OP: 「Determination」 by LASTGAP
It almost feels like Yowamushi Pedal never went on break last season, considering how this episode jumped in right where the last ended – mid-way through the intense final stretch of the second day of the Inter High. After a reminder of the dramatic events that occurred near the end of the the first season, we’re not even given a chance to breathe properly before the action is thrown at us.
If there is one aspect of Yowamushi Pedal that acts as either a positive or a negative, it’s the characters, and by extension, their teams. Funnily enough, despite them being the main team, I hardly find myself absolutely rooting for Sohoku. Why? Well, because although I think there are a few very likeable characters amongst them, for the most part I’ve never really ‘clicked’ with all of them like I do with other sport series (like in Haikyuu!!). But that’s not necessarily a bad thing for me, considering that I really, really like Hakone – I think each of them is individual enough that they stand out on the road and I always know what I can expect from them. But then again, that’s just my taste in characters for you!
Talking about characters, this episode mainly focuses on four (our main character Onoda is not one of them, which isn’t actually surprising at this point in the series). First off we have my favourite of the series thus far, Hayato Shinkai (Hino Satoshi), the rabbit-loving ace sprinter of Hakone. His showdown with Midousuji last season was one of the best parts for me, even if the outcome left me feeling defeated. Shinkai steps forward (or cycles forward, rather) and leads Hakone in the final kilometres that lie ahead. I can’t get enough of how laid-back, caring, and cool this guy is despite the cheesy thumbs up that he gives at every opportunity. Actually, now that I think about it I think I also enjoy that quirk as well…
Over at Sohoku we have Imaizumi taking the lead after a few swaps to keep the pace going. But before long the arch nemesis of his past manages to knock his handlebars. It’s a dirty play, but Imaizuki recovers, and in his head and his heart he knows that he is over Midousuji, the one who has shadowed him and plagued him with negativity and doubt.
Finally we have the third team, Kyoto Fushimi High, with Ishigaki Koutaru (Nojima Hirofumi) finally having his moment in taking the team forward in the same formation as the others. For a character we haven’t seen much of, Koutaru has always been quite sympathetic, so seeing him slide right near the end of the episode made me feel so, so sorry for him. It’s obvious how much this win means, even if he has to be used and disposed of by Midousuji in the process.
I’ve mentioned him enough times so far, but I think it’s time I finally say my bit about Midousuji. God, I hate him. But I’m suppose to hate him, so it works. Seriously though, I want to see this creeper lose so bad. I want to see him defeated, crying, and maybe understand that he isn’t the best. Is that bad? At the same time, he surprised me this episode by him saving Koutaru from his slide… but it’s obvious that everything he does is for his benefit alone. I suppose he makes the perfect antagonist, considering everything he has to offer, though I could do with less of his many disgusting facial expressions.
All in all, a great episode to jump back into, even if we didn’t see that much of our main team – but then again, I’m not too bothered by that! Yowamushi is as much about it’s characters as it is about the road racing. It’s all dramatic close-ups, shonen powers in their pedals, and cheesy dialogue. But you’ve gotta love it!
ED: 「リアライズ」 (Realize) by ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D