Thursday, May 12, 2016

Prince of Stride: Alternative Review

Prince of Stride: Alternative Review

Warning: The following review may contain spoilers of the show Prince of Stride: Alternative. If you wish not to know some plot details, or simply don't wish to find out what happens in the series, please exit the tab, and join me once you've watched the show. Or you know, you can continue to read, since you don't care about spoilers.

Anyways, with that said, thank you, and onto the review:

I've mentioned before that I've been in cross country. I first started in junior high because my parents were interested in me trying out for a sport (CC was considered a club at the time by my junior high), and I wanted to participate in one where the threat of getting smacked by balls was at a minimum. It's been pretty fun, even though I may not be the fastest runner in the world. I'm doing my best, and I've improved since being in junior high, so that's a good thing.

That was definitely one reason why this appealed to me. Though this isn't exactly cross country, and rather parkour (technically, Stride is like it), there's still running in this sport anyways. Plus, I couldn't have been the only one who was completely losing it over the cast.


Yeah, something like that. Also, upon seeing that the anime was based off an otome game, it was time to see if this series proved itself more than Dance with Devils (we don't talk about that anymore). So, how it'd go?

Well, it went pretty good actually. I really liked the concept of Stride, the story, and some of our characters. The animation was also pretty good throughout most of the anime, and I found another awesome OST to jam out to!

There were some problems, such as the over dramatic melodrama that mainly targeted one character, the main cast feeling kind of lackluster in terms on interest, Uta no Prince Sama levels of bad cheese, and the last 3 episodes that kind of made the show sink a little bit, but not as bad compared to worse reverse harem anime I've seen ever. *coughs*

Let's start off with the story, shall we?


Stride is an extreme sport where 5 runners compete in a relay type race guided by a relationer. The whole point of Stride is connecting emotions and feelings from the relationer to the runners in order for them to pull through and win. Typical races are run against another team, with the top Stride competition being the End of Summer Festival.

After seeing a video of the Honan Academy Stride team, Nana decides to transfer to Honan in Tokyo from Hokkaido to pursue her aspiration. However, she is sad to see that the Stride team now isn't as plentiful as it was a year ago. After an incident where one of the members had to leave, the Stride team lost its momentum, Because of this, Heath, Hoizumi, and Ayumu (who was brought on after the incident) run a Shogi club alongside it, and don't have enough members to officially race in an actual Stride event, besides practicing occasionally.

With the help of another student named Takeru Fujiwara, who also came to Honan for the same reason as Nana, Riku Yagami is brought into the equation. Though he does love all sports, he seems to not have as much interest in Stride due to his older brother Tomoe being a better runner than he was when he was young, and who also pursued Stride (and still does, mind you).

Now that we've got our base team (with Nana as Relationer), it's time to compete in some races! But after Ayumu gets injured during the Stride race in Atami, it looks like we're going to have to find another member! And who could it rather be than Kyosuke Kuga, the member who left? It takes some convincing, but he eventually gets back on board.

When the End of Summer Festival starts, which team will prevail and win? How will Nana and Riku react when their dad and brother respectively return from the U.S. and are now associated with the rival school Kakyoin? And more importantly, can Riku's bro issues be fixed before the final battle?

The story for Prince of Stride: Alternative is actually pretty good. The pacing is probably the best part about it. It moves pretty quickly, yet at the same time does decently at focusing on characters and the Stride races. Speaking of those, almost all of them (except the last two) are very intense and very enjoyable. Plus, we get a good chance to showcase how well the boys can do! Well, almost everyone.

But it isn't perfect. Overall, episodes 10-12 for this series lack compared to some of the others. A part of that can be blamed on the really bad angst that is mainly directed in Riku's way. The anime seems to shove all of its dramatic tension on this particular aspect so much that it becomes irritating, especially since he doesn't show his potential that much on the playing field. It takes a spotlight to other things that could be more important, and it gets very intolerable in the last half.

That's weird! I haven't felt this way towards an anime character before. Imagine that!

I'll get into this more when I talk about Riku. Oh, and there was another plot point that REALLY amused me.

Let's get on to the last part that kind of bothered me; the cheese. The good news is that I don't think this was as strong as an issue in the last half (besides a line by Takeru that I can easily poke fun of by saying "OUR DESTINY!" Kind of has a nice ring to it, don't you think?), but the bad news is that it's still relevant throughout the show. Phrases such as "connecting feelings" and "I feel better when I run with you" are fine once in a while, but there's some times where this show overuses them. I don't think the show can get as cheesy as some moments of Uta Pri Season 2 did, but this cuts it pretty close. It's honestly just weird when it pops up during a more tense scene, you know?

