“I don’t like sports anime apart from [insert literally only sports anime they’ve ever watched] because [insert pathetic prejudice here] but I really liked [latest sports anime]”.
We got that out of the way? Right, moving swiftly on, there are two sports anime this season. 3 if we count that ladies wrestling anime, so yeah there are two sports anime this season. I’m not writing about Ace of Diamond because it’s awful. Everyone yelling all the time, un-ironic use of the sparkly window light “but we all worked really hard” shot, and a completely unlikeable lead character. You should not watch Ace of Diamond. What you should watch is Yowamushi Pedal. Especially if you are one of those strange ladies who sees one anime boy think about another anime boy and assume this is because they want to fuck each other.
Yowamushi Pedal is about a giant nerd who cycles some 45 km to and back from Akiba everyday because that way he saves money on a train fair that he could be using to feed into capsule machines. I quite like him as a main character because he has a personality and clear goals and aims in life. The shtick here is a pretty standard one. An expert in a field, be it sports or martial arts or farting magical powers or whatever, spots a kid who is unnaturally gifted in his skill and this annoys him. Part of the heroes journey is that he’s supposed to reject the call first off, which is what’s happening here too, but it’s well worked into his character. He doesn’t not join a cycling club because his dad was a cyclist but now he Hates Cycling for some bogus reason. No, he’s just a massive nerd who doesn’t get on with the sportsball clubs like most nerds in school did.
It’s a neat way of presenting the formula. His cycling prowess comes from his nerd-dom, but it’s not magically gifted to him. It’s from years of practicing where cycling was just a means to achieve the goal, not the goal itself. Like the karate master in the forest who just used his mad skillz to chop wood rather than karate for its own purpose. I found myself sympathising with the poor kid. He just wants some people to share his hobby and be able to talk with. Obviously he’ll join the cycling club eventually since that’s what the entire show is about, but as of now I am interested to see how they get him to join.
It’s a surprisingly well made show in many regards. The dialogue is well written and flows along nicely. The characters have well-defined personalities and it plays out naturally. I particularly liked when the main character did his shuffle away from the cycling manager into the classroom and believed he escaped, but she followed him in without changing from her natural smiling expression. It’s small, but it’s a good example of one of the many ways the character display their personality with little touches. It uses CG animation for some of the cycling segments, which is bizarrely better animated than the animation in Arpeggio of Blue Steel. It’s unobtrusive and fits naturally enough in with the rest of the general aesthetic. In fact I’m hard pressed to find any problems with this episode. It’s not amazing or anything, but it’s solid and well made and certainly one of the better anime this season.