Manga Review: Yowamushi Pedal Volume 12

Yowamushi Pedal sees an otaku named Onoda Sakamichi joining the bicycle racing club through some interesting incidents after he fails to get the anime club up and running again. He ends up being selected as one of the six riders to compete at the Inter-High for Sohoku High School’s bicycle racing club.

Yowamushi Pedal Volume 12
Written by: Wataru Watanabe
Publisher: Akita Publishing Co., Ltd.
English Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: September 3, 2019

Volume 12 continues the third and final day of the Inter-High race. It starts with the four remaining Sohoku team members working to catch up with Hakone Academy. The star of this section of the volume is Naruko, and he gets to show off something he’s been practicing. Even though he’s a sprinter, Tadokoro convinces him to practice climbing. Naruko develops his own style, and it helps to make him look flashy. And as readers of the Yowamushi Pedal manga know, Naruko loves to be flashy. It’s also kind of amusing to see how impressed Imaizumi is, since the two of them are basically rivals, even though they have very different positions on the team.

Even though Naruko accomplishes the goal of catching up to Hakone, it comes at a great price to him. He can’t keep going on and drops out of the race. This means that Sohoku is now down to four members still trying to head toward the finish line.

Imaizumi makes an important leap in his character when he declares to Fukutomi that he is the ace for Sohoku’s team. After how Imaizumi had seemed to lose confidence in himself in an earlier portion of the Inter-High, this marks a very important step for him. Imaizumi decides to jump ahead in order to force Fukutomi to race against him, and Makishima works at keeping Toudou from advancing in order to protect Fukutomi. When to comes to the race between the two aces, it’s interesting to see Fuktumi’s reactions to a first-year like Imaizumi going up against him.

But then a surprising development takes place: Ishigaki manages to get Midousuji caught up enough to have a shot at competing against both Hakone and Sohoku. Poor Ishigaki is the worse for wear and drops out of the race. But we get to see a flashback that Midousuji has of interactions between him and Ishigaki that took place before this point in the race. We get to see the kind of person Ishigaki is, as well as how he has reconciled the fact that he lost the ace position to Midousuji. Ishigaki has found a new pride as a domestique. Obviously, Midousuji thinks this sentiment is “gross” and can’t appreciate what Ishigaki’s words and gestures really mean.

Of course, Midousuji becomes the “wild card” in the race between Hakone and Sohoku. When he catches up to the main group, Manami is sent out to keep Midousuji at bay. It was amusing to see Midousuji declare that Manami isn’t “gross” because of Manami’s attitude during a race between the two of them. Makishima, meanwhile, sends Sakamichi to catch up to them, and Sakamichi becomes the “wild card” in the race between Manami and Midousuji. Talk about plot twists and turns!

When the volume ends, there’s still obviously more of the story to go. However, it’s also clear that the race is getting ever closer to its conclusion. I appreciate how the manga, like the anime series, builds up the tension, especially during the third day of the Inter-High race. The stakes are at their highest at this point, and as a reader, I can actually feel the tension as I’m reading the volume.

After the end of the main story, a side story that’s set before the Inter-High is included. It’s an amusing story featuring Makishima and Sakamichi, and I appreciated seeing how this side story helped to flesh out the relationship between these two characters more.

The art is this volume is solid, and I was impressed with how Watanabe showed how Naruko was trying his hardest to get his team to where they wanted to be. It was especially evident with Naruko’s eyes as his field of vision is narrowing. As a reader, I could believe that Naruko was reaching his limit. And, as usual, Watanabe also manages to show some interesting facial expressions for Midousuji.

Like Volume 11, this volume was also an exciting read from cover-to-cover. Outside of the occasional flashback, there were a lot of action panels that helped to convey the intensity and emotion going into the last day of the race.

Even though I’ve already seen the Yowamushi Pedal anime, I still found myself riveted to the story as I read the manga. I can’t wait to see how Volume 13 continues the story from where Volume 12 left off.

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