So as it is, the story for this show isn't too bad. If the cheese, melodrama, and the overall feel of the last 3 episodes (the finale in particular) were taken away, I think it could have been even better. 

Moving on to honestly another weaker aspect in this show:


To be perfectly fair, most of the characters do have great personalities. Honan has a great mix of them. However, what really manages to be the downfall of most of them is their lack of depth. A couple do get development (Riku included), but others do not. They are otherwise noted due to their tropes or a certain part about them. This honestly disappointed me, considering that I found one of the rival teams more interesting than the main one. We'll of course be talking about them.

But Honan will be first!

Nana, the Relationer, is up to the plate:

As the Relationer on the Honan Stride team, it's Nana's job to make sure the runners are properly guided as they run, and what choices to make so that they may beat their opponent.  Her father is the coach of the Kakyoin Stride team, and helped spread the sport throughout Japan, thus being nicknamed The King of Stride. Nana is known as The Princess of Stride, as she is his daughter.

She is very diligent and hardworking, wanting to connect to a person's emotions while during practice or an actual race, as she find this to be very important. She also met Riku and Takeru when they were children during a Stride event, but Nana and Riku forgot over time since Takeru's appearance managed to change over 7 years.

As a character, there's really only one way that I can describe Nana. And that would be:

Yeah, she's about as stale as bread can get. I honestly was pretty disappointed with this, since I was expecting her to be a pretty strong female lead character. She had glimpses of that, but none of it really hit the track for me. She felt like a ghost throughout the series, only really mattering when it came to races and encouragement for the bishes. Her whole entire character feels so generic and bland that it never really manages to stick with me.

And the plot "twist" with her, Riku, and Takeru knowing each other in the past honestly made me mad. Though it is pretty interesting that they all met before high school, it's so stupid and contrived when you really think about it. I mean, they did promise they were going to meet each other again and run at Honan. It basically feels like a tool so that it further proves that these 3 have the BEST FRIENDSHIP BOND EVAR! award plastered on them.

Riku's turn now:

Riku, much like Nana and Takeru, is a first year at Honan (I mean, we can discuss that besides the bond thing because ew) who has a super bubbly and energetic personality. He is pretty flexible with any sport he can play, other than Kabbadi (which is a contact sport originated in India), and seems pretty optimistic to join any sport club he can get his hands on. He's also a pretty decent Stride runner, though it does take him a while to showcase his strength. Oh wait, it's a LONG while. My bad, guys. He's most known for his speed though.

His older brother Tomoe is also a Stride runner, who went to the U.S. before returning to Japan as a part of Kakyoin (Nana's father and Riku's older brother a part of the same team? How odd). He used to practice with Tomoe before deciding to quite doing that and Stride altogether after realizing that he wasn't having fun with the sport anymore, and the fact that Tomoe was more talented than he was. This is where majority of his angst comes from. Speaking of that angst, let's go into more depth on that, shall we?

At first, when it started to pop up in one glimpse at the beginning of Episode 2, and when it makes its first debut in Episode 8, I didn't really mind it that much since I was more annoyed by the forced drama of Nana's dad and Tomoe being on Kakyoin's team (as coach and runner respectively) and how Prince of Stride was treating it as the most serious thing that could be all they talked about during the first 20 minutes of a morning news show. But it felt like I was drowned with it in Episodes 9 and 10, to the point where I felt like I was going to gag.

The same point of how Riku felt that he was no good compared to Tomoe is repeated on an endless cycle for those 2 episodes. And guess who it is cured by? None other than Takeru, of course. Because BFF's can help with all of our baggage. And you know what happens after that? IT'S MAGICALLY CURED! I CAN'T BELIEVE IT! IT'S A MIRACLE BESTOWED BY THE GODS!

I'm sorry, how is that possible again? While I am happy that Riku managed to get over his grief and his super emo mood regarding his brother, it's just so unbelievable how quickly it was brushed under the rug. It goes to the point where Riku is absolutely fine with running with his brother in the final race at the End of Summer Tournament. He even makes his whole speech too about how he's changed so much since joining the Stride team that it got to the point where I needed to make sure it wasn't ingenuine.

