Anime Spotlight: Yowamushi Pedal New Generation

After seeing Yowamushi Pedal: The Movie, I really wanted to see what would happen to the characters who would still be on Sohoku’s team after the third years graduated. So I was thrilled when I heard that a new season of the series, Yowamushi Pedal New Generation, would be airing during Spring 2017.

Even though the title is Yowamushi Pedal New Generation, the series doesn’t start off with the third years already gone from the team. In fact, the first episode starts a little bit before the time the movie is set. The race from the movie is mentioned in passing, and then we see Sakamichi dealing with Makishima’s sudden departure. We don’t actually see the “new generation” of the various teams until episode nine. The first eight episodes see the various teams getting their new team captains and finishing off their school year after the third years leave their respective teams.

During one of the final races of the season, new Sohoku captain Teshima discovers an old friend, Akishiba, is on Hakone Academy’s team. Between becoming captain and this discovery, Teshima actually becomes much more of a focus of the series than we was when the third years were still around. Teshima gets a lot of character development over the course of Yowamushi Pedal New Generation, and I really came to like him much more than I had previously. Teshima is a really good captain for Sohoku’s team, and he embodies the team dynamics that had developed in the previous seasons of the series.

Before the start of the next school year, we see Naruko go through a time wondering if he should remain a sprinter or try to become an all-rounder after Imaizumi brings up the possibility to him. When Naruko returns to his home racing track, I was surprised to see who else shows up there. And this person is ultimately the cause for the decision that Naruko makes about his position on Sohoku’s team.

Starting with episode nine, we start seeing the new teams taking shape. Most of the focus is on Sohoku High at this point, but we also get to see some glimpses of Hakone Academy and Kyoto Fushimi High School.

Three new characters join Sohoku’s team: Sugimoto’s younger brother, Sadatoki, as well as two friends named Kaburagi and Danchiku. Kaburagi comes across with a major ego, since both he and Danchiku came from a prestigious junior high racing team. Not only does he have an ego, he’s also not terribly bright. Fortunately, he does have Danchiku to help ground him somewhat. Kaburagi easily replaced Sugimoto as the most annoying character on Sohoku’s team.

Speaking of Sugimoto, I really came to like him more during the course of Yowamushi Pedal New Generation. The major turning point for him was when he competed in the first years race as a second year, with the goal of winning the race and potentially getting a spot for the Inter-High. He was against Kaburagi and Danchiku, who were also trying to get spots on the Inter-High team. I actually found myself rooting for Sugimoto during that race, and was surprised at my reaction at the end of the first years race.

During the training camp, a Sohoku character named Koga comes to the forefront. It turns out he’s the same age as Teshima and Aoyagi, but he’d been in the background the previous school year as a mechanic. We learn he’s actually a very good rider, but an injury sidelined him for a while. It explains why Koga was never focused on before now. Koga’s reemergence for the training camp as a rider was another way that Teshima got more focus on his backstory. There was a very exciting race that took place between Teshima and Koga to decide who should be the captain of the team. I have to admit that Koga came across like he was arrogant and had some specific issue with Teshima, but fortunately, he doesn’t remain an unlikable character for very long.

Of course, Hakone Academy and Kyoto Fushimi also had new members getting the spotlight. Hakone Academy gained a big, muscular, obnoxious loudmouth named Doubashi, along with Shinkai’s younger brother, Yuto. To be honest, more emphasis was placed on Doubashi than on the younger Shinkai. Hopefully a future season of the series will let us get to know the younger Shinkai. Outside of looking a lot like his brother and having some of the same mannerisms, the audience really got to know nothing about him.

For Kyoto Fushimi, the standout new member is Kishigami. We first see him as a masseuse for the team, and he obviously takes too much interest in other cyclists’ muscles. Honestly, this was kind of creepy. But I should have figured out Midousuji would want someone nearly as creepy as he is on his team!

And we actually start into the Inter-High race during the 25 episodes that make up Yowamushi Pedal New Generation. Since time didn’t need to be spent establishing Sakamichi, the Sohoku team, and the rules of road racing, it allowed the pace of this series to be faster than earlier seasons. With this Inter-High, Sakamichi had to deal with the fact that he was wearing the #1 tag and would be targeted by other schools. Of course, this wasn’t something he had even remotely anticipated, since this is only his second Inter-High. But this is rather important, because his being a target of the other teams actually makes Sakamichi less of a focus during the last couple of episodes of the series.

At the end of Yowamushi Pedal New Generation, they are already working at wrapping up the first day of the Inter-High, and the first two checkpoints have already been taken. Ultimately, the last two episodes place the focus on Teshima and a character from another team, and the aftermath of Teshima’s attempt to take the second checkpoint. But my absolute favorite part of the final episode was the last little bit of story that happens right after the ending credits. Instead of getting the usual omake, we get to see three alumni of Sohoku having a reunion. While we had seen Kinjou a couple of times at college, this marked the first time we saw all three of them together since the very first episode of the series.

I honestly have to say that I’m impressed with how Sohoku has evolved with their new team, and I also appreciate the pacing for the story that was used for Yowamushi Pedal New Generation. While there’s still more story to be told, this series hit the narrative beats just right; it didn’t feel like the story was being stretched out, and it didn’t feel like the story was being rushed. The races were always exciting, and I found myself rooting for someone to win. Unfortunately, for the Inter-High, I chose the wrong person both times.

With the way Yowamushi Pedal New Generation ended, there’s obviously going to be more episodes to come at some point for the anime. I’ll wait with bated breath to hear when I will be able to see more of Yowamushi Pedal and follow what happens to Sakamichi and the others.

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