Yowamushi Pedal has been my top anime for the fall. This is a sports anime on bicycling, so there are the typical themes of competition, the underdog and of course a fiery passion. The protagonist, Ononda, happens to be an otaku who pedals on a utility bicycle weekly or daily from his school to Akihabara. He unsuccessfully tries to re-form an anime club, but fails; so he ends up joining the bicycle club where he becomes the unexpected hidden talent among the other more serious bicyclists.
The screen cap is from a moment at Ononda’s welcoming race, as he races to be the first on the top of the hill. In a race, there are critical moments when the body is exhausted, and to beat the other competitors is vital. The need to find motivation is clear, so this was his way of finding that last bit of energy.
What makes this heartwarming for me is the fact that Ononda finds solace in his niche hobby, and this can translate in reality as a passion or support for enriching life. I remember reading an entry MangaTherapy wrote on his blog that speaks about challenges. It is like choosing a career. Typically a person chooses what they find the most happiness in completing. But the harsh reality is how many would succeed in a field of their passion? Having multiple hobbies and passions makes life easier.
For me, Yowapeda brings inspiration and fun as I think about the various slashable couples and anime moments that make me a fan.
It was about time for a good anime that reflected on the aftermath and tragedy of Fukushima. For the first few episodes, Coppelion, whose manga actually predates the disaster by a few years and now seems awfully prescient (along with Tokyo Magnitude 8.0), seemed like it was a serious candidate for that title. Its decayed and detailed backgrounds contrasted perhaps a bit too strongly with the thick-lined characters, a hallmark of the new Go Hands studio, but there was plenty of intrigue and sad realizations as we discovered that Tokyo had been ruined by a nuclear accident of some sort. There were scientists who were atoning for their sins, a few people who refused to leave their homes despite the devastation–just like in northern Japan at the time–and politicians and industry leaders passing the buck. Sure, the girls sometimes seemed a little too jaunty given the setting, but there was real pain and anguish in the people that they rescued in the early parts, and there seemed to be direct, pointed statements intended to resonate to a public still dealing with the memory of such large scale failure…
Then, in episode 4, the timer appeared.
The timer counted down how long until a certain character’s radiation suit gave out and he would die from the fallout poisoning. In its bombastic, over-the-top way, it was also intended to illustrate the brevity of life and the urgency of the situation. Instead, it was more like the cheesy bomb timer that the movie Galaxy Quest mocked years ago, that timer that you know will never actually reach 00:00–which, of course, it doesn’t, there or here.
Worse, this timer appeared in an episode where we discovered that somehow, stealth bombers had machine guns, lots of vegetation can exist in fallout zones, and these superpowered, radiation-proof schoolgirls can declare mission accomplished and treat all their outings like a school trip. It was, in short, the crowning moment where I could no longer take Coppelion seriously. And in my opinion, the show never recovered from that moment. For what might have been a semi-serious meditation on disaster, working together, and confronting the mistakes of the past, Coppelion became an action romp with cartoonish villains, silly characters like Aoi (one of Kana Hanazawa’s most grating roles yet), and a Vice Principal/Commander who looks like Saddam Hussein. Really!
I am the told the manga, which is available on Crunchyroll’s new manga channel, is considerably better. But despite its best efforts, the great post-Fukushima anime has yet to be produced. Coppelion turns out to be, sadly, just another anime.
I woke up this morning around 10:00 AM, realizing that I’m three things: NEET, hikkikomori, and a woman-bane. As I remembered the last episode of My Mental Choices are Affecting My School (read: Love) Life, and feeling a powerful urge to laugh hysterically, a voice suddenly came to my head:
Oh no, I thought, what the hell?
The voice continues. “Choose!
Wear your pants on your head and dance in your underwear on the beach,
or wear your underpants on your head and dance naked!”
I quickly reminded myself that while I liked the show a lot and it really puts a quirky spin on the dating sim scenario, it’s not reality. After all, how is reality connected to a show that talks about a bunch of choices you make as you go through life?
Hmm? Was the show that deep?
All of a sudden, I got a big headache. It was as if my head is splitting apart. A sudden fear seized me as I realized what the hell was going on.
Needless to say, I totally regretted the choice I made after finding myself in the local police station, after being reported for inappropriate behavior in public (OK, don’t quote me or legally analyze this).
My Mental Choices is a weird show. You won’t find any solid substance at its root that may give you the sincere urge to come to tears and get your soul rocked like H2O, and you’re unlikely to feel a sense of overwhelming joy like you would in Porco Rosso. Though I did cry tears of laughter and laughed with sympathy as I watched Kanade (the main male) be the sole comic relief in absurd and absolutely contrived situations, involving his harem of Chocolat, Yuoji Ouka, and Yukihira. (It’s easier to remember names for me when the show is downright weird and not serious.) I found his situations to be very funny.
There are no deep characters here, save Yukihira, who has a deep complex on having small breasts and is unable to show her shy self. She often talks with a sarcastic voice joking about boobs, while calling Kanade massive number of names involving bugs, pigs, and other female favorite nicknames for men. The writers came up with some inventive ones, for sure.
As for the others, Yuoji Ouka is very cute, funny, and pretends that she doesn’t care much for sexual innuendos, until harem/ecchi accidents happen. Like her forerunners of the harem genre, she is forced to examine her feelings about actually being proverbially naked in front of her favorite guy. Chocolat is another annoying character with an annoyingly big appetite, but is nowhere as competent as other big-appetite type characters. She’s the fanservice character of gluttony, “hiding” a serious side. I feel that all three cute girls are basically hiding their true personalities in this freakish universe to avoid really confronting their feelings toward Kanade and other people.
If you want to read that far into the characters (lol).
In the end, if you’re passing by, and not offended or bored to tears, then have a seat and enjoy the spectacle. Kanade is like Jim Carrey in 2D without the comedic talent, but is forced to make embarrassments funny for the sake of the Otaku audience, and gets himself a harem despite the creepy choices he has to make. And because I like Ace Ventura, I like this show as well.
Just not for a second watch or a serious purchase. I watched it on Crunchyroll.
B- for comic value, C for everything else. PG – 13 if you have pretty understanding parents. (And B for the design of the girls).