[Tony Yao, blogger of Manga Therapy, has found a under-the-radar gem, Yowamushi Pedal (aka Yowapeda), from the Fall 2013 anime season that highlights a geek doing whatever it takes to enjoy his hobby. The main character actually becomes physically active to enjoy a hobby that’s normally associated with being inactive. Steve was intrigued by the themes and asked to do a reprint]
When you look at certain reports on any kind of fandom, you usually get the bad gist of it. You hear how fans are some of the worst or weirdest people on the planet. Fans are sometimes called delusional. But a recent anime adaptation of a sports manga shows the good side of fandom and how a hobby leads to challenge and growth.
This series is none other than Yowamushi Pedal or Yowapeda for short. Yowapedais a sports anime/manga series focused on cycling and has a protagonist who is quite the otaku. Young Onoda Sakamichi is hardcore enough to the point where he travels by bike to Akihabara from his school to buy anime goods every single day. Why? To save money and not pay bus fares. He tries to start an anime club at his school, but ends up joining the cycling club after meeting fellow classmates, Imaizumi Shunsuke and Naruko Shoukichi. Onoda falls in love with cycling and becomes determined to be the best cyclist he can be.
As much as people might find hobbies to be quite the waste, they unlock a world of creativity for people. They help build new skills that are beneficial to you in the long run. It has also been said they define your career. Yeah, hobbies are fun, but they are meaningful fun. There are times when hobbies can lead to passions for other things. For myself, loving anime and manga has led to research becoming my mistress.
In episode 5 of Yowapeda, Onoda prepares himself for his initiation course for the cycling team by remembering a mantra from his favorite anime heroine, Himeko Kotori. He tells himself that challenging himself is exciting and that the world is full of new experiences. Now you might think – can an otaku be motivated to try to be a better person because of anime/manga? You want a good example? How about cosplayers? Many cosplayers out there have made something of themselves and actually found/developed skills that serve them well. Sure, designing costumes can be quite a pain, but the effort is worth it to those folks as the personal satisfaction from doing something that requires a lot of investment and being a character they can relate to.
Deep inside our subconscious, we crave a sense of challenge. There comes a point where life feels lacking and you want to do something about it. Things can suddenly happen as well. Challenge keeps you on your toes, which everyone needs to do in times of uncertainty. Yet some people, including otaku, may not be ambitious at all. There are those who complain about others not making something of themselves, but maybe it would be worth it to actually get to know them and understand what motivates them. There is always an emotional trigger that gets people to light up.
Though I think a serious problem is the perception of challenges. They can be viewed as a bad thing. It’s natural to want to stay away from difficult tasks. However, there are children being pushed too hard to get good quickly at them. You should treat taking on a challenge as a marathon, not a sprint. Isn’t there a good reason why the tortoise beat the hare? Onoda is a good example of slow and steady. He rode a “mommy bike” 90 km (56 miles) every day to Akiba for several years to become the notable talent being recognized by others around him.
There’s one more thing that Yowapeda wants to teach using a moe anime within an anime – that challenge should be fun. People forget that fun is what keeps us going and alive.
Fun and exciting, that’s what the human spirit should be cycling towards to.
You can catch the adventures of the lovable otaku that is Onoda by watching Yowapeda on Crunchyroll.
(Thanks Tony! – Steven Savage)