AsianCrush Is Streaming Yowamushi Pedal: The Movie

The Fandom Post is reporting that AsianCrush has added Yowamushi Pedal: The Movie to its service. As of this writing, the film is available with Japanese audio and English subtitles.

The story of Yowamushi Pedal: The Movie is described as:

After winning the heated Inter-High race, Sakamichi and the other Sohoku team members receive an invitation to compete in the Kumamoto Hi Province Mountain Range Race towards the end of summer. The top-tier teams from around the country compete in this race, including Sohoku’s rivals Hakone Academy (which yearns to take down Sohoku), Kyoto Fushimi, and Hiroshima Kureminami — as well as Kumamoto Daiichi High School’s team led by Shin Yoshimoto.

On the stage of Kumamoto Prefecture’s Mount Aso, the “final race” of Sohoku team, led by Kinjou, speeds up.

Source: The Fandom Post

Anime Soundtrack Review: Yowamushi Pedal O.S.T. 1

Yowamushi Pedal O.S.T 1 is a 32-track CD that contains background instrumental score from the Yowamushi Pedal anime series. The score was composed by Kan Sawada.

Yowamushi Pedal O.S.T. 1
Publisher: Toho Co., Ltd.
Release Date: September 17, 2014

The first track on the disc is “Sakamichi,” and it’s an instantly recognizable piece of music from the anime. The title “Sakamichi” is fitting, because this is definitely Sakamichi’s theme music. It’s an upbeat track, and it fits with Sakamichi’s personality. This is a piece that’s usually heard after Sakamichi has something good happen to him in a race. The next track is “Sohoku High School Bicycling Club,” and it’s a variation on “Sakamichi.” It has a similar sound but it is slower in tempo.

This is followed by “Morning Practice,” which is a piece that’s always heard in the background if the club members are doing something in the morning, such as practicing in the morning or getting going for the day. I love the emphasis on the piano in the track, but then other instruments are added as the piece progresses. Next is “Foundation,” which seems to be a variation on “Morning Practice.” This piece has a similar structure, except the arrangement is not as “airy” as “Morning Practice.”

The next track on the disc is “Love For Bicycles,” which has an emphasis on acoustic guitar and piano instead of the orchestral sound of the previous four tracks. After this is “Cycle Shop Kanzaki,” which is a very upbeat piece that focuses on brass instruments and piano. It’s a recognizable piece of music and is usually associated either with the bicycle shop or with Miki Kanzaki.

This is followed by “Akiba!,” which is the music you hear when Sakamichi goes to Akihabara, or when he’s thinking about going there. It’s another recognizable piece of the score, and to me, it almost feels as if it was inspired by Latin or salsa or something along those lines. The mixture of the electronics and strings is also nice here. Next is “Your Anime Club,” which almost sounds like a more downbeat and minimal version of “Akiba!”

“Resurrecting The Anime Club!” has a very electronic sound to it, and it’s not an instantly recognizable piece to me. My guess is that it only appeared in the early episodes of the series before Sakamichi joined Sohoku’s Bicycle Racing Club. It’s a nice piece, though. This is followed by “Battle Of The School Store,” which is a very upbeat piece that utilizes guitar, piano and percussion, along with some electronic instruments. I know I’ve heard this a few times in the series because I recognize it. I think it usually shows up with Naruko and Imaizumi are competing with each other.

The next track on this disc is “Car Sickness,” and it has a strong focus on electronic instruments. It almost makes me think of some of electronic music that came out in the West in the 1970’s. “Tadokoro’s Special Burger” is a more orchestral piece that builds in intensity. It’s not a piece I instantly recognize, but from the title, it appears to be a theme attached to Tadokoro.

This is followed by “Strange Feeling,” and it focuses on the electronic instruments but adds in strings as it goes along. I know it’s a piece I’ve heard because I recognize this. I’m pretty sure it shows up when something strange is happening. “High Cadence” is a very recognizable piece of music, and it shows up when Sakamichi picks up his cadence and wows people around him with how fast he’s going. It’s a piece that’s shown up a lot over the course of the series.

“Sakamichi’s Smile” is another variation on “Sakamichi.” It’s very similar, but it seems to just be a slight bit slower in tempo, It’s also about 30 seconds shorter. Next is “Curiosity,” which is a track that relies more on the electronic instruments, with some horns thrown in. This is another very recognizable piece of the score, and it usually shows up when one of the characters is curious about something that’s going on.

