"Stride"—an extreme sport that combines parkour, free running, relay, and sprinting—is what made first year high school student Nana Sakurai enroll in Honan Academy, after being captivated by the school's stride team. Sharing the mutual intention of joining the team is fellow first year and stride maniac, Takeru Fujiwara, and together they request to join. Much to their dismay, however, the stride club is no longer active due to lack of members, and they are now operating under the shogi club.
In order to revive the stride club, Nana and Takeru recruit first year Riku Yagami—a fast runner who is interested in almost every sport. With this new team, the club now aims high at a new goal: to win the prestigious End of Summer competition, and bring the Honan stride team back to their prime.
There's no real explanation to it, so let's just assume that "alternative" in the title of Prince of Stride implies that you should watch an alternative show.
So, anyone willing to tolerate sports anime thought this would be pretty cool. Running with some parkour elements? Shit, parkour’s awesome, this oughta be good. But instead, we’ve been given a thoughtless, soulless, utterly boring show with no point in watching to completion unless you really, really like sports or writing yaoi fanfics.
Fortunately, Stride conveniently makes all of its fuck-ups clear within the first episode, so this doesn’t require a lot of work. Every major character (with the exception
of a couple that won’t be introduced until later because reasons) gets introduced within the first ten minutes. It’s too much too quickly, like going to your parents’ favorite hangout and having to suffer through all the introductions to their stupid friends who only talk to you to ask about how school is going. But, don’t think about it too hard, look alive because the plot’s coming through!
A school with a famous stride club (whatever that is) is now close to disbanding because they don’t have enough members for official matches because no one likes stride. Wait, what? I thought this was famous? Where did everyone go? That doesn’t matter now, because Riku (whose name I only remember thanks to my fifteen years of playing Kingdom Hearts) joins the club and fills the deficit, and now the almighty Honan Stride Club is ready to go. The whole school sets up a course for the club because they’re all so excited to see stride return that they didn’t even remember the club existed five minutes ago, because no sports anime would be accurate without a bunch of bandwagoners! Go Royals!
Wait, aren’t we forgetting something…………? Oh yeah! WHAT THE FUCK IS STRIDE?
Stride, the sport, is introduced to us after giving an incredibly vague explanation of just a few things about it. You know, it’s not really the audience’s job to put more thought into your own work. We’re expected to figure the rules of the sport out for ourselves because the authors were too lazy to do it themselves. But after a couple episodes, you can see that stride is just some relay racing with parkour with a coordinator from the sidelines, with some specific details that won’t be necessary. See how easy that was?
But some questions still remain. Why do we need the gimmicks? What’s the point in the end? One guy did a run while completely skipping the obstacles and nothing really happened, he still had a great run. If they’re there just to make the runs look flashy, it’d be good if you could actually implement flair into the rules of the sport, even making it part of some score. It’d be even better if the parkour was naturally part of the course and not just some shit they threw in the middle of the road. People racing over rooftops and over fences would be pretty badass. They could at least put more shit in the road. But my point is that I’d like it if the parkour had a bigger focus and speed wouldn’t be the only thing necessary.
Then you have the relationers, who coordinate the runners from the sidelines via headset. One team told their relationer to fuck off and one of the runners did all the work while the actual relationer was there as a formality. If the runners can control things themselves, what’s the point of the relationer in the first place? Shouldn’t this be illegal, at least? Why isn’t anyone even watching this race, like a referee? Does ANYONE care about what’s going on??? WHY AM I ASKING SO MANY QUESTIONS?
Ignoring the dumb sloppiness of the sport itself, we have the actual story. Yes, I care about a story in a sports anime, at least to an extent. It’s a sports anime so you can only expect so much, but as long as you write better than a 10-year-old then I can accept it. But when Stride tries to incorporate some human drama, it just gets idiotic.
Prince of Stride being about some high school sporting event just won’t cut it, so we need some DEEP and COMPLICATED backgrounds or something. The reason why Honan’s stride club was low on members in the beginning is because of an incident that caused most of the team to quit. This incident is one of the most bafflingly brain-dead events ever conceived. To not spoil it specifically, the old relationer got rekt by the other team’s, and that caused the runners to crash and lose the race. The relationer and another member then act like complete fucking idiots and escalate the situation way beyond reason, and the knight in shining armor, the only person with a brain, the one who breaks it up, is then blamed for it without anyone trying to communicate like human beings. I am laughing so hard while writing these very words right now.
The other sort of incident involves the main character not knowing how to get gud and then quitting stride for a while. That’s it, that’s his backstory.
Having some human drama is nice, definitely. I’ll admit that at least the last few episodes had some sort of weight and tension, but all of this is just so stupid, man. But I could at least respect the nerdy guy, he had some actual problems and characterization that wasn’t dumb. Maybe as a token of my appreciation I’ll go look up his name on the database when I’m done.
