Manga Review: Yowamushi Pedal by Wataru Watanabe

May Contain Spoilers

I had never heard of this manga until I saw it mentioned in a weekly roundup on Manga Bookshelf. I did a little Googling and decided that it was something I would like to check out, especially as I am almost finished with Slam Dunk. I checked the library without much hope, but ta-da!! They have the first 7 volumes, so I requested away!

Sakamichi is a an okatu who has been making the 90 km round-trip journey to Akihabara weekly on his mommy bike (new terminology for me). With limited funds, he’d rather save his pennies for capsule toys and the latest DVDs than pay for mass transit. He is thrilled that his new high school is even closer to Akiha, and he won’t have to bike as far for his weekly trips.

All Sakamichi wants are friends to enthusiastically discuss his hobby with. Unfortunately, most of his classmates in middle school thought that manga and anime were for kids. Now that he’s in high school, he is looking forward to joining the anime club. He will no longer be friendless! Only he discovers, much to his dismay, that the club has been dissolved because there weren’t enough members. If he can get a group of five together, he can have it reinstated.

Imaizumi is a road racing up and comer. He lives and breathes bikes. He practices constantly, so he is bewildered when Sakamichi, a skinny otaku on a mommy bike, climbs a steep hill with impressive ease. Who is this guy? Imaizumi is suddenly obsessed with seeing if Sakamichi can do it again. He challenges him to a race, agreeing to join the anime club if he loses.

And so begins Sakamichi’s introduction to road racing. This was a fun read, and I enjoyed the characters. Sakamichi is wary of athletes, and he doesn’t trust them or their overenthusiastic energy. Miki Kanzaki also goes to Sakamichi’s high school, and she is a road racing fan. Her family owns a bike shop, and she takes an interest in Sakamichi because of his impressive abilities. Without any coaching or the proper equipment, he gives Imaizumi a run for his money.

As Sakamichi cycles around the countryside, he starts to make friends because of his bike. Encouraged by finally having friends, he joins the road racing team after being absolutely wowed by them as they raced passed him during their practice after school.

Like with Slam Dunk’s basketball, I have no interest in road racing, and know even less about it than basketball. Sure, I know how to ride a bike, but to race it up and down hills and along the road? Nah, that is something I have no interest in. Amazingly, Wataru Watanabe has introduced a series focused on the sport that has piqued my interest. I love sports manga, and if you throw in an ignorant newb, I’m even more interested in following the journey as the character hones their abilities and blossoms into a fierce competitor. Sakamichi is a timid, quiet young man who hates creating waves and being the center of attention. He has stayed on the sidelines of life, fearful of rejection. Now that he’s discovered something that has given him the courage to make friends, I am curious to see how far this journey takes him.

Grade: 4.25 stars

Review copy borrowed from my local library

About the book:

For the love of all things otaku–anime, video games, figures, you name it!–power-pedaling Sakamichi Onoda has long been conquering the steepest slopes and regularly making the ninety-kilometer round-trip to Akihabara on a granny bike!! But when his bike commute to his new high school lands him in a confrontation with the serious first-year road racer Imaizumi, Onoda has a major showdown on his hands! Can this meek geek really out-pedal the future ace of the school road-racing team?!