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.

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.

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.

Manga Review: Yowamushi Pedal Volume 11

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 11
Written by: Wataru Watanabe
Publisher: Akita Publishing Co., Ltd.
English Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: April 30, 2019

Volume 11 is set during the third and final day of the Inter-High race. Arakita and Manami, two riders from Hakone Academy, have made a temporary alliance with Sakamichi in order to escape the peloton that they’re trapped in. But Machimiya, a rider from the Hiroshima team, isn’t going to make it easy for them. He’s challenged them to a race, and whoever can get 20 meters lead will be considered the leader.

It’s up to Arakita to face off against Machimiya, and during the race, we get to see some backstory for Arakita and how he, a high school delinquent, ended up joining Hakone Academy’s bicycle racing club. I thought this was some great backstory, and it helps the reader to better understand this character and why he acts the way he does.

In the end, the winner of this challenge is on the predictable side. However, the reader basically figures out that Arakita and his makeshift team would have to win in order to catch back up with their respective teams. But once they do, their temporary alliance is over. The rest of this volume primarily focuses on Hakone Academy and Sohoku High School going head to head, but we get one scene of Midousuji and Ishigaki from Kyoto Fushimi right after Arakita’s makeshift team beats Hiroshima in the challenge.

But there are some emotional sections in this battle between the two teams, because we start seeing team members having to fall away and be left behind. And something happens to Kinjou, Sohoku’s captain, right near the end of the volume, that changes the course of this final battle between Hakone and Sohoku.

Volume 11 was on overall exciting read from cover-to-cover. While there were some moments that weren’t as action-packed, such as Arakita’s backstory and some sections where the teams talk about strategy or ponder over what the other team’s strategy is, but a lot of what’s included are action panels that progress the Inter-High race.

Even though I already know how the story is going to progress from watching the anime adaptation, I’m still looking forward to seeing how these events were depicted in the original manga. For me, Volume 12 can’t come out fast enough.

Discotek Media Licenses New Cutey Honey and the Yowamushi Pedal Compilation Films

Discotek Media has announced that it has licensed the New Cutey Honey original video anime (OVA) series, as well as the Yowamushi Pedal Re:RIDE and Yowamushi Pedal Re: ROAD anime films. The company will release these titles on Blu-ray disc on July 30, 2019. New Cutey Honey will have English subtitles and an English dub, while the Yowamushi Pedal compilation films will have English subtitles.

The company also revealed that its Blu-ray Disc release of the Lupin the 3rd: Blood Seal of the Eternal Mermaid anime special is scheduled for July 30, 2019.

Source: ANN

List: My Favorite Anime Redheads

This time, my list will be focusing on my five favorite red-haired anime characters. Like usual, instead of being a Top 5 list, I am sharing my choices in alphabetical order by first name.

Asuka Langley Soryu

She’s one of the leading ladies of Neon Genesis Evangelion, and she has a strong personality. When she’s first introduced, she’s a little annoying. But as she starts having to work with Shinji (especially the training for the two of them to be able to work together in sync), the audience starts seeing that there’s more to this character. When her backstory is revealed, it’s heartbreaking, and it makes the viewer more understanding of why Asuka acts the way she does.

Mikoto Mikoshiba

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun boasts quite a cast of characters, and Mikoshiba stands out among the crowd. Not only does he have his bright red hair, but his personality is also over the top and hilarious. He acts like he’s so confident when it comes to girls, but when they pay attention to him, he’s completely shy. All the time he’s spent playing dating sims hasn’t helped him at all in the real world. But he’s helpful to Nozaki in the creation of his manga, especially since, unbeknownst to Mikoshiba, he is the inspiration for the heroin of Nozaki’s story.

Renji Abarai

Renji is one of the Soul Reapers from Soul Society, and he’s a loyal friend to Rukia. When we first meet him, he comes across as a tough guy who wouldn’t want to be regarded as an ally with Ichigo and his friends. But after Rukia is saved from Soul Society, the audience starts seeing that Renji has a softer side to him. Unfortunately, as the anime continued and became riddled with more and more “filler” stories and episodes, he started coming across as more of a comic relief character. But in the episodes that come from the original manga source material, the audience sees that Renji has an awesome Bankai and that he’s a respectable fighter in his own right.

Shirayuki

Shirayuki is an herbalist in a small medieval village. In the world that this story is set, having red hair is a very unusual thing. Prince Raj decides he wants her as his concubine because of her hair, but Shirayuki is rightfully offended by this. She runs away into a bordering kingdom, where she becomes friends with Zen, a prince in the kingdom. What I love about Shirayuki’s character is that she’s sweet, helpful, beautiful, and has agency. She isn’t going to be the damsel in distress who always needs to be saved. While she may not always be able to take care of herself, she’s not constantly relying on others to take care of her.

Shoukichi Naruko

Naruko may be the loud-mouthed member of Sohoku High School’s bicycle racing club, but he’s a very funny and amusing character. The interactions between him and Imaizumi are always fun to watch because of how much they try to compete against each other. And the interactions between Naruko and Tadokoro are also enjoyable. But Naruko also has a serious side to him, which he’s most likely to show to Sakamichi. As Yowamushi Pedal has progressed, we start seeing some evolution of Naruko’s character, but he still retains the amusing charm that he was introduced with.

