OP Sequence

OP: 「リクライム」 (Rikuraimu) by ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D

「アキバにタダで行けるから」 (Akiba ni Itta de Ikeru Kara)
“Because I can go to Akihabara For Free!”

It’s a good time to be a fan of sports anime.

There are a bunch of sports anime this season – which is a nice change from recent history in and of itself – but there were two shows I was really targeting as keepers. The first, Ace of Diamond, has already premiered and I’ve already blogged it. The other could hardly be more different in many ways, but is still definitely a sports series – Yowamushi Pedal. Where Daiya no A is thoroughly old-school and a sports anime for purists, Yowapeda is a different animal – quirky, definitely mode modern, a bit odd, and with a considerably larger dose of comedy. Diamond no Ace didn’t disappoint – it delivered exactly what I expected from the parts of the manga I read – and so does Yowamushi Pedal.

For all that it’s less grounded in the old ways, Yowapeda is no new kid on the block – Watanabe Wataru’s manga is a serious success in Japan. It’s on 29 volumes and going on six years in print, with strong sales (though not as strong as Ace) showing no signs of slowing down. TMS’ anime adaptation is slated to run for 39 episodes which, as with Ginga e Kickoff, is enough time to give viewers a solid feel for the material even if not to adapt it encyclopedically. As with Ginga we have a solid and experienced director (Nabeshima Osamu) and writer (Reiko Yoshida) and solid if unspectacular animation that gets the job done, even if it’s never going to be the major selling point of the show.

Anyone who’s gone out Ikebukuro Station’s East Exit and headed towards Sunshine City can tell you that Yowamushi Pedal is very popular on Otome Road. This is the realm where Kurobas is king, but Yowapeda may have a chance to be the sleeper among this season’s sports series because of its crossover appeal. It’s certainly not published in a magazine (Weekly Shounen Champion) noted for fujishi hits, and the series isn’t as overtly picture-perfect for that market as Kurobas, but it already has a foothold in that market that’s rare for manga without an anime adaptation. I think there’s enough here to appeal to both sports anime fans and the general anime audience as well – Yowapeda is funny, smartly written and gets the sports side of the equation just about right. There haven’t been many cycling anime (Over Drive – even quirkier than Yowapeda and quite underrated – and the Nasu OVAs are the only ones I recall), and the sport is one that the average non-athlete (especially in Japan, where bikes are ubiquitous) can certainly relate to.

I quite like the both the basic premise behind Yowapeda and the way it’s executed. The hero of the story is the aptly named Onada Sakamichi (Yamashita Daiki, whose age I don’t know but who sounds reasonably believable as an undersized 15 year-old). The very likeable Onada is, quite simply, an otaku. He’s suffered in silence for three years because no one in his middle school wanted to talk about anime or manga, only to find upon arrival in high school that the anime club has disbanded. Onada is serious about his hobby – he frequently cycles 45 KM each way to Akiba to save the Sobu Line train fare for otaku goods. He does this on the humble mamachiri, the cheap single-gear “mommy bike” seen by the millions in Japan (usually with shopping in the basket, and often a small child in the back). He also thinks nothing of riding his mamachiri up the 20% slope to the rear entrance of the high school, so he can sing the “Hime, Hime” the theme from his favorite anime, without being overheard.

It’s while engaged in this activity that Onada encounters fellow freshman Imaizumi Shunsuke (Toriumi Kosuke) – the first such encounter being when Imaizumi’s driver runs Onada off the road. Imaizumi is a bike otaku and a serious racer, and he can’t believe a skinny kid like Onada (or anybody) could handle that grade on a shopping bike. Onada also crosses paths with two girls – the kindly Kanzaki Miki (Suwa Ayaka) and the snarky Tachibana Aya (I never would have guessed it was Han Megumi). Kanzaki is destined to become the manager of the Cycling Club, which Imaizumi is waiting to join until the wannabes have tired of the grind and dropped out. There’s also a clubroom full of buff third-years, each an accomplished cyclist with their own specialty (hills, sprints, all-around) of the type that make up a typical professional cycling team like the ones that compete in the Tour de France. And a very important future club member we haven’t met just yet…

There are elements to this story that aren’t hard to predict – the cycling genius becoming obsessed with the clueless amateur who does what he shouldn’t be able to on a bicycle – but what makes Yowamushi Pedal really work is the inherent humanism in the presentation. Onada is a pretty typical geeky kid – he’s terrified of anyone in athletics, and so beaten down from years of hiding his passion for the otaku life that he lives in constant fear of being exposed. He just wants to share his passion with others who feel the same way – Onada hates jocks, and Imaishi sneers at otaku. It’s the collision of these two worlds that gives Yowapeda its distinctiveness – or more specifically, the way it subtly makes the case for acceptance while still gently poking fun at the peculiarities of both otaku and jocks. It’s not a series that takes itself too seriously but it does have a point to make, and it manages to be a true sports series without being tethered to the limitations of the genre. Of all the new sports anime this season, I think this is the one that can appeal to the broadest spectrum of anime fans – if only they’re willing to look past the genre tags and give it a chance.


