Yowapeda: Grande RoadPost Reply
Last time the Crunchyroll Newsletter team got together, there was a lengthy discussion on the many joys of sports anime! One of CR's most popular sports titles returns to the race with Yowapeda: Grande Road! Slip into your cycling shoes, make sure your tires are pumped, and let's get started with the Newsletter team's thoughts on this epic cycling anime!
Until last year, there had always been a huge gap for cycling anime within the sports genre — surprisingly few ever existed — but unexpected hit Yowapeda has not only made that gap its home, it has made a name for itself among sports anime. Now back for a second season under an extended name, Yowapeda: Grande Road is just as eccentric and entertaining as before. The characters all have their own memorable quirks ranging from singing anime songs during races to having conversations with their pectoral muscles, and these unique traits fabricate both an emotional attachment to the characters and a desire to see them win. Further enhancing this is the extensive character development that makes even the most disgusting antagonists more human to the point that it is difficult to choose whether to support the main team or any of the equally fun rival teams. This makes the races much more intense because they're no longer just about sports; they're battles of spirit between characters we've grown to love.
Sometimes Yowapeda: Grande Road seems to draw its pacing from Dragon Ball Z in that a whole episode sometimes only spans a few minutes within the series, but the eccentric characters breathe a refreshing quality into the races that prevents the story from feeling slow. This eccentricity sometimes results in absurd character abilities - pectoral muscles cannot actually react to the presence of strong competitors - but Yowapeda: Grande Road is not meant to imitate real life; its aim is to create a fun cycling series that makes creative use of its medium. In combination with its unique characters that make for suspense-filled races, Yowapeda: Grande Road is an excellent continuation of its first season and has the ability to make cycling one of the most ridiculous, yet intense sports within the sports anime genre.
One way to evaluate a piece of sports fiction is to look at how well it appeals to people who aren’t normally interested in the sport it depicts. Most shows that can reach beyond their built-in niche audience tend to be worth watching. As someone who has little to no interest in bicycle racing, I’m happy to say that Yowamushi Pedal is a solid, entertaining series. It does a fine job of making its stories and characters exciting and compelling, even for viewers who can hardly remember the last time they rode a bike.
The driving force behind the show’s appeal is its ability to get inside its characters’ heads. By helping us understand what compels each competitor to ride and what’s going on inside their minds, it gives the audience an emotional stake in the outcome. Grande Road takes this a step further than the first season ever did by showing that even the antagonists of the series have a method to their madness. All this inner turmoil can occasionally drag down a storyline’s pace (seriously, how long can it possibly take to ride a few hundred meters?), but this issue is hardly uncommon in sports anime. Even at its wordiest and most hyperbolic, Yowamushi Pedal is a lot of fun to watch. With all the dark, brain-scrambling shows out there this season, it’s nice to have a series that lets you just sit back and enjoy the ride.
There’s nothing worse than being late to the party for an awesome show. Such was my case with Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road, the current season of the thrilling competitive cycling series Yowamushi Pedal (often abbreviated YowaPeda). Staring down the long, 40-some episode road of catch-up, I made a bold, some might even say daring decision: I didn’t. Nope, skipped right into Grande Road and never looked back, and I’m here to tell you that if you think you’ll pass on this series because you can’t be bothered to catch up on season one: DON’T.
Watch this show. Go. Watch it. If you’re skeptical and thinking “Cycling? I DON’T KNOW…” I’ll admit I was, too, but Grande Road throws you right into the thick of things in such a perfect way that it’s difficult not to become fully absorbed in this insane cycling world. Most sequel seasons would start you off at a fresh place, typically following the climax of a big story arc. Here, YowaPeda drops you right into the middle of a huge Inter-High cycling competition, introducing you to almost every principal character in shockingly effective fashion. Characters are the usual personality tropes one finds in high-school sports stories, but each of them are so vivid and captivating that I was immediately hooked.
The racing action is fast and frantic, exactly what it needs to be, aided in part by the gorgeous CGI-infused animation that really gives the scenes an element of intense speed. Every episode seems to end on a staggering cliffhanger, ensuring that you’ll either tune in next week or keep right on racing to the next episode, and there's ample human drama to leave you cheering and jeering your most cherished and reviled characters. Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road is just a blast. Why aren’t you watching? Go watch it. Hurry!!
The first season of Yowamushi Pedal was a true surprise for me when it started around this time last year. "Really? A cycling anime?" was what I thought when I first saw the key visual to the show. Then, on a whim, I saw the preview video the day the show started simulcasting on Crunchyroll and decided to watch the first episode that same day. I was blown away from the beginning. Yowapeda had gripping action that kept me on the edge of my seat, comedy that had me rolling with laughter, and a wide cast of characters that I was surprised to find that I cared about. Masterful use of cliffhangers and hilarious post-credit stingers kept me coming back week after week, all the way through the 38 episodes of the first season. Imagine my shock, and admittedly frustration, to see the first season end like every other episode of Yowapeda, with a cliffhanger. Only there wouldn't be another episode the following week. There wouldn't be a new episode for three whole months.
Fast forward to the start of the second season, Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road, and I was relieved to see the show pick up right where it left off. The same tense action, the same sidesplitting comedy, and the same great cast. Only...something's different. They manage to make me not only care about, but feel heartbroken for who, up to that point, was one of my most hated characters in not just anime but any medium. He was a great villain. He was the singular point of my ire in the first season. I couldn't bring myself to cheer against the cyclists from the rival school, as I grew to respect them too much. He was who I could root against. But then they humanized him, made him sympathetic, and all it took was a single episode. That's how great this show is. In a single episode, your perception of a character can instantly shift. Thankfully the show gives us a new team of villains to cheer against, and oh do they make it easy to cheer against them. Any character whose introduction is creeping on the cute team manager is generally speaking not a nice person. Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road is so far more than a worthy continuation of one of the biggest surprises I have ever had when it comes to anime, and while the ride this time around will be shorter, I will enjoy every minute of it. And you should, too.
Are you watching Yowapeda: Grande Road? Are you realizing that even Midousuji is human, too? Sound off in the comments and let us know how you're enjoying this series!
The episode with Midosuji as a kid