Anime Soundtrack Review: Yowamushi Pedal Theme Song Album

Yowamushi Pedal Theme Song Album includes the opening and ending theme songs for the first two seasons of the Yowamushi Pedal anime series, as well as the themes for the movies.

Yowamushi Pedal Theme Song Album
Publisher: Toho
Release Date: October 14, 2015

The disc opens with ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D’s “Reclimb,” which was the first opening theme song for the Yowamushi Pedal anime. This theme appeared in the first 12 episodes of the series. For fans of the series, this is an iconic opening theme song, especially since it was the first one. It’s a really catchy song, and those “woah oh”s stick in your head long after the song has ended. I liked getting to hear the full version of this song. The TV show edit is great, but the full version expands on this without feeling repetitive. The extended intro was an especially nice touch.

Next is “Call Up a Wind” by UNDER GRAPH, which was the first ending theme, and it appeared in the first twelve episodes of the series. This is also a memorable ending theme, since it was the first one used for the series. While it may not be as upbeat as “Reclimb,” it’s still catchy in its own way.

This is followed by “Weak Flame” by DIRTY OLD MEN (who are now known as MAGIC OF LiFE). This was the second opening theme for the series, appearing in episodes 13 through 25. At the time the series aired, I thought no opening theme song could be better than “Reclimb”… but I was wrong. This song increases the catchiness factor quite a bit. Not only that, some of the visuals for this song are very memorable, which only adds to a viewer’s ability to recognize this song when they hear it.

Next is “I’m Ready” by AUTRIBE featuring DIRTY OLD MEN, and it was the second ending theme song for Yowamushi Pedal. This theme appeared in episodes 13 through 25. While this song may not be as instantly catchy or recognizable right at first, it becomes memorable by the time it hits the chorus. This doesn’t make “I’m Ready” a bad song by any stretch, because I do enjoy it. It’s just that the full version takes a little while to get going compared to the TV edit.

“Be As One” by Team Sohoku is the next opening theme song, and it is performed by the main voice actors for Sohoku’s team. This theme appears in episodes 26 through 38. It’s cool to get to hear the voice actors sing, and they’ve got great voices that work well together. Not only that, but their song is catchy as hell.

This is followed by “Glory Road” by Team Hakone Academy, which is performed by the main voice actors for Hakone Academy’s team. This ending theme appears in episodes 26 through 38. Like with “Be As One,” I enjoyed getting to hear these voice actors singing together. They also work together well as a unit, and I especially love the chorus of this one. The whole song is great, but the chorus really sticks out. It probably helps that some of the words in the chorus are in English.

Next is “Determination” by LASTGASP, which was used as the opening theme song for the first 12 episodes of the second season. This is another one that is instantly recognizable to Yowamushi Pedal fans. I love just how upbeat and catchy this song is, and it works so well as a theme song for a sports anime.

“Days” by LASTGASP was used as the theme song for the Yowamushi Pedal Re:RIDE compilation film. Since I’ve only seen this film once, this song isn’t as recognizable to me as most of the other songs on the disc. It’s a good song, though, and I can hear why LASTGASP was asked to perform several theme songs for the series.

This is followed by “Realize” by ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D, which was used as the first ending theme song for the second season of Yowamushi Pedal. The song appeared in the first 12 episodes of the season. While this may not be quite as catchy as “Reclimb,” it’s still a strong ending theme for the series. ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D’s songs are all quite impressive and work well for this type of anime.

Next is “Remind” by ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D, and it was used as the second opening theme for the second season of the series. The song appeared in episodes 13 through 24. It’s another instantly recognizable song for fans of the series, and it’s so upbeat and catchy.

“One Second to Glory” by MAGIC OF LiFE was used as the second ending theme song for the second season of Yowamushi Pedal. The song appeared in episodes 12-24. This is one of those songs that may not be catchy right when it starts, but once the chorus hits, the catchiness factor increases. It works well as an ending theme song for a sports anime.

Next is “Believer” by LASTGASP, which was used as the theme song for the Yowamushi Pedal Re:ROAD compilation film. I’ve only seen this film once, so this song just isn’t that recognizable to me when compared to most of the other tracks on the disc. But it has the sonic sound that fans have come to associate with Yowamushi Pedal theme songs, and it’s a pretty good song. LASTGASP’s music for the series is rather solid.

The last track on the disc is “Link” by LASTGASP, which was used as the theme song for Yowamushi Pedal: The Movie. To be honest, I think this song is a little stronger than “Believer.” With this song, since I’ve seen this movie a couple of times now, I can remember some of the images from the ending credits that go with it. This is quite a catchy song on its own, but the memorable images help to make this song memorable.

When it comes to the Yowamushi Pedal theme songs that are included on this disc, I can truly say that there are no bad themes for this series. While some songs may be a little stronger than others, I can still say that I enjoy listening to all of them. Whoever is in charge of choosing the theme songs for this series knows how to pick them.

If you’re a fan of the Yowamushi Pedal anime and enjoy the theme songs, I would recommend picking this CD up and adding it to your music collection.