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Manga / Yowamushi Pedal

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"I'd never join a sports club even if they asked me to."
Sakamichi Onoda, our protagonist.

Sakamichi Onoda is your everyday teenage otaku just starting high school. Having hidden his otaku tendencies while he was in middle school, he dreams of joining this school’s anime club in order to indulge in his passions. And hey, if he can make some friends on the side, that’ll be a bonus!

...Unfortunately, his hopes are crushed when he finds out the club has closed due to a lack of members. Though this doesn’t deter him for long, and he soon sets out to gather enough people to restart it.

Meanwhile, two talented road cyclists are also entering the same school. For Shunsuke Imaizumi and Shoukichi Naruko, bicycle racing is very much Serious Business. In fact, their goal for the upcoming year is to reach the Road Race Interhigh, and rob the victory podium blind.

The paths of these three intersect after Imaizumi and Naruko run into Onoda making his weekly commute to the otaku capital of Akihabara, a whopping 90 km note  round trip on some of the steepest slopes around... on nothing but a beat up mommy-bike. Recognizing his incredible potential for road racing, the duo attempt to corral Onoda into abandoning his beloved anime club in favor of the bicycle racing club, much to the latter’s horror.


And thus begins Yowamushi Pedal ("The Weakling's Pedal"), a manga by Watanabe Wataru, published in Weekly Shonen Champion since 2008. A TMS Entertainment-produced anime was released as part of the Fall 2013 lineup, follow by a second season called Grande Road in 2014, a third season called New Generation in 2017, and a fourth called Glory Line in 2018.

A feature films were released in Japan in August 2015.


