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An absolute mockery. Yowa has largely been an endearing franchise. It started strong and surprised a lot of us. Unfortunately, that didn't continue, and this last season is especially disappointing. If you're craving inane nonstop flashbacks, borderline yaoi plotlines, and one dimensional characters who are utterly devoid of believable motivations, hop on. You're in for a great ride. More than half the season is completely irrelevant or repeated content. I would rather drink the sweat wrung out of a post-race Tour de France jersey than watch this again. I gave it a 2, because the voice actors and some of the other crew did their jobs well.
The cliffhanger appears to be the usual way of doing things at Yowamushi Pedal. As the racers inch along at high rates of speed, covering a kilometer or two in two or three episodes, you never get this thought that the race is in the bag for any of the contestants. Even at the end of the next-to-last episode with the two main contestants mere feet away from the finish line, you've no clue as to the outcome. Then it hits you like some hard slammed door coming in your direction. This is the reason that I watched the fifth season, Limit Break. The fourth year Glory Line did not end the story, and who wants to drop a story in the middle, even if YP gives you a ton of reasons? The second year of the Inter-High for Onoda and Team Sohoku would consume three seasons of YP. The first year, featuring the senior trio of Tadokoro, Kinjou, and Makishima, took only two seasons. Horrors! If YP tells the story of third-years Onoda, Naruko, and Imaizumi in future installments, it might take 4-5 seasons to drive down this epic event. I'll be dead by then ... for from this. The style of YP has always been solid music, passable animation (great panorama scenes, hokey looping animation of racers moving down the highway), and intense action toned down by retrospectives, personal philosophy, sage advice from the senpai, and this irritating tendency to slo-mo crucial moments in the Inter-High road race. But the best is the personalities which develop along the way. The new seniors, Capt. Teshima and his sidekick Aoyagi, get to compete, beaten out by first years in seasons 1-2. Their style (and height ... why do Kinjou and Co. tower over Onoda et. al. while Teshima is only slightly taller than Onoda) differs from the first years, but they have the impetus of repeating as champions. Newbie racer Kaburagi proves that frosh are stupid types. The elite racing school Hakone Academy varies its crew from the laid-back Manami, the muscular Izumida, and the feral Doubashi. And the prince of bike-villainy, Akira Midousuji, only gives better, and one wonders how long that serpentine tongue of his really is. The racers run the personality gamut from heroic to twisted, with enough of the ordinary backdrop characters to define the difference between elite and not. At the base of it all is the contrast of the three major competing schools. Sohoku (yea!) represents the ideals of teamwork at its highest. Each member works to help the rest. Quite the antithesis of Kyoto Fushimi (boo!) which exists to make Midousuji look good. Hakone Academy (hey, they're good and should win) develops bike racers to be supreme at any level, and this could be its strength ... and weakness. Which is why I don't blurt out who wins. I won't deny that there is an awful lot of deja vu with stuff in the past making a revue, but YP still has this ability to keep you guessing and appreciate the limits of exertion a contestant must offer, how much pain to endure, to be called a champion. Good (if not overly prolonged) plot. Clever insights. Interesting cast of characters. It's what makes Yowamushi Pedal memorable anime.
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