Yowamushi Pedal, Vol. 2

By Wataru Watanabe. Released in Japan in two separate volumes by Akita Shoten, serialization ongoing in the magazine Weekly Shonen Champion. Released in North America by Yen Press.

The last volume promised we’d see a race, but I don’t know if readers were prepared for the race to take up the entire omnibus, which is to say two volumes of the original Japanese release. Given that it’s meant to be an endurance test to weed out those who aren’t ready for the big time, it makes sense. And, of course, it ends up showing off the character development of our three leads – Onoda discovers the joy of competition, particularly when he gets a real bike; Naruko realizes that he is not in fact top dog here; and Imaizumi finds a desire to win that had been absent in him for some time. In other words, this still manages to embody all the archetypes of sports manga in one handy volume.

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Onoda is still the star, and we see him coming to terms with the fact that he can’t make it on pure guts alone – though god knows he tries, particularly when he gets his racing bike. There’s a lovely bit where he sees the car of team captains behind him (they’re there to pick up those too far behind and say they’ve lost) and despairs, but no, they’re here to give him his racing bike, which got stuck in traffic before the event. The team captains (and Kanzaki, who continues to boggle at Onoda’s raw potential, though this being a sports title, and an Akita Shoten one at that, I expect boggling is all she will do) also get to play Greek chorus along the way, explaining why *this* is the exact point that Onoda will finally run out of steam, only to be proven wrong time and time again.

Of course, he eventually does collapse – your male sports lead does not end up winning against the veterans in the early volumes. The course is designed to kill anyone who doesn’t plan on being a “cycling uber alles” sort, which means most of it is a giant hill. Onoda wins the race to the top of the hill, but that’s all he has in him. As for Imaizumi, there’s some lovely characterization here as he unconsciously finds himself riding as he did when he was a child (something noticed by Kanzaki, who was a childhood friend of his), and also overexerting himself despite knowing it’s not the right thing to do in order to efficiently win the race. Stoic types in manga are always at their most interesting when they go up against something that threatens their facade. It doesn’t necessarily have to make them emotional, but it’s good to see.

So now that Onoda has made a name for himself, to the point where even Kanzaki’s non-cycling BFF says that he seems to have more presence than before, what’s next? My guess is more cycling, and probably an intense training regimen. Are we too early for an inter-high meet? What does the author plan to do with the eccentric yet clearly intelligent and wily coach we’re introduced to? I definitely plan on finding out next time.

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Comments

  1. charliepanayi says:

    Fun volume. The panel where everyone in the van (even the super-stoic club captain) boggles in reaction to Onoda dancing on the pedals is especially brilliant and hilarious.


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