With this list, I’m taking a look at five of my favorite characters from Yowamushi Pedal. I should add that rather than being a top five list, this will be presented in alphabetical order by first name.
At first glance, this may seem like a strange choice, especially since Midousuji is essentially the closest thing to a “villain” that this series has. Right at first, he’s simply depicted as a disgusting and egocentric character, and the depiction is done in such a way that the audience can quickly dislike him. But, once his tragic backstory is revealed, the viewer suddenly understands why Midousuji acts the way he does, and starts becoming more of a sympathetic character.
Is he still a jerk, though? Yes, especially during the final episodes of Yowamushi Pedal: Glory Line. But, at the point the anime is at, Midousuji has become a character that the audience “loves to hate.” I’m looking forward to whenever another season of Yowamushi Pedal becomes available, because I’m genuinely curious to see how he will be depicted in the series going forward.
Of the characters we have met from Hakone Academy, Hayato is my favorite, with Manami running a close second. Right at first, Hayato comes across the guy who’s always chomping on the energy bars, has his “ka-pow” pose, and is as overly confident. But after Midousuji taunts him about an incident that had happened involving a rabbit and how it affected Hayato’s riding, the audience realizes that Hayato has a weakness and isn’t as perfect as he initially comes across as. At this point, he becomes much more likable to the audience.
But after this revelation, Hayato is depicted as being a little less cocky around competing teams, especially Sohoku. He also has a good friendship with Juichi Fukutomi, his team’s captain. In Yowamushi Pedal: Glory Line, we get to learn a little bit more about Hayato through flashbacks that his younger brother, Yuto, has. And through these flashbacks, we get to see what kind of an older brother he’s been to Yuto over the years.
It shouldn’t be terribly surprising that Onoda makes this list, since he’s basically the main protagonist of the series. He starts out as the kid who’s into anime and wants to join his high school’s anime club… only to discover that the club has closed due to lack of members. While he intends to re-start the anime club, he ends up getting drawn into the world of bicycle racing through some unexpected events. Thanks to a change his mother made to his bike years ago, and the fact that he overcame that adaptation to bike to and from Akihibara on a regular basis, it turns out he’s suited to be a racer, especially a climber.
Early on, the audience learns about how racing works as Onoda is learning, which is kind of neat. Also, I enjoy how Onoda remains so modest and humble throughout the series, even after (SPOILER ALERT!) winning the Inter-High at the end of Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road. Onoda starts out as such an endearing character, and the changes he’s gone through over the course of the four seasons haven’t made him any less endearing.
At the beginning of the series, Shingo is the captain of the Sohoku team, and Naruko refers to his as “Captain Shades” because of the sunglasses that Shingo is often seen wearing. The audience discovers very early on that Shingo is a caring coach, especially in the encouragement and advice he gives to Onoda. Shingo serves as the “rock” and the foundation for the team and tries to be there for his team every step of the way.
During the series, it’s revealed that through actions taken by Juichi Fukutomi during the previous year’s Inter-High, Shingo fell from being within striking distance of reaching the finish line to being near the end of the race. Shingo could have become bitter and angry over this, but he didn’t. He remained cool and calm, and this calmness is the strength that he brings to team as its captain. He was definitely the right captain at the right time for Sohoku during the first two seasons of Yowamushi Pedal.
Yuusuke is very recognizable from his green hair with red highlights. Right at first, he comes off as rather aloof, and potentially not terribly friendly. But as Onoda gets to know him, we learn that this first impression is nowhere near accurate. Yuusuke may not be the most talkative or social person around, but once he gets to know someone, he’s friendly. Yuusuke is also a climber, so he becomes a kind of mentor for Onoda. He’s likable in his own way.
Oh, yes, we can’t forget Yuusuke’s funky fashion sense, especially in the scene when Onoda, Imaizumi, Naruko, and Tadokoro go to Yuusuke’s house for an Inter-High team meeting. Yuusuke definitely brings his own uniqueness as a character to the series, and I think it’s this uniqueness that makes him endearing and has him rank among my favorite characters.