What They Say:
Stride—where running and parkour reach new heights in a fast-paced sport that puts five runners and one Relationer’strust and speed to the test. At Honan Academy, Stride is a source of pride! Or at least it was until an incident broke the team apart. But with a new year, it’s time for the winds of change to blow in! New students Nana Sakurai and Takeru Fujiwara are ready to join, and after much persistence, pull in Riku Yagami. With their enthusiasm and abilities, this threesome is just what Honan needs to succeed. Except for one thing—their teamwork needs work. Talent is one thing, but this group of runners won’t be getting anywhere if they can’t learn to trust each other.
Together, Honan Stride may finally have what they need to compete with the best. But can this once broken team work together to overcome the many challenges that lie ahead? Just trust, connect, and find your stride!
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with a new English 5.1 mix, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The show is one that is largely dialogue based but when it gets into the stride matches it does some fun things with placement and movement as well as the over the headset radio material as well. It doesn’t stretch to any new or incredible levels, but it does play things well in giving it a distinctive enough element when needed and the end result is fun and enjoyable in that regard. The mix is solid when it comes to the music and sound effects and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2016, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs in a nine/three format. Animated by Madhouse, the series has a slick and colorful look to it without going overly vibrant, but nudging a bit toward that direction. It works the familiar sports designs and colors to stand out and be distinctive without going in a glaring way. That gives us a lot of bright colors that engage the viewer well with their clean looks, smooth and solid approach in the encoding, and some very fluid animation at times that gives it even more life. The encoding captures lots of detail throughout with the backgrounds while handling the character animation well and most fans will be very pleased by the end result here, especially on a larger screen.
The packaging for this release comes in a slightly thicker than normal Blu-ray case that holds the four discs for both formats across two hinges. The set has an o-card with it that replicates the same artwork as the case cover where we get two of our leads racing against each other with one weird looking angle that gives it a distinctive look but one where you have to take a moment to orient yourself. It’s a busy background as well with lots of angles there – plus in the logo itself – that makes it more active than it probably should be yet still mostly works. The back cover goes simple with a white grid paper background that give sus a clean breakdown of the summary of the premise and its extras along with a little more artwork. The shots from the show are small but decent while the technical grid captures all the right details of the discs formatting that are accurate. Though there are no inserts included with the release we do get a two-panel spread of artwork on the reverse side of the cover that features the main team together that’s nicely done.
The menu design for this release works a similar color layout as the front cover with blues and yellows with lots of white but done at angles in order to keep it feeling dynamic in action. The logo is kept to the upper left which is busy and angled itself while the character artwork goes for that crisp sports look with a light energy about it. The navigation strip along the bottom is all white with red selections that are highlighted in blue that works well as both a main menu and a pop-up menu during playback.
The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the novel series from several people are part of an overall media project that spawned a PS Vita game and some manga, Prince of Stride: Alternative is a twelve-episode anime series that landed in the winter 2016 season. With Madhouse animating it we get something that’s strong in its visual design and has a great sense of the mechanics of movement combined with camera angles to make it a visual treat. What it lacks, however, is heart and character. But from a technical standpoint this is the kind of show that’s great to get into in order to see movement and style that’s still kept realistic without going into incredibly unbelievable elements in order to bring it to life.
The focus is on a fictional sport called Stride that’s basically parkour but toned down as a team event at the high school level. It’s focused on in relation to the End of Summer (EOS) event that’s coming up and primarily on the Honan Stride Club that’s barely able to exist with the bare minimum number of members. The team is interesting in design with the guys that are running and how it works as a relay race but operates with a “relationer” that sits alongside the opposing team’s same member and uses headsets to communicate with all members of the team to make sure that the relay aspect goes off without a hitch. There are some amusing dynamics in being so close to the opposition in that regard as well as the way that the relationer has a very key role in handling the performance of the individual members, though that never feels fully realized here.
With this coming from an otome game and design it’s little surprise that the guys are all pretty handsome and athletic while the relationer is a young woman named Nana. She works well with the team in general and has a little backstory that comes into play later about her mother, the fact that her father works in the US, and how she stays with family in the area because she wanted to be a part of this Stride club. There’s some importance to this particular club as we get a little history on it from time to time in relation to past members but that never really feels fully cemented. When this show comes to life is when it gets the game on itself and the races are underway. There’s a lot to like with this as they flit about the various obstacles, looking to ensure that paths are optimized in order to hand off properly, and getting in some solid running through the more linear aspects of it as well. You can watch this and wonder why there isn’t a proper Mirror’s Edge anime series very easily and be frustrated by the lack of it.
But, frankly, there’s not much to this series. I found the characters to be very superficial for the most part as they’re all about the club, the racing itself, and some of the minor issues from the past of the club that has given them a reputation. They go up against several other teams with multiple members so nobody on that side gets much depth, though the Saisei club gets a bit more if only because of longstanding issues. But there’s so little to the main club that the largely become unmemorable to the point where episode to episode I’d forget the names of them because it wasn’t important and the slightest. They have no lives beyond Stride, no family to really connect with either to humanize them, and that just reduced the effectiveness of it overall because the racing itself is great but not enough to invest in wholly.
Prince of Stride: Alternative is a fun empty calorie kind of show. There’s a lot to like in the moment, mostly when it comes to the races themselves, but once you get past that you realize there isn’t much to connect with episode to episode or with the characters. Madhouse has put together a strong looking show but that doesn’t help when there’s no heart here. No character truly stands out and owns the space and presence of the series and that results in most of them being little more than ciphers – especially when you marathon the whole thing and realize that it’s just a series of summer races until the big ending competition. I definitely love what Madhouse produced in the technical side but that’s about all that I can admire with it.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Textless Opening & Closing Songs
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: April 25th, 2017
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.