Falling in love at first sight with a collapsible bicycle outside the station, Ami Kurata, first-year university student empties her account without a second thought and buys the bicycle. Now she enjoys weekend cycling trips with Aoi, her childhood friend, and Hinako, a senior at her university. "Owning a road bike may change your view of the world completely." Prompted by the comment, Ami purchased a road bike, and she is really impressed with the traveling performance. As soon as she places her feet on the pedals and presses down, everything about riding a road bicycle—the lightness of the pedal, the speed, the acceleration—is nothing like she has ever experienced. Ami's cycle life gets going with the new road cycle as her partner!
There are many anime about girls doing some specific activity, with that activity being just excuse to show cute and heartwarming moments. While Long Riders! doesn't lack those aspects, in my opinion it's first and foremost sports anime and should be treated as one - more about it later.
Story is as simple as it gets. It follows Ami as she starts her adventure with cycling and slowly gains experience and becomes better. There are many cute and relaxing moments, there is comedy too, but main focus is cycling itself. It's exactly why I see it as a sports anime: Long Riders! puts heavy focus on
bikes and cycling. It does excellent (and I mean it) job at showing emotions one feels during their adventure as a cyclist: first bike, feeling of freedom, first 100km and so on. This anime also surprised me with how accurate it was about technical side of cycling. Every episode shared information that you usually learn yourself over time - and managed to keep it natural, without turning into some trivia show. I'm sure person who wrote it had personal experience with bikes - he wouldn't be able to share it so perfectly otherwise.
Sadly, characters are weak point of this anime. While they fulfilled their roles, there was nothing interesting about them. Ami was the only character that got some development. I found all girls rather bland and uninteresting. If this was purely cute girls SoL that'd be a deal breaker.
As a side note: despite being college students they felt like any other group of highschool girls.
I have mixed feelings about art. Backgrounds were really pretty and seeing those bikes made me pause to look at details, but animation, especially moments of mixed CGI and normal animation, was lacking. Character design seemed slightly weird at first, but after getting used to it there were no problems.
And surprisingly there was pretty much no fanservice. Unless, like me, you get turned on by bikes.
Being cyclist myself I really enjoyed it and expect to rewatch it multiple times. Outside of things mentioned earlier, I also found Long Riders! to be very inspirational. I can't imagine any fan of cycling that wouldn't want to stop watching and go for a ride.
Now, I doubt someone not interested in cycling would enjoy this anime. I'll repeat myself here, but it's not exactly CGDCT SoL show. If you came here for cute moments, then I'm afraid you will be mostly bored with all the bike talk.
"Let's enjoy cycling!" - the catchphrase on the title of this anime. It actually describes pretty accurately what you can expect from Long Riders!
With beautiful visual, relaxing atmosphere and cute girls this anime promises you a trip around the beautiful Japanese landscape. The story primarily focuses on giving you the best introduction to what cycling for fun is like and it did it pretty well at least in my opinion. I enjoyed the hell out of this anime.
You can actually call an anime successful if it gets you interested in the topic it presents - this time it is cycling and to be honest
I actually am currently pretty interested in riding long distances just because of this anime. With a concept I am so familiar with I didn't actually think much of Long Riders! when I first saw it nor did I expect to learn so much about bicycles and cycling in general. I Thought this anime as more of as an side dish alongside the other seasonal shows but it actually turned out to be one of my favorite shows of the Fall 2016.
*I'm by no means a bicyclist and haven't even touched a bike in years so don't expect any in-depth details or knowledge from me, I'm only in for CGDCT*
Long Riders, a 12 episodes anime airing in the Fall 2016 season that should have been done in December like everything else with the same amount of episodes but went through a production hell with episodes being delayed and struggling to even make the animation decent. Seems to be a recurring thing with Studio Actas from what I've seen from them with Regalia being the last I saw from them, halting the production too. But now
it's done so I can talk about it.
When it comes to plot in a bicycle comfy SoL show there really isn't much to say that doesn't combine it with the characters as it's all about the characters and their motivations or well...mostly just our protagonist motivations. We follow the newbie Ami who always had an interest in cycling but never really dared to get into it until it kinda randomly happens in the first episode with her already experienced bicycler friend, Aoi deciding to help her out with Ami's decision to get into bicycling. And then on from there it's kinda just all about Ami learning new things and what to buy, meet more bicyclers that then teach her even more new stuff to improve etc.
