Wednesday, June 15, 2016

10 Second Anime - Yowamushi Pedal - The Movie

Team Sohoku's graduating seniors have one last chance at glory, but Onoda feels extra pressure because of a surprising development.


This was the third Yowamushi Pedal movie, but it was the first one with an all new story. The other two were the usual recap movies with a little bit of new animation thrown in, but they covered the first and second seasons respectively. If you marathoned those two movies and jumped into this one, continuity was just fine.

The plot is another race, this time only two stages, but it was the condensed version of the whole inter-high race with a new character added for drama and an established one being the focus of his relationships with his rival and the one he's mentoring. Makishima didn't get a lot of screen time during the first two seasons, which was understandable considering the character development Onoda and the incoming first-years had to go through, but that was corrected for this movie.

The source of drama for the movie is that Makishima is leaving school early to go to college (how smart is that guy, huh?) and this disappoints Toudou and Onoda greatly that they don't have one more chance to ride together as rivals and teammates. As Onoda is the narrative focus for the whole world of Yowamushi Pedal, he gets extra attention in dealing with his emotional adversity and lack of experience in competitive cycling.

Because Makishima makes it back for the last day of racing, we don't get to see Onoda deal with the added pressure of being the designated ace. We see in professional racing all the time how well domestiques can do when they aren't targeted by other teams, but then they crack under the pressure of being team leader. I suppose Onoda's growth from a sports psychology perspective will be left for the manga and later seasons of the anime.

Other than focusing on Makishima, Onoda and Toudou, the rest of the movie was pure fan service for Yowamushi Pedal fans. It was a treat to watch and brought back in the best character interactions from the two seasons of anime.

Fan Service for Fans.

The term "fan service" gets a bad rap these days for only being considered as the catch-all term for cheesecake shots of cute girls. But originally, the service was for the stuff that fans really liked about their favorite show or manga. Stuff like old jokes, seeing a character's family life or putting the cast into a funny situation that doesn't bear on the overall plot. This movie was all about fan service in the broadest of terms.

Onoda is still the otaku making trips to Akihabara, except he now packs shoes to clip into his Shimano pedals. He's also still happy in that sparkly way that his anime club, er, cycling club has already memorized the Love Hime Pettanko song.

He definitely came a long way from when he was trying to recruit for a real otaku club. Aya too, especially after she saw all those big banners congratulating the cycling team and him in particular.

Toudou still knows how to point dramatically. Also, his fan girls were out in force, but so were Shinkai's! Toudou said it wasn't a competition. Sure, we believe you, Toudou.

This cycling tourist and his girlfriend were on hand in the bullet train as all the other teams got on board and all the fun references to the last race were made. Especially funny was Nobu's schtick in trying to be the stand-in for the missing Midousuji.

Yup. Midousuji thought he was still gross.

Imaizumi and Naruko still took seriously their competitive rivalry over everything. Even Ping Pong.

The nods to the fun stuff extended to race moments we saw in the two seasons of the anime.

Okay, I admit it. I fist bumped the screen when Kinjou offered it up. We saw the sprinters do their power-ups, but it seemed to me more attention was paid to the seniors. Since many of them are graduating seniors, their club activities will be curtailed, so this is their last race. We'll have plenty of time to see more of Andy, Frank, Izumida's Abs and Naruko's wind cutting.

The seniors knew the race was a graduation ceremony of sorts too.

One of the jokes on the train was Machimiya from the Hiroshima team complaining to Arakita that he never bought him that "Bepsi" he promised him at the Inter-High Race.

How you like that fresh bottle of Bepsi now?

Love Hime Pettanko-chan!

The set piece of the race was when Sohoku was all together and Onoda was in charge of the pace to get back to the front of the race on the penultimate climb. Tadokoro knew what they needed.

Onoda knew what they needed.

That's right! The Love Hime theme song! The whole team sang it. The whole thing!

One of the last omake of the second season showed Tadokoro and even Kinjou singing a bit of the Love Hime song in the bath. Makishima was the odd man out as the punch line of the joke. Not this time.