Also, to top it off, he really isn't the best runner on the team. That also really disappointed me on the same level of how Nana's character turned out, since I thought he was going to be one of the better racers. He has the speed, but not really anything else. And as such, seeing him perform always made me underwhelmed, since I felt he could have done better than what he did. He does get better after the Saisei training camp, but it still isn't enough compared to some of the other Stride runners.

Takeru's time in the spotlight next:

Before coming to Honan, Takeru was a pretty famous Stride runner in middle school (which seems like it's gone into a little more depth in the game). Though he typically wears glasses during school hours, he switches them out for contacts when he runs (I don't do that, though I've never worn contacts in my life). He is typically put as the anchor in the Stride races that Honan participates in, which basically means he's the last runner out of the group. You'll be hearing this term a lot in Episode 12 when Riku decides to be the anchor in the final race against Kakyoin, but I digress.

Though he can be blunt in what needs to be improved, he still has a lot of faith in Riku's ability as an athlete. As such, he helps run with him on several occasions so he can find that said improvement. He also seems to be a big fan of groping various team members' legs to see how strong they are and what needs work. As such, Riku gives him the name Leg Maniac, though he also manages to find a friend in him.

I've seen a ton of people compare Takeru to Haruka Nanase from Free, and I wouldn't dismiss that easily. However, since I have never watched Free (besides clips and the first 2 episodes dubbed), I can't really make a full comparison. They do have similar personalities though, as they don't typically showcase a lot of emotion and are very serious most of the time. But Takeru can't swim (as revealed in Episode 9), so the comparisons kind of stop there.

But I did like Takeru as a character. I found his gimmick with the muscle groping pretty funny, though I wasn't mad that it was used less as the show went on, because so much of that would get pretty old. He could have had his personality fleshed out a little more, but he was solid for the most part.

Let's have the leader of the Stride club, Heath Hasekura, please come up:

Heath is definitely one of the more popular boys that I've seen being shipped with Nana, and I can see why, considering that he is quite fetching. One of the two third years on the Honan Stride team, Heath is the club's president. He's very optimistic about the club's success, and is always someone who doesn't get depressed or disappointed all the time. Though his attitude for Stride did change after the KGB incident (I'll go into more depth about it during Kyosuke's section), it seems that the good side is coming back to him in full force. However, his ankle injury hasn't gone away (also has more focus in the game).

He has 2 older sisters, where one (the only one that is present, Diane) is the owner of a fashion company called D's that sponsors the Honan team with the line runruly, where Heath occasionally has been forced to model in shoots several times. He's also half British (which isn't explained in the anime, though that'd be cool if they did). In Stride races, he, in my eyes, is one of the best runners out of the team. He did a pretty cool stunt against Tasuku in Episode 11 that did have me getting the intense feelings, even though the race was pretty underwhelming (next episode's was worse).

As a whole, Heath was an alright character. Although he did have a good personality, and I liked how much he cared for Stride, the problem is that he seems to only really be there to give us a male who looks good, which, don't get me wrong, I think he does. He's the only anime character that's a guy and has worn a tank (which showcases off his muscled arms) that I've seen, so that gives him something unique. However, I think his personality could have been more fleshed out, because at the end of the day, I just see him as a character that people can fawn over.

Let's move on to one of my favorites our of the Honan Stride team, and that'd be Hozumi:

Hozumi is another one of the more optimistic members of the Honana Stride club, but that's also just his personality. He is one of the more comedic characters of the show, often making dumb fun with Ayumu, or just being way too cute and adorable. He doesn't really have his backstory developed in the anime (though from what I've looked at, it seems to be really interesting). He does care a lot about Ayumu, and gets a bit vocal about the idea of recruiting Kyosuke back into the team.This is because he knows the other version of the KGB story and not the real one (but he'll find out about the real version in Episode 5).

During races, Hozumi is probably the best Stride racer on the team period. He typically relies on acrobatic parkour skills rather than using his speed to overtake others, which gives him the nickname The Trickster of Honan. And note, some of these acrobatic skills are pretty boss. Episode 3 had me on the edge of my seat when it was his turn to race.

Hozumi was a good character when we saw a little more depth to him in the middle of the series, but his comedic side really comes to light when he's with Ayumu. These two have one of the best friendships I have ever seen in my life, as they both have the highest amount of bro power that you can imagine. I also found it pretty funny when he had to dress up in drag in Diane's photoshoot in Episode 2. We must never bring that up again!

Speaking of Ayumu:

Here we have my favorite character out of this show. Why? Because he actually has some great character development that the other boys don't get. It made me sad to find out he didn't have a route in the otome game, but considering the fact that he's mainly interested in shogi then running, it does make sense.