This show provides examples of:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: The bikes alternate between hand-drawn and CGI, as does Makishima's hair during a race. The difference is glaringly obvious.
  • Action Prologue: The show opens with a shot of the cycle club, Onoda included, in the middle of a heated race. Which makes pre-cycle club Onoda's comments even funnier.
  • Animal Motifs: A few characters are strongly associated with animals:
    • Naruko: Tiger
    • Kinjou: Snake
    • Tadokoro: Bear
    • Makishima: Spider
    • Arakita: Wolf
    • Imaizumi and Shinkai: Rabbit
  • Apology Gift: Fukutomi gives Kinjou Hakone steamed buns as a way to start to apologize for injuring him during the previous year's Interhigh. Tadokoro thinks it's a very acceptable gift.
  • Art Evolution: The art style takes 5 volumes or so to stable out. Many of the characters' designs change drastically over that time as well.
    • Makishima's hair grows incredibly quickly.
    • Fukutomi's hair changes after a flashback.
    • Imaizumi's eyes become smaller and he starts to look older.
  • Battle Aura: Of the metaphoric variety.
  • Better than Sex: Naruko puts winning races above kissing girls or touching their boobs.
  • The Big Race: The Interhigh, which takes place every year.
  • Bland-Name Product: In the anime.
    • The majority of the cast own recognizable brand name bikes and gear, except with one letter changed (such as Scott to Scolt). However, the brand names are not censored in the manga.
    • Similarly, any existing anime/manga that are referred to by name in the manga are modified for the anime. For example, Doraemon becomes Nekoemon.
    • Both the anime and manga have popular soft drinks Bepsi and Cole.
    • Averted with Pocari Sweat. see Product Placement below.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Especially apparent when you realize that Imaizumi and Arakita have the same hair color, eye color and a near identical hairstyles but look nothing like each other.
  • Cherry Blossoms: All over the place during the opening chapters. Justified in that the story begins during the start of the school yearnote  which is right around the time that they bloom.
  • Chromatic Arrangement: The freshmen trio fit this perfectly. Imaizumi, who tends to be as cool as a cucumber, is heavily associated with blue. The extremely passionate Naruko tends to be represented by red. And Onoda, the most cheerful of the lot, is linked to bright, sunny yellows. For bonus points, their bikes, cycling clothes and everyday wear follow this theme too.
  • Combat Compliment:
    • Imaizumi compliments Onoda's skills during their first race.
    • Fukutomi tells Kinjou he's "not bad" during their second-year race.
    • This occurs a lot... though it's mostly followed by an explanation of why the complimenter is better.
  • Cool Bike: Inverted, as the bicycles are portrayed to be more cool than motorized vehicles like mopeds. However, everyone except Onoda has a very cool (and expensive) bike.
  • Crash into Hello: Imaizumi and Onoda first run into each other after the former's car nearly mows the latter over.
  • Dagwood Sandwich: Tadokoro enjoys these often and tries to serve one to Onoda.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Subverted with Onoda and Imaizumi. Onoda was not able to defeat Imaizumi during their first race, but they became friends anyways as Imaizumi started opening up to Onoda.
  • Did You Actually Believe...?: Midousuji says this to Imaizumi, when the latter loses a race after the former (falsely) informs him that his mother had died after being hit by one of the other competitors.
  • Diet Episode: Parodied. In one of the omakes, Makishima thinks Tadokoro is eating too much and should diet, but decides that would be bad.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The 3rd OP is sung by Team Sohoku, and Team Hakone sings the 3rd ED. In the 4 season, Glory Line, the 1st ED is sung by the New Generation of Sohoku, while the 2nd ED is sung by the New Generation of Hakone.
  • Down to the Last Play: A staple. Happens in almost every segment of every race.
  • Enemy Mine: Cooperation between opposing teams is common, though obviously temporary, in road race.
    • Sohoku and Hakogaku adopt it during the third day of Interhigh for a while.
    • And in the next year IH, the new Sohoku and Hakone cooperate in the 3th day again.
    • Onoda races along with Arakita and Manami so the three of them can drop the pack and go after Hiroshima Kureminami. The trope is notably Played Straight here since they team-up against a common opponent.
  • Family Business: The Kanzakis run a bike shop that Sohoku uses.
  • Fangirl: Several characters have them.
  • Freudian Trio: The freshmen trio, with Naruko as The Id, Imaizumi being The Superego and Onoda fitting in as The Ego.
  • Glasses Pull: Shingo dramatically removes his sunglasses when Onoda wins the second stage of the welcome race, and when the first-years and second-years are sprinting for the finish line on the third day of training camp.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Implied and Played For (Evil) Laughs when Kinjou volunteers Imaizumi for his magic trick and Imaizumi screams right as the omake ends.
  • Graduate from the Story: All the third year characters at the end of the first Interhigh, though they still have the occasional cameo.
  • Gray Rain of Depression:
    • Happens when Onoda's pedal breaks during the training camp.
    • Also in Toudou and Makishima's backstory, when Makishima gets a flat tire and can't race Toudou. Toudou tries to get him to ride on the rim and keep going with the other tire, but Makishima informs him that is what he was doing - now he has two flat tires.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Teshima and Aoyagi. Onoda and Naruko are convinced Teshima is psychic because he can hold seemingly one-sided conversations with Aoyagi, even when texting each other.
  • Huddle Shot: Sohoku has one.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each episode title has Race instead of Episode.
  • Image Song: Everyone on Sohoku and Hakone gets one.
  • Imagine Spot:
    • Makishima when he imagines Tadokoro gaining or losing weight.
    • Onoda has one when he tries to figure out how Naruko will "pull him along" while they're riding, imagining a coupler attaching their two bikes together.
  • In-Series Nickname: Most characters have these.
    • Naruko: Speed Star of Naniwa
    • Kinjou: Snake of the Stone Path
    • Makishima: Peak Spider
    • Tadokoro: Rampaging Human Bullet
    • Toudou: Sleeping Beauty (self-proclaimed), Mountain God
      • Apparently everyone else calls him Ninja of the Forest behind his back, which he finds uncool.
    • Shinkai: Hakone's Straight-Line Demon
    • Shinkai Yuuto: Peak Hornet
  • Keeping Secrets Sucks: Kinjou tells Makishima about how and why he altered Onoda's bike. Despite Kinjou's orders, Makishima feels bad for Onoda and tells him anyways, deciding he's just talking out loud to himself and Onoda just happens to be standing there.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Kinjou and Fukutomi after their last encounter that led to Kinjou's Game-Breaking Injury.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Makishima and Toudou.
  • Mirror Character: Imaizumi and Naruko, to the point of Speaking In Unison - much to their discontent.
  • Mood Whiplash: The ending omakes are always happy, which can be pretty jarring if the end of the episode wasn't.
