Yowamushi Pedal: Episodes 1 to 20 (Pre Inter-High)

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Two parts intense, two parts brainless, three parts amusing and 100% feel-good, it’s old school charm meets modern cycling equipment as Yowamushi Pedal provides us with our healthy dose of this year’s (and last year’s) long-running sports series.

Story. The first several episodes showcased our otaku protagonist, Onoda Sakamichi, finding his way from the anime club to the bicycle-racing club in high school. Along the way, he meets fellow first years, Imaizumi and Naruko, who opened his eyes to the wonders of bicycle racing. The two of them essentially fuelled his interest in racing, helped him realise his love for cycling and urged him to join the bicycle racing team. As with all sports series, Yowamushi Pedal chronicles the progress of our main team, as they persevere and work towards winning a very important competition – in this case, the inter-high road racing competition. Twenty episodes in and we are well on our way~

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Development. In terms of plot, we have come a long way, starting out with Onoda not even thinking of joining any sports clubs to him actually participating in the competition. Although it has been quite a long journey (especially for those who have been following faithfully since October last year), Onoda’s transition has been far too (in quoting fellow writer Akatsuki’s description) ‘smooth’. As our protagonist and someone completely new to the world of bicycle racing, Onoda hasn’t really faced any proper setbacks. However, this remains my only gripe and although it is not to be expected, I do hope Yowamushi finds a way to remedy this. It’s not that I want to see Onoda fail, I simply think it’d be far more believable if he actually encountered some obstacles.

Characters. Yowamushi has given us such a colourful and fascinating line up of characters, with different talents, varying personalities, quirky traits and interesting dynamics. Not only is there diversity in each team, but there is also diversity amongst the different teams.

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Souhoku High. The main team, consisting our main characters, Onoda Sakamichi (Yamashita Daiki), Imaizumi Shunsuke (Toriumi Kousuke) and Naruko Shoukichi (Fukushima Jun), together with third years Kinjou (Yasumoto Hiroki), Tadokoro (Itou Kentarou), Makishima (Morikubo Showtaro) and second years Teshima (Kishio Daisuke) and Aoyagi (Matsuoka Yoshitsugu). Each member has his strengths and plays a role in the team. We have the sprinters, Naruko and Tadakoro, climbers, Onoda and Makishima, all-rounders, Imaizumi and Kinjou as well as the brains, Teshima. This makes for a very well rounded team and presumably why they were written to be our main team.

Hakone Academy. The reigning champions, this team is a gathering of would be strongest cyclists in the region. While Souhoku has many interesting characters, I find this team even more intriguing and I absolutely enjoy watching the team dynamics. From the narcissisticly popular Toudou (Kakihara Tetsuya), to the free-spirited Manami (Yonaga Tsubasa) to the self-absorbed/muscle maniac Izumida (Abe Atsushi), the variation of characters in this team make for such amusing interactions.

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Kyoto Fushimi High. The school that Imaizumi’s rival, Midousuji (Yusa Kouji) resides in. I guess this school is featured simply because Imaizumi yearns to take revenge on Midousuji for the agonising defeat he made him experience. However, I do think that Kyoto Fushimi is such an interesting school because of the way the members have submitted to Midousuji’s oppressive dictatorship. It is not everyday that you see third years bending to a freshman’s every whim, but that’s what they do in this school. And I guess it just goes to show the desperation one has for victory and success.. to go as far as to give up your freedom and sacrifice what you love in the process. How is being ruled like that fun? Don’t people play sports because they like it? Winning is great and all, but it isn’t everything. I always say, if you’re not having fun doing something, then there isn’t any point in doing it at all.

Seiyuus. As always, we at koekara choose to watch certain series because of the cast and Yowamushi is no exception. Admittedly, I was initially hesistant to watch this because the art didn’t really appeal to me, but the stellar cast-list made me rethink my decision. With the likes of all the abovementioned seiyuus, how can any seiyuu fan resist? Seriously, if you are not into sports, just watch this to hear all their lovely voices.

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All in all, I am very glad to write that I do not at all regret picking up this series. In fact, since catching up to the recent episodes, I actually eagerly look forward to the next episode. This is a good series, packed with excitement and anticipation and anxiety and you just find yourself subconsciously rooting for the protagonist because you have followed his journey from would be anime clubber to the present bicycle racer that he is. Add to that the well-timed gags, interesting characters and their amusing interactions, and what you get is a very addictive series which will get you clicking ‘next episode’ immediately after the current episode finishes.

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