Tuesday 5 April 2016

Should You Watch 'Endride'? Episode 1: Spring Anime 2016 Review

endride anime key visual

Endride is one of those endless smartphone commercials masquerading as an anime that seem to be so common these days. This makes Endride a little hard to judge, even if this review is only a preview based off of episode 1.
Should I be judging it using the same standard as original anime like Erased? Should I judge it as a video game adaptation like Ace Attorney , where it’s important to note how the source material relates to the text Because Endride is a smartphone tie-in, does that make the anime itself cheaper and more disposable? Where is the creative heart, if any: with the smartphone game or with the anime? Is it all just a cheap cash grab?
But there’s plenty of original anime that I don’t actually like as much as I enjoyed Endrideepisode 1, so I’ll judge Endride without deriding its smartphone game tie-in. After all, I recommended a look at the underwhelming Ace Attorney anime based purely on my love of the video games that form its source material. Glass houses, stones, etc.
First of all, if you’re a fan of cheesy music, Endride has your back. The brassy music flares to corny crescendos that go full nineties. Whether or not this is by design doesn’t even matter: the corn is real and it is there. The corniness extends to stuff like the prince’s outfit, which has to be seen to be believed. A trenchcoat lapel with a fur half-collar and low-ride jeans so low the pelvic bones are exposed:
endride anime 2 prince emilio

For an heir apparent to a royal throne. Everyone else is dressed non-awfully, even the peppy girl we meet at the very end of the episode. Endride definitely doesn’t have the budget for more outfits, but I’m hoping to see another stinker before the show’s over.
As for the animation quality, Endride’s animation is solid enough until it is tasked with real action, at which point the frames per second drop almost comically and we entirely lose whatever background we might have had. I’m not kidding:
endride anime 1
In terms of characters, I actually find them likable, if shallow and tropey. (Then again, this is only episode 1, and the show’s opening and ending themes promise us that the two male main characters will ultimately attain a deep and definitely not homoerotic friendship.) The main character is a lively young man and devoted son whose mother doesn’t actually die seconds after her introduction, putting Endride way ahead of a lot of anime in the Dead Mom Count. The other character, Fur Collar Crop Top Prince, seems like a Dollar Store version of Final Fantasy VIII ’s Squall, but I love Squall, so I’m down.
The plot is nothing to write home about: a high schooler goes to force his awful dad to come home for his birthday party, but gets sucked into an alternate world via an intriguing crystal he can’t help but investigate because he loves crystals. I know the crystals are an obvious gimmick tied into the smartphone game, but a male main character who likes pretty rocks is endearing, and the alternate world crystal gimmick reminds me of Vision of Escaflowne .
On the Alternate World side of the story, Fur Collar Crop Top Prince has a vendetta against a long-haired older man who was enemies with his dad for… some reason. Does he even know what it is? We meet him charging into a castle by night to kill his father’s enemy as he sleeps. His dad’s enemy, a tall crag of a man with long dark hair (for a certain type of fujoshi, that’s just the right bait), sends him packing to the dungeons with his tail between his legs.
That’s just when Pretty Rocks Guy gets pulled through, and after shenanigans ensue, Fur Collar Crop Top Prince is freed from his dungeon and pulls his new idiot companion through to freedom. Of course, Pretty Rocks Guy can summon a weapon of his own, which in this world is an Utena - tastic affair that involves drawing the swords, shimmering, from your own chest, and sheathing them with calming thoughts of things you love. Upon their escape, they meet Fantasy Girl and her pet sidekick, Fake Carbuncle:
endride dragon pet anime spring 2016 season
I love fake Carbuncle... (c) Brain's Base
End of episode.

Should you watch ‘Endride’?

How high is your tolerance for mediocre corniness? Exactly how good does the animation need to be before you can’t stand watching? If you don’t need your anime to be anything world-shaking in the plot or characters department, and you don’t mind lame battle sequences here and there, I think you could do worse with your time than episode 1 of Endride.
While Endride’s sins of being shallow, corny and kind of laughable might grow more egregious with time, it calls to so many tropes I’m fond of that I enjoyed episode 1. I wouldn’t exactly stick it on my Must Watch list and I don’t harbor hopes of it being this anime season’s hidden gem. I would recommend watching it if you have nothing else to do, you love fantasy and pretty rocks past all reason, you’re really into those deep male friendships and you desperately need a transfusion of anime stat.
But you won’t be missing out if you can’t make time for Endride , which airs on Funimation every Sunday here .  

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