking to join the anime club. However, due to a lack of interest, the club was disbanded. A fellow classmate, Shunsuke Imaizumi notices Onodera riding his city-bike, lovingly referred to as a mamchari “Mommy Bike” up the steep back hill, singing the opening theme to his favorite anime as he goes. Another student, Shoukichi Naruko also notices Onoda’s pedal power while running into him at Akihabara. Both Naruko and Imaizumi convince Onodera to join the racing club and fight in the inter-high!

 

Review: 12733-200 12733-200 12733-200 12733-200 / 5

Perhaps the strongest asset to this anime is its likable characters. Onoda as a protagonist is captivating, not because of his talent or skill, but because of his work ethic. He’s not a genius at his sport and he’s not solely obsessed with it, either. Onoda enjoys both anime and cycling! This was refreshing and surprising!  As a person who grew up loving both american football and video games / anime, I  found this so relatable. To watch an anime with a character who embodies varying interests encourages the destruction of social stereotypes. It demonstrates a breaking down of public opinion on what a ‘jock’ or ‘nerd’ can be and allows a person to just be a person. I don’t think this was the writer’s intention, but personally, this detail proved Onoda was  three-dimensional and I was able to settle into the story with ease.

Speaking of three-dimensional, let’s jump over to Hakone Academy’s captain, Juichi Fukutomi, I’ve been lovingly calling him Juicy Fruit. I mean, look at him:

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Juicy Fruit, amiright?

Anyway, Fukutomi has a bad history: he’s responsible for injuring Kinjou, Sohoku’s captain, during last year’s inter-high. When he realized Kinjou was going to beat him, he instinctively reached out and grabbed Kinjou’s jersey, forcing both of them to fall! Talk about poor sportsmanship! However, he apologizes immediately and repeatedly, and overall redeems himself as a character in the audience’s eyes. He made a mistake; we all do. He plans on beating Sohoku in this year’s match fair-and-square, hoping it will atone for his past actions. Truly great. A+.

Okay, now let’s talk about some negatives. They’re only slight, but they’re there, and you know your girl is gonna address them.

Throughout the first season, I found myself comparing this anime to Haikyuu!!, and finding it falling short in terms of humor and animation. Imaizaki is basically a nicer, socially aware, less prolific version of Kageyama (though we could argue it is Kageyama’s social ineptitude and prodigy status that makes him who he is). Juichi is a less scary deeper voiced Daichi. Both animes use horror-style animation, though Haikyuu uses it with most of its characters, whereas Yowamushi Pedal uses it primarily with Akira Midousuji (the antagonist).  What makes he sport-horror juxtaposition so effective is that the the themes in each corresponding genre seem to foil each other. The lighthearted fun versus the dark and sinister. By just using it on Midousuji, it loses its potency and flattens his already flat character. His character is really the only flat one I can think of, which is disappointing because he could easily be the most interesting with his chaotic evil tendencies. Boo: poor villain crafting.

The other downside I have is hot dayum what a cliffhanger. I mean seriously, we don’t get to know who wins the second day’s race? Ridiculous. If I was watching this live or during a simulcast, I would have been pissed. Luckily, all of the seasons are available, so I’ll continue to binge to find out what happens and who will be crowned kings at the inter-high!

Stay tuned as I watch the next season and check out my review!

 

Thanks for reading and watch on, Anniemaniacs!

~Annie

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