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Prince of Stride Alternative – 02 »

Prince of Stride Alternative – 01

OP Sequence

OP: 「ストライド」 (Sutoraido) “Stride” by OxT (Masayoshi Oishi x Tom-H@ck)

「ON YOUR MARK 運命のはじまり」 (ON YOUR MARK Unmei no hajimari)
“On Your Mark – The Beginning of Destiny”

It’s like they made an anime for high school me. I couldn’t be happier.

The Deets

Prince of Stride Alternative follows Sakurai Nana (Hanazawa Kana) who has just moved from the quiet countryside of Hokkaido into the bustling, fast-paced, and ultra-bright neon city of Tokyo in order to become the manager of Honan High School’s famous Stride club. Or rather, formerly famous, as she quickly discovers that the club has fallen from its once prestigious status into now near extinction. On the way, she runs (not a pun I swear) into fellow first years Fujiwara Takeru (Okamoto Nobuhiko)—a quiet and offbeat individual who happens to be a prominent Stride athlete of his age, and Yagami Riku (Kimura Ryouhei), a remarkably amiable and athletic guy who’s got an apparently muddied history with Stride.

Runnin’ and Jumpin’

Okay, so just what the hell is ‘Stride?’ Well, this first episode doesn’t do much in the way of explaining the ins and outs of the activity, but from what the viewer can gather, it’s a highly-competitive team-based sport which combines the structure of Track & Field sprint relays, the tempo-varied endurance of a Cross Country race, the calculated efficiency of a parkour course, and the flashy acrobatics of freerunning. All four of which I partook in during my four years of high school. I love it.

It’s no secret that this show is tryin’ to buy its way into the recent renaissance of contemporary sports anime—from Kuroko no Basket to Haikyuu!! to Yowamushi Pedal, and so on. But one of my first fears going into the anime was that unlike all those shows, Stride—which the whole series will revolve around—is a fictional sport. Did I trust that these writers had the snuff to not only create an entire sport—but one that was engaging and complex—at least enough for a fictional television show?

Though we have yet to be provided a more in-depth explanation on all of Stride’s inner mechanics and tinier details, the barely two minute snippet we got at the episode’s conclusion was seriously enough to convince me of Stride’s potential for intensely captivating action. It dug deep and rekindled the adrenaline-pumping excitement of racing—the anxiety before the start, the cheers from onlookers, the wind in my hair, the shortness of breath. I would’ve jumped outside and went for a run if it wasn’t dark, cold, and raining. The fluidity and accuracy of various vaults and other technical moves showed that the animators certainly did their homework. But of course, you don’t have to be a former runner to get swept up in the dazzling flips and sprints of Stride—the races are expertly framed and presented.

With all these fancy new sports anime in the past few years—one of which making a sport as seemingly unfit for the explosive spectacle of Japanese television as cycling into one of the most heart-pumping, adrenaline-inducing watches in recent memory—I was wondering if any of my running-based activities would eventually get any love with anime. I toyed with the thought in my head, but never seriously thought merely running had the chops for a successful modern sports anime.

And now here we are.

Though the show has just barely started, there’s a lot of promise with ‘Stride,’ and the kind of excitement which could come from watching it play out. It’s not unlikely that—if the show follows up on its promise for engaging action—Prince of Stride Alternative could spark a cultural movement in running and parkour in much the way that Yowamushi Pedal did for biking across Japan. Though I think I’m getting ahead of myself—we’ll just have to wait and see how this quality of the show plays out.

But of course, what is a sports anime without its characters? An absolutely imperative key to the success of sports anime (or any show, for that matter) is not only found in the hysteric blitz and rousing extravagance of its sports matches, or races, or whatever, but equally from the unexpected depth and memorable nature of its characters. Does Prince of Stride Alternative fit the bill in this regard?

The Ensemble

There’s not much to go off as of now, but the flashes of quirks and personality from the characters definitely show promise. Many of the characters fall victim (as of now) to stock character roles, but only barely so. What I appreciate is that no person overdoes their trope or defining characteristic, which leave a lot of breathing room for future development and complexity—even the traditional comic relief finds a way to be a tad different from the rest. I’m hoping that as the series continues, each member of the main cast grows and deepens as characters—I see particular potential with Yagami, and his seemingly tattered past with Stride (concerning his brother, a former competitor, apparently?), which suggests more to his over-eager and friendly exterior.

