Series Review – Long Riders!

Long Riders! (hereafter referred to without the exclamation point) is a series which follows first year university student Kurata Ami as she becomes interested in cycling and embarks on a number of cycling-related activities with her friends. I wrote up episodic posts for the series which you can find here, so you can see my views on the series in more detail if you were interested.

longriders1008As the typical ‘protagonist who has no hobbies or strong passions prior to the commencement of the series’, Ami sees someone riding a cute folding bike one day and decides to take up cycling. Together with her childhood friend Aoi, and new friends Hinako, Yayoi, and Saki, she transforms from a beginner into an experienced cyclist, participating in different activities and also building friendships. Long Riders is packed with cute cycling and cute food, two things which I find enjoyable. Continue reading

Fall 2016 Reflections

This is the conclusion of my first anime season as a blogger, and the seasonal anime thing has been kind of fun! I’ve wound up watching quite a few more airing shows than I expected. This will be just some brief thoughts on them. I’ve done, and linked to, a full review of the shows which are finished, though a few things I’m watching are ongoing. As a way to get some insight into what stood out in a series for me, I’m offering dumb awards to each show.

I ended up watching

Classicaloid
This is the show which I really like and I know a lot of other people really aren’t into it. Trying to break down the reasons behind this has proven to be a bit of a challenge, but I’m sure there’s an interesting blog post in there somewhere! It’s wacky, colourful, and has great remixes of Classical music. This show is going to be ongoing into next season.

classicaloid04Award: Best Gyoza

Flip Flappers
I ended up not feeling super keen on Flip Flappers overall owing to the series trying to cram 13 episodes of plot into 3 episodes, and lacing the rest with mostly unanswered vague questions and symbolism. I’m a pretty straightforward person in some ways and if Flip Flappers was a straightforward magical girl story with monsters of the week and lessons about the power of friendship combined with the stunning world-building and animation, I would perhaps have warmed to it a lot more. I think that it’s still a good series in many ways, but it wasn’t super enjoyable for me.

Award: Flip Flap! (The ED is really good)

Izetta the Last Witch (Shuumatsu No Izetta)
Watching anime original shows is always a risk, and Izetta had a really interesting concept but struggled to deliver a strong story. The world of alternate WWII was built up with some lovely touches, but it wasn’t followed through with storytelling to match. I didn’t hate watching it, but if the series was complete and I knew more about it, I probably wouldn’t have bothered.

Award: Most indefensible castle*

*Neuschwanstein has very much become the poster child of fantasy castles, but in terms of defense, it’s truly terrible. Castles were traditionally built in order to have a strong place to defend the owners, and all of the necessary defensible features are totally missing. Small windows, moats, thick walls, these are all there for a reason in the traditional castle. The history of the real Neuschwanstein castle is rather interesting, but I can’t buy that a small European country would have continuously have experienced such peace and prosperity they didn’t have to worry about defending their country’s leaders for hundreds of years.

Kiitaro’s Yokai Picture Diary
I watched this on a whim just after it had finished airing. It’s not an amazing series but it was still a fun watch and there were plenty of interesting snippets about youkai. I’m always keen to learn more about Japanese myth and culture, and learning via fiction is one of my great passions. Folktales from Japan actually keeps calling my name but I don’t know if I can commit to over 200 episodes of an ongoing series.
kiitaro0306Award: Most informative about Japanese culture

Long Riders
This is the show I’ve been blogging about each week. It turns out the people in the blog community who have been the most interested in my posts are people with cycling blogs or who have an existing interest in cycling. As someone who is interested in both cycling and slice-of-life, it’s been a very charming show. If you are not interested in cycling, I’m not sure that the show has much to offer you, except learning more about cycling so that you can become interested in cycling. Owing to production issues, the last two episodes will be released in February this year so I can’t review the series yet (I plan to write about these and some overall thoughts on the series after they’re available)
longriders0407Award: Most beautiful bikes

Miss Bernard Said (Bernard-jou Iwaku)
As an avid reader, I found the humour in here to be relatable, and I also discovered some possible interesting future reads. The jokes are mainly about reading culture and there’s not too much referential humour about books, so it should be accessible without being a hardened bookworm.
missbernard05Award: Most books (always a good thing)

Monster Hunter Stories – Ride On!
This is very much a typical kids’ shounen show. With an announced 48 episode length, it’s been a very easy-going pace, and while it’s pretty much the epitome of average or competent, my inner child is happily along for the ride. I rather wish the game that it is based on would receive a release for the European market (I’d actually import it and attempt playing it in Japanese except that the 3DS is region-locked and I really don’t need 2 of them), what with it being my dream of ‘Monster Hunter but cuter’.
MonsterHunterDoughnuts.jpgAward: Tastiest doughnuts

Ninja Girl and Samurai Master (Nobunaga No Shinobi)
Japan loves their Sengoku (Warring States) era shows. I’m not as familiar with the history of this area as I would like to be, but this is comedy shorts, so despite not understanding all the references, I’ve still been having fun! This show is going to be ongoing into next season.
nobunagaAward: Most Nobunaga

Scorching Ping Pong Girls (Shakunetsu Takyuu Musume)

I picked this up as a recommendation from a friend and it’s official; I think I may like sports anime. Or at least sports anime with cute girls. I have to start somewhere right? The thing which makes this series stand out is the use of high-paced electronic music during the ping pong matches in contrast to the more easy-going tones outside of matches.
pingpong10Award: Surprisingly good soundtrack

I would perhaps like to watch these later

Crane Game Galaxy

I watched Crane Game Girls and so I’m keen to see the sequel, but as I know this sort of comedy short will take a bit less than an hour to watch the whole series, I figured I may as well do it all in one go. I’m hoping for more comedy and more intriguingly minimal animation (I’m not saying that Crane Game Girls was arty by any means but I found it oddly fascinating how they did so much visual storytelling with such basic animation).

