In this Earth, there exists unknown underground world, the Inner World. In the world, there are braves who fight with large spiders, and they are called “Spider Riders”.
According to his grandfather’s diary, a boy, Hunter Steel is traveling around. Meanwhile he happens to enter the Inner World from a pyramid. There, the war between the insect squad that aims at conquest of the Inner World and Spider Riders continues.
Oracle, the fairly of the Inner World, summons Hunter because he thinks Hunter will be the messiah of the world. However, the powers of Oracle are sealed by Mantid who is the rule of the Insecter. For the peace of the Inner World, he has to find four sealed keys of Oracle to retrieve Oracle’s power.
Hunter asks Spider Shadow, which is a big spider chosen by Oracle, to become a member of Spider Riders to fight against enemies.
Another of my favorite anime goes unreviewed, so I'll try my best. Spider Riders is an anime that gets a lot of negativity, at least from the few people who have actually heard of it. This is somewhat justifiable, considering the butchered dub that most viewers were exposed to. However, the original Japanese version is worth giving a try.
Note: Although SR was aired as 2 separate series in Japan due to ratings, it was intended to only be one, and was properly aired as such in the rest of the world. Thus, this review will reflect the entire series, not just the first 26 episodes.
I watch a lot of anime aimed at children, and story usually isn't their strong suit. Spider Riders is an exception to the rule. It's about a boy who, following his grandfather's journal, discovers an alternate world where the humans are at war with humanoid bugs called Insectors. Thus, rather than a systematic monster-of-the-week, unending quest show, Spider Riders has an overall objective; to win the war. There's some pretty interesting twists as the story goes on, so it's not even as straightforward as my explanation would imply.
The plot is somewhat derailed in the dub, but explaining why here would spoil one of the best of these twists.
Art: Studio Bee Train does a great job with the art. The character designs are bright, cute and appealing. The spider designs all manage to be unique and intricate as well. I can only think of one episode offhand where the animation quality is noticeably weak, which is always a positive.
Sound: The music, while not incredible, still manages to be quite catchy. It's a bit of a shame no OST was ever released for this series. It has some very nice BGMs with vocal, reminiscent of Yuki Kajiura. The OP and ED themes are generic, but not bad, my personal favorite being the second ED theme, Koi no Keshiki.
The english dub replaces the OP with rap, and has a fairly grating soundtrack.
As far as the acting goes, the voices suit the characters quite well. Shigeru Chiba as Grasshop (as well as his wife and two kids) is worth mentioning, simply for the amount of nonsensical bantering he does whenever he comes on screen. Toshihiko Seki's Buguese reminded me why I consider him one of my favorite seiyuu.
The dub acting, of course, is less appealing. While the actors most definitely improve as the series goes on, some sound quite awful and unfitting in the earlier eps.
Characters: The protagonist, Hunter Steele, is as idealistic as your typical shounen hero. He tends to see everything in black and white. However, the characters on either side of the war are in a much more grey area, and that helps make them interesting. While some of the characters are rather flat (the spiders other than Shadow, for instance) others are incredibly strong and dynamic. Most notably, Aqune, Buguese, and Corona. It's also hard to fit the cast into any type of cliche. If you're used to seeing girls in action cartoons as the useless cheerleaders who get kidnapped all the time, you have to see Aqune and Corona, who are just awesome heroines. I came to love or at least appreciate most of the characters as the show went on.
Enjoyment: Spider Riders is a very enjoyable series to me. One has to keep in mind that because Bee Train was involved in it, things have to go at a very slow pace. Still, there was enough action, mystery and suspense throughout to keep me invested. I will admit though that the second half of the series was a disappointment in comparison to the first. It had some great episodes, but others were lacking. Apparently, due to some kind of executive meddling in the hopes of leaving opening for a season 2, the second half was changed drastically. Thus, a lot of the mystery and backstory were left unexplained. Still, I did enjoy the show despite it's very disappointing end.
Overall: I'd consider Spider Riders a series that definitely deserves a chance, particularly the Japanese version. It was much more than I expected coming into it, even though it has it's obvious, glaring flaws. I thank the very interesting characters a lot for this. Buguese and Aqune both have a high spot in my favorite fictional characters ever, and that's quite an accomplishment, because I watch a lot of anime and love a lot of characters. So, overall, SR is an entertaining watch.
There is actually a total of 52 episodes. This is a much underloved and underrated series. It has a great, unique and interesting story line. It has some great character development and growth as well. It's fun action filled and it even manages to throw in some neat twists and turns. I highly recommend looking it up and watching it for yourself. The characters are fun, full of personality the Inner World is imaginative. A select group of warriors are chosen by the Spirit Oracle (basically like a goddess) to obtain a manacle and become a Spider Rider. These warriors ride on huge
spiders. Each spider has a unique design and ability. I just love this show and wish more people would watch it and talk about it. It is a great Adventure Fantasy
For the past 20 years, children and adults alike have dreamed of what it would be like to go get a little Pocket Monster partner from a professor and start beating Gyms. But Pokemon is not the only series to feature partnerships and we need something to tide us over while we wait for Sun and Moon!