Review: Prince of Stride

Anime: Prince of Stride: Alternative

Studio: Madhouse

Episodes: 12

Original Run: Jan 5, 2016 to Mar 22, 2016

Genres: Sports, Drama

Synopsis:

Sakurai Nana attends Honan Academy because her interest in stride, an extreme sport that’s a hybrid version of relay race, parkour and sprinting. Fascinated by a previous match that involved the reputable Honan Stride Club, Nana is determined to join the team as its manager. She finds that she’s not alone in her enthusiasm when a fellow first year and stride-maniac, Fujiwara Takeru joins her. To both of their dismay, it’s revealed that the Stride Club is almost defunct and requires two more members to participate in competitions.

They rope in another first-year, Yagami Riku, with an interest and all sports but stride, and Nana takes the final free position to form a full team. But merely filling the numbers isn’t enough to make a winning team and it will take a lot of effort from all their parts to restore Honan Stride to its former glory.

 

Story:

It’s been a while since I’ve written a review so I’m half-afraid I’ve forgotten how to do it but here we go.

Prince of Stride: Alternative (I have no idea why that Alternative is in the title) is a sports anime featuring a made-up game called Stride which can be succinctly described as the child of relay race marrying parkour with some sprinting blood in the mix. The appeal of a sports anime depends a lot on the way the sport itself is presented and in that regard, Prince of Stride succeeds without excelling. Stride is a very cool sport, fun to watch and also imagine but it’s also quite straightforward. The scores are based on speed and thus matches come down to who can run and clear the obstacles faster. Thus it lacks the delightful – and often ridiculous – pomp and parade of anime sports but is still a perfectly serviceable element in the story.

What Prince of Stride really focuses on is its characters and it’s very much a character-driven drama from beginning to end. The Honan Stride Club and its seven members are the central figures and their antics propel the story forwards. Said antics are generally varying levels of humorous but there are also several emotional moments ranging from melancholic to heartwarming. Most of the focus in that regard goes to Yagami Riku, a freshman boy with moderately severe brother issues (thankfully nowhere near Uchiha Sasuke levels). It’s handled quite well – there’s ample foreshadowing from early on and his problems are not easily brushed aside with one or two speeches but are addressed in a way that feels organic albeit rushed.

As for criticism, the main one would be that there is little to no tension within the show. While it’s somewhat exciting to watch the stride matches, there’s never any pressure to any of it, not enough to make you care whether Honan wins or loses. Since this is a sports anime, that’s a definite demerit. Other than that, there’s nothing in the narrative that warrants great disapproval just as there’s nothing in it that warrants great approval.

In many ways, Prince of Stride is very generic but also has enough individuality to it to make sitting through thirteen episodes worthwhile. We see familiar characters and familiar situations but all with just enough of their own flare to make the story its own entity.

 

Characters:

An abundance of teams, each with at least 6 members, means that Prince of Stride is not lacking in characters but only a handful of them are important and even among them, not many get consistent development. The Honan club members – Heath, Hozumi, Ayumu, Riku, Takeru, Nana and Kyosuke – are have their own mini arcs but Nana, Takeru and Riku gets most of the attention.

I will forever be perplexed by who the protagonist of this is. The beginning suggests that it’s Nana but she fades to the background pretty quickly and then only pops out again towards the end. Let’s start with her anyway. Nana came to Honan because of her passion for stride, intending to be the team manager but ending up as a team member instead. She’s nice, kind and very dedicated to stride and that’s really all we see of her. She does have her own charm but few instances to show it off. Riku is cheerful and angsty in turns, his naturally energetic disposition clashing with his aforementioned brother issues. Nothing too special but it all works well enough. The most charming out of the three is quiet, dorky Takeru even though his tendency to grope other men’s muscles is rather of-putting. You know those scenes where naked girls grope each other’s chests for some contrived reason? This is the male-on-male equivalent of that except with legs instead of breasts.

The determined club captain Heath and his wayward ex-teammate Kyosuke both have their shared arc in the story which, while not giving much depth to either, serves to make them a pair of interesting secondary characters. The same can be said for Hozumi and Ayumu, though most of the focus is on the latter. Other Honan-related characters of importance are Dan-sensei, their perpetually cool stride coach who always has one or ten wise idioms at hand, and Heath’s older sister Diana who’s lively and memorable despite her limited screentime.

