Yowamushi Pedal Grande Road: Episode 15 – “ROAD.15 Naruko’s True Worth!”

Yowamushi Pedal Grande Road is the second season of the Yowamushi Pedal anime series. It continues the adventures of the Sohoku High School bicycle club and their rivals, Hakone Academy and Kyoto Fushimi High School. Specifically, this series focuses on the Inter-High race that all three teams are participating in.

Episode 15 focuses on Naruko as he surprises his other three teammates by pulling them quickly on a slope even though he’s a sprinter. He also surprises the spectators, and they start cheering him on and giving him high-fives. As Makishima explains in the episode, more people watch the third day of the Inter-High and will react favorably to unusual people or riders with unusual abilities or to something that makes a rider stand out. With how flashy Naruko likes being, this atmosphere is a perfect situation for him. He basks in the spotlight, and the cheering keeps him going.

At one point, as Naruko seems like he’s starting to tire out, he pulls out his “killer move” that allows him to go even faster on the slope. A lot of the episode is filled with promise and hope, until Shunsuke notices that Naruko is starting to lose control as he uses his killer move. The ante is upped as Naruko bumps into a guardrail on a turn and cuts himself, and goes even higher near the end of the episode as Naruko realizes he’s getting dizzy and can’t see due to not having enough oxygen. Through some teamwork with Sakamichi, Naruko manages to help the others catch up with Hakone Academy… but it’s the end of the line for him.

As this episode progressed, I had a feeling that Naruko would ultimately have to drop out of the race, even if it meant not keeping the promise he made with Sakamichi and Shunsuke to cross the finish line at the Inter-High together. Like with the other Sohoku members who had to drop out, we got to see flashbacks of Naruko interacting with his other team members before he leaves. Now that I’ve seen this happen three times, I refer to this as the character’s “highlight reel” before they make their final bow. But it was hard not to get emotional as it became clear that Naruko would be leaving the race by the end of the episode. He really pulled his weight and proved his worth in this episode, and I’m going to miss seeing his enthusiasm as the race continues.

With Naruko out of the race, Sohoku is now down to Makishima, Shunsuke, and Sakamichi. The three of them now have to compete against the remaining members of Hakone Academy’s team, and I suspect that will be the focus of Episode 16. At this point, I’m also going to go out on a limb and predict that in the remaining episodes, two more of Sohoku’s team members will have to leave the race for one reason or another. As Kinjou said in an earlier episode, the objective is to get at least one Sohoku jersey across the finish line. This makes me think the race will end with only one Sohoku racer left. I’m not sure that Sohoku will be able to beat Hakone Academy, but that would be a nice ending for the race.

As the numbers for the two main teams continue to thin, it makes me more and more interested in seeing who will be left standing at the end of the Inter-High, and who will ultimately be the first to cross the finish line.

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