The thing is that this is a comfy SoL so there really is not any competitiveness since Ami is new to all this and is learning throughout all the season as a hobby atleast at the start, so which is why there really is not much to say about the plot in this, there is basically none. It's mostly just info dump after info dump and hell even I learned about a lot just watching this actually. On that front it's great and you see Ami definitely develops into a great character by the end of it, loved how it all came back together at the end with everything she learned.
Even though I like Ami and her learning and me myself as a viewer on that, here is what's really worst about this show. The supporting cast, they are basically just pure info dumps characters with no development whatsoever throughout this show. They all have their cliché trope personality like the short abrasive blonde and her mature busty "ara ara" friend and then later on another black-haired character that looks way too much like Aoi so I mistook her several times.... they are all just sorta there giving info and there was no "breather" episode where they didn't bicycle and just talked and get to know each other much on a personal level, I found it kinda baffling how they would just help each other out so much given how little they really knew about each other. It was obvious though they wanted Ami to get all the focus and develop her the most since she was the most inexperienced. But they most likely would have given the supporting cast more personality and background if they got more episodes than 12, assumingly.
Animation & Sound:
Well like I mentioned at the start of the review this sure had a lot of struggles, this could only look decent at best but those best times didn't happen much even after those two delays around the start and the middle parts. The funny thing is that they put out a recap episode of SoL show with no plot like that would ever be needed. Anyways the eyes could look real derpy sometimes so they sorta looked cross-eyed or that the lip-syncing was not all there and looked weird etc. And the 3DCG elements which they used from time to time when they were bicycling looked real choppy like 10-15 fps which still not many can make smooth these days. So lots of awkward scenes like that but I will give them this, the last two delayed episodes did look great, I didn't spot any awkward animation even with the 3DCG moments so good on them really using that time to make it look good.
To round it off I consider the last two episodes to be the best out of the whole show both animation wise and how it ended, too bad the quality wasn't like that throughout and it probably won't get a second season, oh well I did enjoy it for what it was even though it lacked on several levels. Solid SoL and CGDCT.
Ummmm Long Riders, LA thinks Bakuon!! will like to have a word with ya.....
Ok so right off the bat, LA thinks to compile how LA feels about Long Riders is through it's strengths and flaws, like typical LA?...shall we?
Long Riders' strengths have alot what usual slice of life, "healing" animes partakes in but under a complete amateur by the name of Ami Kurata voiced by Nao Touyama wanting to learn about biking and later on marathon runs for biking. As much as Long Riders' characters aren't the best connected, they still have their camaraderie through their running gags and their conjoined interests in biking. The
running gags aren't that bad in terms of comedic stance either. Such running gags as Ami spending ridiculous amounts of money to buy "upgrades" for her bike, Hinako Saijou's secret part-time job, Saki Takamiya's almost bottomless stomach and finally Hinako and later on Saki's teasing to Ami about more "advanced" marathon biking, the running gags are slightly overdone but they DON'T overstay their welcome. The animation quality can be dodgy at times but the beautiful scenery of Long Riders is decent at best (not Amanchu! material, but still beautiful scenery of Japan's many landscapes nonetheless) The final strength to Long Riders would easily be Long Riders being a biking "healing" anime can quite easily be one of the more relaxing anime out there but with one little catch, but LA will be talking about that right now.
Ok, now flaws, LA will immediately talk about Long Riders' constant delays when it was released in Fall 2016, in which LA can't even see HOW they got into constant delays, quietly annoying LA in the process (3 times in total with the final delay of the final 2 episodes delayed til the first quarter of Winter 2017), next flaw is the god awful implementation of 3D CGI on both the models and the bicycles at the same time, sure LA ignored them at first, but further down the line the CGI became BLATANT and worse to the point of being unnecessary of even having the CGI as the traditional animation transitions were better quality in certain frames than the CGI'd frames which brought focus to the awful CGI. Next is well, characters, sure as a group, their camaraderie and friendship is ok, ok when their talking about biking and whatnot, but their friendship outside of it is minimal at best resorting to again the running gags and their love of biking LA said above. Ami is your ditz, Yayoi is your ojou, Hinako is your genki yet slightly brash one, Aoi is your caring one and Saki is your aloof one...wait those are the main characters from K-On!-!?...well these kind of archetypes are to be expected in these kinds of anime. Finally, Long Riders' BIGGEST flaw is that Long Riders is a certain case of curing your insomnia considering how extremely slow pace and how they portray their biking. LA isn't kidding, there were many cases where LA felt like dozing off. LA knows that healing anime can brighten your day up by showing typical day to day activities of the character's hobbies and whatnot.....not darken your day by closing your eyes because Long Riders was ridiculous in this. Worse yet it that due to LA's thinking and to the point of making LA sleepy when watching this anime, it felt like this anime didn't have much to unpack considering it's lacking content and it's narrow focused narrative. However to defend the insomnia-curing pacing a little is that, LA can guess some of the audience might actually enjoy the slow pacing and LA was one of them but later on it just kinda hit LA and LA started to notice it through LA dozing off...to each their own with this flaw is all LA is gonna say.
