Story/Art: Wataru Watanabe
Translation: Su Mon Han
Lettering: Lys Blakeslee
What They Say:
Power-pedaling Sakamichi Onoda has long been conquering the steepest slopes and regularly making the ninety-kilometer round-trip to Akihabara on a mommy bike!! But when his bike commutes to his new high school lands him in a confrontation with the serious first-year road racer Imaizumi, Onoda has a major showdown on his hands! Can this meek geek really out-pedal the future ace of the school road-racing team?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I love the Yowapeda anime. In the Fandom Post’s 2015 year-end review, I placed it at the top. That’s how much I love this series. I never thought we’d get the manga because sports manga have done historically poorly in the US. But Yen Press is taking the plunge and I’m thankful for it because I am SO READY to read bicycle boys for (currently) 21 volumes (since Yen is doing 2-in-1s).
Yowapeda starts off as all manga do, with a first year high school student riding his mommy bike to Akihabara and trying to recreate the anime club. He instead gets swept into the road racing club because of his unusually high cadence and abilities on the bicycle.
This first omnibus covers a good five or six episodes from the anime’s first season and it’s…not particularly exciting. Yowapeda didn’t become great until the race that’s about to start in the anime. It did, however, show flashes of brilliance with Onoda’s race up the hill against Imaizumi and catching up to the car with Naruko. We are, after all, in the opening stages of the manga, but it’s moving a little too slow for me. Yen giving this 2-in-1s is a good choice for that reason as well, because one half of this brick of a volume wouldn’t be nearly as interesting as the omnibus we got.
The content itself is so fun though. Allow yourself to be immersed in the sheer joy and pure excitement of Onoda and Naruko and you can’t help but love it just a little. Imaizumi’s competitive nature brings out the natural competitor in us all, because deep in his heart he likes a little friendly competition (which is what all the races have been so far), even if he makes it seem like everything is a matter of wins and losses.
Moments like Imaizumi’s races with Onoda and Naruko’s encouragement—each pushing Onoda beyond what he formerly knew about road racing and bikes—are the crux of the series. He’s still in the learning stages and he’s still riding a mommy bike around, thinking he can make it like that. He’s a novice and it’s endearing to watch him grow like this.
The art leaves more than something to be desired though. With more than 42 volumes worth of content, it’s bound to get good (and does get A LOT better, from what I’ve seen!), but it isn’t right now. The faces in the anime resemble more of the art that I’ve seen from the later volumes with more defined facial features and everything looking less…Isayama Titan-y, I guess. The art even gets better from the Japanese volume one to two, and Imaizumi looks a little more like himself from the anime (he’s almost unrecognizable at first). The bike scenes are always dynamic though and it’s clear that Watanabe can draw bikes, even if his people leave something to be desired (for now).
Yowapeda is fun. That’s the best way to put it, and it’s truest now than it will ever be because of how GOOD it gets later. For now, Yowapeda is a romp with soon-to-be best friends learning / teaching the sport of road racing with each other. For an introductory volume of a sports manga, you don’t need much else.
Content Grade: B+
Art Grade: C
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: December 15, 2015