Protagonist Onoda Sakamichi's team, Sohoku High School, won last year's national tournament, the Inter-High. The upperclassmen who pulled the team have graduated. By inspiring, supporting, and lifting each other up, the new generation of team members won a ticket to the Inter-High and a chance at a repeat championship. Their rivals, Hakone Academy, former champions seeking to reclaim their crown, and Kyoto Fushimi, home to the monstrous racer Midousuji, have gathered at the race, where they'll clash in a fierce battle for victory! Every racer carries his hopes and dreams in his heart. As sprinters who race along straight lines, climbers who are masters of the mountains, and aces who lead their teams to victory... The "GLORY LINE" is each racer's finish line of honor and glory, but who will be the first to cross it?!
In a way, Yowamushi Pedal: Glory Line tipped its hand early, as soon as the beginning sequences of the opening theme. Onoda Sakamichi is upon his racing bike moving towards you, and then, in the twinkling of an eye Naruko, Imaizumi, Teshima, Aoyogi, Kaburagi ... the whole Sohoku High Bike Racing Club flashes by in less time than the cranking of a pedal. But this is not enough. Members of Hakone Academy and Kyoto Fushimi rush by in a bombardment of competitors engaged in the same act of propelling their bike forward. For Yowamushi Pedal has never been the epic struggle of one main character, but a panoply of individuals battling for supremacy in this fast-paced sport done up with the reserve of a tale that must be told cautiously, and therefore slowly. You can say that the animators at TMS Entertainment upped the ante on almost all the facets of good animation. Character introduction and development. CGI moments. Music. Action. Thrills. All those good things to include in quality anime. Everything but one crucial item. Plot. In watching YP: Glory Line, the fourth of five seasons (the fifth, season, Limit Break, is moving towards its completion, with 19 of a scheduled 25 episodes in the can), you experience this 'where have I seen this before?' sensation. By the fourth season, you understand the show's formula quite well. The Inter-High bike racing event has its phases of sprint, mountain climb, and chase to the final finish line of the particular day, Glory Line is ultimately day two of Onoda's second year of Inter-High racing. The cliffhanger ending is ironically the beginning of day three and last, the subject of YP: Limit Break. YP: Glory Line picks up from the franchise’s previous YP: New Generation, done the year previous (2017). The premise of this double set of seasons is Hakone Academy's zeal to regain its status as champions, and these two years serve this school well. Success is showered on Hakone, failure stalks Sohoku. The coveted colored numbers keep finding their way onto the jerseys of Hakone. But wait, there is this wrinkle in the plot ... the ominous presence of Kyoto Fushimi and its nefarious leader Midousuji (wait! isn't that, too, part of the YP formula? And, while we're at it ... how long is that man's tongue anyways?). Early easy wins by Hakone start getting difficult, and the final phase of this Inter-High still is in question. Who will win the final phase (the ultimate important victory) of day three? That's the material of YP: Limit Break (2022), now released after four years of development. But for Glory Break, you just relish the things that you have watched before. The graduates of Sohoku and Hakone are in the background, including the green coifed Makishima who had been so influential to Onoda and had come all the way from England to take in this event. Stone-faced Fukitomi who'd shock the world if he ever cracked a smile (will a Hakone Academy accomplish this great miracle?). So many characters come at you with their backgrounds and backstories, it's hard to keep them all in line. But characters in YP will have to have more substance than tearing away scabs for inspiration, groping other racers’ muscles, listening to imaginary snatches of classical music, munching on granola bars ... The franchise needs something more of their characters that weird idiosyncrasies. The music has been a mainstay for Yowamushi Pedal, and Glory Line does have the intense tunes this time around. Just not as many. The season was split in two with Sohoku playing up as a rock band followed by Hakone as a jazz ensemble. Good music, but the other seasons were loaded and Glory Line … less so. The animation keeps up with fast action techniques ... even the still shots were intense. So, as I said, Yowamushi is a practice of slow development. By the end of Limit Break, we may have to say farewell to the third-years Aoyagi and Teshima and bring on the new third-years Onoda, Naruko, and Imaizumi. But this would be the fare of Yowamushi Pedal seasons yet to come. Will we be able to survive the formula-driven antics of bike racing ... yet to come?
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