Beyond that small number of characters and their dumb stories, the rest of the cast is incredibly flat, boring, uninteresting, generic, and other synonyms, no matter how many memes they try to force. Their only chances of being likable come with how many of their stupid, annoying LOLSORANDOMXD jabs they throw at you. Nice try, Dr. Meme. Oh, whoops, that’s a SIGNATURE PHRASE!!!!!!!!!!!!1111111!!1/1?11/1
Shoving away that nonsense, the characters include Leg-lover, who’s the only yaoi bait you’re gonna get, unless you got a kick out of that one guy who had to dress up like a girl. I felt like kicking myself in the nuts just for putting up with this. No one else has anything worth mentioning (except nerdy guy who eventually drops out of relevance anyway) except the girl because she’s a girl and she’s voiced by Hanakanamanahawamawallama, which really isn’t a compliment because she doesn’t have a personality either. The only thing she’s good at is being really worked up over what the other relationer is doing. DO YOUR JOB, IDIOT.
The woman who directed No Game No Life was told she couldn’t make everything purple in this, so instead she used normal colors and brightened them up about a thousand times. Okay, it’s not unbearably bright, but it really isn’t pleasant to look at, even deep into the anime where you’re expected to be used to it by now. The animation itself isn’t that big of a deal, either. In fact, it’s pretty lackluster, especially given that Madhouse used the same budget as One Punch Man. Maybe they spent it all on memes to try and recreate the magic. I dunno. Anyway, doing cool parkour shit is okay. I guess. But the running is often poorly framed--I don’t give a shit about people moving their arms around really really quickly, you run with your L E G S. LEGS, MAN! Some clever angles would’ve made this pretty interesting to watch, but I guess no one cared as usual.
Hey, remember Overlord? That one anime about Mr. Skeltal trying to take over the world? That opening song was incredible, right? Well, the same guys came back to do Stride’s, except not nearly as loud, exciting, cinematic, catchy, or even enjoyable. Which still makes it a decent song because Clattonia was just pure awesome, but the song doesn’t have a lot of punchiness or flair, and it’s marred by some pretty goofy lyrics. The art accompanying it has some style, at least, even if the runs presented look confusing. The rest of the soundtrack has a number of insert songs, which are pretty intelligible when used amongst the action, but I thought the non-inserts were surprisingly good. Not crazy good, but they have a smooth style and presence and are just exciting enough to make you keep your ear out for them without distracting you from what’s on screen. Not a bad ED either. I only listened to it like twice, though, because I wanted to move on as quickly as possible.
The last thing I wanna talk about are the guys, because this show is supposed to be yaoi-bait and I need to make this clear. These fuckboys don’t even look that good. Thanks for reading, everybody, have a great day!
Story - 2/10
Art - 4/10
Sound - 7/10
Characters - 3/10
Enjoyment - 3/10
Yaoi - tryharder/10
Overall - 3/10
Favorite character - Ayumu
Favorite episode - 11
Recommendation level - Very Low
Prince of Stride: Alternative was one of the first new Winter show to be announced just as the new year arrived. It was also among the first ones to be aired in the season, much to the build-up that was added to it. With one of the masters in the industry working behind it, i.e. Studio Madhouse, Prince of Stride: Alternative was well worth the hype it had accumulated thus far, but as the season progressed, it quickly started to fade away. Why? Let's look into it in detail.
The show brings no creativity at all to begin with. It has been done countless time in
sport anime's before. Famous high school club now in ruins and desperate for new members. Atleast try to be a little more creative. The game of Stride does bring a sense of freshness to the show. Basically its a sport where you run all the while competing with the another 'Strider' within your block. It consists of five different members running from start to finish as all the five team members play a part in the whole sequence and give a touch for the next teammate to continue running. One of the problems with the show is that twelve episodes were always not enough to begin with. There are have been countless other similar shows being successful solely based on the fact that they run for a longer time. Time was an important asset to them and they had plenty to utilize it with the execution. This is something Prince of Stride: Alternative lacked big time. On a side note, I cannot understand why there's a 'Alternative' in the title. I've come to light that the source material was a visual game and the show can be taken as a spin-off of that.
