The Sohoku Bicycle Team are back in the saddle and doing what they do best, eating, breathing, and sleeping cycling. In preparation for the big Inter-High competition, the club continue their training in Hakone, spending their days riding laps in order to qualify for the final line-up. But as first years of the club, Onoda, Naruko, and Iwaizumi have to push themselves harder than ever as the team captain Kinjou tests their resolve with a variety of handicaps and challenges. While overcoming their weaknesses at the training camp, other cycling teams are making their own preparations for the Inter-High. Can the gang prove themselves worthy of a position at the Inter-high? And even if they can, do they stand a chance against their rivals from Hakone Academy?
These episodes of Yowamushi Pedal are neatly divided into two parts. The first picks up where the last collection’s episodes left off; with the Sohoku Team’s training in the mountains of Hakone. These episodes are heavily focused on Onoda and his struggles to meet the goals set for him by the club’s captain Kinjou during their training for the Inter-High. While it mostly treads old ground and emphasises Onoda’s wish to keep up with and ride confidently with his friends, his wish also deepens. Onoda’s goal becomes a fervent desire to race alongside his friends and support them as best can, encouraging him to aim for a spot on the Inter-High roster. The first half of these episodes also serve to familiarise us more thoroughly with the third-year club members, Kinjou, Makishima, and Todokoro, while also properly introducing us to the second-year members, Teshima and Aoyagi.
While I ended up favouring characters like the socially awkward ‘Peak Spider’ Makishima for his peculiar style of mountain riding and interesting personality, most of the characters have something to offer and are likeable additions to the main cast. Even when two different cycling teams were introduced further along in the series, the episodes never felt bloated and each character was distinct enough that I was surprisingly never overwhelmed by the large cast. This becomes especially apparent during the latter half of the episodes when Onoda is no longer the main focus and the series shares the spotlight among all the characters, showing their histories, goals, and desires. From this point, it truly becomes a team series rather than just being about Onada.
In my last review of the series I neglected to mention the comedy aspect of the show, which was a disservice on my part. Aside from the funny shorts at the end of each episode, there’s a lot of neat over-reactionary humour common in sports anime. Aside from that, there are characters larger than life that are extremely entertaining. For example, there’s Hakone Academy’s very own Izumida Touchirou, who could probably deflate a bike tire with the sharpness of his eyelashes alone and likes to yell ‘Abs!’ while racing. His right pectoral muscle is called Andy and his left is called Frank. Another honourable mention is Kyoto Fushimi’s lizard boy Midousuji, who both scares and entertains me endlessly. His behaviour is disturbing and jarring given the lighthearted behaviour of most of the other bicycle enthusiasts, but he’s such a delight to watch. He’s a great antagonist I look forward to seeing more of him.
Like most sports anime, Yowamushi Pedal’s run time is mainly devoted to racing and training. The training in Hakone and the subsequent Inter-High racing segments stretch on for long periods of time, sometimes with very little to break them up. Obviously this makes sense because these races go for several days, but the lack of a break from cycling related activities led to the show losing my attention because everything just seemed to be more of the same. That being said, at the end of these long segments or during particularly long racing scenes, every now and then there were good character moments to break up the cycling.
This was another solid set of episodes from the Yowamushi Pedal series. Onoda maintains a good presence in the series while the scope of the story and the character roster widens, which keeps the story from feeling too stale despite the long racing segments. I’m looking forward to the rest of the Inter-High, and can’t wait to see more of the character interactions and backstories.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.