2008 was a very good year for Madhouse anime, no other studio could match the number of quality anime shows they had: think Kaiba, Maid Guy, Kurozuka, and Mouryou no Hako to name just four. Therefore, when I found out Rideback was being done by Madhouse I became really excited about this title.
Rating: 12/12 Perfect
Rideback is set in the near future after a group known as the GGP has overthrown the world’s governments and run the world, promising tranquility and peace. They are more then willing to use whatever means to ensure their continued power. Our protagonist is Rin, the daughter of a world renowned ballet dancer and she doesn’t believe the political situation of the world affects her. She is too busy enthusiastically following in her mom’s footsteps until she is injured during a recital. Rin’s injury heals but she is no longer satisfied with her abilities so she decides to quit ballet.
Fast forward and Rin is entering college with her best friend. While heading somewhere on campus, a freak thunderstorm forces Rin to take shelter in the building that houses the Rideback Club. A member of the Rideback Club sees her come in and decides that this is an opportunity to get a cute and clean girl to join the club. He first convinces Rin into sitting on the Rideback then when the shower passes, taking the Rideback for a small test drive. However, the Rideback malfunctions a bit, stops listening to the guy’s commands and refuses to stop so she ends up taking a very thrilling test drive. She quickly learns that the Rideback in standing form acts like an extension of her body and is agile enough that she can use her ballet training to make it literally dance.
The easiest thing to praise this show for is the stellar animation. The CG elements like the mech cycles look like they belong in the show and didn’t scream – Look at me!! I’m awesome, cost a bunch of money and stick out like a sore thumb. Scenes like the cherry blossoms falling at the beginning are breath-taking and look like they belong in the movie 5cm per Second. Even the character designs, which might look simple and out-of-place in static screenshots, work very well when in motion and fit the feel of the show.
I want to praise the show most for creating a main character that’s likable, human, and believable as well as taking the time in this first episode to establish her character instead of using action sequences to entice us. I’m almost assured now to stick around so I can find out what happens to Rin. Also worthy of praise is the show’s attempt to give an actual reason for Rin’s nearly instantaneousmastery of the Rideback – she’s a master at ballet. It’s plausible and means that I can expect a certain level of realism to how the plot unfolds which is always a big plus.
The only thing that kinda surprised me about the first episode was Rin appears to be totally apolitical right now; and, unless the Rideback club is a hotbed of dissidents, then I wonder how she’s going to become a student protestor. … Actually, I just had a thought. I’m probably wrong but during the phone conversation between Rin and her grandma, the grandma mentions that Rin’s younger brother hasn’t been around the house lately – maybe the government black-bagged him. If that’s the case then I can definitely see Rin becoming a rebel.
And finally, another reason to like this show is the opening and closing are both very good.