ED Sequence

ED: 「風を呼べ」 (call the wind) by アンダーグラフ (Under graph)

End Card


  1. I love yowapedal manga, and the anime debut was certainly great and faithful.
    is this really gonna be 39 episodes?!?!I didn’t see that coming. but it’s so great. the manga is very long, but don’t worry we’ll feel its sports competitive spirit very early.
    Onoda is funny but also have the skill for riding, it seems almost old-school for someone who is going to start from 0, but it’ll be unique and intriguing .and there is kanzaki, well every sports club must have a girl, and cute one, plus she’s “bicycle otaku” so she’s perfect!
    we have seen a glimpse for the other characters and I like what we saw. third-years are somehow badass but not the bad one kind.

    TMS and Toho company are doing great job with the animation. it’s very lively and has a good atmosphere so far.

    it’s 4th sports anime which I’ll be following this season. and the best thing is that each one of them is so unique and special not only the sports on itself, but the way it is excuted.

    I am waiting for more yowapedal!

    are you going to cover DnA and Yowapedal? :O

      1. Chihayafufu was quite well received on here … if not *popularly* received I must admit. I hope you do keep up with Yowapeda, I didn’t find anything major to fault with this introduction.

        Well Tachibana has already got on my nerves, but apart from that I’m looking forward to the next episode.

        J Jay
      2. Yeah, but she’s Gon, so she gets a pass for now.

        Chihayafuru is a genre-transcending series – not that Yowapeda isn’t too, to an extent, but you can’t really put Chihayafuru in the sports anime box. Especially since it wasn’t apparent the extent to which it would follow sports manga tropes until it was well underway, by which point many viewers who would never have given it a chance had they known were already hooked. And as you say, it wasn’t exactly a huge generator of comment traffic here even as much as its fans adored it.

        As for Yowapeda, I have read a fair bit of the manga and the dynamic in some ways reminds me of Hikaru no Go – which reminds me more of Chihayafuru than any other show (or rather, the reverse). Like I said, this series can win a lot of fans if people can get past the genre bigotry and give it a look.

      3. yowapeda indeed reminds Go and Chihayafuru. while I agree that Chihayafuru isn’t the hardcore sports type, it is indeed sports anime.in a more special and colorful way, with touching characters and a bit drama that really gets inside your heart. while yowapeda is similar to Chihaya in the way both expresses the sport element uniquely. however yowapeda is a series that almost everything is sports-related while chihaya developed some specialty outside the “karuta’s sports field” too.

        I really don’t want to stick in comparison. I am a huge fan of sports anime/manga. I love and enjoy both of them, while I must say that I have a soft spot for Chihaya that really has some refreshing scent in the sports gener IMO.

        anyway, I must say that I think both DnA and yowapeda fits perfectly for RC blogging.
        the fact that they are not established like Ippo or Kuroko basket, is in their favor. they have uniqueness on their own cause they aren’t really the old-school sports.
        plus if they both gonna be long (yowapeda for sure right now)…it’s really fits for RC 😛
        but hey..I am not being so much fair cause I am a fan of both 😛

  2. Finally! My most anticipated show for the season has finally come! After being disappointed by lackluster first eps of Daiya no A, this show feels like a fresh cool drink for me.

    BTW, is this really going to be 3 cour show?

  3. Love this season, so many sports anime :3

    Very satisfied with how the first episode was done and excited that this has already booked 3 cours right off the bat. Hopefully that’d give the production team enough room to do the manga proud.

    And more people should watch sports anime… they’re just too awesome.

  4. Kanzaki would be one scary yandere. She talks to Onoda like “Hi, we only talked yesterday for the first time, but I already found out everything about you.”

    On the anime itself, I have to say that I like it more than Dia no A (more than every other sport anime this season actually).

  5. I’m probably in the minority on this, but I didn’t like Onada. I’m tired of these clueless people getting the mantle of main character. I’d like to think that people would be more interested in watching intelligent, emotionally complex people go through trials rather than guys like Onada and the hundreds of clones like him in anime, I’d much rather Shunsuke be the main character. I’m not even insulting Onada, he just seems so generic and there’s absolutely nothing interesting about him to me so far, I loved the premiere overall, but he was a definite blemish on it.

  6. To be completely honest, I gave this show a try with the expectation of it being interesting enough to be casually watched and pass time with, but not interesting enough to make me look forward to the next episode or want to read the manga.

    Well, guess what, I was completely wrong. Guess I found another show to look forward to each week!

    (And I’m saying this as someone who doesn’t usually watch sports anime, by the way. So if you happen to be unsure about whether to give this a try because of its genre: Do it! Chances are, you won’t regret it.)

  7. I’m not initially a sports anime fan but I do admire how some describe the techniques that the characters use; nonetheless, I might try this anime for a while, to see how it plays out.


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