I can’t really remember a biking anime. The closest I got was an ending arc for “Honey and Clover” when one of the students went on a biking journey of Japan. “Yowamushi Pedal” is more focused than that and with the same amount and caliber of fan service.
Let us meet Sakamichi Onoda (dead center; look at the size of his eyes!). To say he is an otaku is like saying the Pacific Ocean is a little wet. He has just entered Sohoku High School and plans to join the anime club. In middle school, Onoda did not have any friends with whom he could talk about otaku things and is hoping he can make such friends in the anime club, but he finds out it has been disbanded. In order to reestablish the club he tries to find 4 other people who would like to join. Yeah, good luck with that!
Now, this school, perched atop a hill, has two entrances. The main entrance is a gentle slope, but is much longer. The back entrance is shorter but is a killer grade. As he is biking the back way, he comes across Shunsuke Imaizumi (far right), a dead serious biker who recently lost out in a competition to a climber (a bicyclist really strong on hills) and is using the back way to practice and train. So, he is absolutely stunned when Onada, on his Mommy Bike (a girls’ bike for general use, as opposed to a racing bike), is keeping pace and doing well. Imaizumi is going to join the biking club, but can he if this tyro is doing just as well with half the effort.
People are stunned to learn that he goes to Akihabara almost every week (a distance of 60 km) on this bike. He falls under the gaze of Shōkichi Naruko (red on the left) who thinks he had found a real buddy in him, both with bikes and anime. The series relates their growing friendship and Onada’s maturation on the bike.
This is what I call a “Toyota” show. One aspect of their philosophy is that things are there ‘just in time’ when you need it. This show is like that.
When Onoda gets challenged to a direct race by Imaizumi on the hill climb, he struggles until, just in time, Miki Kanzaki, who supplies parts for the club, readjusts his seat so he can do better.
In Akihabara, Onada has to catch up with someone in a car. Alas, if he only had a second gear. But, at the bike shop, Kanzaki installed a new front gear, just in time, which gives him TWO gears and now he can shift and bike better.
He is at the whim of the wind. If only someone would be a kind of a wind block. Just in time, new friend Naruko is there and helps him to succeed.
A couple of times, I could accept, but this is almost every episode, so it seems more like a deus ex machine ploy.
It also had the problem that the third-years were sneering at him and offering no help. It is only when they see what he can do, if given the proper equipment, and that he could really shine as a bicyclist. So they change their tune and start to help the first-years. But no one REALLY sits down with him to tell him the ins and outs of competition biking.
It’s that the coaching portion is a bit skint. I am wondering if they are being put through the paces to see if they can hack it BEFORE we get into the real training with the real bikes and some real equipment. Don’t want to waste it on someone who is going to drop out or get bounced for lack of performance.
Another is the extended story. They have these mini-arcs that can consume four or five episodes to the point where we might as well be on an exer-cycle. You can pedal like a maniac, but you ain’t going anywhere, honey. I think they could have trimmed a bit here and there to make the show flow better.
Still, I did like this show, as the nerd can do it. Laughed at and put down, Onoda keeps his eyes on the prize. It’s just that, because of whom and what he is, he just does not get the full knowledge and help from the rest of the team. What, is there some kind of budget and you only get 10 minutes of my coaching time every practice session? Do you want him or not? If you take him, you REALLY train him.
And I reached a point where I am tracking the show, but not caring about it, as I discovered that practically everyone is a prick.
There is the veteran prick.
There is the narcissistic prick.
There are the second-year pricks.
There is the laid-back prick.
There is the determined prick.
There is the arrogant prick.
There are so many pricks in this show, I thought I was at the porcupine exhibit at the zoo. The show is just so laden with then, I surrendered. There might be something interesting there (we just got to the Inter-High, which is THE bicycle race), but I got worn out by the whole approach. It’s a bad sign that you can guess some of the problems before you are told of them, but you come up with proper solution long before they tumble to it. I will dog it to the end, but my enthusiasm has waned considerably.
Oh, and it also has a ‘warning’ at the end of it: “This story is a work of fiction and all people and groups are fictitious. Actions depicted in this series may be dangerous. When riding a bicycle, please practice safe riding skills.” Why, oh why?
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 9 (Marvelous backgrounds)
Plot 6 (Rather standard)
Pacing 7 (Does a good job)
Effectiveness 7 (Slow, but steady)
Conclusion ? (Another surrender job)
Fan Service 0 (A similar show would be “Honey and Clover”)
Overall 7 (A little less sneering)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. On to Akihabara!