Manga Review: Yowamushi Pedal V 2 by Wataru Watanabe

May Contain Spoilers

This is a very fun series, and I’m glad I stumbled across it. Sakamichi is the perfect underdog; he’s a geek, he has a hard time making friends, and he longs to have someone to talk to and share his interests with. When the anime club at his high school is canceled, he is crushed. Now how is he going to find people who share his interests??

For Sakamichi, this turns out to be a surprisingly easy problem to solve. He’ll broaden his horizons and develop new interests. When his bike opens the door to several new friendships, he decides that the road racing club might be worth giving a shot. He’s met Imaizumi, Naruko (I keep reading “Naruto” whenever his name comes up. Eep!), and Kanzaki because of his mommy bike, and they have all been promising introductions. Sakamichi, despite his disappointment over the anime club, grows a bit of courage, puts himself out there, and joins the road racing team. He may not have any experience racing bikes, but he has lots of practice riding long distances from his weekly trips to Akiba.

This volume focuses on the first years’ Welcome Race. In order to see what they have to work with, the team captain and other third years make the new members ride a 60 km race, over a challenging course. Imaizumi and Naruko are rearing to go, and while Sakamichi has never raced before, he’s eager to ride with his new friends. The only problem? Kanzaki gets stuck in a traffic jam while on her way to deliver a racing bike to Sakamichi, so Sakamichi is forced to race on his mommy bike.

This was such an enjoyable read. Sakamichi is an optimistic guy, and he’s so happy to be given the chance to ride with his new teammates. While most of them don’t give him any credit whatsoever because of his bike, Naruko knows what he’s capable of, and he encourages him along the way. More importantly, Naruko, instead of dismissing him like the rest of the first years, constantly gives him advice to help improve his riding. Naruko loves the challenge of racing, and he wants all of his opponents to give the race everything they’ve got. And he wants Sakamichi to teach Imaizumi a lesson in humility.

While I can’t say that the art is my thing, it gets the job done. It’s not awful, it’s just  that the panels are so crammed with speed lines and sound effects and background details that it’s hard for me to concentrate on the main characters. Yen Press is publishing Yowamushi Pedal in large omnibus volumes, so by the time I’m finished with a massive volume, my eyes are literately exhausted from the constant barrage of screen tones. I prefer my panels a little less noisy.

Overall, this is a great start to the series. After two volumes, I am really looking forward to getting to know Sakamichi and the rest of the supporting cast better. Kinjou and the coach have piqued my interest, so I hope we get some background on both of them soon.

Grade: 4.25 stars

Review copy borrowed from my local library

About the book:

Sakamichi Onoda’s first race…and his first road racer!
Sakamichi Onoda finds himself in his first real road race following his fateful encounter with fellow first-years and road-racing hopefuls–the driven ace, Shunsuke Imaizumi, and the gifted sprinter and “Speedster of Naniwa,” Shoukichi Naruko! But the heated first-years’ race for team Sohoku is serious business, and Onoda’s competing on his granny bike!! After struggling to keep up, Onoda trades in his old bike midrace for a brand-spankin’-new road bike, and his slumbering potential comes bursting out!! But will it be enough to ride to the top?!