You know how people always chastise Dragon Ball Z for it's really awkward passages of time? Like how Goku and Freiza were fighting for "five minutes" for like 10 episodes or the cell tournament only being in a day but it took a bunch of episodes too. Well Yowamushi Pedal outdid that because the whole second season was over the course of a day and a half. That's 24 episodes of bike racing consisting of a day.
I like sports anime for the same reason I like sports movies because I get to see all the cool sports stuff without actually having to sit through actual sports which is SO BORING. It's like constantly watching the highlight reel with the drama of WWE wrestling. Everything is alive and exciting, every shot shown matters, every reaction is powerful and the emotion is strong when they win or lose. You have a reason to care other than stats or team loyalty.
So once again we're going to have some spoilers in here. Some of it is unavoidable but major spoilers will be marked as so. Let's do this thing.
This is the second season so hopefully you've seen the first season, but if not here's a quick synopsis. Onoda Sakamichi really loves anime but he can't get anyone to join his group. He meets this guy while riding up the hill to school who agrees to join if he can beat him in a bike race. Needless to say that didn't exactly work out in his favor but he did find out he is really good at biking so he joined the bike club meeting interesting people along the way as the team prepares for the Interhigh a cross school biking competition that contains three long days of a vigorous bike race. Don't worry it's broken up into three days and three paths they don't just bike for three days. Bam, there ya go. No important spoilers there but if you want to stop reading here and go watch it you definitely should.
Grande Road continues where the last season left off, half way into the interhigh. Actually there's not much more overview plot than that. Onada's school Sohoku high goes to the interhigh and runs into obstacles on the way can they overcome them in order to win this thing?
I'm only doing Sohoku's bike club because if I was to do every important character in this show I'd be here forever.
Onoda is our main protagonist. He is also a climber of the group which means his specialty is hills. He is also a chaser, gaining the most speed when he is following someone rather than when he is in the lead. Also, he is known for his exceptionally high cadence which I learned means the number of times he rotates the pedals meaning that his legs move exceptionally fast when pedaling. He gained these skills from biking to and from Akibahara (the anime center of Japan) everyday which is said to be 45 kms or 28 miles.
Onoda has trouble making friend since he is very shy and awkward which is part of the reason he decides to bring back the anime club. He is very forward and speaks his mind despite constantly second guessing himself. He always goes fastest when he's smiling or singing his favorite anime's theme song which helps his rhythm and increases his cadence. Onoda is dependable and a huge secret weapon because nobody expects anything out of him. When he's given a job to do he'll do whatever he has to to get it done even putting himself in danger. Onoda always comes through in a pinch and never wants to leave a man behind.
He's your run of the mill aloof guy who only cares about one thing cycling. Then he meets Onoda who begins to open his mind and body to new experiences. Just kidding, although the Yaoi fangirls wish i;, but he does grow to care about Onoda as a close friend and even begins to find enjoyment in some of the things Onoda likes. Imaizumi is a tactical racer, he can sprint and he can climb well being an important leader for the first years.
Imaizumi enjoys the quiet of being up in front of the race without anyone contesting him. He enjoys winning, and practices and works harder than most to be the best he can be. His main rival on the team is the hot blooded Shoukichi Naruko and his main enemy is Midousuji.
Naruko and Imaizumi push each other to be better by constantly butting head and competing. Midousuji of Kyoto Fushimi high constantly plays mind games with Imaizumi and plays dirty tricks in order to ensure his victory. Imaizumi has been on the bad end of one of his tricks and has dedicated himself to taking Midousuji down. He's also well liked by the ladies but is completely uncomfortable with the attention.
Also known as the Naniwa Speed Man, Naruko is the final first year and a sprinter. He is also known for his sprint climbing. Sprinters are best on flats so during hills he compensates for this weakness by using his "Armstrong Climb" although it is hard to maintain and taxes him heavily. He meets Onoda during a trip to Akibahara and after admiring Onoda's bike the two end up spending the day together while Naruko hunts for a gift for his brothers.