The self proclaimed "King" of the Shogi club, he is a dedicated Shogi player first and a Stride runner second. His skills during matches are definitely the weakest, and Ayumu is aware of that. However, in Episode 4, he does try to improve his skills by taking a shortcut that ends up with him breaking his right clavicle (he doesn't go over objects in the first race of the series, instead just passing them by). We later find out that he was brought on to the team by Hozumi after many of the runners left following the, again widely known, KGB incident. However, he has strong faith in the club as a whole, even though his skills are below average.

Other jobs on the Stride team include being a extra Relationer and a replacement runner just in case one can't run during a race (which doesn't happen in the anime, but at least he's super supportive).

Like I said above, Ayumu is given some really good development that fleshes him out as a character other than the comedic one. But being the comedic one is also very nice, because this dude is hysterical. His timing for his jokes is spot on, and this one is easily my favorite:

Keep on doing what you're doing Ayumu, because one day, you will become a great stand-up comedian. Maybe Hozumi will be by your side!

Kyosuke's last on the table:

Out of the entire cast of characters, Kyosuke's probably the most disappointing one. Though he does look like a complete badass, and did something completely badass regarding the KGB incident, he doesn't really grow beyond that. Kyosuke used to be a runner on the Stride team at Honan, but left following a tournament where it is believed that he injured Heath's leg on purpose. However, Heath explains that he didn't do such a thing, and instead helped fend some of the older members (one being the Relationer) of the team off, since they were the ones who caused Heath's injury.

During the race, the Relationer of the Honan team fell for a bluff made by the opponent team, which caused Heath and Kyosuke to collide at the Takeover Zone, where the runners of both teams respectively switch with the ones up next with a high five. The older members were angry about this and bared their fangs out at Heath, where the Relationer hit him in the left ankle. Kyosuke defended Heath by attacking in self defense and took all of the blame and responsibility for what happened, thus leading to the misunderstanding regarding the events.

This takes guts to do, so I applaud Kyosuke for being so courageous and taking a stand. Aside from also being a pretty good runner, he also drives a motorcycle (adds to that badass image, right?). So, why wasn't his character as strong for me?

Well, he seems to get demoted to the male who connects the weather into inspirational phrases. And because of that, we don't really get to see a lot of his character growth, and he pretty much gets demoted to a Weather Channel news anchor. Though there are various moments after he rejoins the Honan Stride team where he does emote different facial expressions (when he looks surprised or smiles, it is one of the most adorable things in the world), he doesn't really stick to me besides his looks.

Lastly, I'm going to talk about the main rival team (it's technically Kakyoin, but frankly this one's better), Saisei:

(Credit to artbooksNAT on tumblr for the scan)

Saisei is the most developed rival team out of the ones we met in the anime (some were cut out from it on further research). But what I also like about this is that each of the members have their own personality and don't seem to have a copy paste of traits that all seem to blend together.

Besides being a Stride team, the Saisei boys are also a famous idol group named Galaxy Standard, and the anime actually shows them performing once, along with having the ending performed by them (and the Episode 11 exclusive ending as well). Most of them are pretty likable as well, though my favorites were Reiji (the purple haired one, who's a mix of light hearted and competitive that grew on me as the show went on), Bantaro (light blonde on the right, who's basically Ayumu and Hozumi's roles on Honan and is absolutely fabulous), and Asuma (dark blonde on the left, who's basically a bright ball of energy).The other 3 aren't too bad either way though.

Also, they seem to be better equipped than Honan is. Not only are they pretty nice runners, but they also have their own gym and fancy equipment to train with! It makes me wish we could do that stuff in cross country other than the weight room. I mean, my school has a cardio room.

Other rival teams include the schools of Mihashi (the boring team), Ichijyokan (the aggressive team, though they probably had the most entertaining Relationer, who's all):

And finally, we have Kakyoin (the driven to win team), though their Relationer is the sweetest thing in the world.

Other characters beyond the team players are Dan, the coach for Honan, Diane, the older sister of Heath who owns the fashion company mentioned earlier, and Joe, Nana's father and the coach for the Kakyoin team.


The animation for this series was produced by Madhouse, who are also known for their work on series such as Highschool of the Dead, No Game No Life, and One Punch Man.