Even though LA already talked about the characters in the flaws sections, LA does kinda want to get into more detail about them. Ami Kurata is LA's favourite character for one all due to her infectious enthusiasm towards her liking to biking and she is your audience stand-in due to her being a newbie to biking, add with Nao Touyama's vocals and you have LA's favoruite character, thankfully she does bounce off well with Hinako Saijou voiced by Rumi Ookubo, usually since she too is the genki yet more abrasive one compared to Ami but has some good comedic moments together with the rest of Fortuna (the main cast's biking group name). Aoi Niigaki voiced by Hiromi Igarashi along with Yayoi Ichinose voiced by Yurika Kurokawa having the most limited screentime individually all due to the fact that Yayoi is the satellite character to Hinako and Aoi to Ami, they both do have their moments though. Finally we have Saki Takamiya voiced by Yoko Hikasa, the aloof "expert" of the group who arrives much later and was already friends with Hinako and Yayoi, also her appetite is essentially her quirk as she talks about great food or is eating in most of her screentime outside biking and Saki is the embodiment of the great food you'll eat if you want to marathon bike in Japan. Dynamically, the Fortuna group is somewhat loose with their friendship all due to the anime's narrow-focused mindset on biking through giving Ami LOTS of obstacles in her wanting to really get into biking (from her lacking stamina and needing upgrades for her bike) and everyone being absent-minded to Ami until she gets into trouble which allows the rest of the Fortuna group to expound on more biking facts and tips and all this compensates with the characters' running gags which is decisive if it works or not. As for LA, LA just didn't mind the characters and their running gags that much but they weren't the best dynamically-close net group and individually they are lacking a bit more personality besides their character archetype and their love of biking.
In terms of animation by Actas and LA already said about the awful 3D CGI as well as the stunning backgrounds in which the characters are technically rewarded with it as well. The character designs are expected moe though slightly bland at times (LA saw Ami's character designs as well as Hinako's to be the most defined with Aoi and Saki's character designs being the most similar to each other though easily known who's who by their hair style and what's in front of them) the non-CGI biking scenes aren't that bad either as they are technically in constant motion and all and there are some blend to CGI with that but even those moments are ok animation, but coupled that with awful 3D CGI animation (to the point the 3D CGI almost looked like early PS2 smooth animation which isn't a good thing by the way). Overall Actas did a mediocre job for LA, LA didn't hate it as it compensated both ways but not giving it too much grace to completely ignore it's flaws.
In terms of voice acting, well here comes the obvious again but LA's favorite voice actor went to Nao Touyama in making a typical ditzy character somewhat endearing and for a typical genki character, Nao Touyama definitely had RANGE making for great comedic timing and sometimes outlandish genki moe vocals work, Yurika Kurosawa had tendency to be even more high pitched like Nao Touyama and it's her default ojou vocals at that but it wasn't to the point of annoyance. LA found Rumi Ookubo, Yoko Hikasa and Hiromi Igarashi's vocals to be decent at least and the entire cast's vocal chemistry made the vocal cast pretty well done (if you can manage the squeak from Yayoi, bit from Hinako and Ami anyways).
Long Riders being a slice of life healing anime, LA can be lenient to this anime from it's simple plot of a girl wanting to learn biking and later on gather a group to do it with her to it's lacking character personalities, Actas' constant delays to this anime and LA likes this anime for doing what it's suppose to do, to "show that biking is a fun thing to do, to explore, to eat and just take in the sights" just with a *ahem* small fee for bike upgrades and it IS relaxing HOWEVER not to the point of insomnia curing pacing, disjointed group dynamics within the characters AND it's awful and awkward 3D CGI animation. Long Riders isn't a horrible anime per say as LA makes it out to be, flaws and all. It just became mediocre at best by the finishing line with it's strengths and flaws and just how LA felt about this experience as a whole and is what unfortunately how Long Riders just turned out to be. This coming from a person who initially really liked Long Riders for the better part of 6 episodes and wanted to see a decent slice of life healing anime about biking. Long Riders isn't horrible....boring sometimes maybe, but mediocre at best.