Yowamushi Pedal: Episode 21 – “Snake of the Stone Path”

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 framing for episode 21 is that Makashima and Tadokoro are telling the first-years about what happened at the previous year’s Inter-High. This flashback specifically focuses on the second stage of the race. It ends up where Fukutomi from Hakone Academy and Kinjou are neck-and-neck when they’re down to the last 20 kilometers of the second stage.

A little over half of the episode is devoted to those 20 kilometers. Fukutomi and Kinjou talk a lot about their philosophies for bicycle racing, as they keep trying to pass one another. When the race is down to the final two kilometers and it appears Kinjou is going to win, Fukutomi does something that affects the outcome of the race. The remainder of the flashback shows the repercussions of those actions and how the guilty party tries to make amends.

Not only did this episode show the audience what happened at the previous year’s Inter-High, it also provided some character development for both Kinjou and Fukutomi. I really appreciated the character development for Fukutomi, since prior to this episode, he was never on screen enough to truly get a feel for who he is as a character. During the early portion of the episode, we see that Fukutomi was a real egotistical and arrogant person and he honestly believed that he was so great that no one could beat him. I found myself wondering how he could fit such a fat and swelled head into his bicycle helmet. But after the incident that took place during the previous year’s Inter-High, Fukutomi begins learning how to keep his ego in check a bit more.

At the end of the episode, I was given the impression that the arc about the Inter-High will officially begin in episode 22. If that’s right, then I’m a little surprised about how early the arc is starting. From everything I’ve seen, there’s still 17 episodes left for the series. Are the remaining 17 episodes going to focus on the Inter-High, or will there be another story arc or two afterwards?

Regardless of how the series is ultimately paced, I’m looking forward to seeing how this year’s Inter-High will proceed.

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