Long Riders! – Mid Season Review
Original Air Dates: October 8th, 2016 – ???
Reviewed by: Tom
Synopsis: Ami Kurata is a first year college student with no outstanding talents. However, one day on her way out of class with her best friend, Aoi, Ami notices another student riding a folding bike and immediately falls in love with it, using up all her savings to buy her very own. From there Aoi introduces her to the world of long-distance bicycling, forming up a cycling team named Fortuna, with four other girls from their college.
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Long Riders! suffers from a growing problem within the anime industry: Delays. Increasingly every year one or two shows suffer from a weeks delay, or in the case of last season a cancellation and rebroadcast months later in order to improve animation quality. But this doesn’t mean a whole lot for more casual viewers, as it fails to act as an adequate accuse when trying to decide what shows to follow week to week. With now two delays under its belt viewers might be asking themselves if Long Riders! is worth keeping up with if more delays are perhaps headed its way. But the answer to that is tricky and entirely depends on what you expect to get out of Long Riders!
When it comes to the animation, which is most likely the prime factor in Long Riders! multiple delays, its no prize pig. Long Riders! utilizes CGI to depict the girls on their bikes in mid-length shots. It was a minor issue initially, as such shots were infrequent and quick, hiding any of the imperfections. However, as Long Riders! has continued these shots have become longer and more frequent, making the stilted animation and poor blending with the backgrounds even more obvious and distracting.
Sadly Long Riders! animation woes don’t end there. Periodically characters appear entirely off model, with low quality, detail less animation that disappointments. That said, Long Riders! isn’t all bad. Many sequences look competent, and the use of lighting allows for an easy going depiction of the outdoors that sits much in line with the show’s laid back and conflict less atmosphere.
Long Riders! greater issues though lie with its characters. Ami, our lead, is still a big ditz. She continues to make painfully obvious mistakes, and when she does plan, she does so in much the wrong way, only causing herself further headaches. Ami’s perseverance is endearing, but fails to make up for her rather idiotic persona. A lot of the trouble with her character stems from the show’s desire to introduce biking to a relatively new and inexperienced audience, but we’ll talk about that in a moment.
Focusing on the rest of the cast we find no one else is all that well fleshed out. Ami’s best friend remains underdeveloped, her character mostly revolving around her big brother like protection for Ami. Three more girls are introduced over the course of Long Riders! first six episodes, but none receive enough screen time, exposition, or exploration to make them feel like anything beyond the stereotypical archetypal bog standard female athlete characters. And while they aren’t bad per se, no one feels unique enough to stand out from the plethora of other anime characters already out there. Even Ping Pong Girls has characters who feel more unique and memorable, and it’s not exactly the gold standard of characterization.
But where Long Riders! shines is its narrative. Its focus on the mechanics, pitfalls, and expense of cycling is where the series shines. It’s a bit painfully basic in the first 2-3 episodes, providing information and forcing Ami to be ignorant among the most obvious of problems. But once it ventures past that Long Riders! provides plenty of interesting information concerning cycling that most viewers may be unfamiliar with. It’s in that way, coupled with the cycling sequences, which can look quite beautiful, that Long Riders! redeems itself.
But that severely limits the audience. Long Riders! is not likely to be enjoyable for biking enthusiasts as it stumbles through the early pitfalls of the sport. Character work is uneven and under serviced, save for episode four which is a oddity in itself. But I find myself recommending Long Riders! anyway, at least for an insanely specific audience. It’s comedy is weak, underwhelming, and one has to wonder why it’s tagged as shonen, seeing as there’s practically zero sportsmanship camaraderie to be found. Rather it’s tags best serviced are Slice of Life and Sports, where its perfect for anyone looking for a laid back, mildly amusing, informative look into cycling.
Long Riders! is available for streaming via Daisuki.net