「GALAXY いま、星たちが輝く」 (GALAXY Ima,-boshi-tachi ga kagayakimasu)
“Galaxy – Now, Stars Who Shine”
Runners, on Your Mark
Right off the bat, Prince of Stride Alternative has done a good job of establishing entertaining and organic character dynamics. Members of the main cast flicker lines off of one another in genuinely humorous ways, and the feeling of a ragtag group of friends has been well-construed. Despite being a tiny bit annoying at first, Kadowaki has proven to be an actually funny and entertaining guy. However, I was pleasantly surprised that the series addressed upfront his stark lack of skill in comparison to his peers. The subsequent attribute of insecurity and helplessness helped make him an actual character—more fully fleshed out and relatable than the typical funny guy. This development was a highlight of the episode.
That being said, some of the dialogue with other characters this episode was, for some reason, weirdly paced. The flow of conversation was jilted and awkward, lines came out contrived and slow, and any semblance of connection or greater meaning to seemingly inane discussion was lost on me. Hopefully, this doesn’t remain an issue.
A Deeper Sport
The race too, was good fun. The excitement and adrenaline-rush of a track & field relay gives life to the frenzy. Various flips and technical moves lend a great deal of spectacle to the action—Kohinata‘s lead-taking vault in particular was especially breathtaking. Although I wish some of the tricking was framed as clearly as it was in the first episode (the camera is sometimes zoomed in far too closely to the subjects, and the shot often cuts to the subjects in the middle or at the end of the move) the race was sufficiently impressive, if not a tad bit stale. Not a whole lot of strategy, twists, or turns were provided this week. I’m giving it a pass because, as the series states, this is nothing but a preliminary race—a lead-in to “End of Summer,” a big-scale battle royale between all school which I expect Prince of Stride Alternative to deliver some far more exhilarating material.
Really, the show could improve from implementing a greater level of depth to the sport, leaving the door open to some more engaging strategy and races. As it stands, there’s not a whole lot of room for really captivating stuff. Also, does it make a whole lot of sense for the two relationers to sit side by side during the match? That makes as much sense as the coaches and benches of two basketball teams to congregate right next to each other—its best that the conversations and tactics of either party are kept separate from the other, but I digress. At the very least, it makes from a narrative perspective, for it allows the coordinators from each team to engage in some potentially interesting or influential dialogue.
Too Fast to Handle
All these issues can be traced back to Prince of Stride Alternative’s biggest flaw: a rushed pace. The series is not taking the appropriate time to flesh out many of its components, from its characters to the sport at center stage. Prince of Stride Alternative really needs to let the audience know just exactly who these characters are. Why do these characters run? What are their connections to the sport? How and why does the past weigh on Yagami? What happened between him and his older brother? Is there anything else to Fujiwara besides his intense devotion to Stride? If not, for what reasons is he so passionate about the sport? For what reasons did the Stride Club respond in the past, and how does it burden Hasekura? Why was he so unmotivated to race before the first years arrived? Is there more to Kohinata besides his cheery exterior? All of these are questions that Prince of Stride Alternative should take time addressing before diving into the excitement of End of Summer, which will then give the characters opportunities to clash or grow with opposing or like-minded characters.
Since questions like these aren’t answered however, the viewer doesn’t get a kick out of the match. The race doesn’t clearly establish how these characters can grow and unfold apart from Kadowaki. When the match against Saisei (by the way, why are they a boy band? Like, what?) concludes, I was left confused as to why the show emphasized how bummed out the characters were, for it never took the time previously to establish that Stride meant a whole lot on an emotional level to our main cast. When Yagami subsequently proclaims that he is wants to win next time—to the cheers of his teammates—I wasn’t rooting for him and feeling the weight of his decision like I should’ve because so little previous time was allotted to showcasing Yagami’s lack of motivation, and why it was absolutely imperative that he become motivated to succeed. If Prince of Stride Alternative spent more time tying in the importance of the sport to Yagami’s personal development as a person—perhaps in accordance to overcoming his past demons—I would’ve been more receptive to cheers and applause. Instead, I was just left wishing the show would take its time.
Overall, I really want Prince of Stride Alternative to improve. There is seriously a lot of potential here. Though the show could make more effort to spruce up the depth matches, it is far more crucial that it really dig deep into the main cast and flesh out all its members—especially the leading few. Fortunately we’re only three episodes deep, but there’s just a few more to go until End of Summer so chop chop.
Also, Sakurai. Please make her relevant. Please.