The next track on the disc is “Huge Stone Wall,” is a much more downbeat piece that builds in intensity. I have to admit that this isn’t one the score pieces that’s instantly recognizable to me. It’s a good piece, but I just can’t place it off the top of my head. “Legs Can’t Move” is a haunting piece, and from the title, it’s used when a rider is having problems while riding their bike (such as not being able to move their legs because they’re worn out).

This is followed by “Monologue,” which has a strong emphasis on flutes and woodwind instruments, which is a bit more unusual for this soundtrack. It’s another great piece of music, but I just can’t place where it comes from off the top of my head. “Close Game” has a strong emphasis on strings, piano, and electronics. This is a piece of music I instantly recognize, and it shows up when a race is getting close and a rider is thinking about what’s going on.

“Pulling Over” is a track that is more intense, and I recognize it from the races in the series. It’s a piece that shows up when a race is getting intense. Next is “Rising Feelings,” and this is one of those pieces that’s instantly recognizable to viewers of the series. It shows up during a race when it appears that things may be turning around in a race for one of the characters.

The next track on the disc is “Turnabout,” which is another instantly recognizable piece. It shows up as a situation turns around during a race, hence the title of the track. “Top Sprinter” has an interesting sound to it, and some of this sounds like a variation of “Turnabout.” It’s a little slower in tempo, but some of the instrumentation is a little more intense.

This is followed by “Game Of Tag,” which has a very electronic sound to it. The best way to describe this track is that it’s “thumpy.” This is another piece I recognize, between the fact that it’s used a bit in the series, plus it has a very unique sound when compared to many of the other score pieces that are used in the series. “A Heavy Body” sounds like a variation of “Close Game,” although it seems to have a little more in the way of instruments in its arrangement.

“Patience” starts out slow, but then suddenly becomes a very upbeat and guitar-oriented piece. This is another piece that I recognize from the soundtrack. I find it kind of amusing that this is labeled as “Patience,” because this is not what I would imagine a piece with this title sounding like. Next is “Two-Click Shift Up,” which is another very memorable piece of the score that’s heard on a regular basis in the races. I like the mixture of guitar, keyboards, and electronics on this one.

The next track on the disc is “Promise,” which is another piece I recognize instantly. It usually shows up when Sakamichi makes a promise to one of his team members. It’s more of a midtempo track and it kind of makes me think of a military march for some reason. “Bond” is a midtempo track, but it has an “airy” sound to its musical arrangement. It’s not a piece that’s instantly recognizable to me, though. But as I listen to it, it seems to incorporate a little bit of a variation of “Sakamichi” near the end of the track.

“View Of The Peak” is yet another variation of “Sakamichi,” although this one is much slower. It’s also a little shorter than “Sakamichi.” I guess it shouldn’t be too surprising how many variations there are on Sakamichi’s theme, since he is the protagonist, after all. The final track on the disc is “Heart Full Of Expectation,” which is a more midtempo piece that I kind of recognize from the series.

Overall, I really enjoyed Yowamushi Pedal O.S.T. 1. This disc contains quite a few of the recognizable score pieces from Yowamushi Pedal, which helps to make this a great listening experience because of how much I enjoy the anime. Even though a small handful of pieces weren’t recognizable to me, I still enjoyed them. Kan Sawada has done such a great job composing the score for Yowamushi Pedal, and the talent on display in these pieces is incredible.

I would highly recommend Yowamushi Pedal O.S.T. 1 to fans of the Yowamushi Pedal anime. Unfortunately, as of this writing, it seems like the only place you can find and get a brand new copy of this directly from a retailer is at CDJapan.

Additional posts about Yowamushi Pedal:

My Favorite Anime Opening Themes From the 2000’s to the Present

Recently, I posted a list of my favorite anime opening themes that came out between the 1970’s and 1990’s. This is a follow-up to that post, and it is a list of my five favorite anime opening themes that came out between 2000 and the present.

Instead of publishing this as a top 5 list, I will be sharing my favorites by organizing them in alphabetical order. I will be using the titles to alphabetize the list.

For whatever reason, WordPress is not allowing me to embed YouTube videos into my post. Instead, I have made the title of each song a link to a YouTube video.

