Rideback 8 – Bucking the trend against the contemporary norm.

Excuse my pun, I guess.

Here’s a question: how many of you thought that Lynn was going to fall for Kifa? I mean, he’s a mysterious man with a scar, piercing eyes and a sardonic smile, full of an older man’s charm. Lynn seems to be single (wow, nothing like the real world), young, brave but a little bit impressionable (that’s decreasing rapidly). If Lynn were in a show closer to shojo trope (with good looking bishonen), she would fall for him. I mean, heck, he looks a little bit like Zechs from Gundam Wing, and a lot of fan girls fell for that. Even during the UC days fan girls used to fall for Char. Even in a great show like Escaflowne, the confused feeling of love of the female protagonist was a core element.

Not the case here.

Neither of them (Lynn and Kifa) cared for that. That was just not important enough. It’s the moment of the performance, the drops of fluid (unless you’re a doujin artist, no, not that kind of fluid), the thrill of being higher, of chase and entanglement, of being able to control and bond with the machine (often a man’s cheap or literally not so cheap thrill considering the cost for the machine), and that freedom that’s out there…

Pardon me for the lack of better description because I’ve never quite felt that freedom. The closest thing I’ve ever gotten was driving 20 miles over the speed limit in a Lexus.

My point is that (what, Ray has a point) it doesn’t specifically caters to the usual A-boy and A-girl audience, but rather, it flows with the zeigest of dramatic works in today’s world. We have a female taking on the role that merely 20 years ago would’ve been given to a male. Of course, Japanese anime is one of the pioneers of putting women in traditionally male roles, the other being French (ugh) cinema. I know this has been done to death, but consider:

It would be quite convenient to let Lynn have feelings for Kifa – what a guy! He’s a man full of mystery, a man without many words except peculiar phrases like “the machine picks its rider”, highly skilled and taking on the role of a mentor, not to mention a personality quite similar to Gundam antagonists (Char, Quartro, Zechs, Rau Le Cruset, etc). He could be a father figure in Japanese drama, but more like that dangerous man that makes girls’ hearts pound.

Now forget all that, ‘cause Lynn wasn’t looking at that man. She was looking at what man was demonstrating. For once, the pupil was focused on the lesson, on her temporary dance partner’s skills, and not on his handsome face. We have a level-headed heroine that doesn’t go gaga over mysterious guys; we have an apprentice eager to learn from a master.

And that’s refreshing to me. Although I’d watch service shows and other junk any day for comfort and the lack of need for thinking (just no more Akikan, please), this seems to catch my mind as well as my heart. Everything I mentioned above requires great animation and choreography, which Madhouse did splendidly. Even despite the fact that knowing something about the US military, that having bikes with arms would NOT overtake a heavily armed US military base, and even that happened, it would NOT turn the tide in a war against Americans (we’re gods and you can just get over it), despite some military elements being more like a backdrop in the far back, this show has guts to buck against the contemporary-Otaku-catering-Service-trend.

And despite myself, I like it.

Spoilers Show

8 thoughts on “Rideback 8 – Bucking the trend against the contemporary norm.”

  1. I’ve been meaning to pick this series up at some point…

    Just pointing out that the original manga is published under a magazine (IKKI comix) known for underground titles  (Bokurano was also in the same magazine…Noramimi and Tetsuko no tabi too which aren’t subbed if I remember right)

    To be honest though I haven’t read the original manga so I can’t really touch on how it really is…  I just know that its not necessarily targeted towards the otaku crowd.

  2. @ smashingtofu – ah. I saw the name and wondered that why I didn’t see that name in Japan. But I think right now is an excellent time to start watching it. Fortunately it is not slow paced (don’t be fooled by the beginning ballad sequence).

  3. I find myself liking the show so far, it is beautiful and hasn’t fallen into many of the overdone plot traps that shows like this typically have (for instance, as you said in this post, Lynn isn’t making calf-eyes at the bishie, or any of the other guys.  Eight episodes in and not even a hint of a romantic subplot, it’s kind of refreshing).

    The biggest thing keeping me liking this show, rather than loving it, is the damned emphasis on the motorcycles.  Every time they mention how powerful and effective they are, I cringe and it takes me out of the immersion a little bit.  A vehicle like this is at best an infantry support unit.  Light cavalry.  If nothing else, it’s a problem of mass.  They don’t have the mass to either withstand or utilize anything resembling heavy firepower.

    And of course, air superiority has a tremendous effect on any ground battle.  A small amount of basic air support would render a bunch of motorcycles useless, even if they had arms.

    I understand that the title of the show implies a heavy focus on these cycles, but honestly they could focus more on Lynn utilizing them to find a new sense of freedom and self-worth, and less on their military effectiveness.  It would strengthen the weakest part of what otherwise is a very interesting show.

  4. @ Foomy – yes, that’s it exactly. Motorcycles are never going to be powerful enough to take over a heavily armed base nor will they be anything other than very light support. We’re not talking about a squad of samurai storming ancient castles on horses. The growth of Lynn (actually it’s Rin) is definitely the highlight here.

  5. i know this is a late post, but to be fair, they do imply that more goes into the machine other than just taking a bike, throwing some arms on it, and giving it an AI. some of the details seems to imply that there may be some form of artificial muscle in the bike allowing it to perform things that otherwise seem impossible on that frame. the bikes seem more like a form of power assist suit on wheels, knowing what the rider wants to do and adjusting the ‘muscles’ accordingly to give the action more stability and power. just look on youtube at the powered suits that let a little skinny Japanese man lift hundreds of pounds while running and feel nothing; same with the American military version (also on youtube). As powered suits are being looked at as the future of combat for ground soldiers, i can accept what they say the bikes can do to a point, but what i hate is the complete and utter lack of any protection whatsoever for the rider. hell, throw a hardtop on that, put up some sort of bulletproof transparent shiedling, something. these guys are just sitting ducks waiting to get shot. like riding a tank while on the roof, kind of pointless.

  6. @ GGear0323 – hmm, you know I was overlooking the aspect that something else does seem to be going on for the technology. Good point.

    They have shields to defend against bullets but yeah, with people shooting from roof tops, theyd reall be in trouble.

    Personally, I feel the technology is used more as a backdrop and so far, we haven’t learned that much about the actual technology. If you watched Gundam series of old, you may find some similarities.

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