What They Say:
Ami’s always been small, a little clumsy and unsure of herself, unlike her more athletic friend Aoi. But when she sees someone using a folding bicycle on the way home from University, she realizes that the compact bike might be a perfect fit for her. Plus it’s really, really cute.
Before you know it, Ami’s bought her own bicycle and she and Aoi are going on biking trips together! Suddenly Ami’s world is so much bigger as she and Aoi meet a whole new group of friends who share their love of this sport, and the thrill of competing in long distance cycling events. Join in the fun and share in the adventure as a group of young women discover the joy of hitting the streets and touring Japan under their own power!
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show is one that really is all about the dialogue but it has some good incidental moments, an unmemorable but appropriate score, and some moments where the background sound of wind and the bicycles themselves comes together well. It’s not going go turn it into a strong and engaging mix but what we get is definitely a clean and clear one that sounds good. The dialogue is what drives most of it and whether talking alone or in groups we get some decent placement and it clarity to it that makes it easy to immerse yourself into. There’s not a big soundstage to work with here but it all comes across clean and clear 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 Actas, the show has a really good look to it without going overboard in trying to create the atmosphere. There’s a lot of location representations put into play here with some good color design given to it and the movement sequences of the cycling brings us to a lot of locations which draw you into them and the moment really well. The character designs are simple but we get some new detail to them as it progresses with their cycling uniforms and that combined with the details for the mechanics of the bicycles themselves works well. It’s a good clean encode that handles the details and color designs really well and fans will be very pleased with it.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds both of the discs without a hinge. The front cover artwork uses a familiar key visual with the main five girls together taking a break while Ami has her bike out in front of her. The logo is colorful without being overdone as it stands out nicely even if it’s not all that memorable with its design. The back cover goes lightly fantastic with Ami cycling as her wings sprout out but it has the right kind of magical element to it. The premise is covered well with the summary here and we get a nice selection of small shots from the show. The extras are clearly listed and we get a good breakdown of production credits and the technical grid covering the way the set is put together in an accurate way. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release is kept simple as we get some good static imagery of the whole cycling aspect and locations on both discs. It’s got some good color to it with the lush settings and all but without being overdone. The navigation is kept to the left where we get a colorful breakdown that’s mildly in-theme with the episodes by number and title as it uses the orange, brown, and yellow colors from the logo – which itself is kept to the lower right. Navigation is simple as the first disc has just the episodes and the second has the extras as the only other pieces to it. Everything loads quickly and easily and we had no problem moving around either as the main menu or as the pop-up menu.
The only extras included with 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 manga of the same name, Long Riders is a twelve episode series that aired during the fall 2016 season. The manga from Taishi Miyaki began back in 2012 in Comic Rex and is ongoing as of this writing with nine volumes published so far, which gave the anime plenty to work with for a single season previously. The production for this show was a little problematic toward the end as the final two episodes got delayed a couple of months but there’s a good level of quality to the show. It really reminds me of the kind of show that Encouragement of Climb is but as a full-length show, which it does at times have some weakness to it as it’s more drawn out than it should be. But at its core this is a good show that introduces us to the world of cycling.
The series focuses on Ami, a college student that… wait, a college student? Okay, these aren’t quite so rare but it is unusual and a welcome change of pace. Ami’s time at college with her friend Aoi has her discovering cycling as Aoi is into it to a pretty good degree. Not competitively but to the point where she knows plenty about it and enjoys it. Ami’s interest is piqued, at least until she sees the prices of the bikes in the first story that are several thousand dollars. With just a few hundred to her name she’s not in the best place to get into this. But shopping around gets her a folding bicycle to start with, which she amusing names Ponta-kun, and her discovery of the joy of cycling begins. The opening episode is a bit of a whirlwind in introducing this and getting her set but it provides the right foundations and keeps things fairly small overall, making it clear this isn’t something you can just jump into for nothing and go from there unless someone gifts you a good bike.
But even then there are other costs that start to pile up along the way and Ami has to learn more of taking care of her bike and the eventual upgrade as well. Some of it isn’t looked at in a cost way but she starts to learn more about care and managing of it in a lot of ways, such as the carry-on bag she can get for it to bring it on the train and the accepted kind of etiquette of having it there and all as she and Aoi head out to new places to explore and expand their cycling skills. All of this over the course of the series is nicely done because it builds up that sense of community around cycling as she interacts with others in getting help from them, which in turn has her helping others later on, but also just the rules of the road and all of it. Exploring what cycling is beyond what it is in the singular for a person goes a long way toward keeping my interest as Ami is a perfect vehicle through which to explore it all.
Naturally, it’s not just about Ami and Aoi as it expands along the way when the two encounter a group with Hinako, Yayoi, and Saki. Hinako’s amusing as we see that she works in a Chinese restaurant to earn extra cash for her passion while at school and there’s some fun costuming moments mixed into that as she expands her wardrobe to increase the number of customers visit, which means awkward fanservice. It’s really the only area in the show where it “gets bad” with this and even there it’s a bit limited. Hinako and her friends aren’t hugely expanded her but it gives us a five-girl team that fleshes out the interactions nicely as it progresses and where they go since the trio have been on some long range trips. That gives us the overnight trip later on and some fun stuff in terms of training and gear, which also leads to Ami wanting to start a cohesive team design with all of them. It’s not like they’re competitive or anything and there are no stakes to be had here but it’s nice to see them all align together like they do.
I didn’t pay this series any attention during its simulcast run because everything painted it as a cute girls doing cute things kind of show. Thankfully, I discovered that it’s more in line with one of my favorite shows these days with Encouragement of Climb in being a more natural exploration of cycling and the love of the adventure that it is – and the hardships. There are no real stakes here but we get to explore this area with the characters well with some good detail, great backgrounds, and a sense of growth and friendship about it. Sentai’s release may be short on a dub but the series is very well presented here with a great looking encoding, a solid package, and just a lot of fun.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: July 17th, 2018
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.