V6 – “Change The World” (Inuyasha)

Fans of Inuyasha will recognize this as the first opening theme song for the series, which was released in 2000(!). It’s hard to believe that the Inuyasha anime premiered 20 years ago.

“Change The World” is a catchy song musically, and the vocalist for V6 delivers the lyrics so earnestly and so enthusiastically. This is a perfect blend to make this a memorable song and stand out as an exceptional opening theme for an anime series.

Joe Inoue – “Closer” (Naruto Shippuden)

This song was used as the fourth opening theme song for the Naruto Shippuden anime series. Of the theme songs for Naruto Shippuden, this one has always stood out to me. It’s catchy as heck, and I love the feel of this song musically. Whenever I hear it, I can easily see the visuals from the opening credits in my head.

When the final theme song soundtrack was released for Naruto Shippuden, there weren’t enough tracks to fill the disc, so they had fans vote for their favorite themes. Not surprisingly, Joe Inoue’s “Closer” was among the fan-chosen songs that appeared on that soundtrack. And according to Wikipedia, if it’s accurate, “Closer” was only the second single of Joe Inoue’s career. Wow!

Dean Fujioka – “History Maker” (Yuri!!! On Ice)

From the first note of this opening theme, you can hear there’s something special about it. It doesn’t sound like a typical anime opening theme song, which catches your attention immediately. Also, it’s one of those rare anime opening themes that’s sung entirely in English.

I love the upbeat and positive vibe of the song, as well as what the song is saying with its lyrics. And Dean Fujioka’s vocal performance just blows me away every time. You can hear his conviction as he sings the lyrics, and combining his vocal delivery with this musical arrangement sends chills down my spine.

Yuki – “Melody of the Slope” (Kids on the Slope)

This theme song was written by anime composer Yoko Kanno for Kids on the Slope, an anime about music. Even though the music featured in the series is jazz, this pop song includes jazz references in its lyrics, which helps to tie it in with the anime that the song was composed for.

I love the dynamics of this song, and how it goes from being soft to packing a punch and becoming catchy. The song does this at least a couple of times, and it sounds natural rather than jarring. Yoko Kanno composed another winner with this one.

ROOKIEZ is PUNK’D – “Reclimb” (Yowamushi Pedal)

When I went to watch the first episode of Yowamushi Pedal, I wasn’t entirely sure about what I was walking into. Yes, I read the description about it being about a high school bicycle racing club, but that was all I knew. I had never considered myself a fan of sports anime prior to this, so I didn’t think I’d enjoy the show. Well, the show grabbed me within its first couple of episodes, and I think this catchy opening theme song also helped.

It’s an upbeat song that you would expect to accompany a sports anime, and you can’t help but move along with it when you hear it. The vocalists on this song help to accentuate the exuberance of the music with their enthusiastic vocal delivery.

Unison Square Garden – “Tracing Orion” (Tiger & Bunny)

This opening theme is a fun and upbeat number, and not one you would initially expect for an anime about superheroes. However, as you watch the series and experience the tone of the writing, the sound of this opening theme makes a lot more sense.

I know I say this a lot, but this is a catchy song. But I think that being catchy is one of the ingredients to having a successful anime opening theme song. Sometimes originality helps, but I think that how catchy and memorable a song is helps to determine how classic and loved an anime opening theme song is in the long run.

Additional list:

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.

Additional post about Yowamushi Pedal:

TMS Animation Adds Yowamushi Pedal Streaming to Its YouTube Channel

The Fandom Post is reporting that TMS Animation has added the first three episodes of the Yowamushi Pedal anime to its YouTube channel. The videos have Japanese audio with subtitles.

Yowamushi Pedal is based on a manga by Wataru Watanabe. The series was directed by Osamu Nabeshima based on scripts by Reiko Yoshida. Character designs were done by Takahiko Yoshida, and the series was animated at TMS Entertainment.

