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Rideback: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 29, 2011 by  



Entertaining from beginning to end!  “Rideback” that manages to capture a fine balance between drama and action and managing to not have the typical banalities of similar series like it. If you are looking for a series that does not last too long and is enjoyable from beginning to end, definitely give “Rideback: The Complete Series” a chance!

Image courtesy of © FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Rideback: The Complete Series

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Dolby TrueHD English 5.1, Dolby TrueHD Japanese 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

Release Date: June 28, 2011

 

Original Created by Tetsuro Kasahara

Directed by Atsushi Takahashi

Screenplay by Hideo Takayashiki

Music by Takafumi Wada

Character Design by Satoshi Tasaki

Anime Production by Madhouse Studios

Featuring the following voice talent:

Nana Mizuki/Tia Ballard as Rin Ogata

Akio Suyama/Chris Burnett as Douta Kawai

Hidekatsu Shibata/T.A Taylor as Nanpuu Kataoka

Hidenobu Kiuchi/J. Michael Tatum as Ryuunosuke Kataoka

Megumi Matsumoto/Trina Nishimura as Suzuri Uchida

Megumi Toyoguchi/Kristi Bingham as Shouko Uemura

Mie Sonozaki/Leah Clark as Yuki Ogata

Rikiya Koyama/Bryan Massey as Tenshirou Okakura

Risa Hayamizu/Jennifer Seman as Misao Yokoyama

Romi Park/Stephanie Young as Tamayo Kataoka

Sanae Kobayashi/Cynthia Cranz as Megumi Yoda

Shinichiro Miki/Jason Douglas as Romanof Karenba (Kalenback)

Toshiyuki Morikawa/Robert McCollum as Kiefer

Yuji Ueda/Micah Solusod as Haruki Hishida

Kazuma Horie/Josh Grelle as Kenji Ogata

After an injury forces Rin to trade her stage career for college life, she finds new thrills as a member of the RideBack Club. When she discovers an unusual connection with one machine in particular – Fuego – she is forced into the middle of a revolution. The tyrannical new government rules with an iron fist, and Rin is reluctant to take them on. But as her dearest friends suffer and the insurgency struggles to topple the increasingly powerful regime, Rin may have no choice but to gun Fuego’s engines and speed directly into the heart of the fight for freedom.

An exciting and intriguing anime series from beginning to end!

“Rideback: The Complete Series” is anime TV series adaptation of the manga series by Tetsuro Kasahara and serialized on “Ikki” magazine from 2003-2009.

The series is directed by Atsushi Takahashi (“NANA”, “Monster”, “Spirited Away”), series composition by Hideo Takayashiki (“Astro Boy”, “Ashita no Joe”, “Master Keaton”), music by Takafumi Wada (“High School of the Dead”) and character designs by Satoshi Tasaki (“Cardcaptor Sakura”, “Fairy Musketeers”, “Ninja Scroll”, “X”).  Anime production is by Madhouse Studios.

The story of “Rideback” takes place during a time of post-turmoil in Japan.  Terrorists using half mecha/half motorcycles known as Ridebacks have been occurring in various parts of Japan and an organization known as GGP (Global Government Plan) led by Romanov Kalenback is called in to help Japan’s government and rid of the terrorists. Romanov’s goal is to create a police force that would fight back with the use of Ridebacks, while others in leadership do not trust Romanov at all.

While turmoil happens in the background of the anime series, “Rideback” focuses on an up-and-coming ballet dancer named Rin Ogata, the daughter of the ballet superstar Yuki Ogata who is expected to succeed her mother.

Rin is passionate about ballet and loved the rush (indicated by the starry lights that surround her) she would get from performing difficult moves.   But one day, while performing in front of an audience, life changed for Rin when she fractured her left foot and tore several ligaments.  Rin realizes that to dance at her full potential may have come to an end.

