OP: 「Limit」 by LUNA SEA
Meet Asanaga Shun (Ono Kensho). He’s your average anime high school student, and he likes rocks. Specifically, the shiny ones. His parents may both be academics, but don’t mistake Shun’s interest for scientific curiosity; he just likes shiny rocks because they’re pretty. This is because he is secretly half-magpie; the marbles make him stupid.
Shun’s co-protagonist in Endride is one Emilio Langheim (Masada Toshiki). This one’s the prince of a secluded magical kingdom where everyone conveniently speaks Japanese. His secret is that he’s a failed cross between Hamlet and Macbeth, so he makes a hasty decision to commit regicide based on scullery gossip instead of waiting for the ghost to show up. Too bad he lives in the land of needlessly impractical weaponry, so he bungles twice in quick succession, and is thrown into an equally impractical prison where he awaits bail set to the price of deus ex machina.
Together, Shun and Emilio fight crime! By which I mean furries awaiting a lawsuit from Marvel Comics. They also run around a bit, disappointingly fail to drown, and eventually recruit the nominal mascot character. Also, a miniature dragon thing.
You may think I’m making fun of Endride too much. Let me tell you something straight: you’re absolutely right. The problem is that I can’t actually tell you all that much about the show itself. But I know that you, gentle readers, rely on Random Curiosity to tell you what shady original series like Endride are all about in these introductory posts, and I take that trust very seriously. Which is why I have settled for an acceptable and indistinguishable substitute: making stuff up. No need to thank me. Really, the best any blogger can hope to do right now is to take a punt, because Endride sure isn’t telling us. While many individual events may have happened in this pilot, they do little to give us a grasp of either the plot or the themes. Instead, time is spent mostly introducing characters and throwing jargon around, but not in a way that actually tells us why anything is really happening. This includes the mechanics of the fantasy world; both magical rocks and weapons bursting out of chests like they were aliens are shiny, but without context are also somewhat distracting. It’s actually mostly fine, as worldbuilding is supposed to take time, but a slow pilot like this doesn’t necessarily want to leave too much to speculation, as it also means the mind is wandering. At the moment, I mostly want to compare Endride to Guilty Crown but with the middle man cut out. And like Guilty Crown, there’s absolutely no innuendo here. Nope. None at all.
Sadly, Endride can’t really rely on technical prowess either. The animation has been functional, but on the whole somewhat choppy. One can tell, without squinting too much, that they’ve taken quite a few shortcuts in taxing scenes, by which I mean the brief fights. Endride hides a lot of rough edges behind effects and good old motion lines, which, depending on your level of scrutiny, looks cheap. Combined with the unambitious choreography this leaves these vital action scenes without the kind of life that could really carry Endride. One positive I’ll chalk up to Endride, though, is that it boasts surprisingly detailed art in parts. The designs for both the characters and the over-engineered weapons I’ll leave to subjective taste, but if there’s one thing that Endride does well, it’s the all-important rocks. Even in the backgrounds, somebody’s putting work into texture. When the lighting becomes less dark maybe the world of Endra will turn out to be breathtaking.
Bottom line: will I recommend Endride? Based just on this pilot, I can’t do so unequivocally. There’s just not enough there right now. As it is, it reminds too much of an uninspiring JRPG, and indeed there is one apparently tied to this anime, and it’s a mobile game. Woo. But Endride also seems to be the kind of show that takes its time building up, so it could well be much more than that, considering how little it has actually told us, and that it’s supposed to be two cours. If there was anything at all that hooked you in this pilot, I recommend giving Endride a few more episodes. By then the adventure will probably actually be underway, and then perhaps Endride can make a full case for how it intends to impress.
ED: 「go my way」 by 藤巻亮太 (Fujimaki Ryōta)