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.
Early on in episode 18, the race between the first-years and second-years is decided when Naruko crosses the finish line first. While the first-years continue, the second-years collapse. It turns out they’ve sustained pulled muscles and are unable to continue participating in the camp, Their mentor Tadokoro tells them he’s proud of them for giving everything they had before the finish line and that they fought without flinching, He also tells them that they have another year and that they can become stronger on their own. This is actually a rather emotional scene between Tadokoro, Teshima, and Aoyagi.
When the first-years return, they are shocked to learn that the second-years have to drop out of the training camp, and that the team captain is planning to round out the Inter-High team with Naruko, Shunsuke, and Sakamichi if they can finish the 1,000 kilometers before the end of the next day.
The fourth day ends up being rainy, which creates another obstacle for those who are still trying to complete the 1,000 kilometers. Kinjou and Tadokoro reach 1,000 kilometers first, and Makashima reaches the goal about two hours later.
Sakamichi has the most ground to make up on the final day, and the rainy weather isn’t helping anything. At one point, one of his pedals breaks and it appears that there’s no way that Sakamichi will be able to reach the goal. He ends up receiving some unexpected help, which helps to improve his chances.
For most of the racing we’ve seen in Yowamushi Pedal up to this point, a lot more focus had been placed on success. There’s really only one time I can think of that took place earlier in the series when Sakamichi wasn’t able to finish the first-years’ race that defeat was touched on; however, even that had some focus on the success side, since Sakamichi became “king of the mountain.” To me, Teshima and Aoyagi’s performance in this race is the first time that Yowamushi Pedal has touched on the agony of defeat.
I really like some dialogue that Kinju had in this episode, leading up to the first-years and second-years crossing the finish line: “Races are a cruel thing. No matter how strong your emotions, or how true your friendships, they will not necessarily lead you to victory. Before the finish line, the difference is always slight. A second of misjudgment, or your body’s limits can turn winners into losers. All because you weren’t favored by fate.” Kinju has always been a bit of a philosophical character up to this point, but I think this scene is the most philosophical I’ve seen him get.
At the end of episode 18, it’s very clear that the training camp is now over. I’m curious to watch episode 19 and find out what direction the series will be going in next.
Additional posts about Yowamushi Pedal: