Manga Review: Yowamushi Pedal Volume 14

Yowamushi Pedal Volume 14 focuses on Onoda Sakamichi, and on his final competition to reach the finish line at the Inter-High Race.

Yowamushi Pedal Volume 14
Written by: Wataru Watanabe
Publisher: Akita Publishing Co., Ltd.
English Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: April 28, 2020

Volume 14 begins with Sakamichi and Manami racing to determine who will ultimately cross the finish line on the final day of the Inter-High Race. In fact, almost half of this volume covers the final stretch of the race, the aftermath, and the awards ceremony afterward. The final competition between Sakamichi and Manami takes place during the first six chapters of the volume. This sounds like a lot, but it doesn’t feel terribly drawn out. We get a flashback early on of Manami and his class rep when they were younger, and we get to see how Manami got so interested in bicycle racing. I think it’s a little ironic and kind of amusing that it’s thanks to the class rep that he’s become the racer that he is now.

We also get a great scene here when Sakamichi’s mother realizes that it’s her son, and not someone with the same name, in the race. At first she’s surprised, but we see in her thoughts that she’s proud and supportive of what he’s doing. It’s kind of funny when she calls out to Sakamichi to cheer him on, and he instinctively replies to her, even though he doesn’t know that she’s there.

But when we get the panels where Sakamichi and Onoda are racing to the finish line, I appreciate the pacing and relative lack of dialogue. I thought that Watanabe perfectly builds up the tension during this final stretch. And when the winner is decided, Watanabe finds the perfect pacing to let that tension go and for the relief to set in. I liked how this was handled in the anime, and I’m impressed to see how well this was conveyed in the original manga source material.

We then see a transition for both Sohoku and Hakone Academy’s teams. For Sohoku, they learn that Makishima is leaving early in order to start college outside of Japan. This sudden departure shakes Sakamichi, and we see how this affects him mentally. Although he’s gotten a new bike from the Kanzakis that is lighter and should enhance Sakamichi’s abilities, the emotional baggage of Makishima’s leaving seems to be bogging him down. This is something that is addressed after Junta Teshima becomes the new captain of Sohoku’s team.

Meanwhile, Hakone Academy names a new captain, which is Touichirou Izumida (if you don’t recognize the name, he’s the one with the pectoral muscles that he’s named Andy and Frank). Helping him out will be Yukinari Kuroda and Ashikiba Takuto. It turns out that Ashikiba and Teshima were part of the same bicycle racing club in middle school. Now that Teshima is the new captain for Sohoku, Watanabe wasted no time in doing something to start providing some character development for him. I think this is a good thing, since prior to this, Teshima was more of a background character.

Hakone Academy decides to use this connection between Ashikiba and Teshima in order to get Ashikiba to compete in an upcoming race that Hakone Academy normally doesn’t participate in. Ashikiba’s job is to race against Sakamichi and win. But as we see in this volume, Ashikiba isn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed. He’s tall and has an interesting way that he rides his bike, but he doesn’t appear to be terribly bright. The reunion between Teshima and Ashikiba is awkward, as one would expect. This volume ends before this race concludes, so the reader is left on a little bit of a cliffhanger.

While I’ve seen the third season of the Yowamushi Pedal anime, I’m still excited to see how this originally was depicted in the manga. The transition from the original team to the team that’s now being led by Teshima was very smooth. I really can’t say too much more without potentially providing spoilers, though.

Even though I’m already familiar with the content in this volume from watching the Yowamushi Pedal anime, I still enjoy seeing it in its original manga source material. It’s been a while since I last saw the third season of Yowamushi Pedal, so reading the second half of this volume was a nice refresher for me. If you read the Yowamushi Pedal manga and enjoy it, then this volume is a “must read,” especially since it has both the end of the Inter-High Race and the transition to the new teams for both Sohoku and Hakone Academy included in it.

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