Title: Yowamushi Pedal Vol. 16
Author: Wataru Watanabe
Release Date: December 15, 2020
Publisher: Yen Press
A new school year starts, with Sohoku’s Cycling Club and specifically Onoda Sakamichi as victors of the 41st Summer Inter-High. It wouldn’t be hard to say Yowamushi Pedal Vol. 16 is pretty much a new beginning for the club. The 3rd-year senpais have graduated and passed the torch to the younger athletes while new freshmen come in with their own aspirations and passions.
After finishing the Hakone race from volume 15, the whole omnibus is filled with introductions and two races that already gives us a good taste of the newbies’ qualities and how they enter the equation for the new team formation. With everyone giving it their best, it’s a matter of teamwork and disputing with other schools and the individual rivalries between the Sohoku members.
The impact of winning the Inter-High is notable, with many new athletes eager to join the team. Not only that, but Onoda having received the top place is such a huge event that makes him into a sort of legendary figure for the rookies. And as he’s the fun otaku boy singing the Love Hime song with his wimpy looks, it’s enjoyable to see him deal with fame in such an awkward way.
The main attraction is definitely how the author decided to raise the stakes with the new introductory race. With five people already having developed their teamwork in the last year, there’s room for one extra racer. Instead of doing things like last time, the first race is an evaluation to make the definitive team as they aim to train hard for the next Inter-High.
Thanks to an unexpected twist, it becomes a deeply emotional conflict that’s the “make or break” chance for one of the racers. For fans of the drama that’s usually developed in sports manga and anime, this is a great adrenaline-inducing moment in which two athletes’ ideals and their own backgrounds clash.
With this format that’s double the size of a common manga volume, we see the whole event, the team already defines the new formation, and at the end, we also have the Chiba qualifiers in its totality. The fact these races go by quickly is also a testament to the team’s growth. For the Sohoku stars, Chiba is already child’s play while we anticipate the next competitions to be much more demanding.
On to the visual aspects, Wataru Watanabe is really clever. His art style is a little rough, but this is most notable only on the slice-of-life portions, which seem to be his time to breathe a little. Surprisingly, that same roughness is also one of the charms for the races, when his designs are the most detailed and the art is filled with an aura that’s not just about the athlete’s speed but also clear proof of their efforts.
Overall, Yowamushi Pedal Vol. 16 is a great start for the Sohoku Cycling Club. With a new formation and some clear edges to fix for the next volumes, it’ll be interesting to see how the team will evolve to face the adversaries, and they should definitely not take them lightly.
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