The events of this film take place shortly after the second series, Grande Road, and as such should not be viewed if you plan on watching the previous two series. The movie is also a step before the third series, which has only been announced. This review will include spoilers.
With KWoo facing a second trip over to Hawaii to bike up Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa and training almost daily in preparation, cycling has been in my peripheral long past the Yowamushi Pedal 2nd Season ending. This movie brought back all the anxiety of the first two television series, as well as my fears of horrifically drawn-out cycling and flashbacks mid-race. While there were many golden moments of silliness and honest feel-good-ery, those positives became overshadowed in the sequel series by an insane amount of stretching of everything I hate about battle and sports anime.
Worry not! The movie took the audience’s trepidation to heart and condensed the featured race, including the finishing stretch, into a single film. Many other improvements were also immediately apparent, including jumps forward in art and overall flow.
The art and animation of YowaPeda’s television series visibly struggled to maintain quality. In countless episodes, I noticed character designs melting into extremes. You can make a fair amount of excuses for facial distortions based on the grotesque natures of many of the characters–notably Shinkai and Midousuji–but it’s obvious when the drawing gets sloppy outside of those special circumstances and action cuts. In contrast, the film actually looks great on the big screen, with time and care given to the drawings of the team members’ faces and bodily proportions. CG was used in key areas to smooth the transition to cycling, particularly during dynamic scenes.
That smoothness extends to the overall flow of the story’s pacing, where the movie’s duration limited the possibility of drag. Gone were the flashbacks, and any moments of frozen time were kept to the truly climatic parts of the race, like when Onoda panicked on the first day of the two-day race. There’s a relatable feeling of time warping as fear sets in, the heart stops beating, and the stomach drops.
In addition to the driving forces of winning the race and it being the third year students’ last chance to ride together as a team, we also find out that Makishima’s acceptance to an out-of-country school means he’ll miss out on this opportunity. Makishima has always been a prince of sorts for our characters. Toudou looks to him as the ultimate rival; Onoda gazes upward in awe of his role model. He has a surprising amount of influence in hill climbing circles, and is part of the glue that holds Sohoku together. The big reveal about his absence dramatically impacts both Onoda and Toudou. Positivity and motivation are lost in the face of the seemingly impossible.
While the sunset farewell with Makishima was overly theatrical for my tastes, I did appreciate its result of forcing Onoda into the position of lead climber. He has the pressure as the recent Inter-High champion to live up to. He also has to carry his team as the sole climber of the group up the mountain. This is the perfect platform for Onoda to face the future with a new team, and I will not be surprised in the least if he is chosen as the next captain.
I did very much like the ending of the movie, and I’m back to looking forward to the sequel. Since I’m not a reader of the manga, I have no clue what the next team will look like once the third years are gone. I’m hoping for a confident Onoda and more “Hime” singing!
Rating: 1 dango
- 0 dango – average and forgettable.
- 1 dango – very good in its category.
- 2 dango – excellent show that is worth a try.
- 3 dango – exceptional show one must watch.