First Look: Prince of Stride Alternative

princeofstride_01

Game Adaptation by Madhouse
Streaming on Funimation

Premise

A bunch of bishounen (and one girl) participate in their high school ‘stride’ club – a blend of parkour and relay – with the ultimate goal of competing against other schools and winning the End of Summer, one of Japan’s top stride competitions.

Artemis’ verdict: Could’ve Been Worse

I admit I had prepared myself for twenty-odd minutes of agony given that this series is based off an otome game. On top of that I’m also not much of a sports anime fan, and despite my current leanings towards josei and shoujo titles, probably the most recent reverse harem show I wholeheartedly enjoyed was Ouran High School Host Club. So yeah, I wasn’t exactly expecting a whole lot out of Prince of Stride, other than for it to be over so I could just write about it already and then never have to think about it again.

To my surprise, I did not hate this show. I don’t know whether I liked it per se, but that twenty minutes wasn’t painful – despite the oh so original concept of a bunch of high school kids trying desperately to keep their club from being disbanded, and despite the fact that I can draw so many parallels to Free! it isn’t even funny. Yes, I think I would have preferred an anime about actual parkour rather than one about a fictional sport that mixes parkour with a sprint relay, and yes, I’m still asking myself why on earth Madhouse is behind this one. (This is the same studio who brought us Death Parade in 2015, right?) And yet, I found the opening episode of Prince of Stride engaging enough in its own way; it was fast-paced, which suits the show, and the comedy was light enough that I didn’t mind the clichés overmuch. Perhaps best of all, none of the male characters appear to be assholes (not one!), and MC-chan is portrayed as neither timid nor stupid. I wish I had been able to see her actively participate in the sport beyond just speaking into an ear piece, but that could well come later.

Oh, and I see Ishizuka Atsuko is back in the director’s chair. I honestly didn’t care much for No Game No Life, and I never got around to watching Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo or Hanayamata, but it’s always great to see more women taking the helm.

princeofstride_02

Jel’s verdict: Light and Easy

For what this was trying to accomplish (grab the attention of the Free! crowd), this was a really well composed episode. The pacing was nice and brisk, it had a good sense of humor, and I really like the clean, sporty art style. The characters already seem to have a solid camaraderie and are generally pretty likable, and even the main character audience proxy girl seems to have a shred of personality to her. Throw in some attractive, athletic boys in the mix and I can see the appeal, but as solid as the production is I don’t think it does enough to stand out on its own. As Artemis points out, there are quite a few parallels to Free! and the one thing that is unique, the fictional sport of Stride, is a dumb and confusing mash up of sports that would have been fine to tackle on their own. I both laughed and rolled my eyes when they introduced the “Relationer” team slot that was so obviously tacked in to give the main girl a reason to be a part of the club. All that said, I continue to be pleased to see the level of quality of these otome game productions increasing, but I still don’t think this merits watching outside the target demographic.

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