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Prince of Stride: Alternative

An anime about running, mmm… Sounds great, right up my alley since I used to be somewhat of an obsessive runner. By right, this would have made to my to-watch list eventually, since anime about sports never fails to get me hyped up, even though sports genre anime do sport (pun intended) the same kind of tropes over and over again. But then again, it is the familiarity that does draw fans like me back, and I’m not ashamed of consuming it as fast as I consumed Free! Iwatobi or Baby Steps and the like.

A little bit about the anime, it is centred around a sport called STRIDE… It’s not a name of a real sport if you were wondering, but it is kind of a mash up of parkour and sprinting. Very cool, made me wanna go throw on my running gear and hit the streets. Anyway, the main characters are three freshmen who join Hounan High School, and consists of Nana Sakurai, Riku Yagami and Takeru Fujiwara.

First point of interest for me, is the female protagonist, Nana. She joins with the intention of just being the club manager after being enamoured by a Stride video she saw online. And what draws her attention to the team is their flawless ‘relations’. Relations being how each member of the teams taps off form one runner to the next as they run street circuits relay style. And of course, eventually she ends up being the club ‘relationer’ a.k.a. the one that tells each runner when to start running and times the relay tap off to levels of high precision. (If you still didn’t get that… I feel you, I’d advise just watching it… *nudge nudge* I’m prodding you already.) She has a good character, maybe a little one-dimensional in the start, but better than the standard female clichés that littered the classic sports anime, I trust she will get better. In my opinion, Kuroko no Basket’s Momo was the start of strong female characters.

Next up, is Riku Yagami, from the start we are introduced to him running, and loving all sorts of sports, to the extent that he is willing to join every sport the school has to offer, until he gets dragged to the Stride club. The very same one that this older brother was part of. (Cue the mysterious background, that will drive the angst of the story.) His happy-go-lucky attitude is not my type, but he’s likable and finally showed some sort of drive in the third episode.

And now, Takeru Fujiwara. TL;DR: he’s like a Haruka from Free! or a Kageyama from Haikyuu! Don’t shoot me for comparing but you cannot deny that the similarities are glaring. Not only being, cool, aloof and a very good Stride player, but when he takes off his glasses and wears contacts to run, Takeru and Haruka look the same … right down to the hair flicking.

So these three, are joined by, three other seniors making up the team, the standard captain with a club history, Heath Hasekura. The slightly more geeky one, Ayumu Kadowaki. And Hozumi Kohinata, I would love to say he’s normal, but nope, he looks good in female clothing and likes plushies, but that’s all okay with me since his parkour skills are crazy good.

Animation is brilliant, the running and the parkour scenes are so well done, I feel them like they are right next to me, it was intense and it was real.

Now that all that analysing is out of the way, let’s talk about seiyuu casting. It’s stellar cast! From Daisuke Ono doing Heath, which I can recognise right away. There’s Kana Hanazawa voicing Nana, Ryouhei Kimura voicing Riku, and Nobuhiko Okamoto voicing Takeru. Just to jog your memory, Ryouhei also voiced Kise from Kuroko no Basket and Nobuhiko voiced Takumi Usui from Maid Sama! Not to mention that the rest of the cast is also great and have played characters, that were once my biases or are still up there on that great bias list. That being said, I’d have watched it just purely from the casting list.

Opening song is titled “Strider's High” and sung by OxT, good, up beat and appropriate for a fast pace anime. And the ending song is great as well and is sung by the seiyuus themselves, it is titled “Be My Steady”.

All in all, I’m guessing this is Madhouse’s answer to KyoAni’s Free! And honestly it’s a good one, the animation, character design (Prince of Stride has its origins as a otome game) and choice of sport is interesting enough to make me want to watch it. From the way it’s going, fans (and I’m expecting Fujoshis) of sports anime are going to devour this one as quickly they have devoured Free!, Kuroko and Haikyuu!

Written by Neko

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