What They Say:
The day after riding his bike around Akiba with Naruko, Sakamichi encounters Naruko again at his high school’s store. Naruko encourages Sakamichi to join the bicycle racing club with him, but Sakamichi is still unable to abandon the anime club. However, when Sakamichi observes the bicycle racing club training after school at Naruko’s invitation, he experiences a desire to test his own abilities.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
There comes a time in most people’s lives when they want to test themselves. You decide to go out with your friends who invited you for a day of driving golf balls at the range. To your amazement, after a few warm up swings, you end up being able to drive the ball really far. You think to yourself “Wow, that was fun. I wonder if actual golfing is this fun?” and the thought sticks in your mind for a while until you decide to try it. Or maybe you sit down one day and just start scribbling in a notebook, and are surprised by what you end up finding. Whatever it is, many people have had an experience like this in their lives – they try something, and realize that they might have a certain degree of natural skill in whatever it is, and are interested to try more.
We’ve watched Sakamichi over the last few episodes learn these things about himself when it comes to biking. That he’s developed good pedaling habits, and even on a low-key mommy bike, he’s able to get an incredible amount of mileage (figuratively and literally) out of it, and after learning just a little bit about what it means to race bicycles, he is asking himself the same questions I posed earlier – I wonder if I can really do this.
So with Naruko and Imaizumi, Sakamichi goes out to join the bicycle racing club. While he hasn’t given up on his dream of reforming the anime club, the whole reason in the first place he wanted to get members for it was to make friends. And while they aren’t members of the anime club, Naruko and Imaizumi have very much become people who Onoda views as friends, and his desire to explore the world of bicycle racing leads him inevitably to the racing club.
There’s a final character that’s introduced who we’ve seen in the credits who joins this day as well, and with that the cast of Yowapeda is assembled. On their first day at the club, the captain of the team announces that they will be holding a race, and unbeknownst to the young first-year students – the race will determine the two students who will be a part of the team to compete in the inter-school race that’s coming up. The episode ends with Onoda setting up on ‘rollers’ (the race-your-bicycle-in-your-own-apartment-device that Iamizumi has been using the last few episodes) with natural ease, which surprises everyone including the senior students on the racing team.
Yowapeda has shown us Onoda’s growth from a quiet, shy otaku to someone interested (and possibly quite skilled) at racing bicycles. It’s introduced us to the main cast of characters we can expect to spend the rest of the season growing to love, hate, and waiting on the edge of our seat each week to see again. And now – Onoda’s first race with the bicycle club, against Imaizumi and Naruko looms on the horizon.
The show has done a great drop of setting the background for the series, getting us familiar with the characters, and helping us to invest our interest not in just Onoda but the rest of the cast as well. It does a very good job of showing us his growth over each episode without having to force or contrive bizarre circumstances for him to be in the situations he’s in – and he wants to race bicycles because he himself is actually curious about what he can do. Not because he has to save the world. Not because he wants to be cool (though he does note it would be a cool side-effect). Not because he lost a bet or anything like that – but because he has a real desire to do so. And as with much of the rest of the show, it’s so rare to see a character like Onoda choose to do something like this. And that’s incredibly exciting.
I can’t wait for next week’s episode to see the start of this race and what will happen next!
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
Intel Alienware laptop, Windows 7, 25” HP2509m screen at 1920×1080 resolution