[Possible spoilers ahead! Skip below for TLDR version!]
As someone who thoroughly enjoyed the first two seasons I was strongly anticipating the continuation of the YowaPeda series. And while the first two installments of it were solid sport series, this one disappointed me greatly and had me wondering what the author was actually thinking most of the time.
STORY: The story starts at the point the 3rd years leave the club after the Inter Highs due to exams and skips to the beginning of the 2nd year for Onoda and his friends. This is the point where the first season already had it's major flaws: The story takes way too much time to start and keeps itself busy with character introductions and training. Oh and overly dramatic speeches of course.
Also another thing that bothered me was how everything keeps repeating itself. They have the beginners race, the training camp with the 1000 km race and so on which was very tiring indeed. The writer could've come up with something fresh/new instead of reusing the same plot-line.
But what disappointed me the most was that the aim of the team is still the same. Of course it's logical that they'd want to win the Inter Highs again but it took me 18 episodes to realize that all the hype around it was away. I didn't even care for them winning a second time because they already won it and that's it. Could've introduced another kind of tournament or maybe even an international one...but nope "InHi" again I guess. And with the same line-up. Yes, there NO new teams. They're still up against Hakone and KyoFushi (and some fodder schools but they aren't worth mentioning).
CHARACTERS: Here is where the show usually shined, but paled this season. First of all, our Senpais are away and will be missed for sure. But of course I hoped for some cool, new characters. What did we get instead? Bratty first years, copycats of prior third years and unnecessary character additions for plot convenience.
The team of six is completed by a guy named Kaburagi Issa who is pretty much a more obnoxious version of Naruko. He's an arrogant, childish and rude teenager whose purpose is not quite clear to me. The narrative wants us to think he's the "perfect" sprinter (while he wants to be an all-rounder). Why not introduce a type of character we didn't have yet instead? Why the fk does he look like Naruko?
Also we have our main characters, which didn't change much except that they're a bit more mature. Naruko gets some kind of development, while Imaizumi is irrelevant most of the time. Oh and Onoda tries to be Makishima 2.0 while he fails at it. Sugimoto showed some potential, but was cut off sadly. I was rooting for him actually...
Then at the training camp some guy who apparently everyone knows except for the viewer appears and challenges Teshima to a ride which shall decide who will be the captain. And ofc EVERYONE is ok with that. I mean dude, who are you even? Why is no one bothered by him? He was literally added just to give Teshima a justification for being captain and that's it.
The idea of giving Teshima some spotlight was good though, as well as Aoyagi. I enjoyed their scenes mostly. I liked how Teshima said "I'm weak" as opposed to the infamous "I'm strong" of Hakone's Fukutomi. But it could've been handled better.
But the worst thing was how they handled Midousuji. After the second day race and his "trip" with Onoda I thought he was inspired by him and changed a little concerning his attidue towards his team. However this season completely omitted that and made him even more evil and weird. He got some battle shounen-esque transformations where he literally evolves to a butterfly or something. And he has a gay-ass massage guy as assistant who likes touching people. Oh and of course he has his Zaku-army.
Hakone's new members are pretty disappointing too. Kuroda is too much of an Arakita try-hard, Shinkai's brother is literally Shinkai and the big guy was not terrible but also nothing special. Oh and there's a tall guy who likes Beethoven.
MUSIC/ART: The music was excellent as always and we also got a new Hime song. The animation was good although there was awkward CGI at times.
OVERALL: While it was not utterly terrible I was overly disappointed by the new seasons repetitiveness. It had absolutely nothing new to offer and recycled old formulas from season one instead. The new characters were not refreshing nor had anything interesting to them.
+ Music/Art is good as always, although animation is not perfect
+ More spotlight/development for Teshima and Aoyagi
- no new plotline, recycles old elements
- not as exciting as season one, lacks some new goals/teams/reason for competition
- takes much time to start with the tournament
- characterization is weak, new characters are uninteresting