The Japanese cast includes:

  • Daiki Yamashita is Sakamichi Onoda
  • Kousuke Toriumi is Shunsuke Imaizumi
  • Jun Fukushima is Shōkichi Naruko
  • Hiroki Yasumoto is Shingo Kinjō
  • Showtaro Morikubo is Yūsuke Makishima
  • Kentarou Itou is Jin Tadokoro
  • Daisuke Kishio is Junta Teshima
  • Yoshitsugu Matsuoka is Hajime Aoyagi
  • Junichi Suwabe is Toji Kanzaki
  • Ayaka Suwa is Miki Kanzaki
  • Megumi Han is Aya Tachibana
  • Tomoaki Maeno is Juichi Fukutomi
  • Tsubasa Yonaga is Sangaku Manami
  • Tetsuya Kakihara is Jinpachi Tōdō
  • Satoshi Hino is Hayato Shinkai
  • Hiroyuki Yoshino is Yasutomo Arakita
  • Atsushi Abe is Tōichirō Izumida
  • Koji Yusa is Akira Midōsuji
  • Hirofumi Nojima is Kōtarō Ishigaki
  • Tomokazu Seki is Eikichi Machimiya
  • Yukari Tamura is Kotori Himeno

The plot concept for Yowamushi Pedal is:

Sakamichi Onoda is a rather timid, anime-loving first-year student at Sohoku High School. Since the fourth grade, he had been riding his commuter bicycle 90-kilometers to and from Tokyo’s otaku hot spot, Akihabara after school. Upon entering high school, he tried to join the anime research club, after meeting Imaizumi Shunsuke, a renowned cyclist since middle school, and Naruko Shoukichi, who swept the Kansai cycling championship, he ended up joining the competitive cycling club. All kinds of trials and rigorous training awaited Onoda, but with the support of his many friends and upperclassmen, the talented road racer inside him began to awaken!

Source: The Fandom Post

Anime Film Review: Yowamushi Pedal: Spare Bike

Yowamushi Pedal: Spare Bike is a film released for the Yowamushi Pedal franchise in Japan that’s based off of chapters in the Yowamushi Pedal: Spare Bike manga spin-off.

Yowamushi Pedal: Spare Bike
Directed by: Osamu Nabeshima
Written by: Ayumu Hisao and Mitsutaka Hirota
Starring: Showtaro Morikubo, Tetsuya Kakihara, Atsushi Abe, Ayaka Suwa, Daiki Yamashita, Daisuke Sakaguchi, Hiroki Yasumoto, Hiroyuki Yoshino, Jun Fukushima, Junichi Suwabe, Kentaro Ito, Kousuke Toriumi, Mariya Ise, Satoshi Hino, Tomoaki Maeno, and Tsubasa Yonaga
Release Date: September 9, 2016
Run Time: 60 minutes

Since this film has not been licensed or released in the North American market, I had to resort to, let’s just say some… “not so legal” means in order to watch this film.

The film is split into two stories, with interstitial pieces featuring Arakita to break up the two parts. Arakita’s interstitials were quite amusing. The two characters focused on in this film are Sohoku’s Yusuke Makishima and Hakone Academy’s Jinpachi Toudou. One of the stories in the film focuses on Makishima, while the other one focuses on Toudou.

Makishima’s story shows how he joined Sohoku’s racing club as a first-year student. He receives scorn from his senpai for his strange style of “dancing.” Toudou’s story shows how he first got into road racing in his second year of middle school. A friend challenged him to a race, but Toudou initially refused because he wanted to avoid helmet hair. The main thing I remember from Toudou’s story is it reveals how he starts wearing his signature headbands.

While we have seen younger versions of some of the characters through flashbacks in the main anime series, I really liked getting to see the third-years for both Sohoku as their first-year versions for an entire story. They just look so different and so little compared to how viewers are familiar with them from the anime series. Getting to see a younger Toudou was a treat as well.

This film provided some nice backstory, but it just wouldn’t have fit in with the flow of the main anime series. I’m glad that TMS/8PAN was given the opportunity to tell these two stories from the spin-off manga to fans of the anime franchise. I know that there have been additional chapters put out for Yowamushi Pedal: Spare Bike that features other characters from the series, and I wish that these chapters could get an anime film or a special. Of course, though, we still need to get more of the main anime series first. The last season that aired quit in the middle of the second Inter-High race, so it would be nice to get to see how the rest of the race goes.

While I would love to see Discotek Media acquire the license to release Yowamushi Pedal: Spare Bike, that feels like a pipe dream at this point. Considering the company still hasn’t licenses the third or fourth seasons of the Yowamushi Pedal anime at the time of this writing, and it’s been two years since the fourth season finished its run, I don’t think the company would be in any hurry to license this film.