I have another particular concern with Sakurai, the character though which we observe the show’s events. After the first episode, she left pretty much no memorable impression—an affliction which is unfortunately not uncommon to many shows based on visual novels. She might serve as little more than a stock cutout through which the viewer could insert themselves into the show—not a trait I like to exclusively define a member of a show’s main cast. I have a hard time pinning her as the show’s protagonist. Hopefully as the series progresses, Sakurai becomes more developed, and can stand her own as a character among all the runners. Maybe some further exploration of her love of Stride (which is enough to make her cry, apparently) can prove beneficial to her depth. I do appreciate, however, that unlike most other sports anime, the ‘female’ character is directly involved with the sport, albeit on the sideline.

As impressive as I did say the action was, the rest of the animation unfortunately does not prove nearly as noteworthy. Despite an eye-catching palette, Prince of Stride Alternative’s backgrounds are nearly static, character models barely emote, and movement is sometimes awkward and choppy. The show can’t compare to the presentation of its fellow sports-anime brethren—it’s almost unrecognizable as a Madhouse production. Again, like I can say for any apparent flaw in an initial episode: I’m hoping it will get better. If anything, the Stride races are sufficiently impressive in animation—arguably where it truly matters. That OP is bumpin’ doe.

Facing Forward

As it stands, Prince of Stride Alternative has the potential for an intensely memorable show. Looking past all of my sports-experience bias, the show proves it can provide some exciting and worthwhile action. In terms of characters and quality of animation, it has a lot of catching up to do in order to be mentioned in even the same breath as many of the shows it aspires to be—but even many of those series took a few episodes to get on their feet and start running (HA HA EY O). As the newest entry in recent years of quality sports anime, Prince of Stride Alternative—with the help of improved animation and greater development of its characters—can hopefully come out as one to remember.

 

Preview

January 7, 2016 at 12:55 am
19 comments »
  • January 7, 2016 at 1:36 amzztop

    Stride’s based on an otome game, although reviewers said the game story reads more like a sports anime, and the romantic elements felt secondary. Reception was mixed – some liked this different approach, while some hated it because it wasn’t romantic enough. Regardless, the anime will be better since you can actually see the sport in action – the game just narrated everything in text.

    The Stride sport appears to be a fictional take on an track and field relay race with parkour elements – but there’s no baton passing, and races are done on a large urban marathon scale.

    • January 7, 2016 at 7:29 amWorldwidedepp

      Mirros Edge – Pc Game. This is no fictial Sports, this where born in the Streets of Paris

  • January 7, 2016 at 1:44 amKailord

    This made my list for “one to watch a few episodes of” as a taster.
    Not being a sporty person, I quite liked this episode, and if it maintains at least this level of interest for me, I can see myself following it all the way.

  • January 7, 2016 at 1:51 amzztop

  • January 7, 2016 at 2:58 amRichie Kim

    Hard to say whether I should pick up this series. Though I’ve become interested in watching certain sports anime, this Stride setting is kind of too “innocent” as I’m seeing MC Yagami displaying his easy-going attitude too much in trying all kinds of sports.

    http://randomc.net/image/Prince%20of%20Stride%20Alternative/Prince%20of%20Stride%20Alternative%20-%2001%20-%2008.jpg

    But it’s clear that he’s only good at running (with a little bit of parkour).

    http://randomc.net/image/Prince%20of%20Stride%20Alternative/Prince%20of%20Stride%20Alternative%20-%2001%20-%2005.jpg

    I guess I shall give another chance for next episode. It’s hard to believe that this is based on an otome game.
    However, I’m glad I won’t be worried since so far I don’t see any romantic hints between Sakurai Nana and any other male cast.

    It’ll be a good sign if that continues with the show focusing heavily on the participants and the concept of Stride.

    Well now you know I’m NOT into otome animes except this. All this show needs is some gags to be as little as possible if the writers are able to.

