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Not a good day for sports in anime, I’m afraid.  Since sports is the main course with this series, that’s a problem.  Fortunately it wasn’t as much a washout as this week’s Spy x Family, but this was a pretty weak episode by Yowapeda standards.  I hate to beat a dead bicycle tire, but the problem really is Teshima.  It’s not a coincidence that it was when the third-years (hey, at least we saw them for the first time in a while) graduated and TeshimAoyagi moved into co-lead status that Yowamushi Pedal dipped a couple of notches in quality.  And dammit, he just won’t go away.

All this is subjective of course, but it’s hard for me to grok Watanabe-sensei’s decision to give these two mediocre characters such a big role for such a long time.  They’re boring, their bromance is boring, and their riding is boring.  I know they’re supposed to embody some kind of heroic everyman story but honestly, it just doesn’t work.  Onoda pretty much cornered the market on that as a five foot-nothing, 100-pound novice with no racing experience and zero self-confidence.  We didn’t need pale imitations gobbling up so much valuable screen time.

Honestly, what I kept thinking all through the episode was that what it needed desperately was a shot of Midousuji-kun.  He can be a bit much to be sure, but his weirdness would have been a breath of fresh air blowing away the stale so-called showdown between Teshima and Ashikiba.  He himself isn’t the most exciting character, but the larger issue is there’s no emotional traction to Ashikiba and Teshima’s so-called rivalry.  And as for Teshima’s “plan” to sacrifice Onoda as a ploy to try and lure Manami out to soon, let’s just say that was right up there with Teshima’s usual tactical standard.

I know we have two cours here, but I truly worry for Limit Break.  This Teshima focus needs to stop and it just keeps dragging on and on.  Surely it won’t go for the ultimate anticlimax of these two being the final showdown (I hope) – presumably they’ll battle till the mountain checkpoint and give way then.  But FFS, how long will that take?  As the old saying goes, “dance with who brung ya”.  Yowapeda has too often lost focus on the characters that made it what it is, Onoda, Naruko, and Imaizumi – and Manami among the HakoGaku lot.  That’s a self-inflicted wound, but there’s still time to turn things around (though less with every passing week).


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