Yowamushi Pedal: Glory Line: Episode 1 – “The Final Phase”

After having to wait 20 minutes for subtitles, I could finally watch the episode and understand what was going on! But I’m happy that the bicycle boys are back. 🙂

The first few minutes of the episode, before the opening credits, was a recap of what happened at the end of the last episode of Yowamushi Pedal New Generation. I appreciated getting this recap, since it’s been six months since I saw the final episode of the previous series. I felt like I was able to jump right back into the story without missing a beat.

Early on in the episode, we see the van carrying Sohoku’s support group stuck in a traffic jam. They need to get to the bottom of the hill in order to be at the feed zone when the team gets there. Being stuck in the traffic jam, there’s no way for them to get there on time… until Koga points out the spare bikes in the van. Koga, along with Sugimoto, grab the supplies and spare bikes and start riding quickly down the hill. Unfortunately, we don’t see them again for the remainder of the episode, so we don’t know if they’ve reached the feed zone or not. Hopefully this burning question will be answered in Episode 2.

Much of the episode focuses on the aces racing to the first day’s finish line, specifically the aces from Hakone Academy and Sohoku High. Kuroda is pulling Ashikiba, while Naruko is pulling Imaizumi. Kuroda has become a more central character in this era of Yowamushi Pedal, and there are a couple of flashbacks to help flesh him out a little as a character. One shows his relationship with Izumida, while the other shows how his attitude toward Manami has changed. While neither flashback was terribly long, they were long enough to help the audience start to better understand who Kuroda is as a character. Oh, yes. We also learn through flashbacks and spectators talking that Kuroda has unusually flexible legs for a bicyclist. So here’s another character with an usual physical quirk that helps with their riding!

Naruko gets to shine a bit in this episode, especially since in the beginning of the Inter-High in the previous season, Naruko had to conserve his strength in order to be fully effective for this moment, so it was really amusing to see how happy and fired up he was when he could finally cut loose. We also get plenty of the banter between Naruko and Imaizumi that viewers have come to expect, but it’s still amusing every time. This dynamic between these two characters hasn’t gotten old yet.

There was a funny bit in the episode, when Kuroda informs Naruko and Imaizumi that his nickname is “Black Cat.” Naruko quips: “You’re a delivery service?” I busted up laughing when I read that line in the subtitles, because I knew that this had to be a reference to the Kiki’s Delivery Service anime film, specifically to Kiki’s black cat, Jiji.

The ending theme is performed by The High Cadence, and the animation depicts the main Sohoku riders as a rock band. I was surprised my this motif at first, until I did some research and discovered that The High Cadence is a group made up of the main voice actors from Yowamushi Pedal: Glory Line. With that piece of information, the motif made a lot more sense.

Each episode of every season of Yowamushi Pedal ends with an “omake” (which means “extra” in Japanese). The omake for Yowamushi Pedal are always on the humorous side, and this one featured some of the members of Hakone Academy’s bicycle club cleaning their club room. The main humor is focused on the character of Manami and his tendency to always be late. It was a decent omake, although not quite as funny as some of the ones I’ve seen in the previous seasons.

Overall, I’m very happy with how Yowamushi Pedal: Glory Line has started, and I can’t wait to see how the Inter-High race will continue over the course of the series.

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