Friday, April 27, 2012

Rideback Anime Review

Complete Collection - 4 discs
300 mins. - 12 episodes
$64.98 (2011) Blu-Ray/DVD
$69.98 (2011) Limited w/keychain
ISBN 704400012464
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Atsushi Takahashi
Studio - Madhouse

Synopsis: Rin Ogata is a promising dancer with an incredible career ahead of her...until she suffers a devastating injury during a performance.  Flash forward three years to Rin as an unassuming college student after she has quit dancing.  One day she stumbles upon the school Rideback club and discovers the flame-red Fuego - an incredible machine part motorcycle and part robot.
Rin lights up the stage as a star ballerina
She finds a deep affinity for riding Fuego and her dance training proves to be an enormous benefit to operating a Rideback.  Almost immediately her riding draws the attention of Tamayo Kataoka, the Rideback champion of Japan.  Tamayo challenges Rin to a race and later becomes her mentor.
The first fateful ride (or flight) of Rin and Fuego
Ridebacks played a deciding role in halting the United States from conquering the world during the Battle of Arizona and now the GGP (Global Government Plan) have replaced them as global peacekeepers.  Japan becomes a political hotbed as the GGP plans to unveil their White Riders program inserting themselves into local police forces with an eventual global rollout.
Rin races on Fuego for the first time
Rin uses Fuego to rescue a friend in trouble and winds up embroiled in a deadly political revolution.  Now she's caught between the GGP, Japanese government, and BMA (Borderless Military Alliance).  Can Rin make a difference with Fuego and protect the ones she loves?
Tamayo takes five after a long training session on her Rideback
Pros: Great animation and use of CGI on the Ridebacks, excellent backgrounds, Ridebacks are an interesting concept, catchy opening theme song (by MELL) and opening animation sequence, pretty good dub
Beautiful sunset by Madhouse
Cons: Short at 12 episodes, doesn't have enough racing, shockingly no fan-service for a show featuring a girl riding a mecha-cycle in a dress, character designs were so-so - hair was odd and everyone had shading lines under their eyes (it's from the manga, but seriously) plus Shoko always has a snaggle tooth, Suzuri is always annoying (that gets resolved by the end)
The Goblin rides!
Mike Tells It Straight: Rideback is not your typical mecha show, but more a mix of racing, mecha, and dancing (just like the Ridebacks are a hybrid of motorcycle and robot).  It doesn't fit or focus too heavily on any of these aspects so if you're looking for a great mecha-only/racing-only/dancing-only show then it's not going to satisfy you.
Rin faces off against automated monsters
I think the plot suffered by trying to be too many things at once while being too short to fully develop the concepts opened up with the Ridebacks.  The show could easily have been a racing show with Rin's journey of discovery using Fuego to rekindle her competitive spirit from dancing and competing to become a Rideback champion.  It focuses more on the political wranglings of the GGP, BMA, and Japanese government.  It would have been perfect at 26 episodes with half dedicated to racing and the last half evolving into a political drama.
Rin's game face
Funimation's collections for this show seem like overkill - why offer a set with four discs (2 dvds and 2 blu-rays) instead of two separate sets with just dvds or blu-rays?  Drop the price and split them up because I'll either watch one or the other.  No need for both IMHO.  The limited edition box set just didn't interest me - why do I want a keychain and bigger box?  Maybe I'm being hyper-critical here, but the lack of a regular dvd set was annoying.
Great starting scene from the opening sequence
Overall Rideback was off-the-beaten-path and an interesting hybrid of different genres.  It was definitely not what I expected whether that's good or bad.  The visuals by Madhouse were great (especially the opening sequence), but the show itself was only so-so.  I would have enjoyed a racing show more, but the political intrigue was interesting.  Rin's personal journey is the real star here and a good reason to check it out.

TO BUY and Recommendations: