Prince of Stride: Alternative – 04

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PoS (which is not a POS) follows up a big, exciting, official race with…another big, exciting, official race! Good form, especially if this is just a single-cour series. An anime about a game of speed should have a fast-moving plot. Especially since, well, most of the characters are pretty bland, so it’s best not to focus on them too long!

One notable exception this week is Ayumu, who may be the most knowledgeable in trivia and best shogi player, is the worst runner on the team. Far from being able to pull off “gimmicks”, he’s scared of them, taking him off whatever pace and flow he’s able to put together. But Ayumu doesn’t let that stop him.

He uses his frustration with being the worst at everything Stride-related (well, almost everything; more on that later) to fuel a steady, forceful improvement regime, helped out by Hozumi. And while he’s exhausted on the day of the race in hot-springy Atami, and Takeru doesn’t seem interested in his muscles in the bath (not necessarily a bad thing), he’s a lot more confident than he was.

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That is, until he meets his opponent on Mihashi High’s team, who is very friendly but also enormous, with a death grip for a handshake. It’s here where Ayumu hints that in order to survive in Stride (and more importantly to him, not let everyone down), he must flex his most developed “muscle”: his brain. To that end, he convinces his opponent he’s racing for his sister (though it kinda backfires when the guy promises he’ll give it his very best, rather than let him win).

Ayumu’s little conflict isn’t quite enough to sustain an entire episode, however, so it’s good there are a couple more things bubbling. You have the Kamoda brothers, for instance: the older, meeker Yuu only a “figurehead” relationer to the team’s ace, the younger, flashier Kei.

Yuu’s unique relationing style during the race positively baffles Nana (along with a no-radio-reception tunnel at a crucial moment, a rookie mistake). She’s even more troubled (and hence, distracted) when she learns that the runners aren’t actually even taking orders from Yuu.

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Still, Nana trusts in her runners and they make their relations; perhaps a bit sloppily here and there, but they make them. It’s another exciting race with the guys making the Road Runner whooshing sound when they take off running. I’ll only say that while in general I dig the super blue-heavy palette of PoS, the over-saturation tends to be overused at times.

When it’s Ayumu’s turn, the lead the previous three runners built against Mihashi quickly vanishes as the skyscraper blows past him. Unable to bear being the one who lost them the race, he takes a crafty shortcut that nobody expects, only because it requires a dangerous drop, which he does not stick. For a few moments when Nana couldn’t reach him, I feared he’d ended up in the drink, ending the race right there.

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Instead, he makes contact to Nana, and makes the last relation with Hozumi, who digs deep and regains the lead for Honan, resulting in their first win by a fraction of a second. No time for celebration, though, as Hozumi immediately turns around and races to Ayumu, who is later carted off to the hospital, banged up but alive.

After losing the race he so desperately wanted to win for Yuu, Kei decides he’s done usurping him as relationer, and for all the apologizing Yuu does, Kei knows he’s the one who should be sorry. Good for you, guy who looks way too much like Takeru!

Our last little wrinkle of drama is another peek into the whole “Riku’s estranged brother” story, where apparently after seeing his brother’s team win on the interwebs, Tomoe calls Galaxy’s relationer Kyousuke about maybe pairing up.

Kyousuke is noncommittal (he apparently had to give up Stride and doesn’t deserve to run anymore…so dramatic!), but something tells me one way or another we’re gonna see a clash of the Yagami brothers.

But here’s the thing: I just don’t think I’m going to have time to cover PoS every Tuesday going forward, so I’m afraid this is goodbye. But it’s a goodbye with a Robert Redford Nod of Approval.

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Prince of Stride: Alternative – 03

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With my enthusiasm for this Tuesday night (for me) sports anime waning fast, this was exactly the episode I needed: one that brought us the show’s first real race against an elite opponent in Saisei’s Stride Club, who double as a dance and vocal unit and are known and adored as Galaxy Standard AKA Gal-Stan, which sounds like some kind of American industrial conglomerate that manufactures nuclear reactors for aircraft carriers…but whatever!

What matters is, these guys are tough…but they’re not the haughty assholes I thought they’d be, which made watching their interactions with our boys in blue a lot more pleasant. Only one of them, Takusu, could be classified as a jerk, but Takeru is just as fiercely competitive to the point of rudeness.

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As the two teams line up for the race, it occurs how closely the five Honan runners resemble their Saisei counterparts. You have the guys with the dark hair, the greenish hair, the prettyboys, the tough guys, and the goofy guys.

I also liked the little pre-start conversations between the five pairs, though the simultaneous drawing out of their route legs made for a somewhat busy presentation; I had to rewind a couple of times to catch what they were saying because the graphics distracted me. But they’re cool graphics, so no biggie.

But then just like that chatting time is over and it’s time for a muthafuckin’ race, ya’ll. And I’ll tellya, it was a fun one to watch, from the whooshing sound of a runner blasting off the line to the uncertainty of who will have the upper hand in each leg.

And then there’s Nana, clearly nervous in her first true race, but never failing to connect her runners, once the Saisei relationer puts her at ease by making her listen on her headset to how much goddamn fun her boys are having.

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And it does look like fun, unless you’re Heath, or Ayumu, who are totally outclassed by their Saisei opponents. Heath takes it in…ahem…stride, but Ayumu gets so pissed off with the ability gap that he slows way down. And the Saiei guys aren’t just faster, they’re flashier crowd pleasers as well.

Takeru, who’s last in the order, has over fours seconds to make up against the Saisei captain and anchor, Suwa Reiji. Reiji, for his part, looks like he feels kinda bad his team’s going to beat Takeru’s so handily…right up until the moment his relationer tells him Takeru is right on his ass.

Saisei wins—it would have been ridiculous for them not to—but it’s only by .42 seconds, thanks to Fujiwara’s scary closing speed, which winds him considerably. And Reiji is happy it’s close. He likes a strong challenge and he got one.

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As for Honan, they did end up losing, which they thought meant losing Heath’s sis as a sponsor, but she was watching with Saisei’s sponsor, and was so pissed off she had a new line of sportswear custom-made for the guys and Hana: sharp-looking crisp white unis to replace their dour ld blue gym suits.  But she makes it clear she won’t accept further failure.

The next big even coming up is ominously called the End of Summer, AKA EoS, and the ridiculously unbalanced Honan has a lot of work to do. But after this week, I’m looking more forward to watching their progress than I was at this point last week, so Prinstride can log that as a victory on its little iPad.

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