100人の関所 – 100 Man Barrier
This episode gave me the chills (in a good ‘go team!’ way) and I found myself subconsciously cheering Onoda as he worked his way past the 100 cyclists.
The title says it all – there was a barrier between Onoda and the rest of Souhoku, a barrier that was 100 cyclists strong. Seriously, how is Onoda possibly going to catch up?? Of course, that is a needless question. And this is exactly what I love about sports anime. They are so over the top but it is precisely this outrageousness that keeps people coming back for more. I mean, realistically, no way would such a beginner be able to overtake 100 people. Not even if he/she were so brilliantly gifted. And yet, in the world of sports anime, such things are always a possibility. Challenging no doubt, but not impossible. And Yowamushi Pedal kept up with this tradition. And I do think this is why sports anime provide such a draw. Watching it gives people hope, makes them believe that they can indeed achieve great things if they work towards their goals – such uplifting encouragement is what inspires people. (although there is belief, there is also delusion. so.. approach with caution)
Being all the way in last place, there are a few obstacles to overcome: the fear of being left behind, the fear of disappointing your teammates, the fear of not being able to catch up, your progress being hampered by certain factors, etc. Onoda faced all of these, and then some, on his way up Hakone Mountain. The very first major obstacle we actually saw him conquer was getting past the pack. As Arakita mentioned, the road is narrow and winding. No proper cyclist would be able to cycle past the pack. However, as Imaizumi very confidently countered, Onoda is no proper cyclist. He is very different. What other kind of cyclist would think of riding on the edge of the drain? That really was unbelievable. But I didn’t care! I was just cheering him on the entire time.
It was such a sight watching Onoda catch up. He really did pedal hard. And as the numbers decreased slowly but surely, couldn’t you just feel yourself trying to catch your breath? Because I definitely did. When he went against Midousuji (eww that character is just so wrong. But kudos to Yusa Kouji for doing such a splendid job with him. Never thought I’d ever think that Yusa’s voice was disgusting. And he managed to pull it off so convincingly. Sighs, love that seiyuu even more now) my hope for Onoda and the Souhoku team faltered slightly. I was so sure something bad was going to happen. However, Onoda defied the odds yet again as he went against Midousuji and emerged alive. Way to go Onoda, you did not succumb to his gross intimidation!
The most touching moment however, came when Makashima adjusted his gears. Because it was that exact moment when I am sure Souhoku supporters went “YES!! GO MAKISHIMA! UP AND AWAY!!”. For all the suffering he went through just last episode, it was such a beautiful moment to see him accelerating up the mountain. It is his last formal high school race after all, he deserves that much. And although it was Onoda’s inexperience that stole Makishima’s opportunity to race with Toudou, it is also Onoda’s perseverance that returned Makishima said opportunity. So let’s cut the dude some slack, shall we?
Before finishing this review, I just have to add that Makishima is such a sweetheart. He was initially kind of a jerk, dissing Onoda and what not. But we got to see a nicer side to him when he tried to calm Onoda down during the individual training. And again towards the end of this episode, we witnessed his softer side during the flashback that was shown. He was totally rooting for Onoda! Made me go awwww.
Next episode, it is Toudou v Makishima for real. Ahhh, excites~~