Number of episodes: 12
Production Studio: Madhouse Studios
Fansub Release Viewed: I–Z
Likelihood of US Release: Medium
A promising ballet dancer suffers an accident and is forced to quit. When she discovers a college club dedicated to Ridebacks, motorcycle-like robots, she discovers that her ballet training affords her the balance necessary to excel at piloting them.
Amidst a backdrop of political upheaval, Ogata Rin is on the fast track to becoming a successful ballerina like her mother, Yuuki. However, during her debut recital, a misstep causes her to tear a ligament, and denied the ability to achieve perfection in her dance, she gives up on ballet. Her first day at college doesn’t help matters, since a fan of her dance comes up to her and manages to inadvertently rub salt in the wound out of ignorance. As the rain begins to fall on campus, Rin notices a garage, and from the door emerges a male student atop what appears to be a hybrid of mecha and motorcycle. Intrigued, she decides to seek shelter in the garage.
Inside, she meets a student in the middle of tuning a similar machine, and he immediately assumes that she’s interested in joining their club, a group dedicated to Ridebacks, the machine that Rin saw leave the building. In spite of her resistance, he gets her to get on the Rideback, named Fuego, and teaches her how to start it up. Once the rain stops, they go outside and take a slow spin around the lot. Unfortunately, this particular Rideback appears to be malfunctioning, and suddenly Rin finds herself on an out-of-control race around the school grounds. Unable to stop her, the members of the club watch in horror and awe as Rin is launched off of a dead-end road into the air, and Rin feels a kind of exhilaration she hasn’t felt since quitting ballet.
There are some series that momentarily defy explanation for me. Some of them are so terrible that I simply have nothing to say other than some amalgamation of multiple curse words. And then there are shows like this which, while offering decidedly more pleasant feelings, don’t fall into the normal, definable genre categories. These are the types of shows that often intrigue me the most. While I can’t say whether or not the political angle of the show will help or hurt the plot, at least for now the subtle mix of shoujo characterization and shounen subject matter has created something that feels fresh and can’t really be effectively compared to many other series (at least in recent memory).
Of course, let’s start with the most obvious strength of the show, the visuals. I think part of the fascination I have with the series at this early point is the fact that it’s just so darn good-looking. The character art, while less “pretty” than many other shows, has a very fine quality, with slender, crisp linework and a level of detail that is above-average without being distracting. The design of the Ridebacks is good, and while they’re animated entirely in CG and the melding of the traditional animation with the computer animation isn’t quite perfect, at least it’s not Gonzo. The most distracting part of it is simply the unavoidable difference in detail between the two. The animation itself is well done, which should be expected from most Madhouse productions at this point. Most impressive was the ballet at the opening of the episode, with movement that would put Princess Tutu to shame. Additionally, this and the end scene, which visually and thematically seem to mirror each other, seem to achieve a sense of exhilaration that I find uncommon. I’m reminded a bit of the time jumping scenes in Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo, in that the visuals really convey the joy that the characters are experiencing in those particular moments.
Again, I don’t really have any idea as to how all the series’ politics will play into the story, although based on what I know of other series, the logical answer would be to have Rin’s skill as a Rideback pilot somehow play into fighting against the powers that be and restoring freedom to the country/world/geographical unit of your choice. Frankly that seems a bit too predictable (obviously), and such an outcome might take away some of the charm that I see in this first episode. I don’t make the big bucks to try and predict major plot points, though, and so far I have to say I’m liking this show in spite of (or, perhaps, because of) its odd genre-melding, good visual appeal, and non-annoying main character.
- Good animation and overall visuals
- Unique blending of genres
- The feeling of exhilaration the viewer can’t help but experience along with the character
- Story may end up being predictable in spite of a promising first episode