The Inter-High is almost over, and the finish line is waiting for the cyclists at the peak of Mount Fuji. It’s not going to be a perfect finish though, as each team begins to fall apart during the mad dash to see who can be the champions. To make matters worse, the Sohoku team aren’t just contending with Hakone Academy, Midousuji from the Kyoto Fushimi team is giving them a run for their money despite leaving the rest of his team behind. As members of each team are left by the wayside as they exhaust themselves, is there anyway that the first years of Sohoku and Hakone can keep up with the competition?
It’s been a longtime coming but the final leg of the Inter-High is finally here. Because the last stretch all takes place on a hill climb, all the climbers from the Sohoku and Hakone teams, Onoda, Makishima, Toudou, and Manami take centre stage, as well as the all-rounder and constant threat Midousuji. This was a lot of fun for me because as I have cited throughout my reviews of Yowamushi Pedal and Yowamushi Pedal Grande Road, Midousuji is a delight and seeing him interact with any of the other characters is fun. Surprisingly, he and Manami are very similar in a variety of ways, and it makes their interactions with each other really entertaining. Another thing that takes centre stage are the constant flashbacks throughout each episode, reminding us of various emotionally important scenes throughout the series. They can be annoying in their frequency, but they do serve some narrative purpose and add weight to the more emotional moments.
The best part about this final segment of Yowamushi Pedal Grande Road is that, aside from the aforementioned excess of flashbacks, they are a lot cleaner and feel as if they’ve ‘trimmed the fat’. This is probably due to the character lineup shortening drastically as people fall behind or are injured, but even if it means a good character gets left behind it means the ones still in the race have a more prominent role. Obviously some have more screen time than others, but at least it’s no longer an intense juggling act with every character from Hakone, Sohoku, Kyoto, the cycling pack, or Hiroshima Kureminami Technical High School. This may mean your favourite character is left by the wayside, but hopefully this isn’t the case and there’s still someone to root for towards the latter half of the episodes.
There isn’t much new I can say about Yowamushi Pedal Grande Road that I haven’t said already. It’s still a solid sports anime, and manages to balance good character moments with interesting factoids from the sport it’s representing. The final episodes as the characters near the peak of Mount Fuji are spaced apart for all they’re worth but never to the point where it was annoying. I’ve wondered constantly how the show has managed to hold my interest in the Inter-High for so long despite running for over a season’s worth of content, and my best guess is that the characters and content was strong enough that I accepted it. I’ll admit to sighing once or twice when it looked like the contestants were so close to the end and the credits began to roll, but it never once crossed my mind to stop watching.
The final part of Yowamushi Pedal Grande Road doesn’t have too many surprises, but it’s still enjoyable and has enough heart to keep you cheering for the characters even though it’s taken over a season for them to reach the finish line. It’s a fitting ending to the second season, for the Inter-High, and for Onoda Sakamichi, the anime loving kid who’s defied expectations and ridden so far and so hard for his team.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.