This second Inter-high continues to be moving at a faster pace than Yowamushi Pedal‘s first. No longer does every centimeter feel like it needs to take 20 chapters to cover. Combined with the omnibus format, I was so hyped by the end I almost forgot there was a whole other first half of story I needed to reflect upon!
Sohoku’s Aoyagi and Hakone’s Doubashi first battle it out to take the first award of the day. Once that winner is declared, it’s time to concentrate on the next one — the mountain prize, Onoda’s specialty. To that end, Teshima gives Onoda one order: stay with the team and don’t fall behind.
And two seconds later, guess what happens?
This is the most eye-rolling part of the volume. It’s the sports drama version of low effort comedy like dropping and then slipping on a banana peel right after. Plenty of stories predict events by having someone say, “I hope <thing> doesn’t happen…”, but for best effect, it should be spaced apart. Not, as in this case, six pages later — actually, two if you subtract the four pages of Teshima explaining why he’s giving the instruction: the peloton is on their heels!
Onoda’s struggles once he’s caught up in the flow do lead to better storytelling. He, of course, wants to reunite with his team, but other cyclists aren’t willing to just let the #1 racer from last year pass them just as they’re entering the part of the path he excels at. The group surrounding Onoda is rather antagonistic, but really, it’s an obvious strategy that would work even with friendly rival of Minami’s level.
Speaking of Minami, he’s sent ahead by his captain to claim the best climber title. With Sohoku’s main climber held back, Sohoku has to send ahead a substitute, and it’s one no one (yours truly) was expecting: Teshima.
I have to say, for a character who I originally had pegged as “one of those second-years who got kicked off the team in favor of all these amazing newbies”, Teshima just continues rising on my character fave chart. He knows it’s going to be hard for, in his own words, a rather ordinary racer to defeat one who conquers hills with ease, but dangnabbit, he’s gonna try for his team. And with a strategy based only on “pedal as hard as I can to keep up and look for a chance to pass”. I kind of wish he was on this volume’s cover, as I don’t know how many other opportunities he’ll have, and he pushes himself so much to try to match Minami.
I so much enjoyed this face-off I almost forgot about the first half’s ending. I guess the author is saving Sohoku’s surprise for a big flourish, but it would have been nice to at least touch base with the characters there.
However, despite that and Onoda’s obvious mistakes and naivete, this volume of Yowamushi Pedal delivers another thrilling ride.