The characters on the show do it no good, with all honesty. All of them are like a basic stereotype with nothing to set them apart from any other generic characters. The MC is a light-hearted and silly guy with a dim-wit personality who just likes to run and is aiming to be on as many of the high school clubs as possible. There's the very cold looking teammate who acts as a direct rival for our MC and who doesn't talk much, and of course, does not get together early with our MC. Then there's the only girl in the show who's in fact the very first characters to be showcased and is another main character in focus in every sense who is inspired by the Stride club's achievements in the past and is aiming to be in the team as a manager. She eventually acts as a Relationer in the team who serves as a guide to the running teammates offering guidance with a speaker directly to the Striders. Then there's always a trap in the group along with a nerd who isn't interested being with the club to begin with. Two more senior characters are there in show, one's a cool, handsome looking guy who seems to be a senior worth relying on, and the other, literally having nothing worthy of praising, in my opinion. The manager however, was an interesting characteristic with his regular inspirational proverbs with a traditional discipline to them. Sad that he didn't get called a "King" when someone who only afterwards in the show arrived got to be called one.
The art totally makes the show cool, and the aesthetics are on the positive aspect of this show. The OP/ED sequences with the music, too, do justice for the show but no OST's or background musics or other character songs worthy to be talking about. But all in all they're on the better side of the show. The frequent use of English in the show, as for the club names and the outfits, really make them appealing to the western audience too.
Prince of Stride: Alternative also suffers from the problem of not being able to convey the story properly in my opinion. It could've have become a good show even with the distinguishable flaws it had, if it had put more effort in giving the concept of Stride a little more spotlight. The sport is cool by all means, but for me it fails to properly deliver some important stuff to the viewer. For example, the tournaments the Stride Races take part in are a little difficult to understand. They do time-trials at times but nothing on the opposing team is showcased (And trust me there are some) on how they got so far. This is where as I said the time limit plays a huge part in. Stride races also offers a lot of cool moves and spectacular jumps, if they had put on something like additional points for that, then I think the games would've become a lot more enjoyable.
Prince of Stride: Alternative was never a profound show to begin with, as is the case with most of the sport shows. But what make them great is the reality aspect and the execution for it, that's where Prince of Stride: Alternative won and lost 50-50 for me. With the pacing and time limit the show had been given, I could see the ending being like that from a mile away, still Prince of Stride: Alternative has the little charm that's the beauty of every sport show, even if it was a short anime with just twelve episodes.
Prince of Stride, a show based off of an otome game with a bit of sports and competition added in. Advertised as a sports series, yet it’s obvious that the show appeals to the female audience with its cast of pretty boys. What is striding? It’s basically a fictional extreme sport of running similar to that of parkour but with unique obstacles.
Produced by Madhouse studio, the show runs pretty fast on its feet, literally. The first episodes introduces the main characters in standard fashion. Nana Sakurai, the main heroine transfers to Honen Academy and quickly becomes the manager of the Stride club, a club
dedicated to striding. The members of the group consists of a variety range of characters and personalities ranging from the cheerful Riku Yagami to the cool Takeru Fujiwara. Each member of the club also possesses individual skills and characteristics that makes them unique on the team. While this is all good and dandy, the show doesn’t capitalize on their traits but instead follows a generic route of competition. Yes, there’s risks and strategy that is adapted into each race. However, the ending result usually is predictable. And that’s honestly something that isn’t so admirable.
The story structure is designed as more carefree although striding is the main course of the plot. Other times, the show feels like it’s taking a breather such as fashion shoots, hot springs, and even the infamous beach episode. In general, the story turns into a mixed affair of comedy and competitiveness. If that makes any sense, the series also takes every advantage of the boys to make them stand out as bishounens. There’s nothing wrong with that except the show focuses perhaps a bit too much on it for the first half of the series. It takes the serious nature of the striding when the boys are presented more as fan service rather than athletes. On the other hand, the show does take its game mechanics seriously. Every relay race is designed aesthetically and never the same. In addition, the show adds commentary to explore the physical aspects of the obstacles, short-cuts, and potential strategies runners can use to their advantage.
However, the story isn’t the main problem with the show. The main problem lies with the characters. It’s hard to feel attached to any of them. Takeru is like a Free clone of Haru but hardly has a strong relationship that can be relatable. Riku adds a bit more of casual atmosphere that people can get used to quickly but it’s hard to accept his character. He’s just too damn carefree. Heath Hasekura, the half-man, half-model is probably Mr. Fan service and there’s little depth about his character at all. Finally, Hozumi Kohinata exposes almost all the weakness of the show with his non-existent characterization, girly face, and weakly timed jokes. Luckily, there’s some characterization and background storytelling through mid-story but the overall execution lacks steam. Don’t expect Honan Academy’s rivals to be memorable either. They have cliché written all over them with easily forgettable characteristics.
If you’re interested in some fun excitement, then Prince of Stride might be a show for you. While the storytelling and characters are easily forgettable, the relay races themselves lives up to the hype on most occasions. Stride is apparently a fictional sport so the rules and risks are a refreshment to any sports fan. It invites speculations on what strategies can work and what may fail. The risk is also realistic as well that includes near fatal injuries. Furthermore, the show does a clever job highlighting the body movements of the athletes. Each episode is choreographed consistently whether it’s jumping across shortcuts, bypassing obstacles, or just running against the wind.
