The race between Sakamichi and Imaizumi concludes!
What They Say:
Sakamichi and Imaizumi’s rare gate slope bicycle race has finally begun. Sakamichi pedals as hard as he can so Imaizumi will join the anime club, but is quickly passed by Imaizumi despite his late start. Miki catches up to the disappointed Sakamichi in Toji’s car and adjusts his saddle, and Sakamichi resumes the race. Through his desperate efforts, Sakamichi finally catches up to Imaizumi, but…
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When we last left Sakamichi, he was reinvigorated in his race again Imaizumi after having the seat of his bicycle (called the saddle) adjusted, which gave him better riding posture and positioning, and he was back in the race! Miki also notices that the gear on Sakamichi’s bike is smaller than what would be normal for a bike like his, meaning that it requires more turns of the gear to go the same distance as a larger gear would, which is another disadvantage his mommy bike has against Imaizumi’s sleek racing machine.
However, Sakamichi eventually catches up to Imaizumi, and they go neck and neck for a significant portion of the remaining race, before Imaizumi pushes himself and begins “dancing”. As Miki points out, dancing is when the rider raises up off of his bicycle seat and his bike sways side to side. It’s a position designed for a burst of speed but is incredibly taxing on someone, so it cannot be maintained for long. Against all odds, Sakamichi catches up to Imaizumi again! When asked why he won’t just give up, Sakamichi confesses “I don’t have any friends!” which shakes Imaizumi upon hearing it. Even though he hits a small gap in some drainage in the final turn of the race, Imaizumi eventually overcomes and beats Sakamichi in the race (by a small margin), leaving himself exhausted and Sakamichi defeated, but with more confidence in himself.
The next day at school, Imaizumi invites Sakamichi to join the bicycle racing club, telling him that he’s not in the best of shape, but his pedaling is top notch. At Sakamichi’s hesitation, Imaizumi reiterates he doesn’t want to force him into doing something he doesn’t want to, but instead tells him to walk whatever path he feels is right. He also lets him know that he told several of the kids he went to middle school with about the anime club, wishing him luck on finding more members.
Sakamichi hesitates, and doesn’t make a real conscious choice to Sakamichi’s offer, but feels the need to give him a gift as a thank you for being so nice to him, and in true otaku fashion, gives him several items that he purchases at Akihabara on his weekly 45 kilometer-both-ways trip to the otaku capital of the world.
The end of the episode has a kid his age with spiky red hair (a character we’ve been teased with in the intro for a while now) commenting that despite his bike being a mommy bike, the well-worn hand grips and petals show signs of the bike being a well build machine, as the episode ends with Sakamichi seeming a bit confused as to who this person is or what, exactly, he’s talking about.
Pedal continues to be one of the best shows of the season for me. It’s fun and lighthearted attitude combined with a serious devotion to showing off how awesome and exciting bike racing can be are the perfect blend of all the things I enjoy about anime. And unlike many other series, where the protagonist has no real character or is a bit of blank slate, Onoda Sakamichi is a shy otaku with a real personality and feelings, and despite being socially awkward at points, feels very much like he’s growing with each episode. His renewed confidence is clear in the way he talks with Imaizumi during and after the race, and the fact that he gave him a thank you gift (albeit one of his own style) it shows that he isn’t just a nerd who never gets things right as we so often see these types portrayed in a series. The fact that he confesses to not really having any friends seems to bond Onoda to Imaizumi some, and instead of a forced relationship between two of the characters, Imaizumi offering Sakamichi to join the bicycle club, and his asking his friends to join Sakamichi’s anime club feels very organic and like the characters are behaving and learning from their experiences.
That is SUPER rare in a show of this style, and it’s refreshing. And unlike some shows, where the comedy or silly aspects are played up significantly when the show isn’t trying to be serious, they’re sprinkled into the series just enough for them to be good, funny moments without overshadowing the plot.
Yowamushi Pedal continues to produce strong episodes that both build up the characters and progress the story of Onoda Sakamichi and his first year of high school, and I for one am excited to see where it goes from here.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
Intel Alienware laptop, Windows 7, 25” HP2509m screen at 1920×1080 resolution