1. Story: (5.0/10)–Below Average
If you EVER watch Prince of Stride, do NOT do it for the story, because it was…
Well I won’t say it’s bad. In fact, it’s a rather standard story. So standard, that it comes off as completely boring and unoriginal.
Stride is the extreme sport offspring of freerunning, parkour, and sprinting, and in this world, it is a BIG deal. Such is the world that Nana Tohru finds herself longing to be a part of. With fellow first years, Yagami and Takeru, she helps to construct a team, compete in the End Of Summer Tournament, and truly find out the meaning of Stride–of fun, of teamwork, of sheer adrenaline-inducing competition!There’s potential here…right?
The thing about Prince of Stride’s story, is that it could have gone two routes. It could have become a complete feel-good anime, focusing on style, speed, and everything that makes the sport, “Stride,” unique. There was HUGE potential here, for a sport that was exciting to watch, and was honestly rather unique in the world of anime. It could have been a more serious version of Keijo, and I would have been COMPLETELY fine with that.
However, that’s not quite what happened–instead, we are treated with a story that half-assedly tries to give its characters dramatic backstories, with some decent development towards the last fourth of the series, and not much else.
When Prince of Stride is hype, it gets pretty hype. However, over half of the episodes of the series are wasted solely on either comedy or drama–and overall, it just doesn’t mix effectively. As such, most of the series’ attempts at emotion aren’t well developed, and don’t hit hard enough to be notable at all.
Overall, Prince of Stride had some good potential at the beginning, and the end–but everything in the middle, everything that makes the end worth it, just isn’t there.
If there’s one thing that irks me about storytelling, it’s lack of commitment, and Prince of Stride fully suffered from this. Mix that with a heavy reliance on some very, very hit-or-miss comedic moments, and you have a story that reeks of misused potential.
2. Characters: (5.2/10)–Below Average
Phew. Man. These characters…they look alright, but not much else.
As with most sports anime, there’s a concrete, small cast of characters, with standard personalities that allow us to get invested in the story. In this case, we vaguely follow the main characters Nana, Yagami, and Takeru, as they join the Honan Stride Club, and all the drama that comes with it.
The problem is, as I mentioned earlier, that these character’s personalities are basic enough to do well in a simple, feel-good story, but Prince of Stride didn’t try to do that.These characters had potential to be good. The drama that was introduced–the pains of the Honan Stride Club, the conflicts between the different approaches to Stride, even the introduction of family strife, should all work in theory. However, these conflicts are skimmed over, told to the audience, rather than shown.There is absolutely no emotional connection to anything that the characters go through, and any emotional scene is over quickly enough that it just feels like wasted time. Yagami’s struggle with his brother is barely shown at all, without ever really making Yagami feel like a real person–and the same goes for Nana’s struggle with her Father, which he only ever really see in the last three episodes.
It’s pointless, and takes away from the fun of Stride, which the series did best. Add onto this, two very, very annoying comic relief characters, and you have a cast that, on one hand, had potential, but tried way too hard to be something serious.
Prince of Stride just didn’t know what it wanted to do with its characters, and it showed–no, I take that back. Prince of Stride knew exactly what it wanted with its characters, but didn’t do ANYTHING to develop them correctly.
It’s just rather disappointing, all around.
3. Art/Style: (7.0/10)–Good
As the story went on, as the characters “developed,” the narrative structure went from average to bad very quickly. However, even as the series went on, I couldn’t help but love the style, and sheer sense of character that Prince of Stride had.
It’s…a strange disconnect. One that honestly confused me.
Prince of Stride’s animation always hit when it counted, and had a unique, geometric aesthetic that really worked well for it. It captured a sense of sheer speed in some moments, that ended up being really fun to watch. However, this aesthetic was rather undercut by…some rather questionable still shots, that are rather obviously low-budget. It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve seen, but you can certainly tell when scenes were important, and when they were just lazily thrown in.
What I NEED to mention though, is that the series, specifically from an audio standpoint, was always on point. I don’t care what anyone says, this electronic-hip-hop-rock soundtrack was fantastic, and there were some surprisingly well-done moments that were really defined by what you heard. Sonicbooms, quick footsteps, and even the rare usage of complete silence, complemented the fast-paced soundtrack, and made Prince of Stride stand out in my mind.
Overall, Prince of Stride had some pretty good artistic style going for it. It obviously wasn’t the most high-budget production, but it was well constructed, and that’s something I can appreciate.
4. Personal Enjoyment: (6.7/10)–Average
I’ll be honest here, and say I enjoyed this anime a lot more than I probably should have.
Critically speaking, Prince of Stride wasn’t good. The humor was extremely hit or miss. Its characters had bare-bones, boring backstories that were shoehorned into the plot. The entire series, from art to story to characters, gradually went downhill as the series went on, and overall, it was a rather mediocre, basic experience.
That being said, I still found enjoyment in it, from a style that perfectly appealed to my personal sense of aesthetic. It was sharp, fast-paced, and with its rock-electronic soundtrack, I couldn’t help but enjoy individual moments that, by all means, were pulled off very well. Mix that with my own personal enjoyment of freerunning as a whole, and I couldn’t help but enjoy what Prince of Stride had to offer.
What can I say. I’m a sucker for style.
All things considered, Prince of Stride is a series I don’t regret watching, but…wouldn’t recommend to anyone other than myself. Its style was completely unique among anime I’ve watched, but everything else was rather mediocre. Nothing was explicitly bad, but overall, you’ll want to look for another sports anime to occupy your time–you’ll probably like it more.
Final Score: (6.3/10)–Average
- You enjoy Freerunning/Parkour in some capacity–you might appreciate the anime’s application of some moves.
- You want a sports anime that’s some decent fun–but not much else.