Feeling that she can never dance again, Rin has decided to enter Musashino University with her friend Shoko Uemura.  Several students recognize Rin at school, especially Suzuri Uchida, a big fan of Rin’s dancing career.  But Suzuri is taken aback when she finds out that Rin may never dance again, a tragedy to Suzuri as she has loved Rin’s dancing and is inspired by it.

Because Rin needs to look for club activities, while thinking about clubs, it begins to rain outside and she takes shelter inside a garage where the Rideback club meets.

This is where she meets Haruki Hishida, an enthusiast of Ridebacks who thinks that Rin is joining the group.  Rin tells him that she is just in the garage to wait for the rain to subside, but Haruki insists of showing off a Rideback, in this case, a red Rideback known as Fuego.

Upon getting on Fuego, immediately the Rideback syncs with Rin and when she goes to ride it, immediately it goes haywire and Rin starts driving in fast speed.  As Haruki tries to assist her by giving her directions, the head of the Rideback team, Tenshiro Okakura, senses something is wrong and goes to help her.

When Tenshiro gets close to Rin, he notices that a plug that syncs its user to the Rideback has been disconnected and somehow, Rin was able to sync with the Fuego.  But as Tenshiro is able to plug the unit back in, instead of stopping, Rin realizes she can pull of her ballet moves through Fuego but also realizes that she can achieve the same rush while riding on Fuego, that she did while she was performing ballet.

Needless to say, Rin joins the rideback team and participates in several competitions and her connection to Fuego continues to grow.

But life for Rin changes immediately when terrorists attack a mall where her friend Shoko is shopping at.  Shoko calls Rin in a panic and knowing that police and the GGP have the place sealed off, Rin decides that she can save Shoko through the use of Fuego.

Using her skills, Rin is able to save her best friend but because she is riding a Rideback at the scene of a crime, she becomes associated with the terrorists and becomes wanted by the GGP. Meanwhile, the terrorists known as BMA (Borderless Military Alliance) led by Kiefer also want to find Rin as Kiefer also notices that she has the ability to sync with a Rideback.

What will happen to this normal teenager when the GGP and the terrorists want to catch her?

The main characters of “Rideback” are:

  • Rin Ogata – The main protagonist and daughter of Yuki Ogata, the talented ballet dancer.  Passionate about dancing but also the rush that she experiences through dancing but feels that her days as a ballet dancer are numbered when she fractures her left foot.  She has joined the Musashino University Rideback Club and has the ability to sync with a Rideback known as Fuego and is able to use the mecha to dance and achieve that same rush.
  • Haruki Hishida – The enthusiast of the club who performs maintenance on the Ridebacks.
  • Tamayo Katoka – The daughter of a powerful (and corrupted) politician, her brother is a higher staff for the police and she happens to be the Rideback racing champion of Japan.  Very blunt and tough, she realizes Rin’s true potential on a Rideback.
  • Tenshiro Okakura – The head of the Rideback team and a person who has a mysterious connection to the terrorist group’s Kiefer and the GGP’s Romanov.
  • Suzuri Uchida – A hardcore fan of Rin with a bubble personality.  Suzuri joins the Rideback Club because Rin joined it.
  • Shoko Uemura – Rin’s childhood friend and a person who is always rooting for Rin.
  • Kenji Ogata – Rin’s younger brother who is more interested in Ridebacks.
  • Kiefer – A soldier of the terrorist group known as BMA (Borderless Military Alliance)

VIDEO:

“Rideback” was a pleasant surprise.  At first, I thought this was a typical high school anime series about ballet or racing but it turned out to be a much deeper series in which the characters are put through various emotional and dramatic situations.  The character and mecha design for “Rideback” was wonderful and really captured the emotion of the series, but where Madhouse really made a big difference is on the artistic backgrounds and CG work.  Colors were vibrant and unlike TV series that tend to look a bit cloudy and soft, not “Rideback”, this is a very vibrant and colorful series.

Because you get both Blu-ray and DVD with this hybrid release, you can see the detail differences of the series and how much colorful, vibrant and detailed the Blu-ray is compared to its DVD counterpart.