Additional posts about Yowamushi Pedal:

Anime Blu-ray Review: Yowamushi Pedal Re:RIDE and Yowamushi Pedal Re:ROAD

Yowamushi Pedal Re:RIDE and Yowamushi Pedal Re:ROAD is a single disc Blu-ray release that includes both of the compilation films for the first two seasons of the anime series. The only audio option is Japanese audio with English subtitles.

Yowamushi Pedal Re:RIDE and Yowamushi Pedal Re:ROAD
English Publisher: Discotek Media
Format: Blu-ray
Release Date: July 30, 2019

Both compilation movies distill their respective season down to around an hour and a half, but there is some new footage included to serve as “bookends.”

Yowamushi Pedal Re:RIDE opens with Sakamichi narrating how he ended up joining Sohoku’s bicycle racing club and became part of the group that went to the Inter-High race. After the opening credits, we get to see the first of the new footage that was made specifically for the film. The premise is that Hakone team member Toudou comes from a family that owns a hot springs inn, and he invited Makishima and Sakamichi to come visit after the Inter-High race is over. During their time at the inn, both Sakamichi and Makishima have memories of the events that happened during the first two days of the Inter-High race. Most of the new footage animated for the film was rather enjoyable and worked well as “bridge pieces” between the memories.

Overall, I thought the scriptwriter did a good job condensing down the episodes of the Inter-High down to this film length. To achieve this, it was decided to simply focus on the important events that happened to the members of the Sohoku team. In the anime series, there was the occasional episode where the focus was primarily on non-Sohoku racers, so the events from those episodes weren’t included. And this made sense since it’s Makishima and Sakamichi having the memories of the race. They certainly can’t remember events that happened when they weren’t around! Overall, this condensing down was executed smoothly except at one point where Sakamichi had fallen to last place because he had been involved in a big bike crash. The movie jumped from Naruko realizing that Sakamichi wasn’t with the rest of the team to Sakamichi lying on the ground right after the accident. That felt jumpy, but maybe that was just me.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the omake that appeared after the ending credits of the movie. Since this was always done at the end of the episodes in the anime series, I thought this was a nice touch for the movie.

When it comes to Yowamushi Pedal Re:ROAD, the new “bridge footage” was amusing and it kind of fit into the storytelling of the film, I felt that this new footage wasn’t quite as strong as the new footage in Yowamushi Pedal Re:RIDE. The new footage focuses on Hakone Academy’s third years surprising Juichi with a trip to an amusement park to thank him for being their team captain. The only important thing about the new footage in this movie is the fact that it directly ties in with the omake that appeared at the end of the film.

Like with the first film, Yowamushi Pedal Re:ROAD did a good job of condensing down the episodes of the second season to around 90 minutes. The action just kept moving and made the film interesting to watch, and it became frustrating at times when the new footage would show up and break up the flow. With this film, I can say that I never really felt like the condensing down made any point of the film feel jumpy.

The video on this Blu-ray release has 1.77.1 16:9 anamorphic widescreen / 1080p High Definition. The audio is Japanese LPCM 2.0. I had no real complaints about either the video or the audio quality of this release.

When it comes to bonus features, all that’s included on this release are textless versions of the openings and closings for both films.

This release will appeal to fans of Yowamushi Pedal who want to have everything released for the franchise in their anime home video library. For fans who want to introduce new people to the franchise, these compilation films would be a great way to condense the first two seasons of the series down to around three hours.

Additional posts about Yowamushi Pedal:

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 Fuktumo’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 a 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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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 this feature, 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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Anime DVD Review: Yowamushi Pedal Complete First Series

Yowamushi Pedal Complete First Series includes all 38 episodes of the first season of the series. The only audio option for this release is the original Japanese audio with English subtitles.

Yowamushi Pedal Complete First Series
English Publisher: Discotek Media
Format: DVD
Release Date: January 26, 2016

The main character of Yowamushi Pedal is Sakamichi Onoda, a first-year student at Sohoku High School. He is an otaku and is looking forward to joining the anime club because in middle school, he had no one to talk with about his anime interests.

Sakamichi rides a mamachari, which is a bulky bicycle with a step-through frame that’s mainly used for short rides. He rides his bike to his first day of high school, and he decides to take the rear entrance because he believes fewer people will be using it. He turns on his portable music player and begins singing; unfortunately, he’s accidentally run off the road by a car. Sakamichi isn’t hurt, and the driver of the car hands him a card and says to call if he finds he needs anything. The driver is driving a male student named Shunsuke Imaizumi to school. Shunsuke notices the skill Sakamichi has riding his bike; however, the male student laments that he’s riding a “mommy” bike and not a 10-gear road racer.