The Kumamoto team knew they were in trouble, "The little climber is smiling!" Even the new face's fire country song couldn't match the spirit and pace of Sohoku.

The New Face.

No, it was not Kumamon the mascot of Kyushu.

It was Yoshimoto, the local climbing ace and captain of the cycling team. We had seen his team at the Inter-High race, when Machimiya was betraying the peloton and Arakita pulled Manami and Onoda away from them. Yoshimoto wasn't there because of injury, but he was all healed up and ready to take on the Inter-High champs.

Okay, but Kumamon was a big part of the movie...

Onoda's Inexperience.

One thing nice about this story is how Onoda is portrayed as the socially inept otaku that got dragged into competitive sports by accident. It's a big deal for him to be making friends, which he has now, and who share his interests, mainly the bike but he's dragging them into anime, but the world of aggressive sports is still very new to him.

Riding with friends was always his dream.

But what happens if one of your friends isn't there and then riding becomes more like a job instead of an outing?

Onoda put pressure on himself because of his winning title and because he didn't want to let down his other friends. He forgot that Sohoku is always about riding together, not doing it alone.

This contrasted nicely with Toudou's reaction to finding out that Makishima wasn't at the race on the first day. Izumida was worried about his spirit, but Fukutomi told him that it would take more than missing his rival to crack him. That's the difference in experience and confidence.

The Climbers.

While much of the movie was about giving fans another look at all the things they like about their favorite characters, the heart of the movie was Makishima's relationship with his rival Toudou and his junior teammate Onoda. Because of this dynamic, Manami was left out a little bit in his role as Onoda's new rival. They didn't interact much and it looked like Manami still hadn't gotten over his close loss to Onoda.

I noticed that neither Onoda nor Manami used their special power-ups. This made sense to me since they were riding for their mentors instead of against each other. So no special wings from Manami or glowing hurricane pedal cranking from Onoda.

Toudou did give us a demonstration of his Sleeping Beauty technique and Makishima is always the Peak Spider when he's climbing out of the saddle.

There was a nice look at Onoda's new BMC machine. Nice and yellow for the Sohoku champion.

This is the last thing competitors want to see. Peak Spider and the smiling Onoda. That means they're going fast!

Makishima was socially awkward too. He hadn't yet told Onoda that he was leaving school early and invited him for one last ride up their home mountain. Onoda initially refused, but he picked up on Makishima's emotional state. Nerds like Onoda aren't insensitive. They're too sensitive and they don't have practice expressing those emotional cues in socially acceptable ways. It's good enough that Makishima and Onoda can talk to each other with their legs.

Ha! At the top of this climb, Onoda did a spot-on impersonation of Naruko.

This movie really was one for the climbing fans. Unlike the sprinters or the all-rounders, they spend so much of their time alone in the hills. To have all these friends and rivals together really is something special.

Cycling Porn.

Oh you know I was going to bring back the Cycling Porn feature for this movie. We had all the usual altered brand names but two were added to the mix with BMC for Onoda's new all carbon frame and ZIPP for Naruko's deep dish carbon clinchers. I'm assuming Imaizumi chose the Shimano Di2 for electronic shifting. You can see his big ass battery pack under his bottle cages. I noticed the female cyclists wearing some kind of skirt over their shorts, which I assume is for modesty in socially conservative Japan. And yes, there is still the sparking gear changing.

Also not changed is how the chain from certain angles is totally missing a pulley wheel bending it properly as it enters the rear derailleur.

They even made it prettier from the last time the CGI guys used this animation, but it's still wrong and still gets a big Meh from me. They really need to fix Toudou's bike model, because it's the same "Redkey" with the top pulley wheel in the wrong position.

Incidentally, that was the episode where Toudou won the mountain sprint line, pulling ahead of Makishima and here we have Makishima tying it all up again. *sniff* Shedding man-tears over a lovely bromance is something I got used to watching in this anime title.

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