Overall, this is probably one of Madhouse's more weaker efforts. It's not horrible per say, but compared to some of their other works, they have done marginally better. When I found out that the director behind No Game No Life was directing this show, I could immediately see why. This show, much like the previously mentioned one, is very colorful, and it helps make the show look pretty appealing, at least for me. However, there were some moments where the colors kind of washed out for me, and the overall production values went on a seesaw in the latter half. This makes me feel like the animation staff kind of lost interest towards the end, and as a result, the show lacks something from Madhouse's other works.

But the mild fanservice does make up for it in some ways. The show gives ample time to showcase a little skin, so that's a plus for us manservice lovers! From slight upward slips of t-shirts (which I actually envisioned for some of my own created shows), to swimsuits, Heath in tanks, and the infamous Episode 4 bath scene, there's enough of it that doesn't make it feel overbearing, which is nice. Because while I do like fanservice and don't mind it, it can be too much once it's piled on to things.

So overall, this animation isn't Madhouse's gem from their resume, but the manservice does help things in a couple of cases. Hopefully it improves on the DVD and Blu-ray releases!


The score for this series was composed by Yoshiaki Fujisawa, who has also worked on OST's such as Riddle Story of Devil, Dimension W, and Mikagura School Suite.

Yoshiaki Fujisawa's score for this series is similar to Riddle Story of Devil, as it has the same electronic elements along with some similar piano ballads. But compared to Akito Matsuda, who managed to make both D-Frag and Jitsu wa Watashi wa have literally the exact same score, this OST is smarter than that. Besides the similar elements, this score still maintains its own identity, having some nice race pieces along with some pretty fun insert songs. It offers for an interesting experience, especially since this started airing around the same time I also watched Riddle Story of Devil, so that was fun. I'd say the other series has a better score though.

Speaking of the seiyuugasm I mentioned in the introduction, I'm happy to report that most of them do very well with their roles. There are a couple of unknown seiyuus in the cast that did a pretty good job as well, though I honestly preferred the main 2 teams over some of the other ones. Also, I found it funny how 4 of the Generation of Miracles members in Japanese are on the Honan Stride team. XD

As for the Broadcast Dub, I still haven't had a ton of time to watch more of it other than bits and pieces of the first 2 episodes, though I do want to because Caitlin Glass (the ADR director) picked some pretty good people to be on the rival teams. People I'm looking forward to are Justin Briner, Garret Storms, Josh Grelle (because of the character he's playing), Joel McDonald, Ian Sinclair, Jerry Jewell, Kaji Tang, Bryce Papenbrook, Chris Patton (now back at FUNimation), Kyle Phillips, Greg Ayres (also because of the character he's playing), and Aaron Dismuke.

I'm very curious to see what Ivan Jasso has to offer, especially since this show is his first lead role, and the moment that he pops up in Episode 2 isn't the best moment to judge him on. But beyond that, the cast is doing a great job thus far.

Highlights in the original Japanese are Kana Hanazawa, Ryohei Kimura, Nobuhiko Okamoto, Kensho Ono, Daisuke Ono, Junichi Suwabe, Hiro Shimono, Sayaka Ohara, Mamoru Miyano, Takuya Eguchi, Tatsuhisa Suzuki, Yuki Ono, Toshiyuki Toyonaga, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (as both of his characters), Natsuki Hanae, Daiki Yamashita, Kaito Ishikawa, Kengo Kawanishi (as Arata), Takahiro Sakurai, Tetsuya Kakihara, and Shouta Aoi.

Highlights in the English dub thus far are Natalie Hoover, Austin Tindle, Ricco Fajardo, Clifford Chapin, Jason Liebrecht (he's better beyond the clip that FUNimation posted of the dub on their Youtube channel), Micah Solusod, and Elizabeth Maxwell.


The best news about this otome game adaption was that it was better than Dance with Devils was and ever will be. However, I do think there were some parts where this series managed to hold back itself from being great, and had a few hurdles in its path that it could clear. Other than that though, I'd say this was a pretty good series despite its issues, and I found myself enjoying some things about it.

I'd recommend this series to fans of sports anime, fangirls/fanboys who love their bishounen, someone who needs a pick-me-up, or anyone else whose jaw dropped when they saw the seiyuu talent pool.

Score: 7.5/10


Story has good pace.

Most of the races are exciting.

Characters do have great personalities.

Animation is fine.

Score is good.

Nice cast of seiyuus.


Most characters don't get development that could benefit them.

Riku's angst and the cheese.

Plot twist in Episode 11 is contrived.

The last Stride race is handled really poorly.

Some animation dips.

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