When Sakamichi goes to the anime club room, he finds a sign on the door that reads, “Due to lack of members, the anime and manga club’s activities have been suspended. If you would like to reopen the club, please gather at least five members and contact the adviser.” Sakamichi becomes very upset at this turn of events and begins throwing a bit of a tantrum in front of the door. Two girls approach and notice the anime club room. When Sakamichi sees them, he rushes over and asks if they’re joining the anime club. They say no; Aya is joining the tennis club, while Miki is joining the bicycle racing club. After Sakamichi realizes they’re not joining the anime club, he excuses himself and says he’s going to be riding to Akihabara on his bike.

Shunsuke goes to practice riding on his road racer, he finds Sakamichi next to him. They’re at the top of the rear gate slope, which is a super slope with an incline of over 20%. Shunsuke keeps trying to convince Sakamichi not to go this way, but he won’t listen. They both go down the hill, and Sakamichi ends up biting it and falling to the ground. When Shunsuke goes to check on him, Sakamichi says that if he rides his bike, he can go to Akihabara for free; by saving money, he can buy five extra capsule toys. Shunsuke just leaves Sakamichi there to head on his way. Later, when Shunsuke resumes his training, he sees a rider up ahead and assumes it’s a second or third-year from the bicycle racing club, so he’s surprised to find it’s Sakamichi. Sakamichi, who has been singing along with his music, is embarrassed when he finds Shunsuke next to him.

Later, Shunsuke challenges Sakamichi to a bicycle race on the rear gate slope. During the race, Sakamichi gets help from Miki on adjusting the height of his seat. Sakamichi finds he can pedal faster now. Shunsuke also discovers that Sakamichi uses cadence when he’s pedaling. Shunsuke ultimately wins the race; however, he asks Sakamichi to join the bicycle racing club.

Sakamichi finally decides to join the club after meeting Shoukichi Naruko in Akihabara and they become friends after they get involved in an adventure on their bikes. The other members of Sohoku’s team include Shingo Kinjou (the captain), Jin Tadokoro, Yusuke Makishima, Junta Teshima, and Hajime Aoyagi. Another first-year, Terufumi Sugimoto, also joins the club.

The series sees the Sohoku team going to a training camp. It’s here that Kinjou ultimately decides who will be going to represent the team at the Inter-High race. The majority of the second half of the series focuses on the Inter-High race, which spans the course of three days. At the end of the series, the racers are close to the finish line for the second day of the race.

There are two other teams that are major players in the series and in the Inter-High: the previous year’s champion Hakone Academy and Kyoto Fushimi. The third-years at Sohoku know some of the racers at Hakone, and Shunsuke has a grudge against Akira Midousuji, a member of the Kyoto Fushimi team.

Even though I wasn’t a fan of cycling when I began watching this anime, I found myself getting hooked on Yowamushi Pedal the more I watched of it. I especially found myself being riveted to the action that takes place during the racing scenes.

I also liked how the characters developed over the course of the series. The focus of the first half was on developing the members of the Sohoku team, with occasional development on members of the other two teams. However, the development for the other two teams tended to take place during the Inter-High race.

The pacing for Yowamushi Pedal is typical for a shonen sports anime. While I felt that some of the early races were stretched out, I got used to the pacing and it didn’t bother me nearly as much with subsequent races. Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed when I saw that the final episode of the season ended before the winner of the second day of the Inter-High was determined. When I realized that the episode was ending at that point, I said out loud to my computer screen, “Oh, you did NOT just do that!”  Fortunately, there is a second season, Yowamushi Pedal Grande Road, which depicts the remainder of the second day and all of the third day of the Inter-High race.

While Yowamushi Pedal is a sports anime, it’s a compelling story with well-developed characters that have a lot of heart.

Unfortunately, when Discotek Media released the series on DVD, they didn’t include any bonus features. All you get are the 38 episodes spread out over six discs. The set is still worth getting for the episodes, but there is a more recent release of this box set on Blu-ray. If I had known that there would be a Blu-ray release coming, I would have held off on buying the DVD. Oh well. At least I have the episodes in my anime home video library, and that’s what’s important in the end.

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