There are plenty of characters from outside Honan too but most of them aren’t that significant except for the course of a single match. Those who are most noticeable include the captain of a rival team Reiji, Riku’s brother Tomoe and Nana’s father Joe. Reiji is just there for some of the episodes, being the textbook perfect example of a friendly rival, especially for Takeru. Tomoe, though we see little of him, gives the impression of a soft-spoken, well-meaning guy who’s awkward with people and finally, there’s Joe who’s the token neglectful parent who makes clumsy, disastrous attempts at amends.

There’s certainly variety to be found here and they all come together well in the end.

 

Art and Music:

The art is perfectly adequate and sometimes very pretty. The backgrounds as well as character designs are of excellent quality and full of bright, varied colors. The stride games themselves benefit from fluid animation.

Prince of Stride has some great tracks in it. The opening theme is Strider’s High by OxT and is an upbeat tune concerned with the sport itself. The ending themes, Be My Steady and You’re My Courage are by Galaxy Standard, a band that’s featured in the show. The original music score is good as well, especially the song You Gotta Show Me (Trust) that plays during the matches.

 

Verdict:

Prince of Stride can be effectively summed up as an entertaining anime that’s in no way exceptional. It’s harmless and often hilarious with a cast that’s not too developed but who have their own charm.

Rating: 7/10

 

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About D

Just another avid anime fan.
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15 Responses to Review: Prince of Stride

  1. raistlin0903 says:

    Well…no need to worry: you can still write reviews, and they are still every bit as good as when I first started reading them 😀 I’m not really into sports (I once proclaimed that I get tired just by thinking of sports lol), so I usually am not interested into anything sports related. I do occasionally watch a sports movie, and they can be entertaining. Reading through this I am not really in a big hurry to start watching this series (which ofcourse has nothing to do with your review), but the show itself does not sound like something I would really enjoy. Still, stranger things have happened, so maybe if I ever run out of things to watch (or I get more crazy than I already am), I might give this one a try. Great post though 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • D says:

      Haha thanks 😀 I’m not into sports either honestly. I mean, there was an attempt at basketball and volleyball in eighth grade but those were swiftly abandoned. Not my thing. I like to watch a few sports but that’s it. But oddly enough, I’ve found that I really, really enjoy sports anime. Prince of Tennis, Yuri on Ice and Kuroko no Basket are among my all-time favorite shows.

      That said, I totally get why you’d rather pass on this one. It’s harmless fun but n worth the effort for someone not into the genre. But hey, if you ever feel the need to venture into sports anime hell, my recommendation would be Kuroko no Basket.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, you can still write reviews! So that’s good. I’m not a sports persons, but the art in this still looks really pretty, so I may have to watch an episode. And after getting into Durarara, I’ve heard a lot about parkour…but I don’t know what it is. You said this sport was like a blend of sports, parkour being one of them. What is it, exactly? I know the other two.

    Liked by 1 person

    • D says:

      Thanks! Neither am I but for some reason, I’m a fan of sports anime. And well, parkour is kinda like running an obstacle course in an urban area.

      To quote google, “parkour is the activity or sport of moving rapidly through an area, typically in an urban environment, negotiating obstacles by running, jumping, and climbing.”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Karandi says:

    Nice review. Totally agree. Fun but best described as adequate rather than good.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kurumi Shim says:

    I like sports anime but it depends how they deliver the show. Prince of Stride has a great potential. It is rather entertaining and the hilarity of every characters is just enough. There are a lot of sports anime out there, most of them are underrated that deserve to get a big attention as this anime. Thanks for the detailed review. Cheers!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • D says:

      I’ve only seen around 5 or 6 sports anime but liked them all. A few are my favorites. PoS isn’t one of those but it was perfectly adequate entertainment.

      You are right about that. MAL’s sports genre lists a lot of shows but we usually hear about only a select few.

      Thanks for dropping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. DerekL says:

    If you like sports anime, may I recommend Aokana: Four Rhythm Across the Blue? Like Stride, it has an invented sport, but much more action.

    I think that’s why I dropped Stride back in the day, the races seemed to be pretty perfunctory… Almost like they were just getting them out of the way to get back to the character drama. (Which didn’t strike me as well done either.)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Remy Fool says:

    You still got it, D!

    PoS is probably best described as average like you have done so right here. The last arc seemed to drag on for several episodes on end and I’m not sure if it lived up to the build-up. Still, it was an adequate watch.

    Liked by 1 person

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