By: Zero Omega
Prince of Stride: Alternative is an anime adaptation of a 2015 otome game released for the Playstation Vita of the same name (minus the “Alternative”). It aired from January 5, 2016 to March 22, 2016 and was developed and animated by Madhouse. The series follows a cast of characters as they compete in a fictional extreme sport, aptly called “stride,” which is a mix of free running and parkour. Right off the bat we get introduced to two characters, Nana Sakurai and Riku Yagami, students at Hōnan Academy. Nana is familiar with stride and transferred to Hōnan due a video she saw online of the academy’s amazing stride club.
Aaahhh yes finally, my motherland! What I worked for the most!
Of course, not all is well as she soon finds out that the video was of students that are now in their third year (and thus, no longer part of the club) and the club risks being shut down due to lack of members and that is it now only supported by combining the members of both the shogi and stride club.
Is this heaven…? … Oh wait no, it’s hell.
She decides to work with another student, Takeru Fujiwara, and the remaining stride (and one shogi) club members to restart the cub. Riku, is a freshman at Hōnan who has a goal of joining as many clubs as possible. Opening scenes show Riku to be an incredibly athletic person, able to do any sport thrown at him.
Excuse me sirs, I do believe there is something wrong with your faces… Or the net…
He ends up reluctantly joining the stride club, and together along with the rest of the cast of characters (Hozumi Kohinata, Heath Hasekura, Ayumu Kadowaki) compete against other schools to win the “End of Summer” stride competition.
Prince of Stride: Alternative starts off pretty enjoyably through the first few episodes of the series. We get introduced to our characters, introduced to the sport of stride, and get to see all the great action and drama that comes along with it.
And lots of high-fives. Trust me. There’s a bunch.
Accompanied by an exciting opening theme (Strider’s High by OxT) I was ready for a really fun romp through the sport and world of Stride. Unfortunately though, after those first few episodes I found myself becoming very bored of what the series had to offer. We very quickly find that our cast of characters are you typical cookie-cutter tropes you’d find in most other sporting anime, which wouldn’t be bad if they had anything particular to offer, but they don’t. In fact, the only character that I found even remotely interested is Takeru when he goes on quips about the caloric and protein value of food in order to help maximize his teammates’ intake to more efficiently perform. Everyone else just feels so bland that I quickly found myself losing interest in what they were trying to do or accomplish.
Takeru more than likely moonlights as a dietician.
The races themselves were entertaining, but for an anime that is supposed to be about racing and competing against other schools, I felt that I was watching more melodrama about the cast themselves than the sport. I’ll admit that I have not seen a lot of sports-based anime myself, but of some of the few I have seen (Eyeshield 21 and One Outs, for example) I feel that there is a very healthy balance of drama and intrigue about the characters and the scenes about the actual sport. With Prince of Stride: Alternative it felt more like I was being fed information about the team drama than anything else, which would be fine if there was more than 12 episodes of this show that could be filled with race time action.
I will give the series a couple of positive notes, when it does come time for the races, Madhouse beautifully animates everything and it is truly a joy to see. It is also great to see that although this series is based off an otome game, the common otome game tropes don’t really apply. It would have been very easy to have the sole female lead, Nana, be thrust into a harem-type situation with all her teammates, but that doesn’t happen. Nor, outside of a couple scenes, are the male characters put into yaoi fan service bait for the female audience.
Ah yes, there’s the money shot.
It’s great to see that the core of the story is focused on the team and them wanting to win End of Summer than anything else. Funimation’s english dubbing of the series hits pretty well, nothing felt too incredibly off from who the characters were supposed to be with the exception of Ayumu Kadowaki, who is supposed to play a more nerdy/geek-culture character (he is the self-proclaimed “King” of the shogi club). The opening theme, as mentioned earlier, is incredibly fun and the background music (what little of it there really is) is enjoyable.
The boxset itself is your standard anime boxset. The entire series is 12 episodes and all 12 episodes are spread across two DVDs/BluRays. You can watch it in English or Japanese, and English subtitles can be enabled. The case advertises an extra 3 minutes of run time for special features, which is your typical textless opening/closing, and trailers. There’s nothing hugely special found here, but if you’re used to anime box sets, you already have an idea of what you’re getting.
The first six episodes of this series is an entertaining romp, the latter half I ultimately just found myself bored and uninterested in what is going on. It’s not that Prince of Stride: Alternative is bad, it simply just doesn’t have enough of an “IT” factor to keep attention through the final half of the series. The majority of characters get very little development and you really could just get away with watching the races and nothing else. If you’re really into sports-based anime, I’d suggest giving the first six episodes a watch and then skimming through the last half. If you’re not someone who is interested in what this genre can give, then skip it, it won’t win you over and there are better ones you can spend your time on. The full series box set is out and published by Funimation, you can buy it here.