Yowamushi Pedal: Episode 16 – “Breakthrough”

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.

Episode 16 focuses exclusively on the first-years’ attempt to pass the second-years on the third day of the training camp.

A bit of the episode focuses on Teshima having a flashback, starting with his low showing at his last middle school tournament, and deciding that he would drop cycling when he entered high school. However, on the first day of school, he saw Aoyagi riding on a bike and befriended him; together, they joined the bicycle racing club. Neither one was terribly spectacular during their first year in the club. After failing to make it to the Inter-High, the two begin training together, with Teshima using his brain for strategy and Aoyagi being the legs and helping them place better in races.

Sakamichi sees that Naruko and Shunsuke are both tired now and can’t pick up the pace anymore. At this point, the sun has set and it’s getting dark; soon, they won’t be able to pass each other anymore since the facility isn’t set up for night racing. The first-years now only have half a lap to pass the second-years. The three first years come up with a plan, and it’s up to Sakamichi to be the one to make it work.

While episode 15 started to give the second-years in the club some character development, episode 16 provides even more background for the second-years. Admittedly, the development focuses a little more on Teshima, but Aoyagi becomes involved after the two of them meet on the first day of high school. The flashback in this episode really helps the audience to better understand why Teshima has been acting the way he has over the past couple of episodes. Do I still think he’s acting like a pompous jerk? Yes, but at least I understand why he’s copping such an attitude.

While Sakamichi wants desperately to go to the Inter-High, I think that the reality is that he probably won’t finish the 1,000 kilometers by the end of the training camp. While he’s improved over the first couple of days of the camp, I don’t realistically think he’ll be able to make up for the deficit he acquired early on. I can see Shunsuke and Naruko making it, but I don’t think Sakamichi will. While I want to root for Sakamichi to succeed, I just can’t realistically see it happening.

Now that the sun has gone down at the end of this episode, I think it’s safe to say that day three of the training camp is now over. I’m looking forward to watching episode 17 to see what will happen during day four.

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