An otaku who bikes the 45 kilometers to Akihabara from school to save a little extra money attracts the attention of an elite cyclist and the daughter of a bicycle shop owner in the first episode of Yowamushi Pedal. Sakamichi spends his first day of high school hoping to find people to share his passion for anime and manga with, but his old bicycle is run off the road by a car then he finds the school’s anime club was closed due to having no members. He meets Shunsuke at the top of the hill where he starts his ride to Akiba, but after an accident he realizes he left his wallet back at his desk at school. Climbing back up the hill, Shunsuke passes Sakamichi who is singing as he goes up the 20 degree climb on a single-gear bicycle. The next day, Shunsuke challenges him to a race up that same hill.
First and foremost, this is actually a comedy about obsession. Sakamichi, as the otaku of the show, is hidden into shame by his obsession. He went his 3 years of middle school without telling anyone he was an otaku, though people find out quickly by the fact that he is going to Akihabara. Sakamichi is so committed to his fandom that to save a little bit of money to spend there he rides his bicycle 45 kilometers to get there after school. Shunsuke is a quite similar character to Sakamichi. His obsession is not so much with riding a bicycle as it is with winning. The fact that he finished 2nd in a race shames him and he trains so hard to win. The fact that Sakamichi seems to be taking it easy as they go the same pace up the hill absolutely devastates him mentally, but he needs a race to move on. Finally, there’s Miki who is the new manager of the school’s cycling club and obsessive about all things cycling. Sakamichi wishes he could talk about his obsession as openly as she does her’s.
The setup for this series is a fairly common trope in sports fiction. A raw talent gets discovered in an unlikely place and then is given a chance for his talents to shine. Meanwhile, the people who doubt him in the first place begin to like him because he tries so hard and gets better. Then, throw in a training montage or two and the mandatory chill scene and you have a sports movie. All of that is going to happen in this. The real question is whether he can resurrect the anime club on his own.
Reasons to Continue Watching
- Pretty much as solid a sports anime as it can be based on the first episode
- The comedy touches are good
- Obsessive personalities are portrayed really well
Reasons to Drop
- Sakamichi is effectively immortal or has Wolverine-like healing ability
- The character designs on the third-year students are pretty ridiculous
- Miki is basically playing the Basil Exposition role at times
My Verdict: I wasn’t expecting much out of the premise that it’s a sports show with a puny otaku as the main character. It hits the balance between his otaku tendencies and the sports aspect perfectly. This is the 2nd show this season that has completely blown away my expectations and I expect to finish this one. I do wonder if they will do the training montage to an anisong from a show within this show. That would be weird.