From the studio behind Hunter X Hunter and Btoom!, Madhouse’s RIDEBACK is an underrated gem that will have you thirsting for action and drama. Here is our review of the 2009 anime series:
In the hopes of following her mother’s footsteps, Rin Ogata is a promising ballet dancer who has the world at her feet. But that all changed when she suffered a serious injury while dancing onstage. As a result, she decided to stop dancing and focus on college instead.
One day, she came across a two-wheeled automobile robot also known as a ‘Rideback’. Mistaken as a potential club member, she soon finds herself intrigued by the vehicles and joins the Rideback club. At the very same time, an organisation called the GGP (Global Government Plan) is looking to take control of the government and ramp up their military power by introducing ‘military Ridebacks’.
At first, we didn’t know what to expect from Rideback. A story about ballet and automobile robots — how on earth do these worlds intertwine?
Rin just wanted to drive Ridebacks — the thrill, the escape, the feeling of being in the air and surrounded by cascading light. The very same feeling that she gets when she is immersed in her dancing performances — a feeling that she thought she would never see and feel again. For a girl who has no knowledge and experience of riding bikes, Rin surprises everyone (including Japan’s #1 female Rideback rider) with her natural talent. Thanks to her ballet skills, Rin is able to utilise Rideback vehicles with finesse despite being a rookie.
Little did she know that this innocent hobby of hers would land her in trouble. Always found in the wrong situations and at the wrong time, it is astonishing to see an ordinary girl causing friction with the police and government. Labelled as a ‘terrorist’, Rin soon realises that this hobby was not a fun hobby anymore, especially if it leads to pain for her family and friends.
To be honest, we actually thought Rin was going to be trained in combat; join the military; and become the dark horse and symbol of hope for Japan. To our slight disappointment and wishful thinking, the story unfortunately did not embark on that tangent
(p erhaps we’ve watched too many teenage rebellion anime). If only Rideback was a 24-episode series — its potential could have heightened even further by fleshing out the characters and expand the drastic events leading up to the climax.
At a glance, Rideback looks like one of those anime classics that ended up being a one-hit wonder. Not that we have something against retro anime but we were shocked to discover that Rideback was released in 2009. You know, the period after the glorious years of action-packed series including Code Geass and Death Note.
Compared to such iconic series, the animation in Rideback is ridiculously average and we expected so much more from the overall animation. While we do admire the way they animated Rin’s thrilling rush with Ridebacks, the action scenes could have been more flashy and dramatic. The hype is definitely there but the thrill ends up falling flat in minutes.
In addition to this, we weren’t too keen on the basic character design. The story might have some badass-looking characters but we can’t help but question why the characters wore the same outfits since episode one. Who wears a dress when they’re riding a bike and engaging in battles with the enemy?!
During this isolation period, we’re so glad that we took a chance on RIDEBACK (2009). The character design and animation might be average but we absolutely love the concept and Rideback‘s storytelling did not disappoint us. We must also give a special mention to the opening and ending theme songs — what major bops!
If you’re looking for an anime to liven up your week, Rideback is the perfect series for a non-stop marathon. We hope you enjoy the anime as much as we did!
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