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