  • Music for Courage: Onoda gets Tadokoro to sing the Love Hime theme song with him to motivate them both to catch up to the rest of the team. Tadokoro reluctantly agrees to join in but finds it to be very effective.
    • Aoyagi use the song to keep Kaburagi concentrated after the rookie feelt overwhelmed with pressure in the 2nd day of IH. "The power of the Song" helped Aoyagi to get Kaburagi out of the pact and give them the opportunity to reunite with the team again
  • Product Placement: There are posters with the cast advertising Pocari Sweat. Pocari Sweat even shows up in the anime (season 1, episode 12).
  • The Promise:
    • Between Toudou and Makishima.
    • Between Kinjou and Fukutomi to determine the true winner of their race honorably, after Fukutomi causes the crash with Kinjou.
    • Manami and Onoda, like their senpai, also promise to duke it out at the Interhighs.
    • Teshima and Aoyagi, as first years, promised to go together to the IH in their 3th year. Since they got the position taken away in their 2nd year, their little promise became a reality in their 3th year indeed.
  • Real Men Take It Black: Parodied in an omake, where Naruko tells Onoda how real men drink their coffee black. Only to subvert it by asking for milk as soon as Onoda went to the bathroom.
  • "Reason You Suck" Speech: Midousuji whips this out on occasion.
    • He belittles Imaizumi for being "weak" when he gives up his position in a race because Midousuji told him that Imaizumi's mother had been hit by a car.
    • He gives Imaizumi another one on the second day when Imaizumi briefly thinks about joining forces with Kyoto Fushimi to reach the front.
    • He criticizes Shinkai for letting something as "simple" as the memory of running over and killing a rabbit prevent Shinkai from passing Midousuji.
    • And again, Midousuji give a big one in front of all the public in the 42th IH after winning the race in the 2nd day.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • Naruko is the red to Imaizumi's blue.
    • Tadokoro (red) and Makishima (blue) also form a pair.
    • Toudou is also the red to Makishima's blue.
  • Restrained Revenge: Tadokoro only punches Fukutomi after he finds out Fukutomi was the one who caused Kinjou to crash.
  • Say My Name: Too often to count.
  • Second Place Is for Losers:
    • Imaizumi's view on previously finishing second in a major road race.
    • Beautifully subverted during the Freshman Race, to the point of encroaching into Second Place Is for Winners territory. Sure, Onoda had to be retired from the race and thus automatically came in last place... but he did reach the top of a difficult mountain summit well before the more seasoned riders, an achievement which is greatly applauded by the rest of the club. In the next year, Onoda is considered to something of a living legend for this.
  • Secret Test of Character: During the training camp, Kinjou alters Onoda's bike so that it's more difficult to climb hills. He doesn't tell Onoda about the change saying that he should learn how to face adversity and figure it out on his own. Note that this is despite Onoda being the most inexperienced member of the club. Makishima states though that Kinjou knew that if he told Makishima in detail what he did, Makishima would eventually inform Onoda, which he does after Onoda struggles through 25km.
  • Sempai/Kōhai: These relationships exist for most of the cast.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Makishima and Tadokoro, respectively.
  • Serious Business: Cycling.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Show Within a Show: Love Hime. Even has a movie.
  • Shown Their Work: The manga and anime represent cycling extremely accurately, and correctly explain the strategy and mechanics behind it. Although some aspects are over-the-top (such as Makishima's dancing), and there is a warning after each episode saying that some of the more dramatic stuff can be dangerous to do in real life and to practice safe cycling.
  • Signature Move: Lots of characters.
    • Makishima: Spider climb
    • Onoda: High cadence climb, as well as singing to perfect the rhythm of his pedaling and timing of his gear shifts.
    • Tadokoro: Human bullet train, Mach-Speed Oxygen-Burning Human-Bullet
    • Midousuji: Forward leaning riding style
    • Naruko: Rocket Sprint
    • Toudou: Sleeping Climb
    • Aoyagi and Teshima: Synchronized Straight Twin
  • Singing in the Shower: Imaizumi and Onoda both sing the Love Hime song in two separate omake, though Imaizumi is much more embarrassed about it.
  • Speed Stripes
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Many fans of the series noticed that in Day Two of Interhigh, Hakone had much more prominence than Sohoku (this was mainly due to Sohoku being divided because of Tadokoro not being able to properly start and Onoda going back to retrieve him), some tumblr users have made comments that Hakone "could be confused to be the main characters" during that time period of the series. Once Sohoku catches up, they reclaim their roles as the main protags.
  • The Stinger: After the ED, there is usually a short comedic scene. Sometimes involving Love Hime.
  • Surprise Creepy: Midosuji loves pulling these. It helps that he sports a near-permanent Slasher Smile, but he has a knack for showing up suddenly with his insanely creepy looking face.
  • Team Spirit: Heavily comes into play during the Inter-High arc.
  • Tears of Joy: Teshima and Aoyagi shed a few when Tadokoro wins the first checkpoint against Izumida and Naruko.
    • And at the end of IH, after Onoda beat Manami in the last sprint, Teshima was crying tears of joy while hugging a tired Onoda.
  • The Team: Sohoku, Hakone, and every other team competing at Interhigh.
  • Theme Song Powerup: Played With. They have a theme song, and it powers them up, it's just... Love Hime's theme song, rather than their own.
  • Throwing the Fight: Fukutomi tells Kinjou that he would lose the race if Kinjou asked him to. Kinjou refuses his offer.
  • Tie-In Novel: The series has one focusing on Makishima and Toudou's past.
  • Training from Hell: The cycling camp. 1000kmnote  in four days. And Imaizumi, Naruko and Onoda all have handicaps.
  • Trash Talk: Gets thrown around a lot.
  • Unnecessary Roughness:
    • Fukutomi unconsciously grabs Kinjou's jersey in desperation during a race, causing them to both fall. Fukutomi comes out of it relatively unscathed, but Kinjou breaks some of his ribs and is bleeding through his jersey by the end of the day's race.
    • Midousuji tries to knock over Imaizumi on purpose, but he managed to stay upright.
    • Koga treats Teshima pretty rought in their third year training camp. He tried to knock him out a lot of times and talks to him very harsh for someone that used to be his friend. Yet in the end, Teshima beats him in one last sprint and Koga returns to be friendly with Teshima and all of the Sohoku team
  • Variations on a Theme Song: The lyrics for the Love Hime theme song in the manga were adapted into two different versions of the song. The first version of the song was used in the stage adaptation and live-action television series, while the second version was used for the anime.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Naruko and Imaizumi fall into this dynamic pretty quickly. On the track, they're practically blood brothers. Off it, it's made very clear that Imaizumi is perfectly willing to let Naruko drown in his own bath.
  • Who's Watching the Store?: Touji spends an awful lot of time helping with team practices and races, using the store's van no less. It is most likely their parents own it; someone must have been doing the work when they were kids.