Anime DVD Review: Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road Complete Series

Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road Complete Collection includes all 24 episodes of the second season of the Yowamushi Pedal anime. The only audio option for this release is the original Japanese audio with English subtitles.

Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road Complete Collection
English Publisher: Discotek Media
Format: DVD
Release Date: January 31, 2017

In Yowamushi Pedal, a first-year student at Sohoku High named Sakamichi Onoda was an otaku looking to join an anime club. Unfortunately, the anime club had to shut down due to lack of members. Sakamichi rides a mamachari, which is a bulky bicycle with a step-through frame that’s mainly used for short rides. However, due to how often he uses his bike to go all the way to Akihabara and back, he’s turned into a rather skilled bike rider.

Through various circumstances, Sakamichi finds himself joining Sohoku’s bicycle racing club and acquiring an actual racing bike. With enough practice and determination, Sakamichi learns how to use the skills he’s developed riding his mamachari to become a formidable climber for Sohoku’s team. During the first season, Sakamichi was chosen to represent Sohoku at the Inter-High race, alongside Kinjou, Tadokoro, Makishima, Naruko, and Imaizumi.

But there are formidable rivals at the Inter-High, including Hakone Academy, Kyoto Fushimi High School, and Hiroshima Kureminami Technical High School.

The first season of the series ended during the middle of the second day of the Inter-High, and the first episode of Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road picked up right where the previous season had ended.

Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road finishes off the second day of the Inter-High, and then spends the remainder of the episodes chronicling the third day of the race. Over the course of the third day, several of the riders that the audience came to know drop out of the race or fall back for one reason or another, which ends up leaving the most unexpected person to try to get the win for Sohoku.

When I started watching Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road, I thought it continued perfectly from where the previous season had ended, which created a very smooth transition between the two seasons.

I was also impressed by just how much backstory and character development appeared during this season, especially for the characters that aren’t on Sohoku’s team. The strongest backstory ended up going to Midousuji, so there was a portion of the series where I thought I liked him a little better than I had previously. Unfortunately, he later returned to his old ways and I started to not like him again. But the way he ultimately had to leave the race left me feeling like a bit of a jerk for how much I had been cheering for him to fall out of the race.

The team from Hiroshima Kureminami Technical High School was introduced during this season. Unfortunately, they didn’t really add a whole lot in the end, and they didn’t get much in the way of any real character development. In a lot of respects, the inclusion of this team felt more like a distraction than anything else. They only played any real role for five whole episodes and a small part of a sixth. For a 24-episode series, that’s roughly a fourth of the season. I guess they did manage to help stretch out the third day of the Inter-High and helped to make it last long enough for the 24-episode run.

While having the third day of the race last for roughly 20 episodes sounds like a lot, the story was written in such a way that it never really felt like it was taking forever. Most episodes had a good combination of action and character interactions that helped to make the viewer forget just how many episodes this race has truly been going for.

Outside of the inclusion of Hiroshima Kureminami Technical High School’s team, I really enjoyed Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road. I also thought that the final episode was written in a way that provided a satisfactory conclusion to both the Inter-High race and to the series as a whole.

Unlike the box set for the first season of Yowamushi Pedal, Discotek Media included bonus features in this set. But it’s interesting to note that bonus features for both seasons of the series appeared on this set. All the extras appear on the fourth and final disc in the set. They include clean openings and closings for both Yowamushi Pedal and Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road (except for the second opening for the first season), clean sponsor clips for both, and the omake that appeared after the ending credits of both seasons. Don’t ask me why the second opening for the first season wasn’t included in the bonus features, because I have no idea.

The clean sponsor clips are the animation that appears on Japanese television after the opening credits to promote the sponsors of the show (except the text to promote the sponsors isn’t included). I was surprised to see these put into their own feature, rather than being included as part of episodes that appeared in the set. Since these didn’t appear in the simulcast version of the episodes, perhaps Discotek Media decided to keep the episodes the way they were seen during the simulcast. And by not including these in the episodes, it allowed them to have another bonus feature to use. But quite a few of these sponsor clips were quite weird, so I’m glad that they never appeared in the simulcast version of the episodes.

Many of the omake were just as funny as I remembered them from the simulcast. But if Discotek was trying to mimic what was seen in the simulcasts, how come these were separated out instead of being included as part of the episode? My only guess is that they wanted to be able to include them as part of the bonus features.

Even with some of the strange decisions made with the bonus features, this set is still worth adding to your anime home video library if you’re wanting to own the episodes for the first two seasons of Yowamushi Pedal.

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