While I was on vacation, I spent a lot of time watching anime. One show that caught my attention was Yowamushi Pedal. The story was nice and simple and somehow focuses on the joys of cycling through the eyes of competitive, high-school sportsmen. The sequel / continuation is currently airing as Yowamushi Pedal : Grande Road. If you are in the licensed region, you can watch it on Crunchyroll.
Coming back to the manga, it is not licensed by any English language publisher. As a result, one has to rely on scanlations available online. A group called Great-blaster has been scanlating chapters. So far they have translated up to volume 22 of the 36 volumes that have been published in Japanese. I think that the manga has a more universal appeal than some other sports manga, say, Kuroko no Basket.
The plot follows the standard template of a weakling who accidentally becomes the member of a high school club only to find out that he had some hidden talent in him. In this case, the protagonist, Onoda, is an otaku and commutes using his mamachari (European City Cycle). His cadence and willpower surpasses his impression. As a result he is inducted as a part of the 6 man team that must compete in the upcoming inter-high championship. Onoda is one of the most likeable characters I have come across. Onoda is happy in the simplest things of life. He also makes a great and dependable friend. The other characters bond around Onoda and their quirky interactions make way for great humor.
Wataru Watanabe’s artwork is very sketchy. The anime does a tremendous job of smoothing the artwork. Still, as a printed illustration his style has a lot of charm and conveys a sense of urgency and adrenaline.
I hope the scanlations are continued by fan groups. Even better, this is a series that can be licensed and squarely targeted at the shonen audience.
The protagonist is a middle aged salaryman named Nori. He gets his car license suspended for DUI of alcohol. His chance encounter with a high school girl, Rin, brings him to the owner of a ramen shop – her mom. Rin’s mom is a bicycle otaku and has an encyclopedia in her head. She lends Nori a road bike and prepares him for (or rather manipulates him into) racing, albeit without Nori’s consent.
Rin’s mom’s cycle encyclopedia is unraveled via pages of the manga and the tech sheets in between two chapters. At times it feels like a part of the Cartoon Guide to … series. Mohiro Kitoh, the author of Noririn, manifests his knowledge of bicycles and history of biking through the character of Rin’s mom.
Out of the the 9 available volumes, 4 have been scanlated. I personally don’t think translating this series will be a wise decision from a business point of view. Instead, it would be better if some group picked up the series and scanlated it for the sake of niche manga fans.
Namikibashi Doori: Aoba Jitenshaten
This manga is a treat to the fans of slice-of-life genre. The oldest of the four mangas carrying the Aoba Jitenshaten name (in terms of in-universe timeline), this is the only one available as scanlation. Namikibashi Doori: Aoba Jitenshaten translates to Aoba Cycle Shop on Namikibashi Road
Each chapter in this series tells an isolated story. The author, Gaku Miyao, injects his love for cycles in every story. The Aoba cycle shop and the owner father / daughter duo act merely as a catalyst and facilitator to the stories that belong to many colourful characters. I was touched by the storytelling. Unlike the other two mangas on this list, this one places equal importance to all kinds of bicycles and how they help in carrying out the functions for which they were designed in the first place. Through all these stories, Gaku Miyao draws attention to not their technicalities, but their utilities that help us make friends, make memories, conquer our own fear or patch up a broken relationship.
The sad part is that out of the 20 volumes, only two have been scanlated. The last release was over two years ago by Overload Scans. I sincerely hope that some Good Samaritan group picks this up.
I also think this manga will be an excellent candidate for an official English license. It would be better released as an omnibus format rather than individual volumes. Unlike Yowamushi Pedal, the target audience is seinen. They would definitely appreciate a well presented manga title like this.
Of the three mangas on this blog, this one requires the most love.
Have you read any of these mangas? What similar titles would you suggest? Please leave a comment below.