Unlike the widespread public opinion, anime is not only about Japanese girls in school uniforms but comprises all activities – including cycling. We picked the five most notable titles to watch, ranging from a six-minute-long story about a climbing girl to a series with several episodes about relationships in a cycling team that are worth noticing.
Hill Climb Girl
Hinako is a high school girl who loves cycling. Every morning, she competes with her classmate on the road, climbing up to their school to impress him and make him invite her on a date. Defeated every day, Hinako refuses to give up this time. After watching Bradley Wiggins’ phenomenal climbing while the Tour de France was on TV, Hinako wakes up the other day firmly resolved to win over her rival. As soon as the race begins, her commuting bike turns into carbon-fibre Pinnarelo and her school uniform with folded skirt is replaced by Team Sky spandex. The battle is on. The movie runs for just a few minutes, which makes it the perfect procrastination filler. The movie is in Japanese with Spanish subtitles but there’s no need for translation anyway.
Sho is a teenage boy growing up to become the best mountain biker in the world. Any possible time, he’s racing against the members of the enemy Shark Tooth gang, primarily their leader Gabu. During the competition on a technical downhill track, Sho enters a strange cloud that swallows him and sends him to another dimension along with his custom-made bike Flame Kaiser and the rest of the bikers. Trapped in a world called the X-zone, they all have to battle against each other on full suspension bikes. Psychedelic cycling scenes are ridiculously childish but, in the end, your kids could start cycling after watching this series, which makes Idaten Jump an inspiring fuel for Sunday family breakfasts.
Nasu: Summer in Andalusia
The cycling anime that is set into the Vuelta race in Spain, was directed by legendary Kitarō Kōsaka, the author of award-winning movies like Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Princess Mononoke. The story was adapted from a short manga titled Nasu that was recommended to Kōsaka by the famous anime director Hayao Miyazaki who’s a great fan of cycling. The story follows the Spanish professional rider Pepe Benengeli who’s facing both the pressure from his sponsors and the turmoil caused by his former girlfriend marrying his elder brother. All this comes through his mind while he competes on the stages of Vuelta a España. Summoned to act as a domestique, he unintentionally overhears a conversation between his sponsors that he should be fired from the team after the race is over, which is the outcome he won’t allow.
Similar to most anime series, Over Drive follows a student that struggles in a fight to become the best in the world in something. Mikoto Shinozaki is a boy dreaming about joining a professional cycling team and winning the Tour de France even though he’s never done any sport before. Bullied by his classmates and scared of cycling after a childhood crash, Mikoto decides to return to the sport because he wants to impress a beautiful, yet manipulative and bossy girl named Yuki. The 26-part series describes what it takes if you want to be the best. Be prepared for detailed elbow-to-elbow cycling fights spiced up by pathetic scenes, emotions, and slow-mo shots.
Obsessed by anime and manga, high school student Onoda Sakamichi wants to join the local club of comic book lovers, only to realize that it has been disbanded for lack of members. In the search for a potential friend, he meets Imaizumi Shunsuke, a keen cyclist, who notices Onoda’s secret talent for the sport. Yowamushi Pedal is a never-ending story about friendship and road cycle racing. The series gives you insight into how much Japanese people can work in a team and sacrifice themselves for the success of their closest ones.