“www.working!!!” (www.wagnaria!!!)

For some reason, WordPress seems determined to turn this title into a web address. It seems like people who liked Working also liked this and it brought enough unique things to the table that it could be fun to watch on its own, and not feel like too much of the same thing. I plan to check it out at some point.

Fune wo Amu (The Great Crossing)

Making a dictionary to me is a super interesting topic (what does this tell you about me?), and the few people I’ve heard speaking about the series say that the human interaction between the characters is fairly realistic which is what I like in a drama series. I’d definitely like to see this when I’m in the mood for something a bit slower paced.

That pretty much wraps up the Fall 2016 season for me. There were things I watched which I loved, things which caught me by surprise, and things which disappointed, but overall, I’m quite happy with the things I’ve picked. I’m hoping that Winter 2017 will prove to be just as enjoyable.

Long Riders 10 – Finishing what you start

This week’s episode is a continuation of the Azumi Autumn Ride. Because the girls have been told that they’re running close to the time limit, Ami is really worried that they’re not going to be able to make it in time so she won’t be able to officially finish the event, but fortunately Hinako has a plan.

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12 Days of Anime: Day 9 – The Beauty of a Bicycle

Long Riders is a show that I will freely admit has problems (most prominently, scheduling problems). The one thing though which has consistently impressed me throughout the show is just how good the bikes look! The creators have modelled the bicycles on existing models and put a great deal of care into all of the details of a bike. A bike is a pretty complicated piece of equipment with a lot of parts and accessories and so I’m truly impressed with their appearance.

One moment where I think the beauty of a road bike really shines is where Ami takes her bike into Alpaca Cycle for a service.

longriders01

Look at these lovely gears, don’t you want to just reach out and touch them! Only don’t touch the gears on a bike for no reason, your hands will end up really greasy.

I think anime can really shine in casting light on a hobby or area of interest. The carefully crafted bicycles make bikes look really appealing!

Long Riders 09- The Azumi Autumn Munch

This episode’s official title (not just the dumb ones I make up each week) is ‘The Azumi Autumn Ride Part 1’, so it’s obvious the girls are not going to finish their ride this week. It also means that the last episode that will be aired at this time will be the conclusion of the ride, as the final two episodes are going to be DVD only.


The episode begins with Ami ending up separated from the rest of the group because the riders are being started in small batches. I think that this sort of thing happening is pretty improbable; usually in events like this, or anywhere else where there’s people allowed to do something in small batches (e.g. theme parks), the staff will take groups into consideration and maybe ask if the other girls wanted to stay back for the next group and let a few riders from a smaller group go in front. They’re all wearing the same custom jersey and everything, it’s pretty clear they’re part of a group or team! Even if for some reason the rules were really strict like this, why didn’t a more experienced cyclist offer to drop behind in Ami’s place because they could easily catch up? Hinako, is this part of your weird hazing that I suspect that you’re carrying on? It just feels like weird soap-opera level drama injection. Continue reading

Long Riders 08 – Ride on!

At the start of the episode, we’re introduced to the mysterious new girl in the OP, Saeki. She spotted Ami riding her bike and is curious about it. We don’t really know anything about her except that she is in one of Ami’s classes (what is Ami studying anyway?), and is a little interested in cycling. Hopefully she doesn’t make Ami’s mistake of buying a cheap folding bike as a starter if she’s going to get serious about cycling. Maybe in the future we’ll get to see Saeki make beginners mistakes and Ami can teach her about them? This seems par for the course for this show.
longriders0804
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Long Riders 07 – Care and Curry

After briefly showing Ami ordering new jerseys, the episode starts out with Ami giving her bike a clean. Things don’t exactly go as planned with Ami getting a drenching (it’s pretty much like when I wash the car, some of us probably shouldn’t be given hose responsibilities).


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Long Riders 06 – Oh Four Tuna

While other shows are starting to wrap up, we’re about half-way through Long Riders now. I wonder what will happen when the Winter season starts? I hope that the end of the series can air as planned.
longriders0602
A little time has passed since the last episode, and Ami has had a chance to do more training and get more experienced, so she decides that she’d like to attempt riding Yabitsu Pass again with her friends. I think that it’s really good to see Ami applying her experience and attempting something again which she failed at previously. This time she makes it to the top! Continue reading

Long Riders 05 – Taking Flight

We’re back on track (hopefully) for Long Riders! There’s been some changes to the visuals of the OP this week, replacing scenes with Ami’s folding bike with her new road bike.longriders0501We also get to see a bit more of Saki, despite her not being properly introduced as of the start of this episode. It’s nice to see the changes in the opening to reflect the changes in Ami’s lifestyle, I wonder if there will be any other changes later on in the series? Continue reading