Sports anime usually aren’t my thing.
They’re, from my experiences, normally very predictable. They don’t create new sports or new worlds, and are far too often defined solely by their character’s experiences of the sport, which simply doesn’t appeal much to me. It’s just, altogether, not my cup of tea.
But I’m also a sucker for the discipline of Parkour, and specifically, Freerunning. The idea of acrobatic expression, discipline of mind and body to create something individual out of the world around you. Flashy, freeing, and captivating, that discipline has always appealed to me. So when I heard of a sports anime that took inspiration from the practice?
You must understand, Prince of Stride simply captured my interest.
Reviving The Stride Club
Prince of Stride starts, as many sports anime do: with a young upstart, looking to make a name for themselves in the sport of their choosing. And so, we follow Nana Sakurai, who, being obsessed with the world of “Stride,” finds herself at Honan Academy, whose stride club has earned prestige and notoriety! Although she does not have practical experience with the sport, she wishes to get involved in some way, any way! To manage the runners, to interact with, and know, the sport that is Stride!
With one problem. The Stride Club is basically defunct–with only three members keeping it alive, only half of the people required to form a team. Suffice to say, this is a problem–and so, Nana, and a young, yet experienced runner, Takeru, take it upon themselves to find new members, and make their mark in the world of Stride!
Suffice to say, the plot got moving really quickly, just like the sport it features. From finding members, to training, to competing, the first three episodes went by fast, and it was fun to experience it. There was always something new happening in the plot, and that made it interesting to get into!
Just like any sports anime, you have a rather wide, yet concrete list of characters, who, for all their unique traits, fulfill the stereotypes you need. With the nerd, the stoic badass, the natural, and the cute guy, Prince of Stride seems to be making sure to cover all its bases. And, of course, we learn about how these guys learn to trust each other, pouring all their love into the sport, and other such…sappy stuff.
Normally, this would be…a net negative in my book, but what Prince of Stride lacks in character development (at least for now), it makes up for in sheer style, a quick, simple plot, and, of course, the sport of Stride, which is very, very fun to watch.
But, of course, what IS Stride, exactly? It’s the sport that defines the series, so some explanation is needed.
The Sport of “Stride”
In this world, a popular sport known as “Stride” exists, which combines Parkour, Freerunning, and Relay into one event. Teams of 5 runners each participate in relays of massive scale, taking place in the streets of cities, inside buildings, or, in the case of the very first episode, in the school of Honan Academy. They individually must run legs of the course, navigating any obstacles in their path, until the last member–the anchor–can reach the end.
Due to the nature of the sport, each member often will not see their team’s current runner, because they are around a corner, or obscured by other such obstacles, and because of this, the team has a sixth member–a Relationer. With the ability to track the progress of each member, the Relationer has the responsibility of making sure that each relay goes smoothly, by communicating with each runner via an earpiece. With total trust in each other’s speeds, they work together to quickly finish the course, hopefully out running their competitors.
Prince of Stride, from the get go, lets the audience know that Stride is a big deal, which I enjoy so far. It’s a new world, a new, exciting sport, and Prince of Stride made sure to let me know that it was such. Stride isn’t just another real-life sport, and, from a technical, analytical perspective, it was cool to discover the little intricacies of the sport!
Probably the most exciting part of these first three episodes, at least in my eyes, was , and getting caught up in the flair, the speed of the sport. It’s fast-paced, and you can tell–based on the animation, the music, the little details–that Prince of Stride is aiming for such a feel. Quick sprints, exciting intricacies in movement, and of course, jumps that actually take inspiration from Parkour, all add to the flair, and boy is it cool to see.
This gets me to mention, that this sort of high-velocity sport wouldn’t be nearly as effective in animation, if the style didn’t match.
But boy, does the style match it–and then some.
Flashy as Hell Artistic Style
Prince of Stride is the Mirror’s Edge of anime, as far as I’ve seen. With simple, colorful, bright designs, and the most geometric aesthetic I’ve ever seen from an anime, the first three episodes were appealing to watch, for the sheer amount of style alone.
And really, this style is present EVERYWHERE. It’s hard to capture through pictures, but in every movement, every transition, Prince of Stride has this consistent sense of clean, controlled chaos that makes the series as a whole feel very dynamic. Especially during running scenes, the actual sport of Stride, I can’t help but love the feeling of movement that they capture.
And even beyond this, Prince of Stride has a natural, oversaturated color scheme, that, if it were any other series, I would have immediately been skeptical of. However, it happens so consistently in the first three episodes that it just…turns into part of the feel of the series. I don’t know how it works, but somehow, with such consistently sharp, quick-feeling artistic style, it comes together to create a feel that makes sense for what the sport of Stride is.
This anime, so far, isn’t looking to be a masterpiece in story-telling, but man, is it COOL.
My First Impression
Overall, the first three episodes of Prince of Stride seem…rather promising, to be honest.
The characters and plot development aren’t exactly master-class, but I get the feeling that this won’t be the main focus of Prince of Stride. At least, I hope not, because with only 12 episodes, and a main cast of six characters, I don’t see any complex character development being a good idea.
Oh, and I should mention now: even if the series doesn’t focus on fanservice (for the most part) most all of the characters there are guys–rather attractive guys at that. So, ladies, you’re welcome.
So, just give me a basic plot. The feel good stuff. The “I’ve grown to improve on my mistakes, and trust my team” development, and I’ll be content. All I ask, is for the same sense of style, more of the awesomeness that is “Stride,” and I’ll be a happy man.If you haven’t seen this series so far, I’ll tell you that the first three episodes of Prince of Stride are fun as hell; even if it’s not the “smartest” anime in the world. So, if you haven’t already, go give it a try if you have the time! I’ll be back with a review within a week or two, so maybe we can share our thoughts then! :)