Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Rideback Review (English)

“This is my world. This light. This feeling. The only time I’m even aware of my own existence, is when I’m up on this stage. Then the curtain suddenly fell. And the world changed.”

Rideback is a 12 episode SciFi/Mecha/Sport based on the manga by Tetsuro Kasahara and published by Shogakukan. The anime from director Atsushi Takahasi and Studio Madhouse aired in Japan in the winter of 2009. FUNimation holds the current licensing rights.

In a future world where an organization called the GGP has taken control of the world, Rin Ogata was a promising up-and-coming ballet dancer, but suffered a serious injury and decided to quit. Years later in college she comes across a club building and soon finds herself intrigued by a transforming motorcycle like vehicle called a Rideback. She discovers that her unique ballet skills with balance and finesse make her a born natural on a Rideback. However, those same skills also get her into serious trouble with the government.

This is one of the rare cases where the mix of animation and CGI work actually blends pretty well. You obviously can’t animate something so massive like a Rideback and still make it look cool. Well.... Maybe you can, but the CGI still makes them looks awesome. Regardless, Madhouse has outdone themselves with this one. The animation is pretty much flawless! The music is a nice mix of slight dance with the occasional piano music for those special moments. The opening and ending theme are rather interesting to talk about. The music fits well for the series, but the animation for the themes doesn’t 100% work well. Considering what the story is about, you would understand what I’m talking about.

Speaking of story, overall it’s a good story. We start off with Rin picking up riding and her first big race. Then the political messaging comes into play and all hell breaks loose. And, for the most part, this all works well. Unfortunately, the ending kinda suffers. After episode 10, it all becomes rather clustered, making the ending both bittersweet and, almost, unsatisfying... That’s just how I feel. The rush of the last two episodes didn’t quite give much of a good pay off. I’m not saying the story doesn’t get resolved, cause it really does. I’m just saying everything in the end is extremely rushed. Also... RIDEBACK Y U MAKE ME CRY?!?!?!?!

There’s a fairly decent amount of development with these characters. Out of the main cast, only Rin, Tamayo and Okakura either get major development or have major backstories about them. The secondary characters do get some development, but it’s not much; actually leaving the occasional hole in the side story they create (I mean, seriously, was Shouko going to ever get with Haruki?) I can’t really say that I fully appreciate Rin as a charater, sadly. Something just seems off about her. Granted, her quitting ballet brings us into this story, but she can always try again. Hell, it’s even mentioned later on in the series when she decides to give up riding and is asked what she was going to do and her response was “I don’t know.” Then there’s the whole light and chosen thing that I’m still a little confused about. Was that adrenaline or something else? One other thing.... HOW CAN ONE MAN BE SUCH A DICK?!?!?! I’m not kidding! That Commander Kalenback is such an evil dictator it’s not even funny! I get that there’s a reason why he’s bent on killing terrorism (and I’m using the word “kill” lightly here), but geez calm the heck down!

One way you can tell Bryan Massey is in this series... THAT NOSE!!
I guess that gives me the perfect chance to talk about the dub? Cause I am that good at segways? Anyhow, this dub is actually one of the different FUNimation dubs I’ve seen. Now a days, we tend to see a lot of the same actors used in series that are licensed by FUNimation like J. Michael Tatum, Patrick Setiz, and Monica Rial. However, with Rideback’s dub, it’s a lot more fresh faces then old fogies save for J. Michael Tataum and Jason Douglas. First off we have Tia Ballard (Shiki) as Rin Ogata. She has a good mix of soft spoken and tough competitive girl mixed in her performance, however, some of her lines can be either wooden or forced. But that’s more on a part of the dub as a whole rather then on Ballard’s performance. Then we have Kristi Bingham (Fairy Tail) as Rin’s best friend Shouko. She has a sort of valley girl added into her voice, however she balances out Rin’s personality nicely. Next is Trina Nishimura (Steins;Gate) as Suzuri........ My ears are bleeding just thinking about this character...... In the beginning she is such a pain to listen to cause she is either a squealing fan girl or sounds like she’s trying to be a boy for some odd reason. She gets better later on, but not by much. You also have Chris Burnett (Romeo X Juliet), Stephanie Young (Claymore), and Micah Solusod (Soul Eater [Great to see him again!])in this dub. But, probably the biggest surprise, and best performance in my opinion, has to be Bryan Massey (Baccano!) as Okakura! I’ve been wondering when I would hear good old Lad Russo again, and my prayers have been answered! Obviously, he’s not a crazy killer in this one, but he does bring in a mix of mysterious tough guy who has a slight soft side. Overall, decent dub, and a nice change from the typical FUNi dubs as of late.

At the end of the ride, Rideback has some interesting concepts and characters to make for a great story. However, some of the heavy political symbolism and clustered story may make this a series to avoid to the casual viewer. I do recommend this for those who like Madhouse’s animation and this good FUNi dub. You just may have to turn your reviewer brain off at some points so you can actually enjoy the ride (Suzuri... My ears are still bleeding....).

Thanks to Durga for the request!

If you want to send me an anime to review, you can email me at lilacanimereview@gmail.comNext week, we travel to purgatory. Until next time, otaku on my friends.

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