Just about any idea has the potential to be good. It all depends on the execution. Rideback is proof of this because the story of an armed conflict between a corrupt militant group and a resistance group is nothing new. Isabel Allende likes to do it in her novels and we’ve also seen the idea in quite a few anime/movies/television shows and it’s usually absolute garbage.
Rideback proves that this concept can be written well. I didn’t really phrase this well since there are other cases where I have liked this concept. Including some of Allende’s stories. How does it do this? It uses a few tactics. It puts the focus on a small group that’s only connected to the conflict as a result of a misunderstanding and even then remains largely outside of it. It also keeps the focus on this group without connecting them to the larger conflict for about half the series which allows the audience to acclimate to them. It also avoids demonizing either side of the conflict. In a lot of media involving this basic storyline one or both groups are portrayed as being made up of inhuman monsters. In Rideback neither side is particularly likeable, but that’s the result of their human qualities. The military is corrupt and brutal but not in an exaggerated, cartoon villain way. They’re brutal and corrupt in ways that military groups who have a disproportionate amount of power actually tend to be. You root for the resistance group, not because they seem like great saints, but because they seem like they wouldn’t be as bad. A big part of what makes Rideback powerful and emotional is that it isn’t unrealistic. It uses futuristic technology that doesn’t, and may very well never, exist but the characters and their actions seem very real.
That being said there are some story issues. The pacing isn’t very good. Not because it’s slow, like the problem was with Bakuretsu Tenshi, but because it moves too quickly. It’s a very fast-paced series that doesn’t give you time to fully absorb everything that’s happening, which makes sense when the action really gets going but feels out of place in the early episodes. An even bigger problem is that it has a very scant dénouement. For those of you who aren’t familiar with story structure there are three broad parts. The setup, the confrontation and the resolution which includes the climax and the dénouement, which serves to tie up the loose ends and bring the characters from the climax back to a semblance of normalcy. The climax is very nicely done but after it ends you only get about five minutes for the action to fall and the series to conclude. This results in a feeling that the series is unfinished and it doesn’t give you enough time to wind down after the climax.
The graphics are pretty nice. They aren’t the best I’ve ever seen but they’re definitely good. They have some great voice acting from great Seiyuu like Paku Romi, Mizuki Nana, Morikawa Toshiyuki, Matsumoto Megumi, Toyoguchi Megumi and Miki Sinichiro. The music serves to enhance the mood and help set the stage.
Moving on to the yuri factor. Rideback contains hints of yuri, some of them very strong, like Rin saying that Shouko is her “light”, and others that are only really there if you’re looking for them. Overall it has yuri potential but the actual content is pretty mild. So I’m giving it a 6/10 for the yuri factor.
Overall I give Rideback an 8.4/10. Its positive factors far outweigh its problems and it’s well worth watching.
This was my third review and you can sort of see my usual format starting to sneak in there, but it’s not there yet. I still think this one turned out pretty well overall.