Thursday, October 4, 2012

Anime Review: Rideback

Do you remember way back in my reviews for Demonic Devil Emperor Satan King Daimao and Ga-Rei Zero when I said I watched three anime series back to back in one sitting and it basically drove me insane? Well the third anime I viewed that day was Rideback. I didn’t review it back then because I actually didn’t finish the last two episodes. By the time I got around to doing so I had pretty much forgotten the plot so I decided to re-watch the whole thing. It turns out that going through it a second time was something of a horrible mistake and it took me FOREVER to finally watch it. It’s done now so let’s review it and move on to some other anime series.

Rideback is a 2009 anime based on a manga of the same name. The show was produced by Madhouse, one of the most well-known anime production companies, who also responsible for Princess Resurrection and Highschool of the Dead (among many, many others). FUNimation licensed and released it in 2011. At twelve episodes it’s another fairly short series but believe me, it felt a lot longer.

Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: There's at least one outstanding spoiler in this review, so proceed at your own risk.]





Yeah...it turns out this isn't a racing show afterall
In the near future the world is under control of a group called the GCP. At the same time a new vehicle craze has caught on in Japan; motorcycle-like vehicles called “Ridebacks”. Rin Ogata, a young ex-ballerina who gave it up after a serious injury, has just started collage. Rin ends up coming across the university’s Rideback Club and, on the insistence of club member Haruki, ends up riding on one of their in shop units; Fuego. After both losing control of Fuego and demonstrating incredible natural talent for driving it she is asked to join the club. No one could have predicted the catastrophic events this innocent joy ride would lead to.

On the technical side of things the anime looks pretty good. The animation is pretty smooth and the character designs are pretty unique. This show, way too many shows these days, mixes in some CG their cell animation; specifically with the ridebacks and some of the other military weapons. It technically works well enough but I’m not sure it ever truly looks all that good together.


Black Swan: The Animated Series
The characters are not the most memorable I’ve ever seen. I do like that Rin is the main character but she’s very indecisive and a bit on the whiny side. I had a hard time warming up to her. I did like the idea that her talents as a ballerina made her very skillful at driving ridebacks though. The imagery alone was handled well, even if the character herself was lacking. On the other hand supporting character Tamayo had a bit of fire to her, and I did like her, but her personality seemed more geared towards a different type of show but I’m actually getting ahead of myself. Even though I just watched this show (twice) I’m having a hard time recalling most of the supporting cast, probably because for the most part they were unmemorable clich├ęs I’ve seen a million times in anime.

One stand out is Suzuri, Rin’s number one fan, not because she’s an interesting character but because she’s incredibly annoying. Spending all her time hero worshiping Rin, biting anyone she perceives as being disrespectful to Rin, and all around being a real jerk to the relatively innocent Rideback Club members I can say I spent a lot of time wishing someone would backhand here. [SPOILER ALERT] She dies near the climax of the show in a stupid and petty scenario and I’m pretty sure the show meant for me to feel both sad and outraged at her murder but when she went down my reaction was pretty much “Oh. Nice.” Not exactly me calling out for the perpetrator to pay for their crimes.


I'd punch her in the face if she were real
I was also misled by the series as well. Based on a Netflix description (which, let’s face it, are often terribly written and incorrect to begin with) as well as the first few episodes it seemed like this was supposed to be some sort of futuristic racing anime and that ridebacks were the vehicle of choice. All the elements are here; a gifted natural, a potential hot-blooded rival, cool vehicles that may or may not be alive and bonded to the main character; it’s no wonder I was suckered in. But after a few episodes that whole idea went down the shitter and the political thriller elements take over the show. This is a serious problem because a) that crap is not done in an interesting way and b) the show seems like it set up for something else and the transition is jarring. It’s almost feels like the original creator started out wanting to make a shonen-styled racing series but then got bored with that idea and turned it into a thriller.

Speaking of the thriller stuff it’s really uninteresting. It’s nothing that Rin ever directly confronts; it’s not like she’s leading a rebellion against a corrupt government. It’s merely the atmosphere of the series. Plus the show doesn’t do a great job of explaining exactly what the problem was. The leader of the GCP stationed in Japan, Romanov, is clearly cartoonishly evil but that’s not his organization fault. Plus there’s no rhyme or reason to his brutality. It’s just there with no further explanation other than hes corrupt and likes to oppress people whenever he can.

This isn’t a bad anime, it’s just not one that I care to watch again. I certainly didn’t like it all that much but it’d be unfair to say a bunch of things about how bad it is, because it’s not. I liked the ridebacks themselves and I liked the way Rin used hers, but at the end of the day for all the good elements featured in the show few of them were used in the right order to actually attract my fancy. Whether it works for you is entirely up to you so if you find it convent check it out. It’s short so it shouldn’t take too long; just don’t speed through it twice.


And, hey, if nothing else the show had a lot of cool shots like this
Rideback gets 3 out of 5 Adorable Pandas.



Pros

-The rideback vehicles were cool

-Rin’s ability to ride them was equally interesting

Cons 

-The main plot isn’t very interesting

-The show feels like it should be a completely different genre

-The cast is pretty unremarkable



I need more anime to watch. If you have any requests or suggestions of anime for me to review shoot me an e-mail at betaisdead@gmail.com. Also you might as well follow me on Twitter too. @JasonBetaMagnus

3 comments:

  1. I don't disagree with your rating of this or necessarily your pros and cons, but this show really stood out for me. I think that's mainly because I can't even finish most mecha shows, and this one was actually fairly enjoyable for me. I just really wish there had been even more scenes with Rin on a rideback.

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    Replies
    1. Agreed about Rin. I don't know if I'd call this a true mecha show though but I can see the argument at least.

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  2. Hi beta, I sent you an email, I hope that you received it. It is regarding an anime writing opportunity. Regards - Alyson

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