Review: Yowamushi Pedal the Movie (DVD)

After the Inter High competition wraps up, every team who performed well is sent an invitation to compete in the Kumamoto Hi Province Mountain Range Race. Teams from all over the country are set to participate in the race, including Hakone Academy, looking to redeem themselves after their first place loss during the Inter High, Hiroshima Kureminami Technical School, Kyoto Fushimi, the local champions from Kumamoto Daiichi High School, and of course, the Sohoku team. The emotions are as steep as the mountain road, but Sohoku have proven their worth under pressure before. Not only will they be attempting to protect their reputation as the new champions, but this competition marks the final race the Sohoku team will ride with their seniors, Kinjou, Makishima, and Tadokoro.

Yowamushi Pedal The Movie feels like the second season of the series told in cliff notes. The team participate in a race, Onoda suffers from intense pressure and feels like he can’t support his team (although this pressure admittedly stems from his early success at the Inter High), and the main struggle is between Sohoku and Hakone Academy. This is made more apparent than in the series as the other teams are regulated to background decoration and don’t get much screen time compared to their more complex appearance in the series. Apart from a few choice moments of humour from wannabe ace Mizuta, Kyoto Fushimi doesn’t stand out at all. The eccentric Midousuji gets what is essentially a glorified cameo and simply doesn’t show up at the train station when his team depart for Kumamoto, and I’m still baffled that the movie attempted to portray Machimiya from the Hiroshima team as anything other than a massive creep after his introductory episode in season two. Even more baffling was the introduction of the Kumamoto Daiichi team, characters who were so ineffectual to the overall race and plot that I’m surprised the movie even devoted time to their introduction.

However, other teams take a backseat in Yowamushi Pedal The Movie for a good reason, because the main focus of the story is not the massive cast, but the relationships between the characters we are already familiar with. The big one is the relationship between Makishima and his team, especially with Onoda. Although the time is coming where all three seniors will be leaving the Sohoku Bicycle Club, Makishima is leaving early to study abroad in England. Because of this he has to say goodbye to his team early, leaving Sohoku with Onoda as their only climber for the race in Kumamoto. This leads to a lot of good character moments thanks to the previously established relationships between Makishima and the other racers. There’s a great moment early on in the movie where Makishima and Onoda ride together during practice, and the two reflect on their mentor and friend relationship in a very real and quiet way. Hakone Academy’s Toudou also gets some good moments, bordering on hysteric when he finds out that his rival would not be attending the race, rivaling Onoda for most upset at Makishima’s absence.

Yowamushi Pedal The Movie is a mish mash of content from previous seasons and a new perspective on the relationships between Makishimi and the people close to him. There’s very little characterization outside of the Sohoku and Hakone Academy team though, so if you’re looking to this movie for moments from other favourite characters perhaps look elsewhere. It’s not particularly thrilling, but it is solid, and contains a great scene with the Sohoku team and Onoda’s favourite Love Hime theme song that I personally feel is worth the price of admission alone.

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A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.

© Wataru Watanabe (Akitashoten) 2008/ Yowamushi Pedal Movie Partners 2015