Yowamushi Pedal: Episode 13 – “Imaizumi and Naruko’s 1,000km”

Yowamushi Pedal is an anime about a first-year high school student named Sakamichi Onoda who is an otaku that wants to join his high school’s anime club, but it has shut down due to lack of members. Sakamichi’s goal is to try to revive the anime club. He also rides a “mommy” bike, and is able to ride it very well. After losing in a bicycle race to Shunsuke, Shunsuke tells him to think about joining the bicycle racing club, because he sees that Sakamichi has potential. In episode four, Sakamichi became friends with a boy named Naruko that he met while he was in Akihibara. After some convincing from Naruko, Sakamichi joins the bicycle racing club.

The first half of this episode focuses on the second day of the training camp for Sakamichi and the others. Quite a bit of it focuses on Shunsuke and Naruko and their verbal spats with one another.

At one point, there was a scene where they’re both obviously tired, and Shunsuke’s water bottle slips out of his hand and falls to the ground. Both of them stop, and as Shunsuke goes to get the water bottle, he falls onto one of his knees. Naruko gets the bottle for him and tries to give it back, but Shunsuke won’t take it. At this point, Naruko actually sounds like he’s using a cooler head when he tries to convince Shunsuke they need to be more concerned about finishing the 1,000 kilometers with their modified bikes than they should be on finishing before other people. The normally rational Shunsuke tells Naruko that he intends to win and beat everyone, including team captain Kinjou. Shunsuke even calls Naruko weak from the heat, and after a few moments, Naruko laughs and agrees. Naruko throws the bottle on the ground and tells Shunsuke to go after it himself. He does, and the two of them get back on their bikes and ride.

I have to say that this made for an interesting role reversal. Too bad that Shunsuke managed to talk Naruko back into being a hotheaded idiot again, though.

That night, after Shunsuke, Naruko, and Sakamichi finish their riding for the day, they find Kinjou talking on the phone and mentioning something about an interview. After his conversation, he explains that since they’re representing Chiba at the Inter-High, they’re being interviewed by Cycle Time and the Asada Shimbun because all the schools being represented are being interviewed. Kinjou asks Naruko if he wants to be the featured athlete for the interview, but he declines due to wanting to put all of his focus on the training camp.

From here, the episode transitions to focusing on the other two teams who will become important in the series: Kyoto Fishimi High School and Hakone Academy Private High School. First it’s Kyoto Fishimi High School, and the audience meets Midousuji, and he’s a rather psychotic-looking character. He’s the ace of the school’s bicycling team, but he’s not the captain. The captain is Ishigaki. Through Ishigaki, we get a flashback to when Midousuji joined the team and how he became the ace.

After this, we go to Hakone Academy Private High School and meet some of their team members: Fukutomi (the team captain), Arakita (the assistant captain), Toudou (a climber), Shinkai (a sprinter), Izumida (a second-year sprinter), and Kuroda (a climber). After the interview, we see that Manami has arrived late and missed it entirely. At the end of the episode, Toudou tells Manami that they learned from the interviewer that Chiba’s representatives for the Inter-High are training at a nearby cycling sports center, and Manami is told to check it out.

Not only did these scenes finally start providing names to some of the faces we’ve seen from the other teams up to this point, but it’s also starting to establish character traits for these characters. Many of these character traits are revealed in their attitudes regarding the interviews that they’re being asked to do. Unfortunately, a lot of new characters are introduced to the audience during the second half of the episode; I know it’s going to take a little bit for me to learn all of their names. In that respect, the second half of the episode felt a little overwhelming due to the amount of character introductions that were going on.

But it’s a good thing to finally see more of these other teams, since prior to this point, the primary focus has been on Sakamichi and the others on his team. We’re definitely seeing that the series is starting to shift its focus more toward the upcoming Inter-High race.

So far, I seem to be basically right about one day of the training camp being included in one episode. However, I hadn’t anticipated that the second day of the training camp would only comprise half of an episode

And now that Manami is being encouraged to go see what’s going on at the training camp, I wonder if Sakamichi will encounter him there. If he does, I wonder how that will affect Sakamichi and his performance during the training camp.

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