Naruko is a rowdy hot head who often jumps in without thinking. He is a bit complacent and often spends a lot of time shouting out how great he is but he always works hard to prove himself right. He is a dependable guy who cares deeply for his friends. He always has words of encouragement when Onoda needs it.
Makishima like Onoda is a climber but has a very irregular style of dancing that makes his bike go from side to side making it appear like it's nearly falling. Makishima is one of the third years and tends to be kind of aloof but underneath he does really care about the team. He is focused however on winning and is ok with leaving a teammate behind if they can't pull their weight though it does hurt him feeling that the team comes first over a single person.
Tuodou Jinpachi is Makishima's main rival and a very close friend. They've raced each other many times ending up breaking even and as third years this is their last time to race on the big stage of the Interhigh.
Kinjou is the team Captain. He is also a tactical racer like Imaizumi and the team's ace. The ace like any other sport usually means they're the best player on the team. He has a high level of determination to win the interhigh due to it being his final year. Not just he really wants to win but that he works harder than anyone can imagine to be able to win the interhigh. He has earned his place as the leader and as the ace countless times. Kinjou doesn't allow anyone into his head or get ruffled easily, he continually stays cool and collected and only focuses on winning and keeps his team focused as if his opponents don't even exist. He's extremely hard to read. Kinjou has been seen as very distant but extremely supportive of his team and willing to push them to the brink and even further to help them reach their full potential.
Fukutomi Juichi is Kinjou's main rival. They fought viciously at the previous Interhigh Fukutomi even causing a crash that allowed him to win, a fact he couldn't forgive himself for. They're both very cold but secretly very kind and charismatic. Kinjou sees something in Onoda that the others didn't and had faith in him. Fukutomi took in a delinquent and made him fight to be the best rider he could be.
The human bullet train is actually all the third years together but it felt weird not having a nickname for Tadokoro. He doesn't get much love in the series. He is an interesting character, he's fairly loud and overly confident like Naruko. Naruko greatly respects him because he is seriously strong rider. His huge muscular body takes in more air giving him a higher lung capacity than anyone on the team which helps him give his muscles more oxygen allowing him to ride faster and stronger.
He doesn't seem to have a rival other than Naruko who he is more of a mentor/goal to. All of his storylines focus solely on him and his place on the team. As a third year it's more important than ever for him to fight as hard as he can. He is a great and welcoming guy who laughs often and people enjoy being around him. He cares deeply for his friends and will do whatever it takes to make sure their efforts aren't in vain.
This is a shonen sports anime. It's here to teach you a lesson about friendship, tell you to never give up and always trust in those who are right there beside you fighting as hard as they can. I really enjoyed it because it's such an uplifting story really reminding us that nothing is going to be handed to us, nothing is easy, but it's worth it because it's hard. You can take the easy route and do fine or you can take the hard route and be a winner, but to do that you have to fight. Like I said, the great thing about sports anime is that they skip the boring stuff and focus completely on the important things, the drama, the action, everything is always on the line. This is definitely true with this anime, hope is always lost, everything seems terrible but they keep pushing and they keep going.
The characters are interesting but not super unique or new. They're pretty run of the mill actually you can find characters like these in almost every anime the nerdy kid nobody respects or expects anything out of, the hot head braggart with a heart of gold, the guy who is too cool for everything but not really. Some of the most interesting characters aren't even on the main team. Their development is what makes it interesting, where they go with it. It's not going to be anything insanely out there it's a sports anime not Bleach. it's still pretty routed in what's possible, but by the end you'll be cheering for the team as loud as anyone else.
If you're looking for an interesting sports anime that's outside of the usual basketball/baseball/football then Haikyuu is definitely a good way to go. Karasuno High is the home of the Karasuno volleyball team previously one of the best in the country. This is less individually focused and more team focused, though Hinata the orange head one could still be seen as the main protagonist.
Haikyuu is a lot more sports action packed and less flashbacks to tell the story. It's pretty straightforward and has a bit more variety and life for the characters. Since it's more team focused, each character is more fleshed out and all are valuable to the team. It's a great mix of sports and comedy that might just have you laughing until you cry.