What’s it about ?
“Stride” is a fictional sport that’s basically a five-people relay parkour race (with a sixth person coordinating them by radio). So this is a sports series (complete with the classic “save our club” narrative)… adapted from a female-targeted, male harem visual novel.
Nana, our heroine/audience stand-in, loves Stride and enrolled into this high school because she watched a video of their Stride club having perfect form… But that was a while ago, the members she saw are on the verge of graduating and already left it, and there are so few members left it’s on the verge of disbanding (they certainly don’t have enough people to properly enter races right now). She wanted to be the manager (aka the traditional female role of a sports team that’s a glorified gofer), but she’ll do as their Relationer (the radio coordinator).
Heath, the club president, at first looks like a slacker that gave up, but he did ensure the club’s temporary survival by merging it with the shogi club, and made sure that the members kept in shape. He even deviously trained Ayumu, the shogi club’s president, despite his stated disinterest into the sport.
Hozumi, the third “veteran” member, is the super-enthusiastic cute-looking guy. If you’ve ever watched a male harem, you know the type.
Takeru is another freshman who’s joining the club for the same reasons as Nana… except he’s way more obsessive and creepy about it, already seizing up potential recruits before he even enters the club room.
Riku is the
victim candidate he’s pounced on. You can easily see why : he’s so fast that all the sports clubs want him, and his impressive amateur parkour run when he’s late for his first day in school makes him a shoe-in. Unfortunately, he’s a bit reluctant and seems to have some history with the club somehow (I suspect he’s the brother to one of the seniors who left in bad blood or something). Cue 2vs2 race between the seniors and the freshmen to settle this… And to his credit, Takeru doesn’t throw the race at all. The seniors are that good.
Quite good. Atsuko Ishizuka (of No Game No Life fame) is directing this, and you can tell by her signature oversaturated colours. It’s nice to see her handling a show that doesn’t require creepy incestuous fanservice. (And even the manservice here is relatively tame, compared to, say, Free!)
I’m slightly warier of the race sequence being slightly bigger on impressionist little touches than proper scene-setting, which makes me worry about the show’s actual animation budget. But maybe they’re saving up for the proper races later on ? At least they still flow quite well.
This is way better than I expected. Sure, the cast are walking clichés, ticking all the classic male harem archetypes, but they still show a decent degree of personality and have good chemistry. Moreover, the show has communicative enthusiasm for its madeup sport, as showcased by the whole school preparing the obstacle course and watching, which may be a bit overkill for a club on the verge of disbanding. But who cares ? It makes Stride look cool and fun, which is all that matters.
Good enough for me to give it a bit of rope… and it’s not like there’s anything else on Tuesdays anyway.