I didn’t notice any banding or artifacting, this is a pretty solid series when it came to picture quality and fans of anime on Blu-ray will definitely enjoy watching “Rideback”!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Rideback” features a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English soundtrack and really utilizes the sounds of the engine of the Fuego and other Ridebacks wonderfully.  With each race and each time we see these Ridebacks on screen (which is very frequent), you can hear the surround channels being fully utilized during each throttle.  Audio quality was pretty impressive and also good use of LFE and directionals.  It’s important to note that the series does have its high action moments, especially during the final half of the series as there are more explosions and destruction.

The Japanese soundtrack was good but and while I’m grateful for the Japanese soundtrack being on the Blu-ray, I just wished it was in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 rather than 2.0.  But both vocal tracks are well-acted and for me, I actually prefer the English vocal track mainly because of the change of dialogue to make it more Western-friendly (and much more mature in dialogue) but also because it uses the surround channels much more and giving a better soundscape over the Japanese soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Rideback: The Complete Series” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Episode 4– Voice director Terri Doty talks to Tia Ballard (who plays Rin) and Kristi Bingham (who plays Shoko).
  • Audio Commentary – Episode 10 – Voice director Terri Doty talks to Micah Solusod (who plays Haruki) and Trina Nishimura (who plays Suzuri).
  • Textless Opening Song – Featuring the textless opening theme for the series.
  • Textless Closing Song – Featuring the textless ending theme for the series.
  • Trailers – Funimation Entertainment Trailers

“Rideback” was a surprise!

By watching the series, the first thing that came to mind was an anime series like “Moldiver” or even a series like “Gunbuster” in which we see the story of a person inexperienced with a mecha and then managing to learn it and eventually mastering it.

There are many anime series that tend to have that similar storyline but “Rideback” was surprising in the fact that protagonist was a ballet dancer, utilizing her dancing skills on a mecha/motorcycle hybrid and literally kicks ass!

But instead of having this powerful support network, her friends are just regular college students who happen to be part of a Rideback club.  The same with the main protagonist.  They are not part of the military, nor do they want to.  They are just normal teenagers but in this case, Rin having to have mastered/synced with the Rideback known as Fuego.

While the series does start off with a lot of humor, fun and even racing, it quickly changes to a more darker and deeper storyline when Rin becomes wanted by both the GGP and also being looked at as a terrorist.  There were a lot of situations that I would have never expected to see in this series, so you can expect some twists and turns and a death that I never saw coming.  And yes, it was very sad!

Although a series like “Rideback” could have been extended to a normal 26-episode series possibly, I think that because it’s only 12-episodes long, it makes for a very accessible anime series for those wanting action and drama.  It’s not necessarily a full mecha series but you do get a lot of battles in the latter half of the series especially as Rin utilizes Fuego to its fullest potential.

The character and mecha designs are very well-done for this series and the animation and art backgrounds by Madhouse were well-done! And on Blu-ray, the picture quality is absolutely vibrant and colorful.  Also, the audio quality was well-done, primarily for the English soundtrack which benefits from its lossless 5.1 soundtrack.

Because this is a hybrid release, you get both the Blu-ray and DVD release in one set.

Overall, “Rideback: The Complete Series” was a series that I watched from beginning to end in one day.  Each episode was quite entertaining but its important to note that the more humorous and light-natured moments of the series happens only for a few episodes and then immediately, the series becomes much more serious and dramatic in nature.  But also becoming more action-based.

If you are looking for a series that doesn’t last too long and something that is enjoyable from beginning to end, definitely give “Rideback: The Complete Series” a chance!

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Comments

  • Jean Levy

    Megumi is a character in one scene in Episode One. Kei Yoda, the reporter throughout the series, is played by Cynthia Cranz in English, NOT Alexis Tipton.

  • Jean Levy

    Megumi is a character in one scene in Episode One. Kei Yoda, the reporter throughout the series, is played by Cynthia Cranz in English, NOT Alexis Tipton.

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