Santa might want to think of trading in his sleigh for one of these babies
|Tomorrow is the day everyone wakes up early and rushes downstairs to rip open presents and plunder their stockings (aka Christmas). This is a bit early but I want to wish a MERRY CHRISTMAS to all the Metanorn readers! To celebrate, we’ve been writing 12 Days of Anime posts as well as these upcoming Secret Santa posts. It’s my first year doing it, and it seems like a rather fun tradition!|
For those of you who don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, Secret Santa is an event put together by Reverse Thieves where bloggers submit their names and recommend 3 series to a randomly-assigned blogger as well as anonymously receive 3 suggestions. In the end, everyone gets a chance to watch a new series and write about it, so it’s fun for everyone. Hopefully. If you get a crappy series, there’s not much you can do. As for myself, out of my 3 choices (none of which I had even heard of before) I went with RideBack. Secret santa – whoever you are – thanks for the nice present!
First of all, a RideBack is classified as a type of advanced motorcycle that can automatically balance itself and predict what the rider intends to do. In fact, it’d be more accurate to call it a robot with wheels for feet since it moves like a human on rollerblades, complete with arms that provide balance support or even attack opponents in competitive races. It’s mostly used for sport, and Ogata Rin finds herself completely immersed in riding one after she stumbles upon the RideBack club. After tearing a ligament in her leg during a ballet performance, she could never return to the stage despite her overpowering love for dancing. She finds a new passion riding these crazy machines. Of course, she’s super good at it almost immediately, as most people who fatefully stumble across mechs are. Her formula for success is that she gets her RideBack, Fuego, to do ballet moves to get over obstacles. It’s almost graceful to watch, and adds a little something special to the races and chase scenes.
At 12 episodes long, RideBack has a breakneck pacing that pushes the gas pedal to the floor without stopping pretty much right from episode 1. Rin starts riding almost immediately, and there’s a big chase scene in the first episode just to show off how cool the RideBacks. How cool are they? Really goddamned cool. The way they move is unpredictable since they’re a vehicle/robot hybrid, so sometimes they will turn and hug corners like a motorcycle would, and other times they will use their “legs” to kick off a wall like a human and do a backflip. All of the action sequences with Rin or the club’s ace Tamayo are intense without any dips in action. Everything is balanced in a way so that when something insane is going on, it’s going to stay that way for a while, so you’d better enjoy the adrenaline rush. It is the total opposite of anime fights where two opponents clash, then part and spend half the episode explaining the technique to their secret move or begin a droning monologue.
However, it’s not all about the action. In fact, RideBack is just as much a drama series as it is a high-octane mech series. As the show progresses, RideBacks get a bad rap as being used by terrorists as weapons. The GGP responds in kind by creating an entire RideBack police force (The White Riders) to crack down on crime. However, things get more and more violent as the man in charge is completely corrupt and doesn’t mind killing people indiscriminately. The whole show is basically about the GGP, the terrorists, and Rin’s RideBack club getting horribly mixed up in between. All the different plot threads keep you on your toes as it becomes not just about Rin learning to ride, accepting her mother’s death or even the club members building friendships – but about how these machines affect Japan as an entire country. I like that it goes deeper beneath the surface of “girl finds sport, girl improves at sport, girl becomes champion at sport thanks to her sugoii tomodachis.” There are a few threads that feel a bit cut short such as learning about Kiefer and even Okakura, but it’s not so unresolved that it leaves any bitter taste in my mouth.
The strengths lie mostly in the story and action for RideBack, as they are both exceptionally well-done. I felt really hyped up for almost half of the time spent watching it. My only real complaint is that the characters are all forgettable. I will not even remember Rin a week from now, and I’d be hard-pressed to even try and describe her personality. They are thrown into such a gauntlet of life-changing events that we don’t ever see them for who they really are. Everyone is constantly changing or acting a certain way just because people act differently during a crisis.
We constantly see Rin rushing into the face of danger to save her friends, but I wouldn’t say it’s because she’s reckless or even brave. If anything, she’s actually a quiet, passive character who just feels strongly about her friends. It’s only during these critical moments that she becomes hot-blooded. The rest of the cast is mostly a mix of bland or annoying. Hishida is just there to be the infodump for how RideBacks work, Suzuri is annoying, and the freelance journalists are completely nondescript aside from having the typical personality that suits their job description. The characters designs also personally bug a bit since everyone has a permablush as if they ate something funky and got a rash on their face. It’s also weird that some characters have anime eyes, others have normal-sized eyes (which look liek they’re too small compared to everyone else, even though it’s probably proportionate), and a handful of characters have eyes that look like Pikachu’s.
All in all, I really enjoyed RideBack and how intense it was. Despite having a weak cast, it doesn’t fail to entertain and never pulls any punches. I’m curious to know who suggested this to me now so I can thank them properly. Hmm, I hope my secret santa liked their picks at least marginally. To all the readers…any more suggestions for some good series to add to my “to watch” list on MAL? We can exchange recommendations! You can never have too much anime to watch, after all.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!