The artwork is like colored rainbows. Bright and flashy are just few of many words that can describe the background visuals. It also has a sense of flamboyant feel as each relay race has a different style unique to each competition. And of course, who can forget about the boys? They are the main stars not just for being athletes but an eye candy for the female audience to see.
Soundtrack is surprising attractive with a good amount of psychology mixed in. There’s good timing during crucial points of each relay race to capture the thrill of competition. It’s also creative enough to be legitmently entertaining to the ears. Character voice mannerism is moderate although I personally find them lacking with the exception of Riku. Meanwhile, the OP and ED theme songs are rather mediocre in respect.
In essence, Prince of Stride is more of a show that seems to appeal to a certain demographic and advertised for the audience to play the game. It isn’t an entirely awful show despite the lackluster story or mild characterization. Rather, it doesn’t deliver with the premise and each episode seems to lack more and more steam as time drags on. I find it hard to also get attached to many of the characters and in the end didn’t really find liking any of them. Blurring the lines of fictional sport and modern man service, this is a show that easily feels like an advertisement.
Introducing Stride: an extreme high-thrilled sport where parkour and endurance running collide together!
The rules of Stride are really simple: you form a team of six people and you compete against one other team. Five of you run across the race course as a relay, avoiding obstacles, and staying on track. The fastest team who crosses the finish line first wins.
It’s definitely a very interesting concept straight from the get-go. So why can’t I rank this show any higher?
Well, for one, whenever you introduce a sport, it is imperative to consider your audience: they have no clue what the sport is about or never
even heard of anything like it before. Furthermore, sports often incorporate a lot of new terminology that can lose the audience quickly. As a result, the screenwriters must absolutely take the time to explain these terms well.
This is where Prince of Stride begins to crack. In the first few episodes, terms such as “relationer” will be thrown at you and leave you second-guessing until you actually see it in action. Techniques associated with parkour or the relationing process itself, too, are never properly explained. And, most importantly, the rules of Stride are very open, and this is a recipe for disaster. For instance, shortcuts – what exactly constitutes an acceptable shortcut? Couldn’t you technically just “shortcut” an entire leg? Since this rule and others like it are never thoroughly explained, viewers who are making an attempt to understand what is happening are more than often left hanging and utterly confused. And mind you that this is just one rule – there are plenty of others that don't make any sense either.
The other issue is the characters themselves. As you probably know, Prince of Stride centers on the members of the Honan Stride team. The characters on this team had serious potential but were never given ample time on the show to have enough depth. Some characters were given no time at all and honestly were not a significant factor in the show (e.g. Hozumi). They could have been left out from the story and the plot of the entire show would not have changed much (minus the fact that you would have an incomplete team, oops). Others are what I like to call half-baked: some characterization but somewhat forced. A good example of this is Nana. Nana’s true colors begin to show when her father shows up back in Japan, but since her father was never mentioned up to this point, it seems as if his entire purpose was to elicit some emotional response from her. Thus, her actions and thoughts come off as a little unbelievable. I would argue that the only decent characterization was of Riku (see episode 11), since we later learn that he uses Stride as a way to dissociate his own identity from his more talented brother’s.
As for the plot, there isn’t really anything remarkable about it. As with all other sports anime, Prince of Stride: Alternative tries to balance Honan’s training and the tournaments that they participate in. In the first half of the show, there is more training and other trivial things that they do (e.g. obtain a sponsor) than there are actual tournaments, and some of these training sessions do not produce anything fruitful other than heightened, excited emotions. Towards the end of the show, however, the plot finally gets somewhere when the Honan team comes face-to-face against two of their toughest, most challenging rival teams during the End of Summer semi-finals and finals.
For the art, let’s just say it’s different. The color palette that Madhouse chose to use in this show often comes off as overly bright or pale. It’s not oversaturated as in the colors of No Game No Life but will take some time to adjust to. Despite this, the animation and artwork is very consistent. Sound and voice acting are also of high quality, albeit none of it really stood out.
So, just to summarize, I wouldn’t say that this is one of the better sports anime out there. Its premise had a lot of potential but unfortunately the plot does not build off from it at all. If you’re looking for a more balanced story or characters with more depth, you won’t find them here. I felt like too often this show came off as a little dry since nothing is really explored well, and it’s likely that you will think this way too.
Overall rating: C
Author's Disclaimer: Please remember, this is my own personal opinion. I critique anime primarily on how the story is executed and how well-rounded the characters are. This review is not meant to target any other review but was intended to provide a more holistic analysis.
It should also be noted that this is a full-fledged review of the entire season.
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