ANIME & MANGA - Article
11:00 - 12th April 2014, by NEO Staff

Yowamushi Pedal

Yowamushi Pedal opens with an otaku's worst nightmare - the anime club at Sohoku High School has been closed due to lack of interest! Having always been a closet anime / manga nut, Sakamichi Onoda is crushed when his hopes of finding like-minded friends are shattered. Cycling to Akihabara for some retail therapy, he's spotted by Shunsuke Imaizumi, an aloof classmate and dedicated cyclist. Confounded by Onoda's endurance and speed on a run-down mamachari - a bike designed for casual use by older people - Imaizumi challenges him to a race, promising to join the anime club if he loses.

Sadly, it's Onoda who loses, but not before putting in an impressive performance that awakens him to his own potential. Befriending the wild-natured Shokichi Naruko shortly after, the pair join Sohoku's cycling club. Despite his initial reluctance, Onoda bonds with the other members and commits to proper training - while slowly converting the team to otakudom! Onoda makes for a pleasant if unlikely lead character - he's not chasing sporting glory, and his riding prowess is almost accidental. Seeing him try to capitalise on that for the benefit of his new friends is endearing, and you can't help but cheer him on.

Yowamushi Pedal's tone and content is radically different to creator Wataru Watanabe's previous manga series - Seifuku Nuidara followed a clumsy girl charged with repelling an alien invasion, while Magimogi Rurumo offered supernatural comedy with a wish-granting witch and her reluctant mortal partner - but its teen drama, knowing anime in-jokes, and thrilling races make for an entertaining combination.

Director Osamu Nabeshima has his own diverse filmography, having helmed dark action fare such as Zetman, kids' series Hamtaro, and magical thief show Saint Tail. Perhaps more impressively, earlier in his career, Nabeshima worked as key animator on such groundbreaking films as Akira, Laputa, and Nausicaa. Belying its cheery visuals and almost juvenile character designs, Yowamushi Pedal has a great sense of motion and power, with Nabeshima turning something as relatively linear as cycling into an impressive feast for the eyes.

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