Happy First Day of Summer, everyone! Time to bust out that grill, weed that garden, throw on that swimsuit, and OH GOD SUNLIGHT WHY.
If you’re anything like me, summer is also the season of the binge-watch. No school, longer days, most of your U.S. shows are on break – heck, even the Summer anime season tends to have fewer series. It’s like the universe is ASKING you to marathon something!
That’s why, in honor of the new season, I’m releasing my Seven Days of Summer: A guide to the top binge-worthy anime series to enthrall and entertain you and your friends on these long hot days and short warm nights.
So let’s get the ball rolling with this delightful sports gem, an ongoing series and one of my current favorites…
Day One: Yowamushi Pedal (“YowaPeda”)
Studio: TMS Entertainment
Based On: The manga by Watanabe Wataru
Streaming On: Crunchyroll (listed as “Yowapeda”) (subs only)
Episode Count: 36 (ongoing)
In a Sentence: High school freshman (and total otaku) Sakamichi Onoda finds himself drawn into the world of road racing when his climbing skills catch the eye of the school’s competitive cycling team.
Here There Be: Bicycle races, screwball comedy, genuine heart, and enough bromances to make Supernatural go “Whoa, dude, that’s a lot of bromances.”
…And the Pitch!
Quirky and thrilling, goofy and sincere, YowaPeda is one of the most infectiously likeable series with one of the most infectiously likeable casts I’ve seen in recent years. The road races are entertaining and well-animated, clipping along at a (mostly) reasonable pace, but what really makes this show stand out are the personalities of its characters and the way they interact with each other.
The series is populated with oddballs – the energetic redhead with no filter (“I’m so excited I pooped three times this morning!”), the lanky upperclassman who sucks at friendly chit-chat, and let’s not forget the guy whose pecs (“Andy” and “Frank”) are basically sentient – and all these characters flesh out the story, giving the competitions history and importance (and plenty of humor, too). But they all pale in comparison to the protagonist, who is so loyal and earnest and cheek-pinchingly adorable that you can’t help but cheer for him every step of the way.
Onoda is MC of the year, as far as I’m concerned, and the way he is both drawn into the world of cycling AND draws his teammates into the world of anime provides the most joyous moments of the series. At its best, YowaPeda is a show about spheres we think of as separate (anime and sports) coming together not only to coexist, but to actually enrich one another. I’m not sure if it’s a sports show for anime fans or an anime show for sports fans, but either way it’s great fun, and only seems to get better as it goes.
Why This Summer?
The anime was originally slated for 38 episodes, but it’s done so well that TMS has picked it up for more. Season 2 airs in the Fall, so now’s the perfect chance to get caught up and ready for more as the team races towards the Inter-High finish line.