    Because I’m getting a little annoyed with the shogi-obsessed guy…http://randomc.net/image/Prince%20of%20Stride%20Alternative/Prince%20of%20Stride%20Alternative%20-%2001%20-%2014.jpg

  • January 7, 2016 at 3:17 amSindbad Daykay

    I say that these series are worth watching and reviewing!

  • January 7, 2016 at 4:50 amSetsu Henry

    I watched this because of Kana Hanazawa.

    • January 7, 2016 at 5:35 amRichie Kim

      I gave this show a shot because of my curiosity on why this sports anime has turned out to be an original otome game from the start.

  • January 7, 2016 at 5:29 amNice Tea

    A sport anime with no sweat (or very few of it) and loads of generic looking bishonen with funky long hairs/pony tails/tied hairs?
    Hmmm… the otome game vibes are a bit too strong here.

  • January 7, 2016 at 7:43 amBear

    Eh, Free! without the water.

  • January 7, 2016 at 8:33 amklark

    Well… out of the three shows I watched so far (Haruchika and Phantom World being the other two), this one is the best in my opinion for actually having some life to its presentation and the way it sticks to its premise for most of the time. It seems like stride is a weird hybrid of parkour and relay. Thankfully, I can associate this more with Kuroko no Basuke (or Haikyuu) than with Free! so I hope it will show more cool moves for the next episodes.

  • January 7, 2016 at 9:29 amgilraen_tinuviel

    It smells too much like otome game and I’m telling this as a girl. I don’t like too much adaptations of otome games for the same reason many men don’t like LN harem adaptations – MC is sucked out any personality, because they are [insert player here]. When she almost cried, when they clapped their hands, I rolled my eyes. Dramatic much or what?

    But idea of the sport is nice, very nice. Some images and scenes very nice but they didn’t mash up well together. And interactions between characters were little cringe worthy. I’d like it better if a club was gender mix, because why not. Then even some hint of romance wouldn’t be so bothersome like watching the plucky girl with ring of guys, who see in her I-don’t-know-what.

  • January 7, 2016 at 9:38 amWarriorsHeart

    http://randomc.net/image/Prince%20of%20Stride%20Alternative/Prince%20of%20Stride%20Alternative%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2008.jpg

    Hmmm…reminds me of a certain blond, carefree basketball player who is voiced by the same VA.

    Looks promising though artwork could be better. I quite enjoyed the race. Hope future races would be incorporate more action and moves.

  • January 7, 2016 at 3:46 pmed

    FREE (FREE-STYLE) GAY RUNNING / ETC – LOL

    • January 8, 2016 at 12:16 amgustave154

      No GAY stuff here. Sakurai nana is there for a reason.

  • January 8, 2016 at 12:46 pmDragonite88

    Loving the Parkour adrenaline run in this anime. The Story was fast paced much like the theme of the anime but I didn’t feel rushed. You are thrown into the characters immediately and the scene were Fujiwara is glaring at Yagami was hilarious. (we all been there)

    With the jokes, and story plus the artwork I am anxiously waiting for the next episode. I hope they keep it as real as possible and no super moves like Kuroko with the Zone stuff and Godly powers lol. (not saying it was bad but with running keep it at human level)

    Next Episode we find out more about the famous two runners. Let just hope they don’t squeeze everything in the opening of the anime series.

  • January 8, 2016 at 1:16 pmIzumi Aiikyo

    I barely pick up shows based on visual novel. I pick this show cause it has Parkour and Madhouse. So, I guess I will have something that will be pleasing to watch.

  • January 9, 2016 at 9:24 amst

    wish that I could be into this anime as this will (probably) be popular amongst friends. but.

    am I the only one who would rather poke my own eye than having to watch this show with it’s neon contrast everything.

    I have to seriously watch it with brightness all the way down with sunglasses (optional)

    • January 10, 2016 at 3:19 amRichie Kim

      I guess I’ve watched the brightest (literally) anime ever. This show is even brighter than any BONES show.

      But it’s a worthy premiere since the animation sequence in the last several minutes is stunning. :)