2016 Summer of Anime – Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road

5) Yowamushi Pedal Grande Road

If the fan-girls are to be believed, this has more to do with ships than bicycles.

Season two of Yowamushi Pedal kicks off right where the first ended–the end of the second day of the Inter High bicycle race.  Otaku and apparent cycling prodigy Sakamichi Onoda and his Sohoku High School team are fighting for every bit of road they can.  As with season one, though, Akira Midosouji’s Kyoto Fushimi and the powerhouse Hakone Academy stand in their way.  It’s been a grueling two days, but there’s still one more to go.  The third day of the Inter High finally arrives and along with it so do new rivals and obstacles.  Will the underdogs Sohoku finally claim victory?  Will the Hakone champs reign supreme?  Will Kyoto Fushimi come out of nowhere to steal the throne?  Or will another school sneak in and win?  In anime, who really knows?

Sports anime are my jam.  After all, my favorite anime is Hajime no Ippo–a boxing anime which all of you should watch.  Right.  Now.  But yeah, sports anime are awesome.  I find it’s that one genre where the audience gets to know as much about the rivals as the main characters.  Well, most of the rivals, at least.  You could say a sports anime lives or dies by how well the opponents are portrayed.  And, Yowamushi Pedal certainly succeeds there.  Then again, that also kinda adds to one of my biggest problems with both seasons.

Yowapeda is slow.  Not like the good slow burn kind of slow either.  It’s the “Oh wow, we’re doing backstory here?” kind of slow.  I love knowing as much as possible about characters in sports anime.  It makes you question whether or not you should really root for the protagonists since their opponents have usually gone through just as much as–if not more than–the main characters.  But Yowapeda is not the best at doling out this information.  Flashbacks and backstories just show up out of the blue.  Like, you’re dying to see how this part of the race plays out, but nope, it’s backstory time!  Hell, Arakita gets more backstory here even though we got his deets in the first season.  It’s been a hot minute since I’ve watched season one, but I got to this episode and thought, “Hold up.  I’ve seen this.  Are we really getting this again?”  I like backstory, but I like it when it’s done well.  Get that nice segue and give us some new stuff that’ll really add to the drama.  Don’t just throw it in when the relevant character is on screen and say, “Hey, this makes him important now.”  Bad, backstory!  Bad!

Other than the slowness, my only problem with Yowapeda is that it gets a bit too repetitive.  Like, how many times must someone on Sohoku have to remember their teammates’ words so that they can complete the task at hand?  Again, the power of friendship is a big selling point for sports anime, but Yowapeda just gets egregious with it.  Both the mostly poorly inserted backstories and the repetitiveness are what make this series so slow.  Don’t get me wrong–when the hype times come, I get hype.  Jeez, do I get hype!  Just takes a while to get there.

Okay, now that the bad stuff is out of the way–I love Grande Road.  Yes, despite all that paragraphage dedicated to complaints, I do love this series.  Overall, I think I might like it more than season one since the Inter High actually finishes here.  And, you know what the Inter High kinda is since it involves a bunch of different competitors vying to win certain stages so they can move on and claim glory?  Oh, you know what it do.

TOURNAMENT!

It is to me, dammit!

As with any sports series worth its salt, the characters are great.  Even Midosouji, who creeps the ever-loving hell out of me.  The soundtrack is also pretty awesome.  I loved the OPs and EDs, and I’m always glad to hear that damned earworm (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, then stop reading this right now and go search “Hime Hime Yowamushi Pedal” on YouTube…you’re welcome).  I mostly like the art, but the CG tended to take me out of the show every once in a while.  And, I gotta talk about the stingers.  Yowapeda has some of the best post-credits scenes in anime.  They’re usually really funny and add a lot to the characters’ lives.  Special mention goes to whenever Fukutomi shows up since they reveal he’s an absolute dork outside of cycling.

Even though it’s terribly slow (ball-park of 20 episodes covering the last day of the Inter High), the great characters and properly done hype moments make Yowamushi Pedal an easy recommendation.  I’d probably give the second season alone an 8.  It’s good times.

But wait!  We got a surprise for you, folks.  Quick second review…GO!

5.5) Yowamushi Pedal The Movie

It’s the movie, y’all!

The movie picks up sometime after the Inter High.  The third-years (seniors) from all of the schools are getting ready to retire from their clubs and study for college.  But, they’re all invited to an annual two-day race that would give them the opportunity to ride it out one last time.  Jersey up, everyone, ‘cuz it’s time to pedal!

Even though it’s not the official title of the movie, I’m calling this Yowamushi Pedal: Victory Lap  since that’s all this really is.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take any chance to see these characters race again, but the stakes here are nowhere near as big as they were in the Inter High.  It’s a lot of fun, though, and hey, dat budget.  This also has one of favorite scenes as the whole Sohoku team sings the “Hime Hime” song together as they pass a bunch of people who were way ahead of them.  I’m not going to say it’s the moment I’d been waiting for since I started the series, but it’s the moment I’d been waiting for since I started the series.

The movie’s nothing special, but it’s good as having one last go with all of these characters since the third-years wouldn’t be in another season.  I’ll give it a 6.5 leaning toward 7.  It’s a nice little victory lap.

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