Since this is one of those I’ve talked about in a previous post (here it is!), I won’t go into too much depth with the intro paragraph. I’ve also written about season two and the movie right here. Okay, reigning Summer Inter High champion Sakamichi Onoda is in his second year of high school at Sohoku High. His cycling team is already training for their next Inter High, but their rivals are working just as hard, and Sohoku is especially far behind because they’ve lost half their winning team. Time to Hime Hime, y’all!
Jeez, I’ve been watching Yowamushi Pedal for almost four years now. My, how time flies. This anime sure don’t, though! *Laugh track* I praised New Generation when it was six episodes in for how much the pace had stepped up from previous seasons. And it kept to that…for a while. I’m an old hand at sports series, so I’m no stranger to sudden flashbacks, thinking/talking as free actions, and drawn out matches, but it really does feel like Yowapeda has mastered the art of padding. Those whiplash-inducing flashbacks returned in a hurry, and this season ends before the first day of the Inter High is over. The bit before the race felt like it took forever. Getting to know everybody, getting to see their backstories, getting to hear everyone’s thoughts, etc. Again, it’s a sports series. I get it. But three seasons in and most of the cast returning from the previous two…you don’t really need to spend too much time on this stuff by now. Or at least do it better. Eiichiro Oda is so unbelievably adept at making long flashbacks feel natural in One Piece. Yowapeda is far from being that good at it.
My other big complaint about this season, and I’m sorry if this is a spoiler, but I gotta get this off my chest: This feels exactly like the last Inter High so far. Sohoku sent two sprinters for the sprint checkpoint against Hakone’s one, Onoda gets separated from the rest of his team by the pack and has to fight his way back, Midosouji messes with him as he does so, Sohoku has to make a desperate call for the mountain checkpoint. I just described the first day of both Inter Highs. It is unabashedly similar. I genuinely hope things get changed up for the rest of the race, but it ain’t looking too good.
I know it sounds like I’m being harsh on Yowapeda, but it comes from a place of love. It is a true delight to see all these characters again, and the new additions are quite welcome. The new kid on Sohoku’s team who’s somehow dumber and more hot-blooded than Naruko, Hakone’s monster Doubashi, Kyoto Fushimi’s…masseuse. They bring familiar characteristics to the table, but they all feel different enough to not be redundant. I also love how existing characters have to step up into roles like with Teshima and Izumida becoming the captains of Sohoku and Hakone, respectively. It’s interesting to see how they approach the struggles and responsibilities as captains of two of the best teams in the country. Teshima especially stands out in this season as he not only has to race to win his spot as captain, but he also has to man up in the mountain stage of the Inter High. Dude has definitely become one of my favorites.
And yeah, the show can still get me hype when it wants to get me hype. I wish it didn’t take so long to get from one hype to the next, but such is Yowapeda. Also, it continues to have the best stingers in anime. Bar none. I can’t tell you how funny these things are. My favorite has to be when Kyoto Fushimi’s former captain has a nightmare of catching grasshoppers as a kid and one of them turns into Midousuji. I laughed so hard. There’s also a really special one at the end of the last episode. Again, the show can easily get me hype when it wants to.
Despite New Generation doing everything good that previous entries in the Yowapeda franchise have done with great characters, races, and humor, it also does everything bad that the others have done with ham-fisted flashbacks and woefully drawn out episodes. I’ll give it a 7.5. Probably my least favorite season, but I do still love it so.